Scott Dion and Joe Kohler pick up first wins. Vanasse and Rain repeat.On May 16, 2011
Scott Dion picked up his first career Pro Stock win, holding off a hot and aggressive Ken Spencer.
The race was stopped by rain after 38 laps when rain began to pour down on the field, ending the duel between the two Taunton drivers. The division was coming off a week when they saw their race rained out to end an evening of racing. This time around, the Sport Trucks were forced into an unexpected bye week.
Bobby Tripp was due to start on the pole in the feature race after winning his heat – it was the second consecutive week of heat race wins for the Westporter. Expectations were high, but his car lost a ball joint during hot laps, forcing him from the feature. This elevated Berkeley’s Jake Vanada to the pole, with Somerset driver Kyle Casper on his shoulder. Dion was inside on the second row and with Dick Houlihan from Bridgewater on the outside. Colby Fournier (Berkley) and Somerset driver Kevin Casper made up the third row.
Vanada got the jump at the stripe with Dion and Kyle jockeying for second. Houlihan dogged Dion’s rear. Fournier and Kevin fought for position behind him.
Dion fell in on Vanada’s tail, in turn having Houlihan on his bumper. The Casper’s and Fournier formed a group of 3 fighting for a spot and behind them Spencer was contesting with Tom Scully, Jr. from Saunderstown, RI.
By lap 10, Houlihan was trying around Dion on the high side with Kevin on the former’s bumper, but on the next circuit, Dion looked underneath Vanada for the lead and Casper moved under Houlihan. Dion made the pass good and Houlihan and Casper debated third place with Fournier, Spencer, while Acushnet’s Mike Brightman and Rehoboth’s Dave Darling who had motored up through the field from their ninth and eleventh starting positions. Kevin Casper followed them.
Houlihan took over second on lap 14’s backstretch, with Dion running smoothly, 5 cars ahead. Kyle went after Vanada and they battled for position. Spencer and Brightman followed.
Spencer moved up to duel Kyle. By lap 20, he had gone on in pursuit of the leaders, and Brightman was working on Kyle. Darling was just off their pace, looking for an opening. Five circuits later, Dion, Houlihan and Spencer were bunched together and beginning to encounter lapped traffic.
Spencer used the next lap to move past Houlihan and set up to challenge the leader. Into lap 29, he was trying underneath Dion for the lead, but the latter closed the door. There was contact on the next attempt and Spencer took the lead into turn 2, but Fournier looped in turn 4 to bring out the caution and call the field back to the previous lap.
Spencer was outside Dion for the restart with Houlihan and Brightman behind them; Darling and Kyle Casper on their tails. Dion edged out at the green with Spencer bitterly contesting. Brightman began edging past Houlihan while Darling contested Kyle. Tom Scully, Jr. and Kevin disputed behind them.
Into lap 32, Dion and Spencer kept up their war until Spencer got crossed up in the turn and settled into second place, with Brightman on his tail and Houlihan Battling Darling behind them, Four laps later, Spencer was all over Dion’s bumper and trying again with Brightman a couple cars back and Darling yet again behind him. Spencer opened his bag of tricks and for the next three laps tried every method he could to get by Dion into the lead.
Another caution came out just as rain began to fall with 38 out of 40 laps complete. The restart would have had Spencer outside Dion, with Brightman and Darling behind them, but race officials elected to cancel for the wet conditions, awarding the race to leading Dion. Cars began to pull into the pits as a downpour then erupted, as if to show approval for the decision. Dion was forced to take his victory lap and on-track interview in a steady rain. Spencer, Brightman, Darling and Houlihan rounded out the top 5. Six through ten went to Kyle Casper, Kevin Casper, Tom Scully, Jr., Vanada and Tom Scully, Sr.
Warwick’s Ryan Vanasse set the stage for another dominant season and became the season’s first repeat winner with a Late Model win. Robert Pelland III from Cranston set the early pace, taking the early lead, pursued by Somerset driver Tyler Thompson, who edged into the lead halfway through the 30-lapper, only to be headed by Vanasse. Thompson finished second, while Pelland fell to fourth. Third went to Middleboro’s Randy Burr. Pawtucket hot shoe Gerry DeGasparre, Jr. filled out the top 5.
Jeramee Lillie went to the front at the green from his spot on the pole. The West Warwick Driver left Fall Riverite John Paiva on the outside pole, pulling Pelland along from his spot on the inside of the second row. Thompson came along from the low side of row three before Paiva could settle in. Bill Bernard from Holliston, MA, claimed the fifth spot.
Pelland went under Lillie for the lead on lap 2 and before he could settle back in, Lillie saw Thompson go by underneath, as Thompson attached himself to Pelland’s back bumper. In the pack, Vanasse was jumping from tenth to seventh on the first lap.
Current division leader DeGasparre, meanwhile, fell from eighth to eleventh on the start.
By lap 5, Pelland was leading Thompson, Lillie, Bernard, Tiverton’s Ray Parent, Vanasse and Acushnet driver Matt Breault. As Pelland continued to lead and eke out a 2-car advantage over Thompson, Vanasse got past Parent on lap 8, then under Bernard on lap 9.
Into lap 13, Pelland was navigating with Thompson closed up on his tail; Lillie followed, 5 cars back with Vanasse closing on him. Two laps later, Ron Barboza, Jr. of Warren, RI, spun off turn two bringing out the caution. Lillie and Parent took the moment to head into the pits. Both returned.
Thompson, on the outside front row, was a bit anxious and jumped the restart, which was called back. The second try had them coming off the line together. Thompson got a half car on Pelland on the outside but Pelland closed it up on turn 2. On the next lap, Vanasse moved past Pelland into second. Lillie spun into the grass at the stripe and brought out another caution.
The restart had Thompson and Pelland at the front, by virtue of previous lap positioning. Vanasse was on the low side of row two with Bernard at his shoulder. DeGasparre and Breault were row 3.
Thompson jumped to the lead at the green, leaving Pelland alongside Vanasse. The two contested second place until Vanasse won the position in turn 4. DeGasparre and Bernard followed.
Vanasse took little time, challenging Thompson and going to the lead on turn three of the ensuing lap. Pelland and DeGasparre chased the pair with Burr and Bernard changing positions to give chase.
By lap 20, Vanasse was out to a five-car lead over Thompson and Pelland two cars further behind. DeGasparre, Burr, Breault, Bernard and Parent were strung out behind.
DeGasparre went to Pelland’s outside on lap 23 and Burr pulled up to Pelland’s bumper. Pelland was able to hold DeGasparre off and Breault’s position kept him to the outside. As the waning laps wound down, Pelland and Burr edged ahead giving Burr the position on DeGasparre.
Vanasse had an eight car lead with four to go. Thompson was second in clear air. Burr made the move under Pelland putting DeGasparre on the outside of a three-wide situation. Burr went forward while DeGasparre fell back.
Vanasse crossed under the checkers for his second win in as many weeks with Thompson second. Pelland made a strong bid to take third from Burr at the finish, but was held off by a fender while DeGasparre was trying under Pelland for position, but being held off for Fifth.
Breault, Bernard, Parent, Dylan Estrella and Paiva rounded out the top 10.
Joe Kohler served a seriousness warrant on the Street Stock division, Saturday – part of a two-week telegram which began with his tenacious second place to division champ, Steve Axon last time around. In the previous outing, he battled Axon all the way to a runner, just .309 seconds back. This week he went to the front on the third circuit and his number 31 stayed atop the leader board for the remainder of the 25 laps. The Kohler family race team celebrated as announcer Kevin Boucher conducted his on-track interview, especially his father and crew chief, long-time Seekonk veteran Ken Kohler.
The sophomore driver from Johnston, R.I., earned the outside of the second row for the start, with Chris DeMoura of North Dighton ahead of him. Nick D’Alessio of West Warwick held the pole and Smithfield’s Craig Pianka was on the low side of the second row.
DeMoura went to the front on the green, and Kohler showed what was to come with a 3-wide move around D’Alessio and Pianka in pursuit of DeMoura. Pianka nabbed the third spot and began looking to get under DeMoura into the runnerup spot. Kohler went to DeMoura’s high side on the second lap and began edging to the front. The lap counter showed him a shade into the lead on the third pass and the pair continued to slug it out through the circuit.
DeMoura slid up into contact with Kohler in turn 3, and the duo came out even. They fought it out through lap six, when Dartmouth driver George Rego had his left front tire go down. He limped toward the pit exit, trailing sparks, but could not quite make the departure, and the yellow flag flew.
The Lap 5 restart put Kohler on the pole by virtue of a nose past DeMoura on the last full lap. Pianka and Chris Cestodio of Swansea, MA made up the second row. Scott Bruneau and Paul Lallier followed.
At the green, Kohler forged out to the lead, while Pianka tried to wrest second from DeMoura. Some wild, 3-wide racing erupted among hot shoes back in the field, but DeMoura began to edge backwards. Rego returned to the field on lap 7. And on lap 8, Pianka, Bruneau and Lallier went three-wide over the second slot. Pianka relinquished the spot; and Bruneau squirted into second with Lallier on his bumper.
Kohler had edged his way into a 10-car lead over the field and was cruising comfortably. Lallier and Bruneau were trading paint and Lallier went to second over Bruneau. Pianka, Cestodio, DeMoura and Mike Mitchell were strung behind.
Kohler had padded his lead to 15 cars with ten laps remaining and a full straightaway two laps later He began lapping the stragglers in the field on lap 22.
It was a straight run to the checkers over the final 3, with Kohler cruising in for a 2.46 second margin over Lallier. Bruneau, Pianka and Cestodio filled out the top 5. Six through ten went to DeMoura, Mitchell, Crystal Serydynski, Rey Lovelace, and Chris Rioux.
Rain cancelled the final feature race of the evening for the second consecutive week. This event saw the Sport Trucks lose their contest to the elements.
Expectations had been high for the event, as Ted Berube of Somerset and Mike Ronhock of Mashpee had won their qualifiers. Last week’s feature winner, Rick Martin of Westport was out of the picture, racing out of state on the evening. Ed Gannon had dogged Berube to the finish with Mike Cavallaro on his tail. Cavallaro had set fast time in the heat. Meanwhile, New Bedford’s Lenny Guy finished second to Ronhock with Jim Hawkins behind him. Dan Leach had crossed the first, but had caused Ron Cornell to spin – Leach’s second penalty of the heat – and was put to the rear, but had shown good speed at the front.