The weekend of July 17 is turning out to be a good one for Tom Flanagan as the Bethlehem driver won the Modified feature at Mahoning Valley Speedway the same time one year ago.
Although Flanagan did lead every lap it was a fight to the finish as he had to fend off a blitz of on-comers throughout the race.
When the feature commenced Matt Wentz was the first to challenge Flanagan. Also running strong was Tyler Haydt. While Flanagan defended his spot by racing just the right line, Wentz and Haydt continued to trade off second. Chip Santee and John Bennett added themselves to the mix just past lap15. That foursome where changing spots with each other and all had turns at trying to pass Flanagan but he was able to turn back each attempt.
Late into the event Santee took control of second but never quite had enough to make a dare on Flanagan who went on to score his first win of the season and fifth in a Modified.
"I just want to thank my dad and crew for giving me an awesome race car. I had to battle back Chipper (Santee), Tyler (Haydt) and all the other big guns and I held them off. It was a real good car," said Flanagan.
"You'd never have known that the car was junk when we first got here but we worked and adjusted and got it real close to where we need to be. This is a great momentum boost heading into next week's 100-lapper."
Flanagan was referencing the Hand 2 Seven Card Stud Modified 100 on July 24 which pays $3000 to win.
Santee's second was his best effort since a win on April 24. He was able to run both high and low but just fell short in his pursuit of Flanagan.
"We've been struggling and even tonight we were tight. I think I had a lot more motor than Tommy (Flanagan) and I was able to run it in deeper in the corners but the car just wouldn't stick like his was," said Santee.
"Congratulations to him on a well deserved win. We ran each other clean and I could see he was tight like I was but he had the inside line and was a little bit better."
In the late laps Anthony Sesely once again became a factor and notched a solid third ahead of Don Wagner and Bennett.
Defending champ Todd Stehle returned for just the second time this season, knowing that point leader Paul Koehler, Jr., was one win away from tying his win record of 34.
They did race close with one another but not for the win, that distinction went to Jim Thorpe's Geno Steigerwalt.
After a few side-by-side laps, Steigerwalt made an inside pass on Rick Wallace with five laps in and then cruised to his first victory in two years. Wallace looked his best as he raced to a season high second.
The Koehler/Stehle clash ended with Koehler nailing down third. Shawn Sitarchyk, who remains in a very tight point ballet with Koehler, got by Stehle who ended his night fifth.
Jason Frey of Lehighton became the first three-time winner in Street Stocks but the road to this victory was a wild one from the get-go.
Frey got the upper hand as he moved inside of Randy Ahner Jr. with four laps to go and held on for the win.
Dale Santee, younger brother of Modified star Chip, had the best night of his aspiring career with his runner-up while TJ Gursky held on for third.
Mike Brannigar of Pine Valley, NJ scored a rousing upset win in the Dirt Mod feature as the first time starter led every lap en route to the popular verdict.
Pro4 Late Models
Kris Graver of Lehighton continued his dominance in the Pro4 Late Models as the 16-year phenomenon drove to his third straight win and seventh on the season.
Modified Feature (35 Laps)
1.Tom Flanagan 2.Chip Santee 3.Anthony Sesely 4.Don Wagner 5.John Bennett 6.Tyaler Haydt 7.Lonnie Behler 8.Rob Shultz 9.Brian DeFebo 10.Matt Higgins 11.Rich Kuilkem, Jr. 12.Ed Heim, Jr. 13.keith Mullineaux 14.Rick Reichenbach 15.Lou Strohl 16.Joe Mooney 17.Joe Mooney DNS: Andy Szapacs
Late Model (20 Laps)
1.Geno Steigerwalt 2.Rick Wallace 3.Paul Koehler, Jr. 4.Shawn Sitarchyk 5.Todd Stehle 6.Barry Christman, Sr. 7.Troy Bollinger 8.Cole Lenhart
Street Stock (25 Laps)
1.Jason Frey 2.Adam Santee 3.TJ Gursky 4.Steve Steigerwalt 5.Gene Bowers 6.Kristy Morone Arthofer 7.Todd Ahner 8.Autin Santee 9.Jillian Long 10.Josh Mooney 11.Brian Labar 12.Steve Hoffman 13.Devin Gibson 14.Randy Ahner, Jr. 15.Chris May 16.Dale Santee 17.Paul Effrig 18.Jon Moser 19.Justin Miller
Dirt Modified (20 Laps)
1.Mike Brannigar 2.Bill Briggs 3.Jeff Parker 4.Joe Stangle 5.Randy Thomas 6.Tom Cremer 7.Dave Thomas DNS: DJ Wagner
Pro4 Late Model (20 Laps)
1.Kris Graver 2.Kevin Graver, Jr. 3.Jeremy Miller 4.Jake Kibler 5.Mike Stofflet 6.Chris Kuronya 7.Kevin Stein 8.Arland Moyer, Jr. DNS: Aleia Geisler, Barry Christman, Jr.