Eric Beers and Matt Hirschman, neighbors from Mud Lane in Northampton, don't race regularly at Mahoning Valley Speedway but make no mistake that when they do you'll usually see them vying for the win, especially when it comes to a 100 lap feature.
After they drew the front row, Beers was then able to lead every lap and held off Hirschman for the $3000 victory. It was the sixth time that Beers has won a Mahoning race of that distance, equaling the mark with Hirschman for most at the paved quarter mile oval.
And, while that race unfolded, third place finisher Earl Paules clinched the division championship which complimented his Late Model crown from two weeks earlier.
Zane Zeiner was fourth and in the process picked up an additional $2000 from the $6000 purse as the overall winner of the Mahoning Modified Madness Series. Rookie Scott Meckes completed the top five.
26 Modifieds time trialed which locked the top 12 into the starting grid. Don Wagner turned the fastest lap at 9.798-seconds, a mere .001-second over Beers.
Beers, driving the Horwith Trucking No. 45, got a quick jump on Hirschman when the race commenced. Paules also snookered Hirschman and grabbed second spot. Throughout the first half of the contest the front duo waged a solid battle with many of the laps run in near two-wide formation. Numerous attempts by Paules to move into the lead where thwarted by Beers.
"Earl (Paules) is the master here. Had he started pole and me second I would most likely not have won this race," admitted Beers.
Hirschman never was a factor during the first half and had fallen back to seventh at one point. It wasn't until the final 32 laps that he reemerged as a contender. After a restart on lap 65, he displaced strong running Meckes for third and then aimed his attention on Paules. It would take him the better part of the next 20 laps to do so. Once he did his motivation was now Beers.
At that point there was only six laps left and he did all he could to race into the lead, however, with Beers' car sticking perfectly to the inside, the former track champ was able to hold his line and score the big win, his first of any kind this season.
"With the dampness the track didn't have a whole lot of grip tonight and without having a mirror or a radio which we have on the (NASCAR) Tour all the time, you don't know how close anyone is to you so you're always going as hard as you can," said Beers who now has 28 career Modified wins at Mahoning Valley.
"I knew he (Hirschman) was right on me and he and everyone else ran a clean race. This is home to me and I'm glad to be here."
Beers, Hirschman and several other "outsiders" used the race as a tune-up for the upcoming October 27 $5000-to-win season finale, 130 lap event.
"This gives us a lot of confidence coming into that race," offered Beers. "We have a little bit of work to do to get the car better for that one. It's going to be huge here that day and you can expect a lot of hot shoes from around the Northeast."
DJ Wagner and Brian DeFebo were b-main winners.
Frankie Althouse of Lehighton led flag-to-flag in the Late Model main. He zipped past pole sitter Geno Steigerwalt at the start and then remained flawless the rest for the way in a race that went caution free. It was the second win of the season for Althouse.
Paul Effrig, a rookie, got his second runner-up in the last three races. Third went o Paul Koehler, Jr. George Ramos and Althouse copped heat wins.
The Street Stock feature was much anticipated as the top six in points all had a shot at winning the class title.
"The Real Deal" Kyle Strohl of Lehighton, at just 13-years old, won the race, his fourth of the year, concluding his rookie season as the top feature winner in the division. Strohl led every lap and likewise in each of his three previous wins. Jillian Long made a valiant effort on pass Strohl and was a very close second.
In the championship chase TJ Gursky's fourth place finish was the factor in retaining the crown for a second straight season. He edged out Josh Mooney, who was one spot back in the running order by just two points.
Street Stock heat winners were Zach Graver, Gursky and Jonathan Tracy. Jason Kuhn annexed the consolation.
Easton's Ricky Yetter drove to his second Dirt Mod win that was closely contested with Aleia Geisler. And, with his conservatively run sixth place tally, Kris Graver repeated at division titlist.
Jake Kibler of Lansford had a slim chance at winning the 4-Cylinder Stock title and he did what was most necessary to support his effort by winning the race which was his third of the season.
But, it was Jeremy Miller who emerged as the champ, taking his first track championship after 15 years of racing.
Dan Freundt of Lehighton was the front-wheel drive bonus winner and has been named the champion. Miller and Freundt won the prelims.
Modified Feature Finish, 35 Laps: 1. Eric Beers, 2. Matt Hirschman, 3. Earl Paules, 4. Zane Zeiner, 5. Scott Meckes, 6. John Markovic, 7. Nevin George, 8. Ed Brunnhoelzl, 9. Bobby Jones, 10. Brian DeFebo, 11. Tony Hirschman, 12. Don Wagner, 13. Roger Coss, 14. Chip Santee, 15. Shawn Sitarchyk, 16. Lou Strohl, 17. Matt Wentz, 18. Troy Bollinger, 19. Joe Mooney, 20. Kevin Rex, Jr., 21. Tyler Haydt, 22. Tom Flanagan, 23. DJ Wagner, 24. John Bennett Did not qualify: Vinnie Biondolillo, Matt Higgins,
Late Model Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1. Frankie Althouse, 2. Paul Effrig, 3. Paul Koehler, Jr., 4. Mike Sweeney, 5. Austin Kochenash, 6. Earl Paules, 7. Rick Wallace, 8. Geno Steigerwalt, 9. George Ramos, 10. Chris Kemmerer, 11. Mark Simon Did not start: Kenny Hein
Street Stock Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1. Kyle Strohl, 2. Jillian Long, 3. Lonnie Behler, 4. TJ Gusrky, 5. Josh Mooney, 6. Joe Mooney, 7. Stacey Brown, 8. Gene Bowers, 9. Joe Stamm, 10. Jonathan Tracey, 11. Joe Steigerwalt, 12. Jason Frey, 13. Randy Ahner, Jr., 14. Joe Roberts, 15. Chip Wanamaker, 16. Mike Garris, Sr., 17. Todd Ahner, 18. Jason Kuhn, 19. Zach Graver, 20. Dale Santee, 21. Jason Beers
Did not qualify: Cody Roth, Tim Stein, Guy Ackerman, Mike Nichols, Brian Labar
Dirt Modified Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Ricky Yetter, 2. Aleia Geisler, 3. Mike Stofflet, 4. Mark Levy, 5. Dave Thomas, 6. Kris Graver, 7. Joe Stangle, 8. Bill Stiller, Jr., 9. Chuck Potts, 10. Jon Parker, 11. Frank Parastino
4-Cylinder Stock Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Jake Kibler, 2. Nick Baer, 3. Bobby Kibler, Jr., 4. Dan Freundt, 5. Robert Miller, 6. Jeremy Miller, 7. Kyle Strohl, 8. Tyler Stangle Did not start: Doug Knauss, Arland Moyer, Jr., Ward Crozier, Sr., Tony Scheirer