With one of the most dominating performances in recent memory, Chris Rhodes devastated the field to win the Late Model event at Thunder Valley Saturday night. It was Rhodes’ third win of the 2011 season, all coming in the last six events. Greg Cornell made it two in a row by narrowly snagging the Semi Late event before Justin Milburn survived a near photo finish to score his first career Pure Stock victory. Robert Pluta finished the night with a win in the 4 Cylinder finale.
After an early season filled with misfortune, Chris Rhodes rocketed to his third win in the last six events and did it in dominating style. Rhodes got the best of Travis Cottle at the start to lead the first lap. A couple cautions in the first two laps kept things close but when the field settled down to racing, Rhodes had almost a half lap lead by the next yellow on lap 12 Dan Lee had moved to second ahead of a fast closing Dan Cornman but Rhodes was long gone by then
Cornman dropped into the pits to cause the caution on lap 12 setting up Chuck Clise to race Lee for second. When the last 12 laps going off all green, Rhodes again took the measure of the field, racing off to more than a half lap lead at the finish. Clise was all over Lee for second before fading late allowing Lee to score his 2011 best finish. Clise settled for third ahead of Wayne Johnson, Greg Fetters, Gene Kain, Cornman, Shawn Claar, Tom Decker and Joe Brawley. Rhodes and Cornman won the heats
Greg Cornell and Jim Sayler started the Semi Late event side by side in the fourth row of the field and finished that way at the front of the field after the 20 laps. Jamie Kohan was the early leader before Cornell got by on lap 6. It took Sayler longer to get through the field but he was third by lap 11.and all over Kohan. Sayler got by Kohan on lap 17 and set out for Cornell.
Sayler went for it over the last three laps, but fell a length shot as Cornell scored a Thunder Valley oddity with a second consecutive feature win. Sayler was second at the line followed by Kohan, Dave Whetstone who survived a wild late race spin without stopping, and Jason Vangilder. Jeff Benson came from dead last to lead the second five, ahead of Tom Warren, Dave Lee, Jonathan Hayman, and Bob Jay. Sayler and Hayman won the heats.
By far the best event of the night was the Pure Stock 18 lapper which featured two guys going for their first carrer wins with wild last lap action. Preston Imler led the first lap before Ryan Beckett got by. Beckett pulled out ahead as Imler contended with a mob scene. Finally Russ Hartman emerged in second and began noticeably closing on Beckett. In the 8 laps before the next caution Hartman closed to Beckett’s bumper and was about to make the move.
Just after a restart, Hartman boomed by Becketts and looked to be heading for his first feature win at the track as he pulled out from the field. Behind him Justin Milburn had moved into second place but was holding off Brian Shaw and Imler for that spot. Calamity struck Hartman as his car shut off with victory in sight on lap 16 and he shot into the pits leaving Milburn on the point. Shaw didnt make it easy as he was all over Milburn but he fell about a foot short in a near photo finish at the end. Shaw’s run from 15th starting spot netted a career best second at the line followed by Imler with also a career best at third. Gerg Cornell Sr, Jarrod Brown, Nate Miller, John Hollis, Tim Brown, Mike Ott and Jesse Hunt followed. Beckett, Hartman and Ott won the heats.
Dave Beahr thrilled the crowd in warmup action as he crashed hard into the backstretch wall totalling his Monte Carlo and resulting in a long red flag to get him out of the car. He was taken away for observation complaining of serious soreness.
John Hayes was the early 4 cylinder leader before Keith Deeter got by on lap 2. Martin Vinosky who had started 7th, arrived at the front on lap 4 and took over, but Robert Pluta had followed him through the field and was second. After several laps, Pluta got by and led to the finish. Vinosky was second, ahead of a fast closing Andrew Pluta, Ian Will, Deeter, Nick Zborovancik Casey Fleegle, Mike Meck and Dan Jackson. Andrew Pluta, Hayes and Meck won the heats.
LATE MODEL 25 LAPS 1 Chris Rhodes, 2 Dan Lee, 3 Chuck Clise, 4 Wayne Johnson, 5 Greg Fetters, 6 Gene Kain, 7 Dan Cornman, 8 Shawn Claar, 9 Tom Decker, 10 Joe Brawley, 11 Travis Cottle, 12 Ron Bottenfield, DNS Dale Claycomb
SEMI LATE 20 LAP 1 Greg Cornell, 2 Jim sayler, 3 Jamie Kohan, 4 Dave Whetstone, 5 Jason Vangilder, 6 Jeff Benson, 7 Tom Warren, 8 Dave Lee, 9 Jonathan Hayman, 10 Bob Jay, 11 Bill Pluta, 12 Zane Weight, 13 John Whitfield, 14 Dave Puckett, 15 Cody Butterbaugh, 16 Greg Hainsey, 17 Elwood Hyder, 18 John Shaffer, 19 Justin Robine.
PURE STOCK 18 LAP 1 Justin Milburn, 2 Brian Shaw, 3 Preston Imler, 4 Greg Cornell Sr, 5 Jarrod Brown, 6 Nate Miller, 7 John Hollis, 8 Tim Brown, 9 Mike Ott, 10 Jesse Hunt, 11 Russ Hartman, 12 Ryan Beckett, 13 Mike Siegele, 14 Rob Varner, 15 Terry Mitchell, 16 Jim sacco, 17 Alan Shives, 18 Dakota Hixon, 19 Charlie Walter, 20 Willy Ling DNS John Replogle, Dave Beahr, Paul Beahr
4 CYLINDER 15 LAP 1 Robert Pluta, 2 Martin Vinosky, 3 Andrew Pluta, 4 Ian Will, 5 Keith Deeter, 6 Nick Zborovancik, 7 Casey Fleegle, 8 Mike Meck, 9 Dan Jackson, 10 John Hayes, 11 Dustin Toler,, 12 Jack Theys, 13 Dave Lambert, 14 Ray Edwards, 15 Leroy Booher, 16 Gary Kroon, 17 John Nichols, 18 Troy Imler, 19 Matt Diehl, 20 Doug Hostettler, DNS Tim Thomas