The most exciting racing division in the northeast lived up to its name, thanks to the decisive driving of Johnston, Rhode Island’s Crystal Serydynski – she hauled down the long-awaited first career win in decisive fashion.
It was a hard-earned victory, as she had to fight it out, door to door, with Paul Lallier in the middle circuits, then had defending division champ Steve Axon all over her rear bumper in the closing laps. But calm thinking kept the Hollywood 8 focused on driving and she crossed under the checkers just .216 ahead of Axon. It was a wild blur at the stripe as Mike Mitchell and Axon were angling to get by on both sides and Sparky Arsenault and Ryan Lineham were right behind, all within the same second. Lallier, Justin Travis, Scott Bruneau, George Rego and Scott Cestodio rounded out the top ten.
Accolades from fellow drivers fell all around, post-race, in what track announcer Kevin Boucher called “One of the most popular wins we’ve seen here in a long time.”
Serydynski started third on the grid, but had gotten by Chris Rioux and polesitter Tim Eaton before the first lap had ended. Eaton was tenacious, hanging on, door-to-door through lap 5 before falling back, when Delaney eased into second for a lap. Lallier came by into second a lap later, and engaged Serydynski wheel-to-wheel for several laps. The telemetry placed him inches ahead on lap ten, then again on laps 16 and 17 and once more on lap 19. But Serydynski had a steel grip on the low groove and would not yield. Just when she had taken the front for herself, on lap 22, Axon succeeded Lallier in second and intensified the pressure all the way to the checkers
Gerry DeGasparre of Pawtucket hauled down his first feature win on the Late Model season in a drama-filled race that wasn’t decided until the checkers flew over the leaders. DeGasparre edged Cranston’s Bob Pelland III by .207 seconds and divisional champ Ryan Vanasse by .240!
DeGasparre, divisional multi-champion, had started in the fifth row, owing to his points lead on the season, and had to pry his way through a host of stubborn competitors, including Vanasse, who started alongside.
Randy Burr and Ron Barboza, Jr. kicked things off from the front, with Burr taken the lead and Barboza battling on the outside. Pelland, starting third, spotted Burr wide and went underneath. He had the lead, but David Hutchins, Jr. of Somerset spun in turn two, taking the restart back to the previous lap’s positions.
Again, Burr, Barboza and Pelland started 1-2-3, and Burr again went to the front. Barboza fell back. Burr was trying to stay low, but still leaving room and Pelland was trying to leverage some advantage from it. He augured his way to the front on lap 5 as Barboza, Dylan Estrella and Matt Breault found themselves three wide behind them. Barboza succeeded at keeping third, Breault fell into fourth and Estrella set up behind Breault with DeGasparre on his tail.
DeGasparre, with Vanasse as a shadow got by Estrella and then Barboza and set to work on Breault in third. In the meantime, Pelland was moving rapidly away from the pack, as he has often done this season. By lap 11, his lead was almost the length of a straightaway. On the next lap, DeGasparre began working around Breault with Vanasse closing on the latter’s bumper. As DeGasparre cleared Breault, Burr was coming back and Vanasse began working around Breault. DeGasparre was alongside Burr and heading for second, making the pass on lap 15. Vanasse closed on DeGasparre’s bumper as he was going around Burr and the two popped into clear air on lap 17. Now it was a match race between them to catch the rapidly disappearing Pelland, who was roughly a full straightaway ahead. Vanasse opened his bag of tricks and began working them on DeGasparre.
On the twenty-fifth circuit, much to Pelland’s dismay, Jeramee Lillie made a solo loop on the backstretch, bringing out the caution and a restart. Pelland had DeGasparre on his outside and Vanasse behind him on the restart with just five laps to go. DeGasparre got the edge on the start, with Pelland battling doggedly, coming back to a door-to-door struggle. Vanasse was on his bumper, scanning for any opportunity. On lap 27, DeGasparre had a .02-second lead, on the following, he had a fender and lap 29 the edge of the door. Pelland came back again and they were door-to-door coming through turn four, heading for the checkers. Pelland stuttered slightly in the rear end, giving DeGasparre the opportunity to surge ahead. Vanasse dived into the opportunity, going under Pelland, nearly stealing second, coming in just .037 seconds behind for third. Breault and Estrella rounded out the top five.
Seekonk’s Mike Cavallaro added a fourth victory on the 2011 season, outlasting rival Ted Berube of Somerset and Fall River’s Ed Gannon to the finish. He snagged the lead from outside polesitter Lenny Guy of New Bedford on lap 5 and reeled off the remainder of the 25 circuits at the front.
Guy had passed polesitter Jim Hawkins at the start; Dighton’s Dan Leach followed with Cavallaro on his tail feathers and then Berube began the pass. However, last week’s winner, Portsmouth driver Rob Andreozzi, and Acushnet’s Lance Cambra got together; Cambra went into a spin and Andreozzi lost the fiberglass nose on his number 2. He went to the pits but returned for the restart.
The complete race restart saw Guy again at the front with Cavallaro dodging under Hawkins for second, followed by Berube. Cavallaro immediately went to work underneath Guy as The Hawk tried to hang on outside Berube. Meanwhile, Fall River’s Ed Gannon had worked his way from his eleventh starting slot to fifth. Cavallaro tried underneath again on lap 4 and had the lead coming out of turn four. Another lap and Berube followed under to second, but contact between The Hawk and Andreozzi sent Hawkins into a spin, which collected Tiverton’s Greg Boone. Boone’s body mounts collapsed, and most of the fiberglass sagged to the ground. He had to be wreckered from the track. Cambra was also dead in the water in the turn 4 crash.
Cavallaro and Guy again faced off with Berube behind them with Gannon. Cavallaro went to the lead and Berube, and then Gannon worked under Guy. Berube, four cars back, began chasing Cavallaro as Gannon closed on him.
Anna Gregoire of Hyannis, making her first start of the season, spun in turn on lap 13, bringing up a restart with Cavallaro and Berube on the front with Gannon and Leach behind them. Cavallaro went to the lead, but Berube hung tight. Gannon closed and got under Berube, who was giving way, into second, but Billy Clarke looped in turn four to bring another caution.
The restart saw Cavallaro again in the lead with Berube holding off Gannon, who had Dan Leach closing on him. As Cavallaro eased away from the pack, Gannon and Berube dueled while behind them Leach and Guy battled. In the closing laps, Berube and Gannon made contact and Leach spurted past Gannon, but Gannon grabbed it back. The trio crossed the stripe locked together with Berube holding on to second, Gannon third and Leach fourth. Guy rounded out the top five.
Champ Fred Astle of Westport hung on through the Pro Stock feature to notch his third win on the season and his second in as many weeks. A late-race spin between leaders Tom Scully, Sr., also of Westport and Rehoboth’s Dave Darling opened the door for Astle who was running third at the time. Somerset’s Kyle Casper chased Astle to the finish for second and Ken Spencer from Taunton finished third. Points leader Mike Brightman from Acushnet was fourth and Berkley driver Colby Fournier rounded out the top five.
Astle had started fourteenth on the field, owing to last week’s win, and Darling right ahead of him in twelfth. Gardner, MA driver Phil Meany was on the pole with Berkley’s Jake Vanada on his outside. They went door to door from the green, and as they crossed the stripe, Meany bumped Vanada, who spun into the wall in turn 1. Vanada was unhurt, but his car had to be double-hooked from the track and Jake elected to take the long walk down the front stretch to the pit entrance. Meany was not penalized for the contact. Spencer moved to the outside pole for the restart.
Spencer nabbed the lead, fending off Meany, then Scott Dion, Kyle Casper and Scully. By lap 10, Scully was working by Casper with Darling on his tail and Astle shadowing them all. Scully took the lead on lap 16, getting under Spencer. Darling was third and Astle fourth. By midpoint of the race, Scully had two cars’ lead over Spencer, Darling and Astle. The field was stretched out single file with 20 laps remaining.
Darling got under Spencer to second as Scully, 10 cars ahead, was into the first of lapped traffic. He was in the clear three laps later. Darling, Astle, Spencer Kyle and Kevin Casper and Tom Scully, Jr. pursued.
On lap 34, Somerset’s Dave Hutchins spun in front of the Starter’s platform, bringing the field back for a restart. Scully and Darling had Astle and Spencer behind them. The Caspers made up the third row. Scully, Sr. edged ahead, and Astle was underneath Darling, but Paul Reichert looped coming out of four and went to the pits as the field lined for another restart. The same group came away under green with six laps remaining.
Scully, Sr. gained the advantage but Darling battled back, hard and wide. As Scully was watching Darling, Astle was moving to get underneath, but the leaders were battling to the point that they brushed fenders, which put both into a spin in turn one of lap 37. Astle saw the contact and navigated around the pair. Both Scullys came together in turn one with Tom, Jr. suffering extensive front end damage, forcing him to retire for the evening.
Astle restarted with Kyle on the outside and Spencer and Brightman behind them. Astle gained the lead, receiving fierce resistance from Casper all the way to the finish. Brightman battled Spencer vigorously, but could not overtake him at the line. The finished just .15 seconds apart.
Action resumes on Saturday, July 9th, as we take a step back into yesteryear, as the N.E.A.R. and S.T.A.R. coupes, pintos, sedans, Vega’s and more invade The Cement Palace. The Atlantic Coast Old Timers will also be on hand for display as well.
It is also round four for the Hometown Heroes Celebration, as the towns of Rehoboth, Swansea, Somerset, Taunton, North Dighton, West Bridgewater, Plymouth, Scituate, Raynham will be admitted for free, with proof of residency. Competitors from those towns will also be available for an autograph session. For more information, check out seekonkspeedway.com. or find us on Facebook.