LONG POND – Kyle Martel had a pretty good day. Bobby Gerhart had his ruined at the end.
The difference may have been expectations and circumstance. But if one was searching for a common theme, both were running, and running really well late, which in racing is a pretty good thing.
On Saturday afternoon on Pocono International Raceway’s 2.5-mile Tricky Triangle, Lebanon’s top two competitive drivers met two different fates in separate big-time races. Gerhart finished ninth in the ARCA Modspace 125, while Martel ran 19th in the sixth annual Pocono Mountains 150, an event in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Running hard late in a short race, Gerhart had his path to a top-five finish cut off by fellow ARCA veteran Frank Kimmel. Martel, competing in his first race in two months, improved 13 spots on his 32nd – and back of the pack – starting position.
“Overall, it was really good,” said Martel. “We came a long way the last couple of days. The guys never gave up. It’s such a balancing act with the front end and the rear end of the truck. All in all, it was a great day.
“It’s been up and down,” said Gerhart of his relationship with Kimmel. “I expect more out of a ten-time (ARCA circuit) champion. At times, when he puts his helmet on he doesn’t have good sense. He wasn’t having the best of days. But I was really shocked it was him. I understand that he was lapped, and that he had a right to that space.
“Are you kidding me?,” continued Gerhart. “I’ll remember this until I stop racing. He was multiple laps down, but fast enough to be there.”
Gerhart ran with the leaders most of the day and appeared poised for a late-race push for one of the top spots. But during a restart with two laps to go, and with a number of competitors in his sight, Gerhart’s path became blocked.
Kimmel, who started from the pole, finished 15th and a lap down to winner Cole Custer.
After the checkered flag fell, Gerhart pulled his black number five right up along side of Kimmel’s car. Gerhart pulled off his helmet, jumped out of his car and confronted Kimmel.
“I’m a little upset,” said Gerhart, a fiery competitor. “It’s called ‘respect’. And that’s not just me. That’s a racing rule. Other than that, we got the most of what we had. I thought we’d be a little better.
After starting 12th, Gerhart shot to the sixth position three laps into the race. But after pitting on Lap Six under caution, Gerhart dropped back to the 13th spot and encountered difficulties making up ground.
“We were pretty consistent,” said Gerhart, who had also finished ninth in the June ARCA race at Pocono. “We took tires (early) and it put us in the back. It was a calculated gamble.”
Grant Enfinger followed Custer to the finish line, and was second. Matt Kurzejewski was third, Austin Theriault fourth and Josh Williams fifth. Finshing ahead of Gerhart were David Levine, Austin Wayne and Bo LeMastus.
“We were trying to be fifth,” said Gerhart. “There were a couple of cars I could’ve got.
“This race is very short. Too short,” Gerhart added. “It should be a hundred laps. You’ve got to run hard. Every lap is extremely valuable.”
Martel’s truck run was as much about where he started as where he finished. Employing his ‘Run hard, but run smart’ approach, Martel did an admirable job of steering clear of the 69-lap race’s multiple accidents and incidents.
The race went to Kyle Busch, who beat Kevin Harvick to the finish line by 1.2255 seconds. Tyler Reddick took third, Cameron Hayley came in fourth and Austin Dillon ran fifth.
“We got lucky a little bit,” said Martel, who drives for father Bill Martel Racing. “We were definitely playing the caution card. We wanted to bring our truck home in one piece, so we could build on it. All in all, it was a great day. I’m proud of the guys. Our number one goal is always finishing the race strong, and gathering information that we don’t get to acquire week in and week out. Finishing it one piece.
“It definitely changes your strategy starting in the back,” Martel continued. “You’re at the mercy of cautions. You’ve got to pick a game plan and run with it. We had a lot of options. But it gave us some experience coming through the pack.”
From his final starting spot, Martel’s patient approach moved him up to the 20th position by Lap 40. He ran 19th for most of the race’s final 19 laps.
“It’s (racing trucks and stock cars) a big difference,” said Martel, who plans to race his truck again in September in New Hampshire. “You’ve got to constantly keep your engine revved up. You’ve got to keep your foot on the throttle. Trucks are very aerodynamically friendly.
“Nope, I really don’t have a preference,” added Martel. “As long as it has wheels and an engine. I’m good either way. It’s great. Unfortunately, we made a decision at the beginning of the year to only run the truck at Pocono. We don’t have the crew to support both the car and truck series.”
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ARCA Modspace 125
|1||5||00||Cole Custer/Ladera Ranch CA|
|2||2||23||Grant Enfinger/Fairhope AL|
|3||4||54||Matt Kurzejewski/Mansfield PA|
|4||6||55||Austin Theriault/Fort Kent ME|
|5||8||6||Josh Williams/Port Charlotte FL|
|6||14||59||David Levine/Highland Park IL|
|7||9||98||Austin Wayne Self/Austin TX|
|8||17||42||Bo LeMastus/Louisville KY|
|9||12||5||Bobby Gerhart/Lebanon PA|
|10||13||20||Tom Berte/New Berlin WI|
|11||16||86||Nick Idgalsky/Stroudsburg PA|
|12||15||3||Steve Fox/Hazleton PA|
|13||11||2||Sarah Cornett-Ching/Summerland BC|
|14||20||48||James Swanson/Clarksboro NJ|
|15||1||25||Frank Kimmel/Clarksville IN|
|16||25||58||Jairo Avila/Alhambra CA|
|17||26||69||Will Kimmel/Sellersburg IN|
|18||19||7||J.J. Pack/Bealeton VA|
|19||18||10||Ed Pompa/Ballston Spa NY|
|20||27||97||Ray Ciccarelli/Reisterstown MD|
|21||21||19||David Sear/La Jolla CA|
|22||30||07||Brian Kaltreider/Hanover PA|
|23||10||52||Matt Tifft/Hinckley OH|
|24||22||0||Don Thompson/Carlisle PA|
|25||7||77||Tom Hessert/Cherry Hill NJ|
|26||24||08||Dale Matchett/Cherry Hill NJ|
|27||23||8||Josh White/Charleston WV|
|28||31||12||Thomas Praytor/Mobile AL|
|29||29||06||Tim Viens/Daytona Beach FL|
|30||28||68||Chris Bailey/South Park PA|
|31||3||22||Kyle Weatherman/Wentzville MO|
|9||Mike Abram/St. Louis MO|
|40||Justin Lloyd/Barrington IL|
|POS.||CAR #||DRIVER||MANUFACTURER||STARTING POS.|
|13||8||John Hunter Nemechek||9|
|17||05||John Wes Townley||10|