For the first three weeks of the season at Mahoning Valley Speedway, Kunkletown's Tyler Haydt was within reach of the checkered flag as in each of those Modified features, finishing a close second.
Haydt finally shunned the bridesmaid role and wheeled his Bill Teel owned #16 to victory. In doing so he assumed the division point lead over Earl Paules, who ironically he had been runner-up to twice thus far.
Starting ninth, Haydt took the lead from Brian DeFebo with 10 laps remaining and then held off Paules and John Bennett for his sixth career Modified win and 28th at the track.
"We're here to win and finishing second is not what we come here for. This really feels good," said Haydt.
Pole sitter Troy Bollinger jumped out to the lead with DeFebo hot on his heels. By lap three DeFebo went to the inside lane and two laps later accelerated into the lead. Joe Mooney also surpassed Bollinger by lap eight.
DeFebo was setting a torrid pace as the first 20 laps went caution free. By lap 15 Haydt had advanced to third.
On lap 20 the fast action slowed when Bollinger and Stacey Brown came together on the front straight. When the race resumed Haydt was quick to overhaul Mooney.
By lap 24 the door came open for Haydt coming off turn two when DeFebo could not keep low enough to protect his line.
"It's not often when you can run 20 laps straight through like that and don't get a caution and sometimes it works out for you and sometimes not but everything went good tonight," said Haydt.
For the remaining laps Haydt led what was Mahoning's version of a Race of Champions as the top five runners represented a combined 18 championships and nearly 200 feature wins.
"This team is only getting better. It's awesome to drive for Billy (Teel). "
When Eugene 'Gene' Bowers had an untimely passing on Sept. 24, 2010, he left a huge void at MVS. In his honor the track proudly hosted the Gene Bowers Memorial Street Stock 100.
The race, won handily by Lehighton's Kevin Smith, paid $1,000 but thanks to lap sponsorship, Smith claimed the biggest payday in class history with a take of $2,278.
By way of a redraw by fast timer Todd Ahner, Gene Bowers, son of the late Bowers, was on the pole and was having his dad's classic Dodge Challenger pace the field. It was a moment that brought the crowd to their feet during the parade laps.
In the Late Models Lehighton's Dave Wallace jumped out to the early lead and never looked back as he turned in a solid showing.
After Raven Schrantz elected to forgo her pole starting spot, Wallace was the new benefactor. It became clear early this would be no contest as the veteran stayed in front for all 25 circuits.
Kris Graver of Lehighton took the lead from Mike Stofflet on lap four and then cruised to his second straight Dirt Mod win of the year.
In the Pro4 Late Models it was point leader Barry Christman Jr. of Northampton getting back to the Winner's Circle for the third time in four '11 starts. Christman moved to the lead on lap 10.
Modified Feature Finish, 35 Laps: 1.Tyler Haydt 2.Earl Paules 3.John Bennett 4.Don Wagner 5.Brian DeFebo 6.Rob Shultz 7.John Markovic 8.Chip Santee 9.Terry Markovic 10.Joe Mooney 11.Matt Higgins 12.Lonnie Behler 13.Franke Althouse 14.Brian Sones 15.Troy Bollinger 16.Stacey Brown 17.Andy Szapacs 18.Doug Bell 19.Ken Sones
Late Model Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1.Dave Wallace 2.Austin Kochenash 3.Geno Steigerwalt 4.Ed Bauer 5.Paul Koehler, Jr. 6.Mike VanFossen 7. Did not start: Paul Skodacek
Street Stock Feature Finish, 100 Laps: 1.Kevin Smith 2.Steve Steigerwalt 3.Jason Frey 4.Jeremy Miller 5.TJ Gursky 6.Kristy Morone Arthofer 7.Justin Mooney 8.Josh Mooney 9.Gene Bowers 10.Steve Hoffman 11.Eric Danyluk 12.Jillian Long 13.Todd Ahner 14.Jamie Smith 15.Paul Effrig 16.Chip Wanamaker 17.Austin Santee 18.Randy Ahner, Jr. 19.Jon Moser 20.Shawn Sitarchyk 21.Adam Santee 22.Chris Smith Did not qualify: Corey Swartz, JR Moser
Dirt Modified Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1.Kris Graver 2.Mike Stofflet 3.Scott Hulmes 4.Joe Stangle 5.Bill Sitler 6.Dave Thomas
Pro4 Late Model Feature, 20 Laps: 1.Barry Christman, Jr. 2.Jason Bair 3.Chad Keiser 4.Jake Kibler 5.Corey Hill 6.Cody Roth 7.Aleia Geisler 8.Bryan Ahner 9.Dustin Bair