LIMA OUTRUNS TEAMMATE MELBERG TO STRIPE FOR .006-SECOND WIN
Chris Lima dashed to the front past John Robidoux early in the race and seemed to have the field to himself, but out of the pack came teammate and ruling Pure Stock champ, Jesse Melberg. Melberg quickly closed the distance and showed the crowd he wasn’t about to let his teammate win easy. Lap after lap, Melberg went to the outside to drive around Lima, but was denied. He fell in behind, gathered it back up and in the final lap made a mad dash along Lima’s outside. They roared up to the stripe wheel-to-wheel for a photo finish. The electronic counter provided the winner – Lima by six thousandths of a second, a distance probably determined by sixteenths of an inch.
Lima came from the low side of the second row, behind polesitter John Robidoux. Robidoux went door to door with Amy Arsenault briefly at the beginning but was into the lead out of turn two. As she fell back and Lima came underneath, Joseph Fortin came around the outside for a three-wide for second. Lima moved into second and Melberg came up from fifth to third. Earl Curtin III nabbed fourth, last week’s winner Bill Doyle nabbed fifth followed by Fortin and Arsenault.
Lima started underneath Robidoux on lap five and completed the pass at the stripe into lap six and went quickly out to a three-car lead. Curtin went under Melberg to third and Doyle held on to fifth. B y lap 12, Lima had a half-lap lead over the field, but a spin involving Ed Gould on the backstretch brought out the caution.
The lap 11 restart saw Lima and Robidoux wheel-to-wheel with Lima taking the front out of turn two. Melberg got under Robidoux into second on the backstretch of lap 12. By lap 14, the field had stretched out behind them with Robidoux, Curtin, Doyle, Fortin, and Jamie Salley in pursuit.
The race boiled down to a challenge for the lead between teammates Lima and Melberg, and the friendships were lost in the smoke of battle. Lima was intent on the finish line and Melberg was adamant that he would get by. Meanwhile, Robidoux had Curtin on his bumper and lap 14 saw him get by into third. Robidoux tried to take it back by crossing under but Curtin shut the door and enied the attempt.
Lap 24 saw Melberg go to the outside, but Lima bore down and Melberg was forced back. Lap 28 and Melberg atain went to the outside to be denied again. He steadied up and as they flew under the white silk from the starter’s stand, Melberg made his final bid, going to the outside and holding the hammer down. He edged forward down the backstretch and came even through turns three and four. They came full bore down the final straight to the checkers with the crowd on its feet to see the winner, but it had to be determined by the electronic counters.
Lima’s win carried with it top speed on the day of 15.987, the only car under 16 seconds. Curtin’s 16.070 was second fastest. Curtin outlasted Robidoux for third and Doyle rounded out the top five. Salley, Fortin, Ed Flanagan, Jr., Gould, and Arsenault rounded out the top ten.