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Austin Kochenash Dominates to Evergreen Raceway Park Checkered Flag

By: Gene Ostrowski

April 27, 2014


The much-anticipated Inaugural season opener at Evergreen Raceway Park is finally in the books. The day began with a ribbon cutting to make the 2014 racing season official and it was a day in which one of Evergreen’s own, Jerry Kick, was honored after his recent passing.

Despite being heavily pursued by Brian DeFebo in the middle portion of the 35-lap Modified main event Sunday at Evergreen Raceway Park, Austin Kochenash of Danielsville, PA distanced himself in the latter stages and cruised to the inaugural feature at the famed 1/3-mile asphalt oval.


Austin Kochenash began the show from the pole position and led the opening lap over Bobby Jones, Todd Baer, Jim Bojohnny and Brian DeFebo. It took two laps for DeFebo to move into the fourth spot.


With Kochenash still showing the way and with four laps complete, Baer moved by Jones for second and DeFebo followed suit. Then, after a pair of lap seven restarts for quick on track incidents, DeFebo shot by Baer for second. He then pressured Kochenash, which didn’t seem to break his concentration.


Kochenash continued to lead at halfway with DeFebo trailing. Baer ran in third, followed by Geary Rinehimer, Jr. and Chad Churilla.


As the laps wound down, Kochenash extended his lead over DeFebo and it heated up for third. In the closing laps, Churilla moved to fourth and then battled with Baer for third. The two swapped the spot on several occasions before Churilla took the position for good.


Kochenash took the checkers over DeFebo for his first win under the Evergreen name and DeFebo settled for second. Churilla, Baer and Scott Adams completed the top five.


Mahoning Valley Speedway:

Austin wins his heat and brings home the Horrock's Family Resecue and Apparatus, Inc, Troyer Chassis #66 with a second place finish.

Modified Feature Finish (100 Laps): 1. Eric Beers, 2. Austin Kochenash, 3. Nevin George, 4. Matt Hirschman, 5. Roger Coss, 6. Don Wagner, 7. Brian DeFebo, 8. Kris Graver, 9. Earl Paules, 10. Shawna Ingram, 11. Brian Romig, 12. Chip Santee, 13. Glenn Slocum, 14. Rick Kirkendall, 14. Todd Baer, 15. Jason Zatsko, 17. Scott Meckes, 18. Terry Markovic, 19. Troy Bollinger, 20. Kyle Strohl  DNS: John Markovic DNQ: Tony Zatsko, Eric Mauriello\

Speed 51 Short Track Draft Update


The 2013 Short Track Draft ballot was sent to more than 200 short track insiders, including media members, team and driver development professionals, track and series promoters and officials, product and industry representatives and more such as 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski and former #1 Short Track Draft pick Chase Elliott.  The voters could select as few as 10 and as many as 51 drivers on their ballot, ranked in order that they would choose the drivers to compete for their Driver Development team in the top levels of the sport.  The drivers with the best average result made the list of the top-51 picks in the 2013 Short Track Draft.  Full Draft rules and eligibility requirements can be found in the link to the right.


The following drivers received multiple votes from the 2013 Draft panel, but fell short of the required votes to make the top 51 selections in the Draft.

Austin Kochenash (Mods / Late Models)

Pennslvania racer who has local wins in Modifieds and Late Models already in 2013.



Austin Kochenash Holds Off Earl Paules

For Second Mahoning Modified Win


(LEHIGHTON, PA 4-27-13) Austin Kochenash is off to a great start in 2013 as the young talent from Danielsville withstood an onslaught of advances from reigning track champion Earl Paules to score his second Modified win in three races. Both drivers thrilled the fans with an amazing job battling virtually side-by-side for most of the 35 laps.

"Towards the end the car got a little tight. Earl (Paules) is a good driver and he ran me clean and that was good racing tonight," said Kochenash.

"To come out and win two races in the first three weeks is amazing. The credit goes to my crew. There’s a lot of good competition here and when you win at Mahoning you really earned it."

Paules started from the pole and had point leader Nevin George to his right. Kochenash lined up third and when the action commenced those three immediately ran under a blanket. Paules was protecting both his left and right flank as George and Kochenash where attacking from each side.

Kochenash had the inside lane and repeatedly dove down under Paules. He was able to finally sneak by him for the lead on lap nine but while making the pass there was some contact in the process, evident by the bent left side rub rail on Paules’ No. 8 afterwards.

After taking the lead this race was far from over as Paules would not let him pull far ahead. A master of the high side, he continued to fight back and unceasingly would show Kochenash his nose from the right. Yet each time it looked as though he would have the energy to spring ahead, Kochenash held his ground.

"I tried to go by him (Kochenash) a couple times and as you can see my skid rail is pushed into my door. He was giving me room though and the car is in one piece and we’re walking away with another second place finish," said Paules while examining his car after the race.

Late into the race Zane Zeiner, who was making his first start of the season, came up to third and finished just a few feet behind the front two. George, who was fourth, now has three straight top fives to start off the year. Last week’s winner Eric Beers rounded out the front five. Heat wins went to Paules, George and Kochenash.

Overall Kochenash now has three wins in five 2013 starts as he also won the Late Model feature on Opening Night.

"It’s always fun to come here and race. This is a great place and the Santee’s have put so much into the track," said Kochenash.

Modified Feature Finish, 35 Laps: 1. Austin Kochenash, 2. Earl Paules, 3. Zane Zeiner, 4. Nevin George, 5. Eric Beers, 6. Roger Coss, 7. Kris Graver, 8. Chip Santee, 9. Kevin Rex, Jr., 10. Eric Kocher, 11. Terry Markovic, 12. Don Wagner, 13. Bryan Sherwood, 14. John Bennett, 15. Matt Wentz, 16. Rick Kirkendall, 17. DJ Wagner, 18. Rick Reichenbach


Austin Kochenash Doubles Up At Mahoning Valley Speedway Opener With Modified And Late Model Wins


(LEHIGHTON, PA 4-13-13) Since he began his stock car career over five years ago, Austin Kochenash has had some great nights at Mahoning Valley Speedway but none will ever top Saturday’s season opener as the 17-year old from Danielsville took wins in both the Modified and Late Model mains. Kochenash made a late race pass in both features en route to scoring the victories. The Modified win was very sweet as it was his first start with the class and it came in a 50-lap, $2000-to-win feature. The Late Model verdict was his 17th at Mahoning which boosted his take for the night to nearly $3000.

“This feels great. There was a lot of good cars here tonight and I just can’t thank my uncle enough for letting me drive his car and the whole crew for the hard work they put in over the winter, it all paid off,” said Kochenash, who drove the VRP Shocks No. 31 owned by Roger Heffelfinger, Jr.

For the start of the Modified main Kochenash lined up third behind the front row of Nevin George and John Bennett. At the drop of starter Bobby Stuhl’s race commencing green George took control of the field and by lap two Kochenash was in second. Despite repeated tries from Kochenash, George was running stout and ably held his ground.

The race ran clean through the first 17 laps before the caution waved. Don Wagner had spun on the back straight and in an attempt to avoid contact several cars took evasive action. In the aftermath reigning Mahoning Modified champ Earl Paules had slide into the wall and needed to be towed from the track. He was unable to return and it marked the first time in over two seasons that he had to drop out of a race. His 18th place finish would be the worst in that same span.

When the action was back underway George again led the way while Bennett used the restart to get around Kochenash. Eric Beers then joined the fray with the front trio.

With the help of another yellow on lap 34 Kochenash was able to bounce back to second. Bennett, however, remained as close as could be plus the pair kept within in reach of George. With just under 10 laps to, Beers got pinched and spun in turn four which prompted the yellow flag. It was on that restart that Kochenash would pull his race winning move by overtaking George in turn four. Bennett was able to follow into second.

Although a few more caution periods took place over the waning laps, Kochenash stayed the course for the popular win. George ran side-by-side with Bennett before retaking second for good with five laps to go. Eric Kocher and Roger Coss completed the top five.  “I knew we had a good car for the long run and I bided my time and saved my tires. On that restart I pushed him (George) a little bit in the corner and when I saw the opening I just drove under him. It was a good night for sure and hopefully we can run for the championship in both cars,” said Kochenash. George, who was third in points last year, showed that he will again be amongst the lead runners and title hopefuls after his solid performance. “Nobody wants to finish second but Austin (Kochenash) had been fast for all the pre-season practices and I knew he was going to be a threat for sure. It’s disappointing when you can lead most of it and then end up in second but we’re here for the big picture, we’re here for the points so we’ll take this and move on to next week,” said George. Heat wins for the 24 Modifieds went to George, Bennett and Kochenash with Chip Santee annexing the consi.

Dave Wallace and Paul Koehler, Jr., share the front row for the 25-lap Late Model event with Koehler getting a great jump at the start and darting out to the early lead. Wallace kept tabs on the leader as did Kevin Graver, Jr. but there was no denying the fact that Koehler had the strongest car as he maintained a safe 1-2 car length advantage. By lap 13 Paul Effrig was making his presence felt and began to challenge with the lead pack. On a restart one lap later he was attempting to make a go at Koehler but after slight contact in turn four he lost traction and spun. The caution came out and at this time Kochenash, who started ninth, was now lined up with Koehler. Over the next half dozen laps these two past class champs waged a torrid battle. Kochenash continued to up the pressure and on lap 21Koehler got nudged entering turn one and could not hold on as he spun from the lead. Kochenash then cruised through the final four circuits to pick up his first Mahoning Late Model win since the final race of 2011.

“We weren’t good in the heat so we had to change up a few things for the feature and the car was pretty good tonight,” said Kochenash. “Overall this was a great night I won’t soon forget. What a way to start the year.”