DEGASPARRE BATTLES TO LATE MODEL WIN OVER BERNARD
Six-time Late Model champion Gerry DeGasparre, Jr. engaged with late-race histrionics with Bill Bernard, who had led the first two-thirds of the race to come home with a win and firm his narrow points lead over Dylan Estrella and Bernard. Bernard finished a half-second back with Jeramee Lillie, Estrella, and Waterford visiting driver, Dillon Moltz rounding out the top five.
Bernard had led after jumping past polesitter Mark Hudson out of the box and generated a ten-car lead before a lap 17 caution. As Bernard was commanding the speedway, Estrella got under Hudson into second for the chase and DeGasparre siled under Lillie. Bernard was five cars up by lap three as Hudson stubbornly battled outside Estrella followed by DeGasparre and Lillie. Dave Hutchins, Jr. was working under Chad LaBassite and Moltz had come all the way from starting fourteenth to eighth.
Three laps later, Bernard was cruising with a ten-car lead while Estrella and Hudson still wresteled over the runnerup spot. DeGasparre and Lillie followed, and now Moltz was sixth.
It took Estrella until lap eleven to shed Hudson and DeGasparre quickly went underneath into third on the next circuit as Hudson dropped in front of Lillie. Bernard was cruising, still ten cars up, as his four nearest challengers were locked together like segments of a centipede. He opened it up to twelve cars before Scott Dion’s spin in lap 17 brought out the caution.
Bernard pulled away from Estrella and DeGasparre followed into second. He went to the outside for the pass and they were door-to-door on lap 19. But Bernard wound up the backstretch for the lead as LaBassite looped out of turn two to bring the caution.
Bernard, with DeGasparre on his shoulder, pulled ahead by three-quarters of a carlength in lap 21. But suddenly wobbled in turn four, slid up and bounced off DeGasparre, collected the car and continued, but DeGasparre had surged to the lead during the process. As the battle raged on, Ron Barboza spun going into turn one. He was able to keep it running and rejoined the race before caution was called. With five to go, DeGasparre had a four car advantage over Bernard, Lillie, Estrella, Moltz and Ryan Lineham.
Bernard was hard on the pedal, but the final five laps unwound as parade laps to the checkered flag. Completing the top ten were Lineham, Charlie Rose, Hutchins, Hudson and Dion.