by Dana Rowe
Riley Caron came off the pole to lead all comes from green to checkers in a race (save for a first lap red flag that led to a complete race restart) that ran caution free for all fifteen laps. It was Caron’s first feature win, and he was literally bouncing up and down when he alighted from his mount. Samantha Dell had one of her best races, climbing from eighth to second over the first nine laps, then relentlessly pursued Caron for the remainder of the outing. Twin-winner on the season, Giovanni Ruggerio, grabbed third, driving a borrowed car after his was crumpled in a wreck during practice and could not be repaired. He was able to run, however, in Brandon Cowen’s Bandolero as a loaner. Joey LeMay and Ethan Heilborn rounded out the top five.
The opening lap was marred by an accident against the front stretch wall. Nathan Smith struck a glancing blow, but he collected Nicholas Rose who piled in at speed and carried into the wall. Isaiah Newcomb was also collected in the incident. Red flags flew and Rose took a trip to the pits in the ambulance for observation. His car and Newcomb’s went to the pits on the hook.
On the complete race restart, Caron and LeMay went wheel-to-wheel at the start before Caron could disentangle himself and take the lead in turn two. Heilborn ran third behind LeMay, ahead of Stephen Bowden. Ruggerio and Aubrey Keller followed.
Caron was suddenly two cars up, then four cars going into lap three. LeMay, Heilborn and Ruggerio clustered behind him. Heilborn looked underneath but LeMay shut the door on him. Heilborn then began to look to the high side.
Ten laps to go, and Caron seemed unassailable: he was up by eight cars. Dell had picked her way onto Ruggerio’s bumper and got in underneath. After a brief battle with Heilborn, Dell moved into second with five laps remaining. Ruggerio took advantage as LeMay and Heilborn got together briefly and slipped into third to harrass Dell.
They ran nose-to-tail and picked up some speed, allowing them to narrow the gap to Caron, but the laps were winding down and it seemed there wasn’t enough time left to close in. Behind Ruggerio, LeMay was taking over fourth with Heilborn and Cameron Tavares following. With two to go, Caron still had a comfortable six-car lead over Dell.
It was a single-file run through the white flag lap with Caron well ahead, Ruggerio trying to steal second from Dell and LeMay firing in behind.
`Sixth on the evening went to Cameron Tavares, followed by Bowden, Keller, and Smith.