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Jones grabs first modified win of season

For the past four years, Bobby Jones had a unique streak going which saw him win the Modified feature on the second week of the season.

However, that stretch ended last week with his third-place finish, though it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying.

So with one streak over, a new one began as Jones picked up his first victory of 2021 coming in Week 3.

And what a tough battle it was for Jones, who after taking the lead from Brian DeFebo with nine laps to go, then had to fend off Nevin George before parking his Franzosa Trucking/APS Powder Coating No. 1J in Victory Lane.

“Sure we would have liked to have won last week, but this hopefully will start a new trend of winning for us early in the season,” said Jones after picking up his 30th Modified feature at Mahoning Valley.

“We’ve been working on something new here, and it’s definitely getting better, and I don’t think it was exactly right today, but it’s definitely in the right direction. It was hard fought, that’s for sure.”

The race began with Kyle Strohl and Jesse Strohl (no relation) sharing the front row. At the end of the opening circuit, K. Strohl showed the way while J. Strohl and Earl Paules ran side-by-side for second. Paules would acquire the runner-up spot by lap four, and then applied plenty of pressure on leader K. Strohl.

The tension by Paules paid off when he used a lap 14 restart to take over the lead, but it would be short lived as DeFebo slipped underneath him on a start over two laps later. Not long afterward, Paules tried to move under DeFebo, but got crossed up, spun and collected several others.

When the field was reset, DeFebo and Jones were one and two, with George and Austin Beers battling for third. The lead pair would soon engage in a torrid fight, and on lap 25, Jones put his front wheels inside of DeFebo coming off Turn 4. When they entered the first corner, DeFebo suddenly checked up and Jones snatched the front spot with George following in close pursuit.

The rest of the way Jones would hold on, despite a noble effort from George. DeFebo and Beers were next in line with Don Wagner rounding out the top five.

“It was all good, hard racing, and you look back at the list of guys in this race, and all of them have achieved something here. In this Modified field, you cannot sit still from the time the green waves and right up to the checkers,” noted Jones.

The Late Model division got on track for the first time this season, and there was no denying the drive by winner Lorin Arthofer II, who jumped into the lead from the get-go and was never in a position to let it go.

Starting on the outside pole, Arthofer overtook Rich Cooper and immediately set sail from the pack. Early on, Nick Ross kept him in sight until getting turned six laps in.

2020 champion Geno Steigerwalt was then second to Arthofer, but he too, could not match up, and likewise with James Yons, who took over as runner-up on lap 10, but as for making a stab at the leader, it wasn’t to be.

Arthofer, who was making his first Late Model start since 2018, proved best and raced to his 42nd overall career win. Interesting to note the last time the car saw action was at the end of last season and Arthofer’s daughter, Avery, won the feature.

The Street Stock main was a thrilling contest that was decided at the finish line between winner Johnny Bennett and rookie Tobie Behler.

For 29 of the 30 laps, Behler continued to hold off Bennett, but when the white flag waved, it began a bump-and-bang run between the two. Bennett squeezed inside of Behler in an attempt to get the lead which he did. However, Behler, despite getting slightly loose, regained his composure and returned the favor to Bennett. They were now two-by-two as they exited Turn 4 and at the line Bennett, who was on the outside, eked out the victory.

Devin Schmidt’s Hobby Stock win was close to the same electrifying outcome as he too, needed every bit of the 25-laps to ensure his first triumph of the year.

Schmidt was locking horns with Cody Boehm and point leader Al Arthofer, who had won the first two races and pressing hard to make it three in a row.

On a restart with two laps to go, Schmidt stayed ahead while Boehm and Arthofer went double file. As the trio reached the checkers, Schmidt held on while Boehm nipped Arthofer for second.

Defending Pro 4 champion Cody Kohler made his first class start of the season a good one, as he took charge of the race from Randy Schaffer with four laps to go and headed off to victory.

Before the Pro 4 feature, the Futures/Rookie Hobby Stock race took place and Kohler’s sister, Makayla, was celebrating victory with the Futures in what marked the first time that a brother and sister won features on the same day.

Also winning was Greyson Ahner, who for the second time in as many weeks, took the checkered flag and overall win with the Futures/Rookie Hobby Stocks.

Modified Feature Finish (35 laps)

: 1. Bobby Jones, 2. Nevin George, 3. Brian DeFebo, 4. Austin Beers, 5. Don Wagner, 6. Rod Snyder Jr., 7. Cody Kohler, 8. Kyle Strohl, 9. Nick Baer, 10. Bobby Butler, 11. Carl Altemose, 12. Jesse Strohl, 13. Mia Guy, 14. Earl Paules, 15. John Markovic, 16. Jack Ely, 17. Terry Markovic

Late Model Feature Finish (25 laps)

: 1. Lorin Arthofer, 2. James Yons, 3. Geno Steigerwalt, 4. Nick Ross, 5. Brian Romig Jr., 6. Mark Hudson, 7. Brooks Smith, 8. Rich Cooper, 9. Brian Romig Sr., 10. Seth VanFossen

Street Stock Feature Finish (30 laps)

: 1. John Bennett, 2. Tobie Behler, 3. Todd Ahner, 4. Jon Moser, 5. Cody Geist, 6. Mark Martini, 7. Randy Ahner, 8. TJ Gursky, 9. Randy Green, 10. Ruck Reichenbach, 11. Thomas Flanagan, 12. Jacob Christman, 13. Mark Deysher, 14. Rich Moser, 15. Jill Snyder, 16. Jamie Smith, 17. Brandon Christman, 18. Tucker Muffley, 19. Earl Paules, 20. Bobby Kibler Jr. DNQ: Jason Gould, Frank Del Nero Jr.

Pro 4 Feature Finish (20 laps)

: 1. Cody Kohler, 2. Jake Kibler, 3. Randy Schaffer, 4. Robert Derfler, 5. Josh Kuronya, 6. Kadie Pursell, 7. Terry Peters, 8. Jeremy Guerra

Hobby Stock Feature Finish (25 laps)

: 1. Devin Schmidt, 2. Cody Boehm, 3. Al Arthofer, 4. BJ Wambold, 5. Justin Merkel, 6. Travis Solomon, 7. Trisha Connolly, 8. Nick Schaffer, 9. Corey Edelman, 10. Kevin Behler, 11. Slade Darragh, 12. Tony Hilliard, 13. Taylor Schmidt, 14. Jacob Boehm, 15. Micah Adams, 16. Mackenzie Adams, 17. Lyndsay Buss, 18. Herman Neff, 19. Dave Imler Jr., 20. James Tout DNQ: Ralph Borger Jr., Nicholas Kerstetter, Ed Herman, Jacob Oswald

Futures/Rookie Hobby Stock Feature Finish (12 laps)

: 1. Greyson Ahner, 2. Makayla Kohler, 3. Dave Kerr, 4. Gary Lerch, 5. Savannah Romig, 6. Zoe Kuchera, 7. Adam Steigerwalt, 8. Maggie Yeakel, 9. Deegan Underwood, 10. Reid Levengood, 11. Brody George