Johnny Benson came back to Seekonk Speedway to forge a repeat to his 2010 Racing Against Cancer Supermodified win, despite the fact that he faced three of the top-5 all-time winners in the International Supermodified Association – Russ Wood, Chris Perley and Mike Ordway, with a total of 152 wins. But the Michigan native failed to be intimidated and instead roared off to lead the field of top-flight challengers around the old bullring in dominating fashion.
In the process, he set top time in the feature: 10.965 seconds for a speed of 109.330 mph. Best of the day went to Mike Lichty, however, at 110.867 in heat 1.
Benson started seventh as Dave Sanborn and Ordway led off from the front. Sanborn and Ordway dueled for four laps before they both drifted up to the wall. No contact was made, but Eddie Witkum and Justin Belfiore vaulted into their places, with Witkum holding the front through lap 30. Benson made his way from seventh to fifth before a Jamie Timmons spin on the backstretch followed by Dave Danzer’s spin into the wall brought caution on lap 6. Wood had moved from tenth to Benson’s tail.
Benson Passed Sanborn on the restart, holding fourth behind Jeff Abold; Witkum and Belfiore dueled at the front until a lap 11 caution with Timmons again in the infield. He got by Abold then went to work on Belfiore, nabbing second on lap 15. Ordway, Wood, Abold and Lou Cicconi, driving a car he had purchased one day previous, were giving pursuit. Ordway and Wood dueled into lap 19, when Ordway spun in turn 4, hanging the underbody up on the berm. He had to be eased off the berm by hand, and damage ended his evening. Abold went to the pits on the caution but returned.
Witkum got away from Benson on the restart, and Wood got by Belfiore for third. He began working on Benson’s rear. He made the pass into second on lap 23, but Benson looked back underneath. Wood shut the door. Cicconi was working on Belfiore for fourth; Robbie Summers was looking for opportunity at Liquid Lou’s back bumper. Wood worked his way around Witkum on lap 27 for a nose and the lead on lap 28, but Witkum held firm, and used lapped traffic to shed Wood, who fell to third as Benson came underneath.
Benson got through the first traffic and worked through lapped cars to get by Witkum on lap 30: it was a lead he would not relinquish. Though he was challenged, he would not be passed. Second place was a different situation. Wood got by Witkum again, holding runnerup through lap 44. In the meantime, Cicconi came past Witkum as Wood sought to overtake Benson and set off after Wood. By lap 42, he was within striking distance and they encountered lapped traffic. Wood went around with Cicconi on his bumper. When Wood did not settle to the groove immediately, Liquid Lou made one of his daring maneuvers to dive under and steal second. Benson was a straightaway ahead.
Otto Sitterly looped out of turn 3 on lap 47, bringing out caution and putting Cicconi on Benson’s shoulder for the restart. But ISMA officials had planned fuel for competitors with 64 caution laps added to 100 race laps. When the caution laps grew long, it was decided to stop the field at this caution to refuel, and crewmembers were called to the track to recharge the methanol.
With clear track ahead, Benson began pulling away when green fell. Cicconi fell back and wood tried his outside for second with Summers looking for an opportunity. The line stretched out until Jeff Locke spun out of turn four on lap 51.
In the pack, Jon McKennedy began to show, ducking under Witkum for sixth. Benson now was in traffic again, on lap 67. Cicconi caught him, but Benson worked lapped traffic like a magician to keep Lou at bay. Another lapped car and Benson went high. Cicconi spotted room and dived under, but Benson got away first. The duo flew like dogfighters through lapped traffic. Benson gained a short lead as Cicconi was working around more lapped cars.
With five remaining, Cicconi began to fade. Wood got by and then Summers. McKennedy and then Perley were by as Cicconi wound up sixth. Bob Bond, Mark Sammut, Dan Bowes and Jon Gambutti rounded out the top ten.
It became a battle of champions in the Racing Against Cancer 50 lap Street Stock confrontation: 2009 Champ Mike Mitchell took the first heat race, 2010 King Steve Axon the second, and newly-coronated 2011 Monarch Ryan Lineham romped home in the third. This lined them up as the leading three contenders for the feature. Lineham, with 82.704 mph had the best speed in the heats, but Axon and Mitchell with 81.601 and 81.618 were worthy opposition. Axon had the pole, Mitchell the outside and Lineham was low in row two with Paul Lallier alongside. The drop of the green flag was a declaration of war and to the victor goes the spoils. When the smoke and thunder had died down, Axon claimed the laurels amid a host of heroic warriors. Lallier, Justin Travis, Sparky Arsenault and Crystal Serydynski rounded out the top five.
Axon jumped to the front immediately and Mitchell settled in with Lineham on his bumper. The front 3 immediately broke from the field for their own, private combat and on lap 2, Lineham (still seeking a feature win on his championship season) drove under Mitchell to second. He was all over Axon’s bumper. So fast and furious was this trio that by lap 6 they were closing on lapped traffic; two laps later, there was a three-wide group in front of Axon. Axon, Lineham and Mitchell began to navigate through the field in a nose-to-tail line until lap 13, when some open track showed ahead. On the next circuit, Lineham pushed in under Axon in a move which most often secures him the lead. However, Vincent Arrenegado, Dick Benoit and Rich Cavallaro got together bringing out the caution.
Axon and Lineham came off the front with Mitchell and Lallier behind them. Battle reopened as Axon grabbed the front and Mitchell came under Lineham, slid up and the two rubbed with Mitchell coming out ahead. Gerard Berthelette than had his back end snap out on the frontstretch and Arrenegado, trying to avoid, collected George Rego. Rego went dead on the front stretch and Bobby Bettencourt could not avoid him. Both ended their nights.
Axon and Mitchell had the front; Lineham shared with Lallier. Lineham pushed under Mitchell before another caution, and restart with Axon and Lineham in front. Axon pulled ahead and Mitchell locked to his rear bumper. Lineham furiously clung to the outside, but had to drop into third on lap 20. Paul Newcomb had gotten by Lallier and began closing on the trio.
The leaders stayed bumper-to-bumper. Sparky Arsenault had been moving in, and running hard. He was in fifth on lap 25, and brushed the frontstretch wall, but continued. Newcomb dropped back and Sparky jumped past Lallier to fourth, 10 cars behind Lineham.
Caution on lap 26 had Axon and Mitchell at the front. Axon won the lead again, and Lineham got under Mitchell for second. Arsenault followed Mitchell with Lallier, Scott Bruneau and Serydynski giving chase. Arsenault looked under Mitchell, but had the door shut in his face. He nearly went around but saved it. Again, Axon was closing on lapped traffic with the dangerous Lineham just two cars back. By lap 35, he was gaining distance, now with a 4-car lead and Mitchell bothering Lineham’s bumper.
Mitchell looked high on a pass and Lineham moved up. Arsenault seized the moment to go underneath in a grand 3-wide into second. Suddenly, Lineham began falling back. Mitchell pushed past Arsenault on the 45th circuit. Axon had a 15-car lead with five remaining laps.
Lap 49 saw Roland Wheeler into the turn 4 grass and throwing loose dirt onto the racing surface. Arrenegado spun on the deposit and Arsenault and Berthelette got together on the frontstretch, bringing out caution and Berthelette had to go off on the hook. Mitchell and Lineham took their cars pit side.
The green-white-checker restart saw Lallier lined up outside Axon with Bruneau and Serydynski followed by Justin Travis and Joe Kohler. Arsenault and Lineham were at their backs. Axon was off like a shot at the green with Lallier following. Travis went underneath Bruneau and Serydynski into third and Arsenault fourth. Serydynski held fifth. The field came home with Axon a half second ahead. Bruneau, Lineham, Kohler, Arrenegado and Scott Cestodio rounded out the top 10.
Sparky MacIver wasted little time getting to the front from his fifth place starting position in the Racing Against Cancer 25-lap feature. He powered by the leading quartet to the lead and was gone in the 25-lap feature. None had an answer as he gathered in his first Victory Lane appearance of the season.
Mike Netishen had the pole with Matt Seavey on his shoulder; Leslie Keyser and 2010 champ, Tommy Tombarello were the second row. MacIver and George Perrault backed them up. Netishen went to the lead with Seavey running hard behind him. Keyser and Tombarello duked it out, wheel to wheel. Keyser moved up as Seavey fell back. MacIver got under Tombarello and Seavey drifted back making a three wide. MacIver moved ahead and went under Keyser for second, then rushed under Netishen for the lead. By lap 5, MacIver was in a 5-car lead.
A lap later, he had pushed it out to 8 cars, with Netishen following, and Keyser, Tombarello, George Perrault and Eddie Witkum, Jr. taking up the chase.
Lap eight saw Keyser get under Netishen for second while Tombarello followed into third. Tombarello fought his way under Keyser in lap 11. Two laps later, MacIver had a straightaway on Tombarello, Keyser, Netishen and Witkum. Though he bore down, it was apparent by lap 17 that Tombarello could not close on the leader, even when MacIver encountered the lapped cars of Seavey and Jim Barker.
At the finish, it was MacIver over Tombarello with Keyser, Netishen, and Witkum rounding out the top five.
Seth Carlson worked his way up from his tenth place start to overtake polesitter Bethany Stoehr after 17 of 25 laps were complete in the 25-lap feature to go on to a big Racing Against Cancer win in NEMA Lites. After leading two thirds of the race, Stoehr was forced to settle for second. Carl Medeiros and Russ Wood, Jr. rounded out the top 5.
Stoehr came off the pole ahead of Christian Briggs. They dueled through lap 5 when caution set them side by side again and again Stoehr got away at the green. Andy Barrows, Brandon Igo and Carlson gave chase. By lap 9, however, Carlson had worked into third. He went after Briggs as Stoehr moved tout to a 5-car lead. Coming out of turn 3 on lap 12, Carlson had second place and went after Stoehr.
In lap 16, Briggs got sideways and together with Andy Barrows; Briggs spun to the infield opposite the starter’s platform as Barrows spun to a stop astride the stripe. The red flag was thrown and the ambulance called when Briggs could not climb out of his car. Anxious moments passed as the wing was raised, but Briggs at last appeared, standing in the cockpit. He was assisted to the ambulance for a checkup.
On the restart, the right side of Ryan Bigelow’s car caught fire as heated body materials had melted across his motor. The fire was pulled off the car and tossed aside as the fire brigade cooled the spot down with their extinguishers. Bigelow was able to return to the event.
Stoehr led the single file restart but Carlson went to work as Bigelow was looking around Medeiros for third. Carlson found a move underneath for the lead as Bigelow got by Medeiros on lap 17. By lap 20, Carlson had rocketed to a straightaway lead and Stoehr had 8 cars on Bigelow. Carlson ran hard to the win with a 2.3 second margin of victory and top speed of 102.208 mph for the division. Stoehr, Bigelow, Medeiros and Wood rounded out the top 5.