WEST LEBANON, NY – On Saturday night, Lebanon Valley Speedway hosted the fifth annual J.C. Flach Memorial, run in honor of J.C. Flach, a former full-time Modified racer who died in an unfortunate accident at his house in 2012. Flach was remembered with a proper celebration capped off by the release of balloons.
Rob Pitcher started from the pole and staked out to a small lead. Kyle Sheldon was able to get past Denny Soltis for second and began to stalk Pitcher.
Unfortunately for Soltis, his night ended early. On lap 5, Soltis collided with Matt Pupello entering turn 1. Both cars spun and hit the wall. Chad Jeseo was also collected. All three drivers were done for the night.
Once the race restarted, Pitcher opened up a decent advantage on the pack. Meanwhile, Olden Dwyer and Kyle Armstrong were fighting for third. J.R. Heffner and Kenny Tremont Jr. were mired back in traffic and could not make much in the way of inroads.
Despite damage from the lap 5 crash, Hearn continued moving forward. By lap 11, he was ninth after starting 15th. Seven laps later, he was seventh, making steady progress.
At the front, Sheldon began to track down Pitcher in the final few laps. It appeared that Sheldon was faster, but he couldn’t quite reach Pitcher. The Chatham-based racer held on to take his first win in five years.
Pitcher was pleased with his night, but would have preferred that J.C. Flach were still out there racing with him.
“Tonight’s win has been a long time coming,” Pitcher said in Victory Lane. “We think about J.C. all the time when we’re out here. He’s really missed.”
Sheldon was second, followed by Kolby Schroder. Hearn ended up in fourth, followed by Brian Berger.
In Small Block Modifieds, Alan Houghtaling took the lead from pole sitter Sean Mandel on the first lap. Once in the lead, Houghtaling was able to open up a gap over the rest of the pack.
Meanwhile, Tremont was coming up through the field quickly. He was already up to fourth from 13th on lap 6. A couple of cautions due to spins by Brandon Pitcher helped keep the field close by.
The race was red flagged on lap 9 due to a big crash on the backstretch that saw Bryan McGuire get upside down. Everyone was ok, but only J.R. Heffner was able to continue.
The Pitcher spins allowed Ray Hall Jr. into the fray. On lap 11, Hall finally took the lead. However, Tremont was there by that point. It did not take for Tremont to take the lead.
Houghtaling’s great night ended with a crash in turn 2 on lap 19, setting up a five-lap sprint for the checkers. Tremont simply pulled away on the restart to take the win.
Hall finished second while Brett Haas was third. Heffner recovered from his spin to finish fourth, while Frank Harper was fifth.
The Pro Stock feature was marred by a first-lap crash. Contact was made exiting turn 4 that sent Nick Hilt into the wall. Hilt then spun across the track and created a melee. At least a dozen cars were collected, including such notables as Rob Yetman, Jay Corbin and Jon Routhier. Afterwards, Rick Duzlak indicated that he couldn’t see anything and had nowhere to go.
Following a long red flag, Rich Crane was able to get past pole sitter Dan Cote for the lead. Steven LaRochelle was able to follow past. The younger of the Dalton, Mass.-based father-son duo spent much of the race pressuring Crane.
LaRochelle thought that he was a little stronger than Crane in places, but could not get by as the Canaan, Conn.-based racer won his first feature of the year.
Tom O’Connor crossed the line in third, but failed post-race tech and was disqualified. Yetman inherited third, followed by Jason Meltz and Chuck Towslee.
In Sportsman, Mike Gramolini started from the pole and outdistanced Lem Atkins to take the advantage. Frank Hoard Jr. moved up to second early, but didn’t quite have the pace to keep up.
The pack closed back together when Kevin Ward spun on lap 10 to bring out a caution. By that point, Gramolini had a big lead over the rest of the field.
From then on, the duel was on. Rob Maxon was able to get by Hoard on lap 15 for second and immediately began to pressure Gramolini for the lead. Maxon lost his momentum in turn 2 with two laps to go and that was all Gramolini needed to take the checkers.
However, in post-race inspection, both Gramolini and Maxon were disqualified for compression issues. Third-place Hoard passed tech and inherited the victory. Whitey Slavin was second, followed by John Virgilio, Michael Sabia and Chris Lynch.
In Pure Stock, Jesse Murphy, Scott Morris and Gary O’Brien each claimed victories.
Key Bank J.C. Flach Memorial Results (30 laps): 1) Rob Pitcher, 2) Kyle Sheldon, 3) Kolby Schroder, 4) Brett Hearn, 5) Brian Berger, 6) Keith Flach, 7) J.R. Heffner, 8) Eddie Marshall, 9) Olden Dwyer, 10) Paul Gilardi, 11) Steve Hough, 12) Kenny Tremont Jr., 13) Elmo Reckner, 14) Andy Bachetti, 15) Wayne Jelley, 16) L.J. Lombardo, 17) Chase Dowling, 18) Mike King, 19) Kyle Armstrong, 20) Denny Soltis, 21) Matt Pupello, 22) Chad Jeseo, 23) Kenny Aanonsen Jr., 24) Mike Keeler
Small Block Modified Feature Results (24 laps): 1) Kenny Tremont Jr., 2) Ray Hall Jr., 3) Brett Haas, 4) J.R. Heffner, 5) Frank Harper, 6) Brian Sandstedt, 7) Demetrios Drellos, 8) Olden Dwyer, 9) Timothy Davis, 10) Chad Pierce, 11) Peter Carlotto, 12) Michael Sabia, 13) Brandon Pitcher, 14) Frank Hoard III, 15) Alan Houghtaling, 16) Kim LaVoy, 17) Sean Mandel, 18) Bryan McGuire, 19) Jason Herrington
Sportsman Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Frank Hoard Jr., 2) Whitey Slavin, 3) John Virgilio, 4) Michael Sabia, 5) Chris Lynch, 6) Chris Kokosa, 7) Robby Knipe, 8) Lem Atkins, 9) Alan Houghtaling, 10) Cody Hunt, 11) Cody Ochs, 12) Nikki Ouellette, 13) Bobby DeLeon, 14) Kevin Ward, 15) Collin DuBois, 16) Vinnie Visconti, 17) Milton Mann, 18) Harold Robitaille, 19) Nick Plumstead, 20) Dan Lyle, 21) Jim Cronk. DQ: Mike Gramolini, Rob Maxon
Pro Stock Feature Results (20 laps): 1) Rich Crane, 2) Steven LaRochelle, 3) Rob Yetman, 4) Jason Meltz, 5) Chuck Towslee, 6) Jay Casey, 7) Ed Bishop, 8) Jon Routhier, 9) Victor Hopkins, 10) Sparky Reilly, 11) Joe LaFlamme, 12) Dave Peck, 13) Brian Keough, 14) Dan Cote, 15) Jeff Kelmel, 16) Tom Dean, 17) Rick Spencer, 18) Todd Hoffman, 19) Rick Duzlak, 20) Rick Dempsey, 21) Nick Hilt, 22) Paul LaRochelle, 23) Jay Corbin DNS: Hugh Page. DQ: Tom O’Connor
Pure Stock Feature No. 1 Results (8 laps): 1) Jesse Murphy, 2) Dave Stickles, 3) John Denue, 4) Clifford Booth, 5) Jordan Miller, 6) Kyle Cole, 7) Doug Olds, 8) Tim Thompson, 9) Chris Murphy, 10) Tom Murphy, 11) Mark Dwyer
Pure Stock Feature No. 2 Results (8 laps): 1) Scott Morris, 2) Lou Gancarz, 3) Brian Walsh, 4) Dennis O’Connor Jr., 5) Joe Wolcott, 6) Wuggie Burdick, 7) Rich Roger, 8) Tim Meltz, 9) Nick Reilly, 10) Larry Perez
Pure Stock Feature No. 3 Results (12 laps): 1) Gary O’Brien, 2) Bill Deak Jr., 3) Ed Hatch, 4) Jay Casey, 5) Jeff Meltz Sr., 6) Jeff Kreutziger, 7) Shawn Perez, 8) Dom Denue, 9) Zach Sorrentino, 10) Jeff Meltz Jr., 11) Al Relyea, 12) Mike Arnold, 13) John Devine, 14) Zach Seyerlein, 15) Ray Hall Sr.