Earl Paules and Don Wagner each garnered Modified wins Saturday night at Mahoning Valley Speedway and in the process they kept their tight point battle going strong as the season's midway juncture nears.
Point leader Paules of Palmerton picked up his second victory in the make-up race from June 3. Starting seventh, he had to work his tail off in taking the lead from Scott Meckes.
Wagner passed Tom Flanagan on 17 then held off John Bennett for his third 2012 verdict.
In the first race pole sitter Troy Bollinger jumped out to the early lead and held steady until lap 17 when Meckes took over after an outside pass at the start/finish line.
By lap 19, Paules was in second and needed all of the next five laps to get past Meckes, who made a solid effort to protect the lead.
It wasn't until a restart on lap 24 when Meckes lost the top spot, but the Rookie of the Year contender never eased up as he kept in close range with Paules, taking a career best second.
"He, (Meckes) did a great job, drove me clean and he definitely made me work out there. We're teammates and this was good and he was due for a good finish," said Paules.
"With the heat today the track was a little slick and you have to drive it that way."
In the regular feature, Tom Flanagan was the pole sitter and early leader.
A near winner from last week, Flanagan was looking to redeem himself. Wagner, however, was uncompromising as he caught and then went side-by-side with Flanagan on lap 15. From the outside line he then inched into the lead on lap 19 and the next time around had a car length advantage.
"The top groove was definitely the faster groove. I was struggling to hold it down to the bottom. I got a good run on Tommy (Flanagan) to get around him on the top side and that was the place to be," said Wagner.
Over the final 10 laps Bennett reached second and was throwing everything at Wagner as the two crafty veterans engaged in a closely run contest the rest of the way.
Paules was in a league of his own when it came to the make-up Late Model race from June 3. After shooting into the lead on lap seven, he cruised to his seventh win in nine starts.
Lehighton's Rick Wallace moved up to the lead and maintained the spot through the finish for his second win in as many weeks in the regular run show and the first time he won back-to-back weeks since 1995.
In the Street Stocks, Lehighton's Zach Graver was able to parley his pole starting spot into his second class win. Graver led the entire way, never once letting up to the onslaught of opponents. He is the eighth different winner in 10 races.
Jeremy Miller was the runaway winner in the 4-Cylinder Stocks, until he went to the post-race inspection area where he failed tech because of a rules infraction. That elevated rookie Nick Baer of Germansville to the top of the finishing order, giving the second generation driver his career first win in a stock car and the lead in points.
Kris Graver of Lehighton drove to a blistering sixth win in the Dirt Mods as the caution free 20 lap event was reeled off in a time of 3:41.
Wayne Krenn of Kempton raced to a hard fought win with the Micro Stocks. Taking the lead on lap one, Krenn had a race long battle of pursuers that challenged him but he was on his guard the entire time.
Modified Feature Finish, (6/3) 35 Laps: 1. Earl Paules, 2. Scott Meckes, 3. John Bennett, 4. Matt Wentz, 5. John Markovic, 6. Nevin George, 7. Don Wagner, 8. Shawn Sitarchyk, 9. Eric Beers, 10. Kevin Rex, Jr., 11. Terry Markovic, 12. Troy Bollinger, 13. Bobby Jones, 14. Matt Higgins, 15. Chip Wanamaker, 16. Tom Flanagan, 17. Todd Geist.
Modified Feature Finish, 35 Laps: 1. Wagner, 2. Bennett, 3. Paules, 4. Rex, 5. Jones, 6. George, 7. John Markovic, 8. Wentz, 9. Beers, 10. Behler, 11. Higgins, 12. Geist, 13. Terry Markovic, 14. Flanagan, 15. Sitarchyk, 16. Bollinger, 17. Tyler Haydt, 18. Meckes, 19. Mooney.
Late Model Feature Finish, (6/3) 25 Laps: 1. Earl Paules, 2. George Ramos, 3. Dave Wallace, 4. Ed Bauer, 5. Frankie Althouse, 6. Mike Sweeney, 7. Geno Steigerwalt, 8. Rick Wallace, 9. Paul Effrig, 10. Kenny Hein, 11. Doug Bell Did not start: Mike VanFossen, Paul Koehler Jr.
Late Model Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1. Rick Wallace, 2. Ramos, 3. Paules, 4. Dave Wallace, 5. Althouse, 6. Bauer, 7. Hein, 8. Sweeney, 9. Effrig, 10. Simon, 11.Steigerwalt.
Street Stock Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1. Zach Graver, 2. Joe Steigerwalt, 3. Kevin Smith, 4. TJ Gursky, 5. Gene Bowers, 6. Jillian Long, 7. Todd Ahner, 8. Jason Kuhn, 9. Rich Moser, 10. Josh Mooney, 11. Chris Parry, 12. Joe Roberts, 13. Kyle Strohl, 14. Jason Frey, 15. Lou Strohl, 16. Jonathan Tracey, 17. Jason Beers, 18. BJ Wambold.
Dirt Modified Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Kris Graver, 2. Randy Thomas, 3. Dave Thomas, 4. Mike Stofflet, 5. Joe Stangle, 6. Dave Gorbatuk, 7. Bill Sittler Jr.
4-Cylinder Stock Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Jeremy Miller, 2. Nick Baer, 3. Doug Knauss, 4. Jake Kibler, 5. Dan Freundt, 6. Justin Martinson, 7. Robert Miller, 8. Bobby Kibler, Jr., 9. Jake Oswald, 10. Stone Wentz, 11. Barry Christman, Jr., 12. Taya Wentz, 14. Kyle Strohl, 15. Tyler Stangle, 16. Cory Hill.
Micro Stock Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Wayne Krenn, 2. Alex Greenzweig, 3. Roger Snyder, 4. Robert Maguire, 5. Stacey Santee, 6. Bill Darling, 7. John Rakos, 8. Pete Bayles, 9. Mike Duffy, 10. Tyler Wagner, 11. Bob Wagner, 12. Calvin Carroll, 13. Mario Oberto, 14. Josh Heiser, 15. Joe Carroll, 16. Brian Correll, 17. Dave Allen, 18. Walt Mueller.