CAVALLARO BACK IN VICTORY LANE
Mike Cavallaro came storming back from his early-season broken wrist in his Late Models to hold off a rampant and charging Radical Rick Martin in the closing stages of the twenty-five lap Sport Trucks feature. The crowd squirmed in their seats over the final laps as again and again, Martin charged up to Cavallaro’s tailgate in his classic race-closing style, to try high, or low. Each time, Cavallaro would hold it straight and hold his line or shut the door. The duo dared a deadly, flat-out ballet all the way under the checkers with Cavallaro just outlasting Martin for the win. Martin’s nose was tucked under the leader’s rear quarter and the electronic timers showed them just 180 thousandths of a second apart.
Points leader John Paiva fought through to third but got away from the pack too late to chase the leaders down. Nick Uhrig and Polesitter Lenny Guy (celebrating his 50th birthday) rounded out the top five.
Guy had the pole for the start with Anna Gregoire on his shoulder. Lenny leapt to the lead as Nick Uhrig leapt in from third under Gregoire to steal second with Paiva coming in behind Uhrig. Rob Murphy and Darryl Church were door-to-door behind them. Dan Leach’s motor went sour and he struggled out of turn two, barely edging to the pit gate and off while Uhrig, Paiva and Rob Murphy took aim at Guy on lap three. Cavallaro had already motored up to fifth from his start in ninth. Scott Dion and Gregoire were wheel0-to-wheel behind them.
As the lead five continued in order into lap seven, Murphy spun out of his fourth position bringing out the caution. Branden Dion spun in the slowdown. Murphy pitted for repairs then returned to join Dion at the back.
Guy was away from Uhrig on the green, but Scott Dion suffered a stuck throttle or steering failure and came off the front stretch straight into the turn one wall, bouncing off into the high side of turn two. A pair of straight, black tire streaks stretched from the end of the frontstretch up to a paint blotch where contact was made with the wall, testifying to the hard application of brakes. The red came on and trucks clustered around the stricken vehicle, Branden Dion included, to check on the driver’s condidion. But the Senior Dion was soon out and checking the damage to his vehicle as the crowd erupted in applause.
Guy and Uhrig were again door-to-door on the restart but Paiva was soon under a fading Uhrig as was Cavallaro. Church followed suit a lap later, with Martin coming through on his tailgate. Cavallaro then eased Paiva back to third but the wily Paiva chose to cross under the leader as Cavallaro went to Guy’s outside, giving the crowd a three-wide run for the lead. He dropped back as the stack teetered and Cavallaro edged forward on the outside on lap 12. He had the front coming out of turn three. Guy slammed the door as Paiva looked underneath again.
Church was not done, and he began a trip outside Paiva on lap 14. But Martin was coming up from fifth and as Church fell back, he took the measure to take over fourth behind Paiva. Three laps later, he was past both Paiva and Guy into second, just a slim two cars behind Cavallaro. John Paiva, leading the remainder of the field, was 10 cars back, leaving the two-car combat at the front in the spotlight.
Cavallaro had Martin on his bumper with six laps to go. The dogfight was on and the crowd hunched forward in their seats to listen to the aerial cannon fire as Martin wove a deadly path high and low and Cavallaro flew for the home hangar, his eyes targeting the finish line. They entered turn three, nose-to-tail for the classic run at the finish. Cavallaro chose to drift up and Martin decked the throttle to fly underneath for the final shot and they brawled down the final stretch and yammered under the flagstand with Cavallaro protecting his margin of victory.
Rounding out the top ten were Church, Branden Dion, Mike Duarte, Chase Belcher and Taylor Therrien. Rob Murphy, chasing Paiva for the points lead, saw his chances dimmed by a twelfth place finish, just behind Gregoire. Damage in the early-race incident had cut his ability to make his typical run back to the front.