Saturday, July 28, 2012
Kochenash Endures 75 Laps of Madness in Third Mountain Modified Victory
by Gene Ostrowski
ST. JOHNS, PA. -- Storms in surrounding areas threatened the racing action Saturday night at Mountain Speedway, but Mother Nature steered clear of the 1/3-mile asphalt oval and the show went off as scheduled. Austin Kochenash of Danielsville, PA remained steady and patient throughout the 75-lap Modified main event and drove off to his third victory of the season. Chip Wanamaker of Walnutport, PA has been the man to beat in Street Stock action and this week was no different, as he rode around the outside of his competition to his fifth feature win of the season. Eric Banashefski of Ashley, PA, never won more than one feature event in a season but that all changed when he took the checkers for his second Four Cylinder feature victory of the season and Nick Harnage of Calverton, NY notched his ninth Bandolero victory.
Ken Vogel, Jr. turned the quickest laps in Modified time trials and redrew the pole for the start of the 75-lap main event. He led the opening lap over Jimmy Zacharias, Matt Hirschman, Dave Brigati and Roger Coss before a quick lap seven yellow slowed the action.
Using the cone style racing format for the show, drivers restarted double file and got to choose the inside or outside line for the restart. The top five remained the same as the initial lap for the restart, but that all changed following a red flag on lap 12 for Allen Creveling, who had injured his wrist.
Green flag racing resumed with Vogel in command over Nick Pecko, Zacharias, Brian DeFebo and Hirschman. DeFebo began to make a climb to the front and overtook Pecko for second on lap 14 and then mounted a serious charge on the leader. In a side-by-side duel, DeFebo overtook Vogel on lap 16. With 30 laps complete DeFebo remained out front over Vogel, Pecko, Zacharias and Hirschman.
Austin Kochenash just rode for the early portion of the show. He didn?t come into the picture until lap 33 when he snuck by Zacharias for the fourth spot. He rode behind DeFebo and then tried to challenge for the lead until the caution waved on lap 43 when Vogel spun off turn two.
With the green flag back out, trouble struck several drivers and a pile up ensued in turn four. Zacharias, Todd Baer, Pat Verwys, Wayne Szerencsits, Coss, Harry Buchman and Hirschman were collected. Hirschman and Coss suffered too much damage, which forced them to retire from the event.
Green flag racing resumed and only one lap later the red flag waved when Buchman collected Zacharias. At full speed the pair collided head on with the turn four fence and both cars received significant damage. Luckily, both drivers climbed from their racecars under their own power.
DeFebo gave up the lead and pitted when the yellow flag was brought back out, which put Kochenash in command over Pecko, Brandon Oltra, Vogel and Baer.
With the green flag back out and with 50 laps complete, Vogel got by Oltra for third. Meanwhile, Pecko tried all that he could to keep up with Kochenash.
Kochenash held off his competition during two lap 60 restarts and then pulled away from Pecko to take what he might call the biggest win of his career thus far. Pecko settled for another second place effort, followed by Vogel, Oltra and Brigati.
Alan Schlenker started from the pole position and led the opening circuit of the 25-lap Street Stock feature. Darryl Schwartz, Jr. ran second with Bernie Uphold, Chas Castiglione and Mike Garris, Sr. in tow.
Chris Burge cracked the top five but lost fourth to Kevin Higgins on lap two. K. Higgins then powered by Uphold for third on lap eight and tenth place starter Chip Wanamaker followed through for fourth before getting by K. Higgins for third on the same circuit. Wanamaker then overtook Schwartz for second before taking the race lead from Schlenker on lap 10.
K. Higgins battled Schlenker for second and following some racing contact, the pair spun in turn one. Several others joined the mix, including Steve Shultz, Castiglione, Schwartz, and Aaron Higgins.
With the green flag back out, Wanamaker continued to set the pace, followed by Brian Wozniak, Justin Mooney, Tony Hilliard and Keith Frankenfield.
With five laps remaining the worst incident of the event took place when A. Higgins battled Burge for position. Burge?s car clipped the A. Higgins machine, which shot him toward the front stretch wall. With nowhere to go, K. Higgins happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and got slammed into the turn one fence. Luckily, neither of the drivers was injured after the incident.
Green flag racing resumed and Wozniak tried to get a look on the outside and then underneath Wanamaker in the closing laps, but was forced to settle for second as the checkers flew.
Wanamaker collected his fifth win of the year, followed by Wozniak, Mooney, Shultz and Garris.
Darryl Schwartz, Jr. and Alan Schlenker were heat race winners.
John Smith stared from the pole position and led the opening circuit of the 20-lap Four Cylinder feature, but he lost the lead to Jay Skupski on the next lap. With four laps complete, Skupski continued out front over Eric Banashefski, Frank Hughes, Cody Roth and Harry O?Neill.
Banashefski wasted no time and mounted a challenge for the lead, which he got on lap five. Three laps later Hughes overtook Skupski for second.
Up to this point in his career Banashefski had never won more than a single feature in one season, but that all changed Saturday night went he drove away to his second win of the season, while racing a limited schedule in the class. Hughes settled for second, followed by Skupski, O?Neill and Noah Fassman, who battled hard with Roth in the closing laps.
Heat race victories went to Jay Skupski and John Smith.
Mountain Speedway is just minutes from Hazleton, Pa, located on St. John?s Road, between Routes 93 and 309. Grandstand admission for all regular events is just $12 for ages 11 and older. Children 10 years of age and younger are admitted for free.
Please visit www.mountainspeedway.com for the entire 2012 schedule, point standings and up to date news and information.
Modified (40-laps) 1. AUSTIN KOCHENASH 2. Nick Pecko 3. Ken Vogel Jr 4. Brandon Oltra 5. David Brigati 6. Todd Baer 7. Mike Carroll 8. Scott Adams 9. Wayne Szerencsits 10. Brian DeFebo 11. Pat Verwys 12. Jimmy Zacharias 13. Harry Buchman 14. Matt Hirschman 15. Roger Coss 16. Brian Sones 17.Alan Creveling
Street Stock (25-laps) 1. CHIP WANAMAKER 2. Brian Wozniak 3. Justin Mooney 4. Steve Shultz 5. Mike Garris Sr 6. Charlie Castiglione 7. Alan Schlenker 8. Chris Burge 9. Joe D'Angelo 10. Bernie Uphold 11. Sam Danaher 12. Tony Hilliard 13. Darryl Schwarz Jr 14. Aaron Higgins 15. Kevin Higgins 16. Keith Frankenfield 17.Mark Tyson
Four Cylinder (25-laps) 1. ERIC BANASHEFSKI 2. Frank Hughes 3. Jay Skupski 4. Harry O'Neill 5. Noah Fassman 6. Cody Roth 7. John Smith 8. Chris Burge Jr. 9. Larry Spencer III
Bandoleros (8-laps) 1. NICK HARNAGE