ESTRELLA SEIZES OPPORTUNITY LATE AND COMES THROUGH FOR SECOND WIN IN MARFEO, JR. MEMORIAL
Dylan Estrella battled Bill Bernard for second through much of the race and when Bernard got together with leader Ryan Lineham, climbing on Lineham’s rear fender and slowing both cars, Estrella leapt to the lead on rocket boosters. The ensuing 6 laps to the finish were anything but a cakewalk with Gerry DeGasparre, Jr. taking the outside in the challenge for his second consecutive win and Bobby Pelland III snapping at his rear bumper. But Estrella kept his composure, drove hard and came through to pull away for the win. DeGasparre and Pelland followed him across the line door-to-door with DeGasparre eking out second by nine thousandths of a second! Bernard and Lineham crossed behind them for fourth and fifth.
Lineham and Mark Hudson ran door-to-door from the green but Lineham began to edge ahead on the fourth circuit. The first eight cars were running in a grid, refusing to yield position until DeGasparre dropped in behind Dave Hutchins, Sr., who was in the car for the extended laps Phil’s Propane Triple Crown event.
Lineahm led Hudson, Charlie Rose, Bernard, Estrella, Hutch, DeGasparre and Pelland through lap four. Rose began working on Hudson and was undertneath and into second with Bernard following. Lap 8 saw Hutch and Estrella battling door-to-door with DeGasparre looking for a way around them as Hutchins’ car exploded in steam coming out of the backstretch. He continued but was shown the black flag on the subsequent circuit.
Lineham had a 12-car lead by lap 13. Rose, Bernard, Hudson and Estrella pursued from the distance. But Branden Dion, in his first contest in a Late Model, had his back end snap out fromundr him in turn four.
Lineham and Rose were wheel-to-wheel on the restart for two laps until Lineham began to edge ahead. Bernard leapt to Lineham’s bumper under Rose as the latter’s car suddenly began to slow. He rolled to a stop on the back stretch but was able to move away again. He was assessed a one-lap penalty for intentionally drawing the yellow.
Lineham was away from Bernard on the restart as Estrella began looking underneath. By lap 21, the lead was six cars while Bernard and Estrella battled wheel-to-wheel. At the halfway mark – lap 25 – the par still debating second place. DeGasparre was watching from fourth for an opportunity with Hudson, Jaraiah Roderick, Pelland, Jeramee Lillie and Tyler Thompson following.
Bernard gained the spot in lap 28 and began closing on Lineham. They came bumper-to-bumper and Thompson and DeGasparre closed for a tight pack of four rocketing around the raceway. By lap 35, Hudson and Pelland had locked in to the speed train and DeGasparre elected to take the outside route around Estrella. He got around Estrella and came outside Bernard. Bernard worked hard on Lineham’s bumper, trying to hold DeGasparre off and began looking underneath.
DeGasparre then fell back alongside Estrella as Bernard pursued working underneath Lineham. As Lineham got loose out of turn four Bernard pushed his nose in and Lineham came back down toward the groove. Bernard’s right front wheel climbed the rear quarter and atop the rear deck as they came down the frontstretch. Both cars slowed and Estrella and DeGasparre scurried by. Gerry grabbed the lead, but Estrella pulled past as Pelland also got around the fused cars. Bernard’s wheel fell off Lineham’s deck and both continued, surprisingly losing no further ground.
A pack of speedsters in Estrella, DeGasparre and Pelland flew toward the finish, three laps away. DeGasparre saw Pelland slip underneath and the two engaged in a tight duel for second, which allowed Estrella some breathing room. They battled fiercely all the way to the checkers, with Estrella nailing the win and DeGasparre eking out a .009 second win in a photo finish. Bernard and Lineham completed the top five.