Ray Kochin races to thrilling Enduro win at Evergreen Raceway season finale

Evergreen Raceway brought down the curtain on the 2023 season on Saturday afternoon, December 16, with a pair of Enduro races – a 100 lapper and a 25 lap feature held on the Roval.

Ray Kochin of Weatherly scored a thrilling career first victory in the 100 lap Gut-and-Go Enduro while Mark Rittenhouse of Hunlock Creek was also a first time winner in the 25 lap Roval Enduro.

Under sun splashed skies along with seasonable mild temperatures a field of 36 cars took the green for the start of the 100 lap main and at the conclusion of the first circuit it was Dylan Sheeler taking the lead, however, it would be short lived as Mike Mujsce Jr., then vaulted to the front and it didn’t take long thereafter for him to start showcasing plenty of speed as he handily stayed out front well ahead of second place on back and was making quick work of putting car after car a lap back.

Mujsce’s performance was so strong that by lap 37 he had gone one lap up on the entire field and wasn’t letting up either as he continued to dice through traffic with relative ease, gradually extending his lead in the process.

While Mujsce was having his way at the front it was a much different scene for second and third spots as a torrid battle raged between TJ Kapish and Ray Kochin. Back and forth they dueled until Kapish finally grabbed the position by lap 51.

By this point Mujsce was uncontested, still one lap ahead and avoiding any oncoming interferences.

With just over 30 laps to go Kapish surrendered his runner-up spot when his right rear tire went flat, allowing Kochin to assume the rank. He would then be closely pursued by Brandon Hubbard and Steven Brooks.

At about the same time a trace of smoke was noticed coming out of Mujsce’s car and it began to be heavier as the laps clicked off. Ultimately it would lead to his demise when his transmission gave way 24 laps from the finish.

The final 25 trips around the 1/3-mile oval was nothing short of pure exhilaration as the trio of Kochin, Hubbard and Brooks engaged in a spine-tingling clash to the finish. Kochin was clinging to his lead while Hubbard and Brooks ran at most times side-by-side.

10 laps, then five and even heading into the final lap there was no letting up. Kochin actually got a gift on the 99th tour when Hubbard got into a lapped car in turn three and had to back down in order to keep from spinning. That gave Kochin the much needed breathing room he needed to gain his career first victory.

Meanwhile Hubbard and Brooks went toe-to-toe to the checkers with Brooks eking out the spot. Mark Spencer came from 21st to fourth and Ray Kennedy, who started 32nd, completed the top five.

“That was absolutely exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. I could see my crew guy signaling to me how close it was each time I passed by him and I was doing everything I could to protect my lead from there,” said an elated Kochin afterwards.

“This is so amazing to finally get a win here at Evergreen and it’s always so tough in these Enduro races too. Those guys (Brooks, Hubbard) made me work for this and I’m going to cherish this one for a long time,” he continued.

“This is such a great way to end the season and to tell the truth this was the first time I even raced this car. I had just bought it from Kevin Behler and it was a rocket out there today.”

Following the Enduro a 25-lap race was held on the track’s Roval course, which is used for drifting competitions. Rittenhouse took the lead at the outset and then cruised the rest of the way en route to a first ever win. Micah Adams was second.

Johnny Bennett of Lehighton was the One-on-One Spectator Drags winner.

Enduro feature finish (100 laps): 1. Ray Kochin, 2. Steve Brooks, 3. Brandon Hubband, 4. Mark Spencer, 5. Ray Kennedy, 6. Michael Klotz, 7. Chris Olivari, 8. Stewart Smith, 9. Philip Levering, 10. Adam Kratzer, 11. Johnny Bennett, 12. Darrin Denmon, 13. Jacob Oswald, 14. Larry Spencer III, 15. Jared Frye, 16. Victoria Burd, 17. Eric Germuth, 18. Mike Mujsce Jr., 19. Brandon Hoffner, 20. Tony Rispin, 21. Mark Rittenhouse, 22. TJ Kapish, 23. Adam Kraus, 24. Eric Platt, 25. Micah Adams, 26. Dave Baker, 27. Jason Birch, 28. Luke Hoffner, 29. Mike Mujsce III, 30. MacKenzie Adams, 31. James Powell. 32. Jimmy Ayre, 33. Dave Olivari, 34. Dylan Sheeler, 35. Danny Baker, 36. Adam Snyder

 

Roval Enduro feature finish (25 laps): 1. Mark Rittenhouse, 2. Micah Adams, 3. Philip Levering, 4. Stewart Smith 5. Jacob Oswald, 6. Steven Brooks, 7. Shawn Burd

Evergreen Raceway PR