Matt Wentz couldn't have picked a better night to end a long overdue winless drought at Mahoning Valley Speedway. With a 24-car field that included some of the best of the best, Wentz led wire-to-wire and scored his first Modified victory since 2004.
And it was also Fan Appreciation Night. Race goers came out in droves as one of the largest crowds in attendance filled the track and put seating at a premium.
Saturday night Wentz was finally able to put all his ill-luck behind him as he drove the perfect race with a wire-to-wire run as the leader and defeated an all start cast of opponents.
"We had some fine adjustments thanks to Steve Mooney and Rusty Ahner and we made it go. After our heat we didn't have anything for these guys and they made the adjustments and hooked it up for me," said Wentz, who drives the Brown Daub Kia No. 72.
When the race commenced Wentz was in charge and within three laps had some serious company with the likes of Earl Paules, Roger Coss and Nevin George.
It was long before Zane Zeiner and Austin Kochenash emerged near the lead pack and right behind them ran Eric Beers and Matt Hirschman.
At any given time anyone one of them seemed ready to strike at Wentz but he never faltered in keeping the stout group of rivals at bay.
In the last few laps Zeiner charged inside and out to reach second spot and contend for the win. On the final lap he tried to take Wentz from the outside but time had run out and the exhilarating win was secured. The difference was a mere .058-second margin of victory.
Coss, Paules and Beers rounded out the top five. Beers, Kevin Rex and Coss won heat races.
In the field was two-time and defending NASCAR Nationwide Series champion and current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year contender Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., was driving a car prepared by Paules Motorsports. Stenhouse drove to a 16th place finish.
In the Late Model main Paules won for division best third time. Starting sixth, Paules settled into third spot by lap 10. He then had a strong battle with Dave Wallace while Ken Hein was showing the way as the leader.
Then on a lap 20 restart Paules used his patented outside line pass to undo Hein and go on to victory. Mike Sweeney put on a late race charge and finished second with Hein taking a season best third.
Wallace also won a heat.
Palmerton's TJ Gursky defeated another strong field of Street Stocks and earned his second win of 2013. Steven Steigerwalt was runner-up and Chip Wanamaker took third.
There was a season high 32 cars with Josh Mooney, Behler and Todd Ahner winning heats. Jason Kuhn notched the consi.
Aleia Geisler of Emmaus was on rails en route to winning for the first time this season with the Dirt Mods.
In the Pro 4 feature Jake Kibler of Lansford cruised to his second straight win and third of the year. Point leader Nick Baer edged Kyle Strohl for second.
Corey Edelman of Northampton cruised to his second Hobby Stock win of the year.
Joe Pritchard of Roxbury, NJ scored the win with the Micro Stocks.
Modified Feature Finish (35 Laps): 1. Matt Wentz, 2. Zane Zeiner, 3. Roger Coss, 4. Earl Paules, 5. Eric Beers, 6. Nevin George, 7. Austin Kochenash, 8. Matt Hirschman, 9. Todd Baer, 10. John Markovic, 11. DJ Wagner, 12. Kevin Rex, Jr., 13. Chip Santee, 14. Kris Graver, 15. Don Wagner, 16. Ricky Stenhouse, 17. Brandon Oltra, 18. Rick Reichenbach, 19. Shawn Sitarchyk, 20. Terry Markovic, 21. Dean Ficarro, 22. John Bennett, 23. Brent Wentz, 24. Lou Strohl
Late Model Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Earl Paules, 2. Mike Sweeny, 3. Kenny Hein, 4. Kevin Graver, Jr., 5. Dave Wallace, 6. Frankie Althouse, 7. George Ramos, 8. Geno Steigerwalt, 9. Paul Effrig, 10. Mike Burgarewicz, 11. Mark Simon, 12. Pat Hargan, 13. Jennifer Kutz, 14. Mike VanFossen, 15. Jason Zatsko, 16. Rick Wallace
Street Stock Feature Finish (30 Laps): 1. TJ Gursky, 2. Steven Steigerwalt, 3. Chip Wanamaker, 4. Randy Ahner, Jr., 6. Jamie Smith, 7. Justin Mooney, 8. Josh Mooney, 9. Steve Hoffman, 10. Zach Graver, 11. Jason Beers, 12. Lonnie Behler, 13. Jason Kuhn, 14. Aaron Kromer, 15. Matt May, 16. Joe Roberts, 17. Jason Frey, 18. Kristy Arthofer. 19. Stacey Brown, 20. Kyle Strohl, 21. Jonathan Tracey DNQ: Gene Bowers, Jillian Long, Chris May, BJ Wambold, Tiffany Wambold, Guy Ackerman, Cody Geist, Justin Missmer, Josh Oswald, Dennis Buss
Dirt Modified Feature Finish (20 Laps): 1. Aleia Geisler, 2. Mike Stofflet, 3. Ricky Yetter, 4. Dave Thomas, 5. Mark Martini, 6. Dave Gorbatuk, 7. Jeff Parker, 8. Frank Parastino, 9. JP Curry, 10. Ray Deemer
Pro4 Feature Finish (20 Laps): 1. Jake Kibler, 2. Nick Baer, 3. Kyle Strohl, 4. Dave Chapman, 5. Tyler Stangle, 6. Bobby Kibler, Jr., 7. Robert Miller, 8. Cody Kohler, 9. Tanner Laybourn, 10. Danielle Paules
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (15 Laps): 1. Corey Edelman, 2. Jeff Biegley, 3. Henry Ruth, Jr.
Micro Stock Feature Finish, (20 Laps): 1. Joe Pritchard, 2. Kevin Heller , Jr., 3. Bob Wagner, 4. Walt Mueller, 5. Robert McGuire, 6. Wayne Krenn, 7. Don Wagner, 8. Kenny Dengler, 9. Larry Ealey, 10. John Rakos, 11. Tyler Wagner, 12. Jim Dodd, 13. Roger Snyder, 14. James Dodd, Jr., 15. Scott Kotran, 16. Doug Knauss