For Brian DeFebo, Opening Night win was déjà vu; Frankie Althouse, Cody Geist, Mark Levy, Jake Kibler and Shawn Kistler among class winners

15 Apr 2018
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A new era of racing was ushered in at Mahoning Valley Speedway on Saturday. Now under the leadership of Jack and Rebecca Carlino, a great Opening Night crowd poured into the track to kick-off the 2018 season.

Defending Modified champion Brian DeFebo got his year off to a great start as well, scoring the Opening Night laurels for a second straight time. And, just as he did a year ago the win came over Austin Kochenash.

DeFebo would use a last lap restart to slip below Kyle Strohl and then held back Kochenash, who also advanced on the same restart, to register his 67th career Modified win and 96th overall.

“It’s exciting to start this way and a great way to come back and defend our championship,” said DeFebo who is back behind the wheel of the Welsh Motorsports No. 53.

With a heads-up start from heat finishes to begin the 35-lap main, Joey Jarowicz and Strohl would bring the field to the race commencing green. From there Jarowicz went right to the lead and was turning solid laps in the process.

Strohl was settled in second and every few laps would make a bid at the lead. Each time, though, Jarowicz was able to guard his spot, looking very poised for his overdue first win.

With 16 laps in Strohl again went for the lead and this time was able to pull to the inside of Jarowicz. Afterwards a thrilling two-wide battle ensued. Then on the 19th tour the pair came into turn three and Jarowicz got slightly loose. He and Strohl then made incidental contact. Before Jarowicz had a chance to recover his car got completely out of line and skidded into the front straight wall and suffered race ending damage.

“That was just circumstances. Joey (Jarowicz) just got the car a little sideways. Kyle had nothing to do with that from where I was sitting,” offered DeFebo, who was riding behind the two when the incident unfolded.

Afterwards it was Strohl over DeFebo and with the laps winding it was appearing to finish that way. Unfortunately for Strohl a last lap caution waved for debris and with one last shot DeFebo powered under Strohl and took Kochenash with him.

“There was no outside line tonight. Once we had that last restart I had Austin (Kochenash) assisting me. I was then on the 44 (Strohl) and he left me just enough room,” explained DeFebo on his race winning move.

“Kyle did a great job but you have to do what you have to do in order to pass here. It’s not at a point stance right now. We’re all here tonight win and everyone wants to win the first one.”

In Late Model action Frankie Althouse made a breathtaking three-wide pass for the lead on lap four and remained in control the rest of the distance in notching the top spot.

Two-time and defending class champ Mike Sweeney took control at the outset but it would be short lived as Broc Brown used a lap one restart to overtake him.

With Althouse in third, he then drove low two laps later to go underneath Brown while Sweeney was forced to the high outside lane. While much of the huge crowd may have gasped by what could have been a chaotic consequence, the trio of talented wheelmen held their own and settling into the lead was Althouse.

From there on it was smooth sailing for Althouse who picked up career win number 24. Brown was quick but had to settle for second while Sweeney came home third.

Being in the right place at the right time aided Cody Geist in winning the Street Stock feature.

Corey Edelman was within reach of taking the Street Stock checkers until a late race nudge from Josh Mooney dashed his hopes.

When the field was reset Geist, who was riding third, was in charge and over the final few laps had no problem fending back 2017 division titlist Stacey Brown.

Opening Night wins are always special but when it came to the Dirt Mod event perhaps no one could have more elated then Mark Levy.

The high-spirited Levy moved into the lead during a lap one caution period after then leader Ricky Yetter had to pit for a flat.

When the race resumed Levy showed no signs of relinquishing the point as he motored around the 1/4-mile with perfect accuracy and won over Billy Lasko. It was only the second win for Levy whose last win came exactly five years and a day since then.

Jake Kibler raced to the Pro 4 victory but it was with a heavy heart as the day prior his mother, Pat Hosier, passed away.

Kibler started from the pole and early on had a good fight going with Cody Kohler. After Kohler spun while trying for the lead on lap 8, Kibler then let second place play out to everyone else as he steadily held his position the rest of the way. Bill Rooney claimed the runner-up spot.

Shawn Kistler certainly had plenty to celebrate on this night as he finally broke through for his career first feature win, taking top honors in the Hobby Stocks. Kistler passed Lindsay Buss on lap two and from there never looked back en route to the unforgettable verdict.

Alex Greenzweig was best in class with the visiting Micro Stocks.


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Steven B. Wilson

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