Waterford, CT – Absolutely dominating the second half of the race, Russ Stoehr captured the 30-lap Marvin Rifchin Trophy race Saturday night at the Northeastern Midget Association’s Diamond Anniversary Race at Waterford Speedbowl.
Grabbing the lead on a lap 13 restart, Stoehr, in the family 26b, went on to a 1.450 seconds win over Randy Cabral (Bertrand 47). John Zych (Zych 9), Russ Stoehr (Dumo’s Desire 45) and Todd Bertrand (Bertrand 39) completed the top five.
Stoehr assumed control when early leader Anthony Marvuglio (Bordeau 38) suffered a flat left front tire on caution. After a brief side-by-side battle with Cabral, he quickly assumed a commanding advantage in a car built over the winter to replace a car that was destroyed last summer at Waterford.
Daughter/crew chief Kathryn, Stoehr said, deserved a lot of the credit. Despite a sizzling performance in his heat, Stoehr wanted to make changes. It was Kathryn who said “no, leave it alone” and the result was “the best car I’ve ever had here.” His best lap was a 12.937.
The only scare came with three laps left when a car “checked up” in front of him heading into one.
“A flat tire is never a good thing,” said Stoehr, admitting he needed the second yellow. “I would not have minded finishing second to Anthony.”
“There’s no better feeling than leading laps in a race this big,” said Marvuglio who jumped into a commanding lead on the first restart with two laps gone. He said that a valve stem was cut and created a slow leak when he and early leader Paul Scally “got together.”
He was running consistent 12.9 seconds laps, including a race-best 12.910. “Keeping the car on the right side,” he had almost a half lap lead when the race was stopped in an incident that involved Jim Miller and Scally.
Starting seventh, Stoehr moved to fourth on the first restart, moved to third with six laps down and got by Scally for second just prior to the second yellow.
Over four generations, the Stoehr family has been part of NEMA’s history for almost five decades with grandfather Paul, sons Russ and Greg and grandchildren Bethany, Kathryn and Avery all on hand.
Among the honored quests were former driving champions Dave Humphrey, Johnny Mann, Butch Walsh and Lou Fray, former owner champion Pete Valeri, and former club presidents Mike Favulli and Dick Monahan. Also on hand were one-time scorer Dottie Mann, driver and public relations man Joe Bowen, photographer Bob Miour and starters Earl Grant and Billy Ryder. Ryder, in fact, threw the initial green flag.
It was the second straight runner-up finish for defending champion Randy Cabral who shares the point lead with John Zych Jr.
It was the 11th career win for Greg Stoher, the second at Waterford.
Nine of the 17 starters have at least one Speedbowl victory including sixth-place finisher Jeff Horn.
RESULTS: 1. Greg Stoehr, 2. Randy Cabral, 3. John Zych Jr., 4. Russ Stoehr, 5. Todd Bertrand, 6. Jeff Horn, 7. Mike Horn, 8. Jim Miller, 9. Matt O’Brien, 10. Doug Cleveland, 11. Joey Payne, 12. Lee Bundy, 13. Seth Carlson, 14. Anthony Marvuglio, 15. Paul Scally, 16. Jim Santa Maria, 17. Adam Cantor.
Sources: Pete Zanardi/NEMA PR