by Dana Rowe
Kyle Casper seems to be showing he likes the Sportsman Division a little bit better than Pro Stocks. It seems so, as his results have become sparkling of late – and this time, he kept his nose in the fresh air from beginning to end. It’s no easy task when you have Paul Lallier and his immense bag of tricks on your back from lap 11 all the way through lap 35 and you have to hold ‘em all off through five restarts.
It’s worth more than passing mention that the OTHER Lallier (Tyler) was on Casper’s bumper much of the first 1/3 of the feature. And for the last five laps, Corey “Kid Chaos” Fanning slid past Captain Fun, Craig Pianka into third and was looking for Paul to give him an opportunity at Casper.
Casper, however, kept his poise, his setup stayed with him and his motor poured on the horses, enabling Kyle to stand in Victory Lane.
Paul Lallier was less than a half-second off the pace in second, Fanning finished third within the same second and Tyler was fourth, just ahead of the champ, Scott Bruneau, who is making another season out of his amazing consistency.
At the start, they came through the box with outside pole Chris Gomes giving him a half-car advantage before they dropped the hammer. Kyle was quickly away in the lead as Smokin’ Joe Kohler got under Gomes to chase Casper. But Tyler got to second just ahead of him, and they battled over position to lap 10. Gomes, Tim Watson and Paul Williams lent rapid pursuit and Paul Lallier came jumping past competition from a ninth place start. He was in fifth on lap three and dueled Gomes for a few laps then snookered his son and Kohler to leap into second. This came on a lap eight restart after Chris Rioux lost power and had to be pushed pitside, bringing out caution.
Casper nosed away from Tyler on the green as Kohler and Paul ran wheel-to-wheel. He pulled ahead in turn two and Kohler then ducked under Tyler. Paul looked underneath as well then stole the whole show on Kohler and Tyler, going into second as Casper moved out to a three-car lead, courtesy of the turbulence the trio’s debate had created. Two laps later, Kyle was a half-straightaway to the good as Paul and Smokin’ Joe duked it out to finally determine second. That went to the elder Lallier with 21 laps remaining – but Casper had rocketed out to a full-straightaway lead.
Lallier, with Pianka, Tyler and Bruneau (working under Kohler) in tow, grimly set to work to pare down the distance to the leader. Ryan Flood, meanwhile, was black-flagged and retired to the pits. Paul’s efforts were showing incremental results, but fate intervened as Ed Flanagan, Jr. spun down the front stretch out of turn four, calling caution and effectively cancelling the lead.
Casper and Paul lined up with Pianka and Tyler in row two; Bruneau and Kid Chaos backed them up. It took them two tries to get going again, as Williams and Billy Hutchins, Jr. spun in turn four.
Second attempt got Casper ahead coming out of turn two and Paul immediately dropped under. He found no room down low and latched onto Kyle’s rear bumper. Pianka grabbed third and Bruneau fourth while Kohler and Tyler dueled over fifth. But as soon as Kohler snagged the position, Fanning came tunneling under Lallier, looking to put him back yet another spot. And then Sparky Arsenault jumped in underneath to add more insult to injury. Tyler was finally able to get off the backwards freight train behind Arsenault as a gap had opened.
Fanning set to work on Kohler as Paul emptied his entire bag of tricks on the fleeing Casper’s bumper. Fanning succeeded at advancing to fifth. Sparky and Tyler were behind Kohler in a firefight over seventh place and they were still involved when Hutchins spun and Williams spun to avoid collision.
Seven laps remained as Casper and Lallier took to the front again, ahead of Pianka and Bruneau. They got in a solo lap before Gomes and Donald Perry spun. satd a closed door. Fanning went around the outside into third and deep in the pack, last week’s winner – Ed Perry – went three-wide around Vinny Pangelinan and Tim Watson.
With the field strung out, it was a straight shoot over the last three laps to the finish. Not an easy one, however, as the group at the front were all intent on dethroning one another and worked feverishly. But the pace line ran all the way under the checkers, granting Casper the win.
Sixth went to Kohler, followed by Pianka, Arsenault, Pangelinan, Ed Perry, Watson, Donald Perry and Gomes.