by Dana Rowe
Steve Axon and Captain Fun – Craig Pianka – waged a war over the second half of the Sportsman feature and the bullets really flew heavily over the final four laps as The Captain glued himself to Axon’s tail and wouldn’t let go. They came under the checkers nose-to-tail with Axon hauling down his second win on the season.
Paul and Tyler Lallier made it a family run, finishing third and fourth respectively and Adam Petty rounded out the top five.
Dave Gargaro and Adam Pettey came off the front row with Gargaro grabbing the initial lead in turn two. Smokin’ Joe Kohler ducked under Pettey and they passed Gargaro for the lead going three-wide into lap two. Axon had started fifth but came onto Kohler’s bumper on lap three and began to apply pressure. Gargaro spun and tied up Ant Kohler as the field charged past. Gargaro recovered and continued before the caution flew.
Axon succeeded into the lead on lap five getting under Joe Kohler for some door-to-door, then Pianka came up to Axon’s bumper. Ant Kohler spun off turn two, bringing out a lap four restart.
Smokin Joe and Axon lined up with Pianka and Pettey in row two. Sparky Arsenault and Paul Lallier were row three. Kohler and Axon battled across the strip and Joe took a nose in turn two. Axon came back to push his nose ahead, then took the lead for himself on lap seven. Kohler stayed on his tail and Pianka followed, just ahead of Paul Lallier. Sparky and Pettey followed, running wheel-to-wheel, just ahead of Jesse Melberg and Austin Erickson. Arsenault moved up and Melberg ducked under Pettey. Scott Bruneau then took Melberg’s place.
Pianka got under Joe on lap eleven but Kyle Casper went around in turn four and caution flew. This brought Smokin’ Joe back alongside Axon for the restart.
Axon nosed out and grabbed the lead and Pianka followed from the low side of row two. Kohler dropped in and Sparky went to his outside. Paul Lallier was looking around them both. Now Axon and Pianka were in the chase for real and set a torrid pace. As the way cleared, Paul got under Arsenault. Tyler Lallier was moving up and dropped under Bruneau onto Pettey’s tail in seventh. As Arsenault fell back, Pettey got in underneath. Paul nosed in under Joe Kohler and they went door-to-door.
Axon, Pianka and Lallier ran hard through laps 18, 19 and 20 as Petty moved in to claim fourth. Tyler got under Kohler into fifth and Chad Baxter took his place beneath Kohler.
With five remaining, it was Axon, Pianka, Paul, Pettey and Tyler. They ran hard and single file until Tyloer got under Pettey on the final circuit. He eked out a .013-second margin to grab fourth away from Pettey at the checkers.
Sixth went to Baxter, followed by Kid Chaos – Corey Fanning. Fanning had driven in late and missed the heat races and had to start at the rear, but worked his way up to seventh. Chris Rioux, Joe Kohler and Bruneau completed the top ten.