Story By: PHIL ALLAWAY / LEBANON VALLEY SPEEDWAY – WEST LEBANON, NY – On Saturday, Lebanon Valley Speedway opened up for the day so that teams could shake down new chassis and old chassis for the upcoming season. Unfortunately, the weather played a big role. It was dry and breezy early on, but incoming rain forced the on-track sessions to be moved up.
Shortly after 6 p.m., the rains arrived and quickly ended the proceedings. While many teams got a good amount of on-track time, others such as Pitcher Motorsports got caught out by the rain and only got limited time. The lack of track time probably won’t hurt Rob Pitcher all that much since he was running the car he plans to race at Albany-Saratoga Speedway. If he can get it finished, he plans on introducing a new chassis for Lebanon Valley this upcoming weekend.
The lack of track time did hurt Rob’s son Brandon, who is planning on racing in the Small Block Modified class this season. Getting seat time is important for the young racer.
There were a number of familiar faces at the track. There were familiar faces in new places, such as Pure Stock veteran Harold Robitaille in a Sportsman chassis or Joey Morey in Tim Meltz’s former Single-Cam 4-Cylinder racer. Then, there were some new faces on hand, like L.J. Lombardo, who will race a big block Modified this season.
Pure Stock campaigner Gary O’Brien made light of the new faces at the track.
“There does seem to be a better count of cars this year in all divisions,” O’Brien said. “A lot of new cars, some unfamiliar faces. It’s a good sign. I think we’ve got six or eight more Pure Stocks [this year].”
Three teams at the track Saturday debuted new PMC Race Cars built in Schodack. Chad Jeseo’s team made the switch from a Teo to the PMC, while Mike King and Frank Harper simply upgraded to newer equipment. For Jeseo, he’s pleased despite the PMC chassis being a different animal.
“[The PMC] was very good,” Jeseo stated. “Very different from my Teo, so a lot of my tendencies and habits don’t transfer over. Very happy with it so far.”
PMC Race Cars owner Pete Chuckta was on-site Saturday to provide support for the teams using the new chassis, which was greatly appreciated. In addition to the three new PMC chassis on-site Saturday, Slavin Motorsports will also run a new PMC chassis this season in the Sportsman class. The No. 76 that Slavin finished out 2016 with was returned to Catlin21 Racing, who will once again campaign the car on their own.
Kenny Tremont Jr. will once again do double duty in 2017 with Troyer chassis. The same car that blitzed the Small Block Modified class will be used this year, while a new car will be utilized for the Modified class.
JR Heffner will also do double duty, but he did not have his Small Block car at warmups. He appeared to be pretty happy at the end of the day.
“The car feels pretty good,” Heffner said after the sessions ended in his personal vehicle. “The A. Colarusso and Sons Park East No. 74 was very adjustable and we felt like we had good traction. We should be good.”
In addition to his regular schedule at Lebanon Valley, Heffner will once again attempt the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby with Martins Motorsports later this season. A couple of months ago, Heffner sent his truck out to get a new body (including a current nose) installed and additional upgrades will be made as well. Since Martins Motorsports is now pursuing a part-time schedule in the XFINITY Series, Heffner will have to race into the Dirt Derby.
The Pro Stock class looks to be stocked with returning favorites and some newcomers. Rob Yetman was at the track and appeared to be quite fast with his white and orange No. 7, as was Jay Corbin in his No. 8. Pure Stock veteran Dan Cote has chosen to move up to Pro Stock after having acquired a new car.
The Pure Stock class sees a lot of returning favorites. Some, like Al Relyea, are bringing out the same cars as last year. Others, like Ray Hall Sr., have acquired new cars for the season.
The Lebanon Valley Speedway 2017 season gets underway Saturday night with L&M Motors and Sayer’s Auto Wrecking presenting a card of action headlined by a $3000 to win Modified feature. The Pro Stock, Pure Stock and 4-Cylinder classes will also be on hand. The racing will start at 6 p.m. sharp.