Don Wagner of Wharton, NJ, has been yearning to win one of the infamous Mahoning Valley Speedway 100-lap features for years. He always seems to be in the mix at each event but the end results would always fall short of the top prize for the talented veteran.
Saturday he finally got the job done with a sterling performance in the Modified 100 Poker Series.
"We took an RoC race here a few years back and that was a 75-lapper," said Wagner, who earned $3000 for his night's work. "I never won anything longer so this feels great to win one of these 100-lappers, especially against this field
"These are such good cars here and it's always a pleasure to come race with these guys and the fans here are some of the best, animated fans anywhere, they're the greatest."
Wagner started seventh and took advantage of a lap 55 restart to check into second. He passed Paules two laps later with an inside pass in turn four.
"There was a lot of good clean racing upfront," Wagner said. "I saw some rubbing and banging and sparks but that's...what makes this so exciting.
"I love racing with Earl (Paules) and they don't get any tougher than Lonnie (Behler) when it comes to getting around this place but they all ran me clean."
For Haydt it marked his third runner-up finish in as many races.
"That's getting old," said Haydt. "Donny (Wagner) was a really good car tonight."
Defending Late Model champion Paul Koehler Jr. parlayed his pole starting spot into his first wins of the season and in doing so becomes Mahoning's all-time leading wins in class victories with 35.
Dave Wallace was a strong second while Paul Skodacek notched his third straight third place tally.
Street Stock point leader TJ Gursky of Palmerton continued his great start to the 2011 season as the 27-year old picked up his second win in three starts.
Jon Moser jumped out to the early lead and was in pursuit of his second straight win until lap 16 when fourth starting Gursky moved upfront. Also in the fray was Josh Mooney who turned the final ten laps into a wild crowd pleasing clash. String running Chip Wanamaker added to that excitement as well.
At the finish it was Gursky holding on over Mooney for his 20th career overall win.
For the first two weeks in the Dirt Mod features no one could guess Lehighton's Kris Graver had never wheeled such a brute of a car. He led in each race with a second and third to his credit.
The third generation standout showed even more of his prowess as he overhauled Randy Thomas on lap four and powered to his career first class win.
Lehighton's Bryan Ahner inherited the lead on lap eight in the Pro4 Late Model main and went on to score his first win since Oct. 3, 2008.
Wes Gilbert of Preston, MD made a daring last lap pass on Mike Renn to earn the win in the 4c Super Mod feature.
Modified Feature Finish: 100 Laps: 1.Don Wagner, 2.Tyler Haydt, 3.Matt Hirschman, 4.Mike Carroll, 5.Earl Paules, 6.John Bennett, 7.Rob Shultz, 8.Terry Markovic, 9.Chip Santee, 10.John Markovic, 11.Matt Higgins, 12.Lonnie Behler, 13.Brian DeFebo, 14.Brian Sones, 15.Troy Bollinger, 16.Joe Mooney, 17.Frankie Althouse, 18.Doug Bell, 19.Ken Sones
Late Model Feature Finish: 25 Laps: 1.Paul Koehler, Jr. 2.Dave Wallace, 3.Paul Skodacek, 4.Mike Sweeney, 5.Ed Bauer, 6.Austin Kochenash, 7.Tony Zatsko, 8.Rick Wallace, 9.Raven Schrantz, 10.Geno Steigerwalt, 11.George Ramos, 12.Joe Edinger
Street Stock Feature Finish: 25 Laps: 1.TJ Gursky, 2.Josh Mooney, 3.Chip Wanamaker, 4.Jon Moser, 5.Jason Frey, 6.Shawn Sitarchyk, 7.Kevin Smith, 8.Randy Ahner, Jr. 9.Jeremy Miller, 10.Steve Steigerwalt, 11.Adam Santee, 12.Steve Hoffman, 13.Todd Ahner, 14.Gene Bowers, 15.Jillian Long, 16.Austin Santee, 17.Brandon Oltra 18.Justin Mooney, 19.Paul Effrig, 20.Jamie Smith, 21.JR Moser, 22.Joe Stamm. Did not qualify: Jason Arthofer, Tony Turrano
Dirt Modified Feature Finish: 20 Laps: 1.Kris Graver, 2.Bill Briggs, 3.Mike Stofflet, 4.Scott Hulmes, 5.Randy Thomas, 6.DJ Wagner, 7.Joe Stangle, 8.Dave Thomas, 9.Bill Sitler
Pro4 Late Model Feature: 20 Laps: 1.Bryan Ahner, 2.Aleia Geisler, 3.Jason Bair, 4.Corey Hill, 5.Jake Kibler, 6.Barry Christman, Jr. 7.Dustin Bair, 8.Chad Keiser, 9.Taya Wentz
4C Super Modified Feature Finish: 15 Laps: 1.Wes Gilbert, 2.Mike Renn, 3.Steve Renn, 4.26 5.Bob Renn, 6.Anthony Merlino