Bennett back in Winner's Circle
This has not been the typical John Bennett type of season at Mahoning Valley Speedway. "The King" has had a somewhat up and down year and had been unable to put together his usual string of top finishes. There had even been a point where the three-time Modified champ was outside the top ten in points for the first time in the last six years.
On Saturday, Lehighton's Bennett was as good as he's ever been, making a pass on leader Don Wagner after a lap 23 restart and then looking solid the rest of the way to seize his second 2012 victory.
Wagner had the benefit of starting from the pole and it would have seemed that giving him that advantage it would be a race for second. But Matt Wentz, who has been very sharp of late, was clinging to Wagner's rear bumper.
Bennett hustled his way to third by lap 15 and after five laps of running near even with Wentz, he replaced him for second and then approached Wagner.
With the help of several cautions, Bennett was able to square off with Wagner and on a lap 24 re-go, he swiped the lead away from the top side of the race track.
Both Wagner and Wentz would have some opportunities to try and unseat Bennett but he remained spot on and drove to the victory, his 59th at the speedway.
"Donny got up there in the front and we raced side-by-side and I have to thank him for running me clean. It was a good battle. The car was pretty good tonight and you can't ask for much more," said Bennett.
"We've had some good luck and some bad luck this year. These are some of the best cars we have ever raced against here this year."
Mike Sweeney of Nesquehoning backed up his Late Model win from the previous week as he roared to victory. He did in a way that had rarely been done - passing point leader Earl Paules.
Sweeney had a lock on the inside groove and eventually took that route to advance past Paules. The two ran nose-to-tail right to the finish.
Give Lehighton's Kyle Strohl the pole in a Street Stock race and the results seem to always be the same. The 13-year old won for a third time from that spot and just as he did in his previous wins he led every lap.
After starting out his year on dirt, Ricky Yetter of Easton, decided to give asphalt a go. He came to MVS in July and seven races later he has become a winner, taking a hard driven victory in the regular Dirt Modified event.
Palmerton's Randy Thomas raced to his third Dirt Mod win of the year in the make-up race from July 7. He started in front from the get-go and stayed the course the rest of the distance.
In the regular 4-Cylinder Stock main it was a race of survival but Doug Knauss of Breiningsville emerged victorious. After several opening lap restarts and a few more afterwards, Knauss claimed his first '12 win.
Bobby Kibler Jr. of Lehighton, at 13 years old, scored his first career win in the make-up 4-Cylinder Stock feature from May 26. Although he started from the pole and led every lap, it was by no means an easy task as he was under constant tension by Knauss.
Modified Feature Finish, 35 Laps: 1. John Bennett, 2. Don Wagner, 3. Matt Wentz, 4. Kevin Rex, Jr., 5. John Markovic, 6. Earl Paules, 7. Todd Baer, 8. Ed Brunnhoezl, 9. Scott Meckes, 10. Lou Strohl, 11. Nevin George, 12. DJ Wagner, 13. Tommy Flanagan, 14. Matt Higgins, 15. James Pritchard, Jr., 16. Chip Santee, 17. Shawn Sitarchyk, 18. Keith Mullineaux, 19. Rob Shultz Did not start: Terry Markovic
Did not qualify: Jared Nace, Scott Adams
Late Model Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1. Mike Sweeney, 2. Earl Paules, 3. Kenny Hein, 4. Paul Koehler, Jr., 5. Frankie Althouse, 6. Paul Effrig, 7. Mark Simon, 8. George Ramos, 9. Jennifer Kutz, 10. Geno Steigerwalt
Street Stock Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1. Kyle Strohl, 2. Randy Ahner, Jr., 3. Joe Steigerwalt, 4. Gene Bowers, 5. Jason Beers, 6. Greg Long, 7. Todd Ahner, 8. Josh Mooney, 9. Chip Wanamaker, 10. Jason Frey, 11. Matt May, 12. TJ Gursky, 13. Jason Kuhn, 14. Lonnie Behler, 15. Doug Bell, 16. Willie Knappenberger, 17. Zach Graver, 18. Austin Santee, 19. Chris May, 20. Joe Mooney
Did not qualify: Guy Ackerman
Dirt Modified Make-up Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Randy Thomas, 2. Dave Thomas, 3. Mike Stofflet, 4. Mark Levy, 5. Kris Graver, 6. Ricky Yetter, 7. Aleia Geisler, 8. Joe Stangle Did not start: Dave Gorbatuk
Dirt Modified Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Yetter, 2. Randy Thomas, 3. Graver, 4. Stofflet, 5. Dave Thomas, 6. Geisler, 7. Levy, 8. Stangle, 9. Sittler, 10. Billy Swartz
4-Cylinder Stock Make-up Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Bobby Kibler, Jr., 2. Doug Knauss, 3. Tyler Stangle, 4. Jake Kibler, 5. Kyle Strohl, 6. Jeremy Miller, 7. Nick Baer, 8. Dan Freundt, 9. Taya Wentz, 10. Robert Miller Did not start: Justin Martison, Dillon Kibler, Cody Geist
4-Cylinder Stock Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Knauss, 2. Freundt, 3. Baer, 4. Strohl, 5. Stangle, 6. Martison, 7. Robert Miller, 8. Moyer, 9. Kibler, Jr., 10. Dave Chapman, 11. Oswald, 12. Jeremy Miller, 13. Stone Wentz, 14. Cody Roth, 15. Jake Kibler DQ: Barry Christman, Jr.