The Chrome Horn News



    When the Race of Champions Dart Asphalt Modified Tour rolls into the Mahoning Valley Speedway. The Tour regulars know that the Mahoning Valley weekly Modified racers are going to be tough to beat on their hometrack.
   Saturday night was no different as Rick Kirkendall broke out of an early season slump in a big way by winning the 75 lap feature. Kirkendall who started second and led for a short time early in the event made a turn two inside pass of leader Bobby Jones with 11 laps to go. Kirkendall then had to hold off a furious charge from Brian DeFebo over the final five laps to secure the $2,800 win, his first career RoC win.
   Rick Kluth who always runs well here finally got some breaks to go his way and finished a strong third with local favorite Don Wagner finishing fourth and Paul Skodacek getting his first career top five finish with a fifth.
   “I’ll tell you, a little bit earlier ( in the night ) I was ready to pack it in and scratch to the rear because of a rear end oil leak problem“ said the feature winner form Lehighton, Pa. “The crew went to work got the problem solved as we worked really hard all week leading up to the race, we did our homework and I’m really happy it paid off with a win tonight.“
   Kirkendall ended up 12th in time trials and when it came for the feature re draw he was going to be last and the number two pill was left for him. Kirkendall took full advantage of his outside pole starting spot as he took the lead on a lap three restart from Paul Skodacek.
   “The car wasn’t right all night long but I ran as hard as it was worth“ said the smiling driver. “I knew if I kept the car on the bottom they would have to go around me to pass me and I was getting on the throttle pretty hard once I got into the turn and I knew if anyone was going to get me on the outside they were going to have to be pretty fast to do that.“
   There was one pretty fast racecar at Mahoning on this night and that car belonged to Eric Beers. Beers who set quick time redrew eighth place starting spot and he took 15 laps before moving into the top five. Then Beers put on a driving clinic at Mahoning Valley that hasn’t been in some time as he quickly assumed command of the race by using the third groove at Mahoning to get the lead on lap 21.
   Beers had nearly a three second lead when he encountered heavy lap traffic on lap 45. Two laps later the outstanding run of Beers ended momentarily entering turn one as he was involved in an accident with the laps cars of Jarred Nace and Jan Leaty. Beers pitted and returned to make another late race charge to end up sixth.
   “I didn’t even know I was leading then“ said Rick when asked what he thought about Eric getting into an accident. “I didn’t know whether I was first or second and when they told me I was first, I was happy.“
   “Experience racing here weekly was the key tonight as I knew my car wasn’t right but I knew that if I held it in the bottom groove I had a chance“ summed up Rick. “I was the lucky one tonight and I’m more than happy to come out the winner tonight. There’s nothing you can do out there when you’re the leader and your car picks up a push.“
   The lengthy yellow on lap 47 which included the running in of water from the overheated car of Stacy Brown was actually a blessing in disguise for Kirkendall. “The long yellow with fluid on the track actually helped me as we had to run through it and that was enough to cool my tires down and got rid of my push. That was enough of a break to give me a shot at going for the win again as I didn’t have anything for the leaders if we kept going under green.“
   Rick spoke about the pass for the lead. “Bobby it seemed picked up a push just as bad as I had earlier in the race and he kept going higher and higher on the track. My tires came back to me and there was enough room for me to get under him and I took that advantage. Don’t get me wrong I had a push too but I waited until I got around the corner before I got on the throttle.“
   “This is the best win I ever had in my life“ said Rick summing up his night.
   “I wish I would have had two or three more laps because it would have been exciting“ said second place finisher Brian DeFebo. “This car that I’m using tonight doesn’t pick up a push here the longer the race goes like the other cars do. We weren’t very good in the beginning of the race but we stayed consistent the longer the race went on and I didn’t lose the right front and I kept the rear from coming around too. It would have been one of those picture perfect things if I finished first.“
   The good finish of DeFebo, who had to restart at the rear on lap 33 following a rule infraction now makes him think on where he’ll be racing this weekend, close to home or on the road with RoC. “I said if I came out of here with a good finish I wouldn’t know what to do next week. Hopefully, maybe we’ll be up at Wyoming County next week.“
   “I’m very happy with a third especially after Oswego“ said third place finisher Rick Kluth. “I’ve been good here in the past but have never been able to finish good. Starting up front helped me tonight and starting in the middle or back usually doesn’t work out too well for me.“
   Qualifying for the 30 car field saw Eric Beers set quick time in time trials with a 9.864 lap. Qualifying heat races were won by Larry Fisher and Daren Scherer while John Bennett won the B Main.
   The Race of Champions Dart Asphalt Modified Tour is sponsored by; Dart Machinery, Gater Racing News, Hoosier Racing Tire, Sunoco Race Fuels, PBM Performance Products, Total Seal Piston Rings, Dura – Bond, Competition Engineering By Moroso, Dynatech, Xceldyne, Afco, CV Products, and LA Sleeve.

   NOTES; Mike Quinn lost a motor in the final hot lap session ending his evening of racing. The hazy, hot, and humid day made it difficult in keeping racing engines and drivers cool. The top four times from time trials received the five bonus points and the top 12 in times went directly into the feature redraw. In housekeeping from the first show at Oswego Lee Sherwood had his name drawn on Saturday as the winner of the $1,500 set of Dart Heads. Also from Oswego there was a change in the official finish as Ryan Preece and John Markovic were originally credited with 9th and 10th respectively. However after looking at the close finish between the two, Markovic was placed 9th and Preece 10th. Rough luck once again for Todd Baer as he got caught up in a heat race jingle doing extensive front end damage to his car. Zane Zeiner received this car from Matt Higgins on Friday and worked all day and night Friday to make the show. Kevin Brown was driving the car that Dave Wallace normally runs; it was Kevin’s first race of the year. RoC would like to send their best to Modified racer Keith Mellars who competed on this night as he is going to Iraq in September.


FINISH; Rick Kirkendall, Brian DeFebo, Rick Kluth, Don Wagner, Paul Skodacek, Eric Beers, Jim Storace, Bobby Jones, Billy Putney, Daren Scherer, Pete Brittain, Tommy Farrell, III, Don Dreher, John Markovic, Todd Smith, Jason Bair, John Bennett, Chip Santee, Lou Strohl, Stacy Brown, Larry Fisher, Rusty Smith, Jarred Nace, Jan Leaty, Zane Zeiner, Kevin Brown.
DNQ’S; Keith Mellars, Matt Clemens, Todd Baer, Mike Quinn.
LAP LEADERS; Skodacek ( 1 – 3 ), Kirkendall ( 4 – 20 ), Beers ( 21 – 47 ), Jones ( 48 – 63 ), Kirkendall ( 64 – 75 )

NEXT RoC EVENT; Saturday June 14th Wyoming County International Speedway 75 laps $2,800 to win.


Source: JR Kennerup / RoC Dart Asphalt Modified Series
Posted:  June 8, 2008

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