Markovic, Zeiner race to thrilling Modified wins
John Markovic ended a 10 year dry spell at Mahoning Valley Speedway, winning the regular 35 lap Modified feature and Zane Zeiner captured the postponed second half of the Mahoning Modified Madness Series twin 50's on Checkered Flag Fan Club Night.
For Markovic, it was an emotionally charged night for the respected veteran from Bethlehem. He raced to an extremely hard fought verdict and was beside himself during Victory Lane celebration as the win came on the two year anniversary of the passing of his father, Jack Markovic.
"I'm a little choked up. My dad passed away two years ago today and I know he was watching over me. It was a good night and I'm very thankful," said Markovic, who last won a Modified race on May 18, 2003.
The Markovic name would actually bookend the start and finish of the race as John's brother Terry Markovic, started from the pole and led the first six laps.
Afterwards a very strong running Eric Kocher took to the helm and was accompanied by Lou Strohl. This would turn into a torrid battle for the lead and while those two dueled, J. Markovic put himself into contention soon after.
J. Markovic took care of Strohl with the help of a restart on lap four. He then drove alongside Kocher and began a sizzling fight for the lead. Kocher too, was looking to end years of not winning which added to the intenseness of the action filled race.
Working the outside, J. Markovic would eventually find his way to the front on lap 13 and it never was a case of him pulling any further ahead either as Kocher and Strohl raced side-by-side while right on his bumper.
For a driver with some impressive credentials, a decade is way too long to stay away from winning and J. Markovic showed that he was not about to surrender. He stayed stout and registered his 32nd overall Mahoning win.
"I love this sport and I love auto racing and I love helping people and there's nothing else I'd rather be doing. I want to win like anyone else but if I finish second or third, it's OK because they're all my friends," said the five-time track champion.
In a near photo finish Strohl nipped Kocher and for each it was their best efforts to date. Eric Beers and Nevin George rounded out the top five.
For the 50-lap carryover from July 27, Chip Santee jumped to the early lead and within five laps had Kocher giving him a handful.
Just as he dealt with in the opening race, Kocher was engaged in two-wide action as Earl Paules was neck-and-neck with him. They would run in that close order for a number of laps while attempting to get by Santee. By lap 15 fast moving Zeiner joined the fight to make it a deeply contested four car battle.
By lap 20 Zeiner, who was racing on the outside groove, motored up to second and went into an amazingly crowd pleasing dogfight with Santee. They raced inches apart while aiming at the lead spot, Santee on the inside and Zeiner directly to his right. Both drivers got a chance to catch their breath under a lap 24 caution but once the race resumed so too did their awesome battle.
With 27 laps in and the momentum of running on the outside lane, Zeiner finally swept past Santee. From there on he would have no problem although late into the contest Matt Hirschman was making a valid attempt to catch him.
Hirschman settled for second with Santee, Kris Graver and Kocher completed the top five running order.
Paules continued on his winning ways in the Late Models as the defending track champion scored his eighth win of the year.
With the win Paules continues to lead all asphalt Late Model feature winners in the Northeast region.
Jonathan Tracey won for the first time with the Street Stocks and became the 13th different winner this season.
The sophomore racer started out in a back and forth duel with Guy Ackerman before taking the lead for good on lap six. He then held back numerous foes including a charging Zach Graver on his way to securing the elusive career first verdict.
JP Curry went from third to first in one lap's time and then sped away to his second Dirt Mod win of the season.
The Pro 4 feature was a wild slam/bam affair as Nick Baer and Kyle Strohl locked horns several times on lap 13 until sliding simultaneously against the front straight wall. Although they were running one-two at the time, officials deemed then the caution cars and put them to the tail end of the field,
They also called the race after numerous cautions and coming out on top was Dave Chapman for his second win of 2013.
Elyse Bollinger, racing for just the fourth time in a stock car, earned a well-deserved first win with the Hobby Stocks. She led early but then gave up the lead spot to Corey Edelman on lap 10.
Modified Feature Finish (35 Laps): 1. John Markovic, 2. Lou Strohl, 3. Eric Kocher, 4. Eric Beers, 5. Nevin George, 6. Roger Coss, 7. Chip Santee, 8. DJ Wagner, 9. Bobby Jones, 10. Terry Markovic, 11. John Bennett, 12. Mike Quinn, 13. Kris Graver, 14. Tom Flanagan 15. Kevin Rex Jr., 16. Rick Kirkendall, 17. Matt Wentz, 18. Earl Paules, 19. Don Wagner, 20. Matt Hirschman, 21. Todd Baer, 22. Zane Zeiner
Make-up Modified Feature Finish 7/27 (50 Laps): 1. Zeiner, 2. Hirschman, 3. Santee, 4. Graver, 5. Kocher, 6. Paules, 7. Coss, 8. DJ Wagner, 9. George, 10. Kirkendall, 11. Don Wagner, 12. Jones, 13. Flanagan, 14. John Markovic, 15. Strohl, 16. Terry Markovic, 17. Rex Jr., 18. Wentz, 19. Baer, 20. Beers, 21. Quinn DNS: Rick Reichenbach
Late Model (25 Laps): 1. Earl Paules, 2. Frankie Althouse, 3. Kevin Graver Jr., 4. Mike Sweeney, 5. George Ramos, 6. Kenny Hein, 7. Jennifer Kutz, 8. Paul Effrig, 9. Geno Steigerwalt, 10. Mike VanFossen 11. Zane Zeiner, 12. Josh Oswald
Street Stock Feature Finish (30 Laps): 1. Jonathan Tracey, 2. Zach Graver, 3. Lonnie Behler, 4. Justin Mooney, 5. Kristy Arthofer, 6. Stacey Brown, 7. TJ Gursky, 8. Jason Frey, 9. Josh Mooney, 10. Kyle Strohl, 11. Aaron Kromer, 12. Jamie Smith, 13. Chip Wanamaker, 14. Todd Ahner, 15. Jason Beers, 16. Eric Kocher, 17. Randy Ahner Jr., 18. Tiffany Wambold, 19. Guy Ackerman, 20. Jason Kuhn, 21. Steven Steigerwalt DNQ: Gene Bowers, Jillian Long, Willis Knappenberger, Mike Garris Sr., Lucas Santee
Dirt Modified Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. JP Curry, 2. Ricky Yetter, 3. Aleia Geisler, 4. Billy Lowden Jr., 5. Ray Deemer, 6. Dave Gorbatuk, 7. Jeff Parker, 8. Dave Thomas, 9. Drew Reinbold Did not start: Bill Sittler Jr.
Pro 4 Feature Finish (20 Laps): 1. Dave Chapman, 2. Bobby Kibler Jr., 3. Doug Knauss, 4. Cody Kohler, 5. Jake Kibler, 6. Tyler Stangle, 7. Nick Baer, 8. Kyle Strohl, 9, Robert Miller, 10. Danielle Paules
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (15 Laps): 1. Elyse Bollinger, 2. Corey Edelman, 3. Bill Verwys, 4. Gunner Yost, 5. Tim Oswald, 6. Jeff Biegley, 7. Chad Miller, 8. Steve McDonough, 9. Cody Geist