Paules cashes in at opener
After back-to-back rainouts, the third time turned out to be the charm in kicking off the 2011 season at Lehighton's Mahoning Valley Speedway as a full pit area and a respectable sized grandstand of fans made for a resounding first night of racing.
Taking top laurels on the evening was Earl Paules of Palmerton who scored big bucks in claiming the Modified headliner worth $3000. That was the most money every won for a regular 35-lap Modified feature. Not only did he earn the $1500 first place prize but that amount was matched by his sponsor, John Schneider of Schneider and Sons, Inc., Scrap Medal of Allentown who offered to double his winnings if he would win the race.
Paules' fortune came at the expense of Don Wagner who been leading from the outset but on lap 14 he came upon the cars of Terry Markovic and Matt Higgins who had collided in turn three. Wagner had little time to react and was collected in the melee.
Runner-up at the time was Paules who then inherited the lead which he would not relinquish the rest of the way.
"This was the first time here with this race car so I didn't know what it was going to do because my Mahoning car wasn't ready yet with the motor. I'm not so sure I'm just going to bring this one from now on," said Paules.
After taking the lead Paules was being followed tightly by defending champ John Bennett but on lap 30 he slipped out line and allowed Tyler Haydt to move to second. Bennett settled for third at the finish with John Markovic and Lonnie Behler completing the top five.
In 2010, Austin Kochenash roared to a class leading nine Late Model wins and those winning ways are back as the talented 15-year old from Northampton opened up the year with a solid victory.
The Street Stock feature was all about TJ Gursky. Starting from the pole, Gursky, who is the only driver to compete with a Monte Carlo while everyone else runs Camaro's, was a dominant force from start to finish.
While Gursky was cruising to the win Jamie Smith opened up his year with a fine runner-up while rookie Jeremy Miller drove to a solid third.
In what was the closest race of the evening, Dave Thomas of Palmerton won the Dirt Mod feature after he battled closely all race long with Kris Graver.
Barry Christman, Jr., was nothing short of perfect in scoring top honors with the Pro4 Late Models.
Wharton, NJ's Bob Wagner was victorious in the Micro Stock main .