LEHIGHTON, Pa. – Nick Ross has proven to be a quick study in getting around Mahoning Valley Speedway.
In his third start at Mahoning Valley he found his way to victory lane as he cruised to a stirring first late model win at the paved quarter-mile oval Saturday night.
Ross only made one start late last season and immediately made an impression with a third-place tally. He showed up again for the division’s season opener on April 17 and was a contender once more. His third here time would be the charm for the Mountain Top racer of the R-N-R Restorations No. 99.
Ross went by Rich Cooper for the lead with five laps in and then stayed smooth and steady the remainder of the way for his initial Mahoning Valley Speedway victory.
The start of the feature was slightly delayed due to a passing shower but once the action got underway it was Cooper wasting no time from his pole starting spot and jumping into the lead. He was tracked closely by Brian Romig Jr., and Ross.
By the completion of the third tour Ross had slipped by Romig and was now hounding Cooper in a torrid double-wide battle. Coming off the fourth corner to begin the fifth circuit Ross, who was utilizing the outside lane, had stepped to the front of the pack.
Afterwards he was dealing with Lorin Arthofer II and then James Yons, however, as the laps ticked on Ross was continuing to extend his advantage and took the checkers by three-and-a-half seconds.
“I really did not expect this at all. We unloaded and made a bunch of changes and it really woke the car up. I can’t thank all my crew enough and Port City Race Cars,” said Ross. “The track was really greasy after the rain delay and you had to hold on. If you gave it any extra throttle you were going around but once we got going the surface was fine. I’m super pumped to win a race here at Mahoning Valley.”
The Sportsman Modified feature was stopped after nine laps due to a hard crash that busted up the front straight wall. With safety concerns the main priority it was decided to halt the action at that point rather than risk additional ramifications.
The race got off to a thrilling start between Peyton Arthofer and Troy Bollinger. They quickly went into a two-wide race while switching off the front spot early on.
By lap five Arthofer took control but barely as Bollinger, as well as Jared Ahner, kept hot on her heels. Bollinger continued to run to the outside of Arthofer and as the twosome where about to complete lap eight trouble soon unfolded resulting in a very hard collision.
The incident began when they touched coming off the final corner. Arthofer then got loose and her back end snapped out front under her. At this point they had just crossed the start/finish line with Arthofer now aiming for and then slamming into the wall. The grinding hit impacted so hard that a tow portions of the concrete retaining wall busted down.
In the process Bollinger also got clipped and he came to a screeching halt at the first turn barrier.
Both drivers were shaken while their cars substantial race ending damage. As of race time Arthofer was still at a local hospital, alert but being monitored with testing. Bollinger was sore but otherwise okay.
Because the wall could not be repaired in a safe manner it was decided to postpone the remainder of the races and reschedule them for a later date including the final 16 laps of the Sportsman race as well as the Hobby Stock and ATQMRA mains.
In Street Stock, action T.J. Gursky took the lead from Tobie Behler on a lap-14 restart and went on to victory becoming the first repeat winner with the class this season.
Prior to Gursky driving to the front there was a good battle between Jason Gould and Behler as they swapped the lead back and forth over the early laps. Behler then landed the front position by the fifth tour and was keeping a nice line in protecting his lead.
However, during a series of cautions Gursky had methodically advanced up to second by lap 13 yet the rookie still showed he wasn’t ready to give up. When they realigned for the lap 14 restart the veteran put his years of experience to use as he powered past Behler. In the final circuits Gursky had to fend off strong running Jillian Snyder and Mark Deysher en route to the verdict.
Brody George was able to elude a tangle between front runners Adam Steigerwalt and Greyson Ahner with three laps to go and went on to score his fifth Futures win in six starts. Hallie Muffley, making her first start of the season, was a close second.
Also repeating as a winner with Rookies for a third in the first six races was Deegen Underwood.