WEST LEBANON, NY – Saturday night brought warm weather and no precipitation to Lebanon Valley. The time was nigh for some good racing and the fans got it on Saturday night, along with a first-time winner.
Mike Keeler, who has dealt with a number of mechanical issues this season, started from the pole. On this night, Keeler did not have mechanical woes and led early.
A series of incidents kept the field close early on. First, Kyle Sheldon spun in turn 3 to bring out the caution on lap 3. On the restart, Ken McGuire spun and hit the wall in turn 1. McGuire and Sheldon were able to continue. The next restart was aborted due to additional contact.
The next restart saw contact between Paul Gilardi and Sheldon in turn 2 that resulted in another yellow. However, before that yellow was thrown, Danbury’s L.J. Lombardo was able to slip past Keeler for the lead.
Back in the pack, Brett Hearn had some issues in his heat race and started back in 18th. From there, Hearn quickly moved up the order, methodically picking off driver after driver. His primary rivals in the championship were stuck further down the order.
J.R. Heffner was on the move as well, slowing advancing from 12th. Heffner got to third, but could not make all that much progress on Lombardo. Keeler hitting the wall brought out a caution with three laps to go, creating a new race.
On the restart, Heffner got past Kyle Armstrong for second and ran down Lombardo as fast as I could. On the final lap, the two went side-by-side in turns 3 and 4, but Lombardo out-dragged Heffner to earn his first Lebanon Valley win.
Afterwards, Lombardo was overjoyed.
“I’m grateful that we didn’t start on the pole and that we didn’t just take off with it. We actually had to make some moves to get to it,” Lombardo said. “[Winning at Lebanon Valley] is a dream come true.”
Hearn passed Armstrong on the final lap to finish third. Wayne Jelley was fifth.
ARG Trucking/Doherty Brothers Construction Modified Feature Results (30 laps): 1) L.J. Lombardo, 2) J.R. Heffner, 3) Brett Hearn, 4) Kyle Armstrong, 5) Wayne Jelley, 6) Brian Berger, 7) Kenny Tremont Jr., 8) Andy Bachetti, 9) Keith Flach, 10) Chad Jeseo, 11) Eddie Marshall, 12) Kolby Schroder, 13) Kyle Sheldon, 14) Rob Pitcher, 15) Mike King, 16) Paul Gilardi, 17) Elmo Reckner, 18) Mike Keeler, 19) Dan Humes, 20) Matt Pupello, 21) Ken McGuire, 22) Tyler Dippel, 23) Kenny Aanonsen Jr., 24) Steve Hough, 25) Olden Dwyer