By DINO OBERTO
4-19-14) A week ago during the season opener, John Markovic was
qualified but missed the feature. The reason – he was rushed to
Lehigh Valley Medical Center in Allentown because of an irregular
heartbeat. He spent the rest of the weekend in the hospital and
thankfully was released and back at work by Monday.
Returning to race
this past Saturday night, Markovic’s clean bill of health was put to
the test. Despite having the luxury of starting from the pole, once
the race got underway he competed in 35 heart pounding laps and eked
out a win over Chip Santee and prior to that went head-to-head with
14-year old rookie Kyle Strohl.
"Last week at
this time I was in the hospital with a 250-beat per minute heartbeat
and my blood pressure was way high so this is a big turnaround from
then to know," said the well-respected veteran Markovic. With Strohl
flanked to his outside for the start, the pair quickly went into an
outstanding duel for the lead with Markovic maintaining the
advantage but just slightly.
Markovic is over
40 years older than the upstart but the young lion, driving a
Modified for just the second time, was wheeling alongside the master
craftsman with precision and accuracy that only comes from years of
experience. "Kyle Strohl is a fantastic driver and one day maybe he
can drive for me," remarked Markovic. And as they put on their crowd
pleasing race for the lead, Santee was closely trailing while
clashing with Kris Graver for third.
Under a lap 28 caution
any chance of winning suddenly vanished for Strohl when his car lost
power and he had to be pushed behind the wall. His demise allowed
Santee the runner-up spot for the restart and once the action
resumed he was fast enough to surge past Markovic and take the lead.
quick to return the favor on the ensuing lap and retook his
position. From there to the finish he held off Santee to claim the
hard earned victory. "I was just trying to take it easy. I didn’t
want to use up the 44 (Strohl) and I know I did with Chip (Santee).
He had a little better start on that last restart," said Markovic,
who garnered his 33rd track win. Kris Graver, Nevin
George and Eric Beers completed the top five.
Earl Paules raced
to his second straight Late Model win but it was no easy task as he
and Frankie Althouse gave the crowd a stirring duel for the lead in
the waning laps of the race.
In a torrid
side-by-side battle for several laps near the end of the race they
fought feverously until a caution with four laps to go brought the
intense action to a halt. When the yellow had waved Paules was just
inches ahead and thanks to a single file restart he then held
Althouse at bay for the score.
Josh Money won
the Street Stock feature in a thrilling last lap pass for the lead.
Matter of fact is was just a few feet prior to the checkers that he
was able to take his only lead of the race.
On the final lap
Jamie Smith was going for the win but he unexpectedly lost power
going into the final two turns. Second place runner Steven
Steigerwalt was then forced to back off as he was trapped directly
behind. Running third at the time, Mooney was alert to the situation
and pulled outside of them both while within feet of the finish
What was even
more significant was Mooney got into the race as a provisional and
started from 21st. It was the first time a driver ever
won a feature in that way. The night was perfected when his brother,
Justin Mooney, was awarded second place after Steigerwalt failed
post-race inspection. The later Mooney also took over as the point
Mod champ Jeff Parker rocketed his way around Billy Lowden, Jr., for
the lead with seven laps to go and then cruised to victory. Point
leader Kevin Graver, Jr., also got by Lowden in the final laps but
was unable to do anything when it came to Parker who was too strong
for him and everyone else.
Jake Kibler has
gotten off to a great start in the Pro 4 division as he collected
his second straight win. Kibler took the lead on a lap 13 restart
from early pacesetter Dave Chapman. He then held off Nick Baer who
for the second time.
After a dismal
showing in the previous week’s opener, Hobby Stock champion Corey
Edelman bounced back with a flawless run, leading all laps en route
to getting his first win of 2014.
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