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Baer Comes Up Short, While Strohl Prevails At Mahoning

LEHIGHTON, Pa. — Nick Baer has won races in both Sportsman Modifieds and 602 Crate Modifieds, but on Saturday evening, he was teetering on the verge of his first modified victory at Mahoning Valley Speedway.

All was going well until the only caution waved with 12 laps remaining and wiped out what was a commanding lead to that point.

When the field was reset, Kyle Strohl was lined up alongside and three laps later, he eased his way to the front where he would stay the rest of the way for his first win of the season. Baer would have to settle for second — his best finish with a modified.

“Nick (Baer) had a really good car tonight and he had just enough space ahead of me where I wasn’t going to catch him and that caution really helped me,” said Strohl, the defending Mahoning Modified champion.

Baer was the polesitter and no sooner did the action commence, he was showing his hand by distancing himself from the pack. And while he was outstepping everyone, there was torrid action going on behind him with a tight group that included Lou Strohl, Don Wagner, K. Strohl and Bobby Jones all racing closely for second spot — notably the Strohl’s who battled side-by-side.

By lap 13, K. Strohl secured the position although Baer by then had built a sizeable lead. However, K. Strohl was turning quicker lap times and slowly chipping away at the leader although it was evident Baer was solid enough ahead to carry himself to the finish.

Fate then stepped in for K. Strohl when Jaden Brown looped coming off turn four on lap 23 to prompt the only caution of the contest. Now flanked to the outside of Baer, K. Strohl would run a few two-wide circuits on the outside lane and as the crossed the stripe with nine laps to go the lead changed hands and there was no looking back from there.

“The car was the best it’s ever been for us in a long time and I can’t thank my dad and crew enough for the hard work and long hours they all put in on this,” said K. Strohl, who picked up his 19th modified win and 44th overall. “This is actually a different car then last year with the motor and we switched from Chevy to Ford.

“Everyone kept telling us we have to go back to Chevy, but I proved today that the Ford can do as good if not better.”

Jones, Wagner and Brown completed the top five.

It was a case of being in the right place at the right time for Street Stock winner Eric Kocher. Cody Geist had the race well in hand, that was until four laps to go when his transmission let go and he suddenly spun. Close behind was Geary Rinehimer Jr., who clipped Geist and he suffered a flat tire.

Running third at the time was Kocher who was then elevated to the lead and would stay there to the checkers just ahead of Jon Moser and Jacob Boehm.

For Kocher, it was a very humbling victory too. Not only was it his first time out this season, but he modestly dedicated the win to his wife, Jeanette, who had been dealing with breast cancer. It was an emotionally charged victory lane afterwards, as the first to greet Kocher was Jeanette as they shared in a very special moment.   

Jeff Parker cruised out front for all 20 laps of the dirt mod feature and recorded his third straight win.

And while Parker was en route to his 16th career victory and a padding of his point lead, James Counterman Jr., made a thrilling last lap pass of Ricky Yetter for the runner-up spot.

In the make-up Harry’s U-Pull-It Hobby Stock feature from April 22, Jacob Boehm shot out to the lead at the drop of the green and was unchallenged the rest of the way, motoring to an assertive victory. For runner-up Shayne Geist it was anything but, as he had a race-long battle with Michael Wambold for his best effort to date.

In the regular feature, BJ Wambold can boast that he led every lap but it was far and away a barnburner from start to finish.

Wambold had his hands full right to the end, dealing with Cody Boehm and Jared Frye on virtually every lap. When he crossed the finish line, he had Boehm glued to his rear bumper but raced brilliantly in holding his stance and winning for the first time this season.

For the third time in six starts Michael Klotz took top honors with the Futures. Klotz made his race winning pass on Chaz Takacs with five laps in and then held off Adam Steigerwalt the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Tyler Wagner notched his second straight East Coast TQ Midget win at Mahoning. Jumping into the lead at the outset from his fourth starting spot, Wagner then dusted the field on his way to victory.

Modified Feature Results (35 laps)

1. Kyle Strohl, 2. Nick Baer, 3. Bobby Jones, 4. Don Wagner, 5. Jaden Brown, 6. Lou Strohl, 7. John Markovic, 8. Terry Markovic, 9. Johnny Bennett, 10. Greyson Ahner, 11. Jacob Kerstetter 12. Wayne Kerstetter DNS: Frank Parastino