HOULIHAN TAKES THE WIN AND DARLING WINS FOURTH PRO STOCK CROWN
On a lap 32 restart with eight to go, Dick Houlihan was whispering in leader Ryan Vanasse’s ear from second. Six restarts later, Houli was still whispering, trying to solve Vanasse when caution flew with two laps remaining. And Vanasse took his car from the lead into the pits between the second and third restart for lap 38. Vanasse was back, but stuck at the rear as Houlihan and Dave Silvia lined up with Dave Hutchins, Sr and Kevin Folan behind them. Kenny Spencer and Darling waited in the fourth row.
Houlihan got Silvia’s number and went to the lead as it stretched out behind him: Silvia, Folan, Darling and Hutch. As the final lap unwound, Rick Martin pressed past Hutchins to nab the fifth slot.
Though the fourth quarter of on-track action was a chore for the crowd, as the tedium of a caution every other lap, and some multiple restarts of the same lap added in, The first thirty laps were a seat-squirmer going caution free.
Kevin Folan leapt off the pole and began a tour-de-force at the front. N Kenny Spencer joined him, grabbing second on lap five and the two debated the lead for the next 25 laps. But Mike Mitchel had gotten under outside polesitter Silvia at the outset as Martin labored underneath spencer and Mike Brightman contended with Vanasse on his high side.
No doubt that Folan was quick, as he had a three car lead over Mitchell on lap two. Silvia came back to second on lap three before Spencer moved him back again. On lap 7, Folan had Spencer, Silvia, Brightman, Tom Scully, Jr. and Fred Astle in pursuit. Scully was all over Brightman’s bumper on lap nine but the worked underneath Silvia. Vanasse came up on Silvia’s other end.
Spencer was closing on Folan by lap 17, trailing Brightman, Scully, Vanasse and Silvia. By now, the field was running single file. Two laps later, Darling moved past Vanasse, onto Scully’s bumper. Lap twenty had Folan and Spencer debating at the front with Folan holding the floor. Several cars back, there was an angry argument between Brightman, Scully, Vanass and Darling in that order, and another discussion on position between Silvia, Houlihan and Astle just a little big back.
Houlihan and Freddy ducked under getting by Silvia on 23.
Lap 25 saw Folan still in the lead with Spencer on his tail. Brightman, Scully, Vanasse, Darling, Houlihan, Astle and Silvia were in pursuit.
Lap 30 saw Bob Hussey and Darryl Stampfl together, looping out of turn two after making contact while running wheel-to-wheel.
Folan and Spencer lined up with Brightman and Scully behind them. Spencer leapt away as Brightman came forward, knocking Folan into a spin that took him up to the wall. Scully and Darling were involved. Folan went to the pits for repairs and Brightman retired with a good deal of damage to his right front. He did not return. Folan was back minus hood and both front fenders heavily duct-taped.
Now Vanasse lined up alongside Spencer for the lap 30 restart. They went side by side, dogfighting for two laps before spencer’s back end snapped out in turn two. Now, Houlihan was outside Vanasse on the lap 32 restart, and they fought through until Vanasse wa forced to the pits for quick repairs. Rounding out the top ten were: Spencer, Stampfl, Mitchell, Vanasse and Hussey.