Two weeks ago, Vinny Arrenegado looked like his season might be over after a grinding, nose-first jam-up with the wall, just ahead of the flagstand. The turnabout, aided by last week’s night off for Late Models due to the big ACT event at Waterford Speedbowl, was amazing. Vinny and crew not only brought back the car . . . they brought back a machine that went from green to checkers in the lead in a race that went from green to checkers without a caution. It ran so fast it almost seemed to have been shortened by a few laps.
This isn’t saying that Arrenegado had an easy time of it. He was pursued by multi-champion Gerry DeGasparre, Jr. into the 23rd lap, and 2015 champ Dylan Estrella took over the drama for the final seven laps to the checkers. At the stripe, Vinny took the win with just a quarter-second to spare.
Austin Blais sandwiched himself ahead of DeGasparre in third, while TJ Moreshead collected fifth, just ahead of The Hammer, Jeramee Lillie.
Vinny had the pole and nosed ahead of a stubbon Ron Barboza, Jr., taking the lead in turn one as DeGasbarre latched onto his bumper for a dash below Barboza and into second. Lillie was under John Paiva into third.
Gerry latched onto Vinny’s bumper as The Hammer went to tuird in turn two. Lap four saw Bill Bernard in fourth as behind him, Blais was now working underneath Barboza and Estrella followed, looking for opportunities. By lap seven, Blais had solved Bernard, as had Estrella. Dylan looked under Blais, but had to fall back and Charlie Rose moved up on his bumper. By lap nine, Bernard and Lillie were running door-to-door. Bernard pulled ahead but Lillie fired back up and they continued.
By lap 12, Blais had worked his way past into third with Estrella, Bernard, Lillie and Moreshead in tow. Arrenegado continued to lead with DeGasparre a carlength behind. Rose continued to follow Moreshead with Nick Johnson in pursuit..
Estrella had been chasing Blais, and now looked under for the pass. They fought wheel-to-wheel for a lap and a half before Estrella could take advantage of the favored position. Vinny was edging ahead, taking a two-car margin but Degasparre, Estrella and Blais roared up and all four were running nose-to-tail with ten laps remaining. Bernard had Moreshead, Lillie, Rose and Johnson for company behind them.
Moreshead nosed under Bernard on lap twenty-two and a lap later, DeGasparre suddenlybegan to lose ground. Blais took advantage and Estrella also went by, getting past Blais as well, into second behind the streaking Arrenegado. The field was fairly stretched out with four circuits remaining.
Dylan ran up to Vinny’s bumper and was all over his back, trying desperately to find some space underneath. Arrenegado slammed the door on him and Estrella was briefly loose. This gave the leader a carlength of breathing room, but it closed back up immediately with one circuit remaining. The crowd held its breath, but Arrenegado was able to fend him off for the final lap and drag-race to the line for his first win on the season.
Sixth through tenth went to Lillie, Rose, Johnson, Bernard and Paiva.