Kochenash overall champ of Teel Memorial
The 3rd Annual Bill Teel Memorial Modified 4-16s produced the expected high level of excitement as four features at 16-laps in distance meant the action was fast and furious each time out.
Twenty-one-year-old Kyle Strohl began Saturday night like gangbusters as he won the first two mains, while Earl Paules and Bobby Jones would go on to capture the next two. Austin Kochenash, the steadiest performer of the night, took the overall prize as champion thanks to his three seconds and a third.
With a random draw to start the first feature, Nick Baer and Strohl where the lucky ones that would bring the field to the green. But before a single lap could be scored, several cars piled into each other just past the start line.
After the cleanup Baer took the lead, but by lap four Strohl motored to the front and brought Kochenash with him. It was tooth-and-nail the rest of the way, with the win being narrowly in favor of Strohl.
For the redraw, picked by Strohl, five would be inverted giving Kevin Rex Jr. and Baer the front row. Once again a botched start jumbled things, and this time it would be Baer who came up short when he slid into the turn four wall.
After action resumed, Lou Strohl, who advanced to second after resetting the field, jumped out front. Not long after, K. Strohl and Kochenash joined him and made it a gripping three-way battle for the lead. With no room for error, the trio blistered around each lap in tight quarters — a number of times in three-wide formation.
With three laps to go, K. Strohl dipped to the inside of L. Strohl for the lead. Kochenash then went side-by-side with L. Strohl until nipping him for second on lap 15. Still plugging hard, he then tried his best to make a run at K. Strohl, but unfortunately, time was not on his side as the checkers fell.
Since the Teel Memorial began, no driver to that point had ever won back-to-back races. It marked the 40th overall win for Strohl.
For the third feature, Paules beat out Josh Scherer for the opening lap lead, and then journeyed out for the 16-lap jaunt, getting his second win in the last three weeks. He also tied John Bennett as Mahoning Valley Speedway’s all-time wins leader at 60.
For the final race, Jones and Brian DeFebo set the stage from row one, with Jones rapidly taking the lead. In short order, Tyler Haydt powered to second.
There was a multicar incident on lap three, and that restart it helped move Kochenash up to second. When the action resumed, and despite a relentless hard-charging effort to snag the lead, Jones was able to stay the course and claim his division-leading fourth victory of the season.
Jones was racing for car owner Paul French, and for the first time in his career won without his trademark No. 1 as his number. His 43rd career win came using the No. 12.
With impressive finishes of three seconds and a third, Kochenash was the champion and earned the lion’s share of purse and contingency awards. It was his seventh runner-up in 12 starts at Mahoning, and 10th top-5 of the year here.
“We came here to win some races tonight, but fell short unfortunately. Winning the overall title is the next best thing. Bill Teel was a great guy, both on the track and off, and to win this in his name is very special. I want to thank all my sponsors, the race track and Dene Smith for all he did to put this race together,” said Kochenash.
“Between here, Evergreen (Raceway) and all the other races, this is something like our 10th second-place finish. But when you run up front every event, eventually the wins will come.”
It was clear that Kochenash needed just a few more laps in order to make up that one spot to win. His car was very good no matter what lane he drove, but with a mere 16 laps, the timing just didn’t work in his favor.
“This car is usually better in long runs, so with just 16 laps everyone had to work hard to gain positions. We had good luck with the draws, and overall it was a good night for the team.”
In the 30-lap Street Stock feature, Randy Ahner Jr. grabbed the lead at the outset and continued there the rest of the way en route to his second victory of the season.
Ahner was able to hold off Cody Geist over the first half of the event, and then had strong- running Josh Mooney tail him to the checkers. Geist took a respectable third.
Jake Kibler added another victory to his all-time Pro 4 list with a dominating run. Kibler had a commanding lead for most of the race and only had the field close to him when a few late-race cautions appeared. He beat out Randy Schaffer and point leader Bobby Kibler Sr. for his 36th class victory.
In the Hobby Stocks, it would appear that no one may have been putting in an effort to win this year like Trisha Connolly.
Granted, everyone comes to win, but each week Connolly is the first car to arrive at the track for early practice, and then during the feature has regularly been part of the front pack. In the end, however, luck never swayed her way ... that is until this night when she finally flourished with a solid run.
Taking the lead on a lap-18 restart over Kassidy Altemose, Connolly then held off Devein Schmidt for her first win of the year, and became the 11th different winner of the season.
1st Modified Feature Finish (16 laps): 1. Kyle Strohl, 2. Austin Kochenash, 3. Lou Strohl. 4. Nick Bear, 5. Kevin Rex, 6. Brian DeFebo, 7. Don Wagner, 8. Anthony Sesely, 9. BJ Wambold, 10. Heath Metzger, 11. Josh Scherer, 12. Tyler Haydt, 13. Todd Bear, 14. Earl Paules, 15. Bobby Jones, 16. Kevin Graver Jr.
2nd Modified Feature Finish (16 laps): 1. K. Strohl, 2. Kochenash, 3. L. Strohl, 4. Wagner, 5. DeFebo, 6. Sesely, 7. Rex, 8. Graver, 9. Haydt, 10. Paules, 11. Scherer, 12. Wambold, 13. Metzger, 14. Jones, 15. N. Bear DNS: T. Bear
3rd Modified Feature Finish (16 laps): 1. Paules, 2. Scherer, 3. Kochenash, 4. Haydt, 5. DeFebo, 6. Jones, 7. K. Strohl, 8. Graver, 9. L. Strohl, 10. Wagner, 11. N. Bear, 12. Sesely, 13. Rex, 14. Metzger DNS: T. Bear, Wambold
4th Modified Feature Finish (16 laps): 1. Jones, 2. Kochenash, 3. Haydt, 4. L. Strohl, 5. Wagner, 6. Sesely, 7. DeFebo, 8. K. Strohl, 9. Paules, 10. N. Bear, 11. Rex, 12. Metzger, 13. Scherer, 14. Graver DNS: Wambold, T. Bear
Street Stock Feature Finish (30 laps): 1. Randy Ahner Jr., 2. Josh Mooney, 3. Cody Geist, 4. Mark Martini, 5. Josh Ahner, 6. Eric Kocher, 7. Jamie Smith, 8. Todd Ahner, 9. Jon Moser, 10. Beau Drobot, 11. Rick Reichenbach, 12. Randy Schlenker, 13. Shayne Geist, 14. Mark Deysher, 15. Jill Long, 16. Tucker Muffley, 17. Brennen Coulter, 18. Jeremy Schlenker, 19. Dennis Buss
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (25 laps): 1. Trisha Connolly, 2. Devin Schmidt, 3. Kassidy Altemose, 4. Al Arthofer, 5. Travis Solomon, 6. Peyton Arthofer, 7. Jacob Boehm, 8. Shawn Kistler, 9. Austin Ahner, 10. Todd Geist, 11. John Petro, 12. Jesse Bollinger, 13. Philip Sabatine, 14. Tad Snyder, 15. Rich Mutarelli, 16. Ralph Borger, 17. Terry Peters, 18. Mallory Kutz, 19. Josh Oswald DQ: Cody Kohler
Pro 4 Feature Finish (20 laps): 1. Jake Kibler, 2. Randy Schaffer, 3. Bobby Kibler Sr., 4. Josh Kuronya, 5. Bobby Kibler Jr., 6. Cody Kohler, 7. Matt Clark, 8. Jeremey Guerra, 9. Tucker Muffley, 10. Kadie Purcell