Dave Darling seems to appreciate coming from back in the pack and turning races into feature wins. Again this week, he accomplished the feat once again. It might be easy to get complacent about the frequency under which the multi-champion wins, but true to the pattern, the runner up spot went to Ryan Vanasse, who is running second in points behind Darling.
Coming to the front more frequently is Bobby Pelland III, who this week worked his way into third and gave Vanasse a devil of a time in the process. Mike Brightman scored a fourth place while Tom Scully, Jr. rounded out the top five.
The race was troubled by seven cautions. The final one came on lap 22 of the 40-lap feature and was a real wake-up. The drivers reassembled and the final eighteen circuits ran without interruption.
That lap 22 caution brought out the red flag and all the track’s safety personnel. Bob Hussey had suffered a loss of power and was limping around the oval toward the pits as the race continued. Halfway down the back stretch he lost all motive power as the field came through turn one. Yellow lights came on but the field took time to slow down. There were a couple of near misses. Fred Astle was running behind another car coming out of turn two and the car ahead blocked his view until it suddenly dropped low and Hussey loomed ahead of him. Fred tried to turn down to avoid, but was too close. He piled into Hussey’s back deck at speed catapulting the stalled car down the track. Fred came to a halt midway down the back, his nose pointing toward the front stretch.
Red flags flew and emergency crews converged to check on the drivers and vehicles. Astle emerged from his car and walked slowly across the infield grass with an EMT hustleling after him to give him the obligatory physical check.
From this point, competitors put on eighteen laps of feature racing without interruption.
Daryl Stampfl and Mighty Mike Brightman had led the field from the green and problems arose immediately. Stampfl slid up the track with what seemed to be a broken axle and he limped to the pits. Pelland and Brightman lined up for the restart and went side-by-side for a lap before they made contact and a host of cars went spinning. Both drivers went to the rear as Brightman was called on the assist.
Kyle Casper and Kevin Folan now held down the front row. They battled thru the lap and Casper came out of turn four in a slide. “He was literally 42 degrees sideways, and he saved it!” cried track announcer Kevin Boucher.
It led to a caution and they lined as before. Now Vanasse was behind Folan on the pole and Darling lurked behind Casper. It was again wheel-to-wheel on the restart with Casper nosing out on turn two. They rubbed together in turn four and continued with Casper grabbing the front in turn two.
Darling forged ahead into second, followed by Vanasse and Astle rushed up to fourth, battled briefly with Pelland then took over the spot behind Vanasse. Lap eight saw Darling pry the lead from Casper’s grasp and Vanasse followed into second. Casper settled in ahead of Astle and Pelland settled in behind him.
Folan spun on lap 13 with Scully getting the call on the assist. Astle had been working under Casper for position and set up low in the second row with Casper outside. Darling and Vanasse battled but Vanasse settled in behind as Astle went to third. But Pelland rushed up to steal third. Rick Martin settled in behind Casper in sixth with Brightman and Davis Silva in tow.
Casper nosed ahead on Astle. Fred backed out down the back stretch but Casper, who was underneath, went around. Astle pitted for adjustment.
Darling grabbed the lead off the green and Pelland dived in under Vanasse but Silvia was around in turn three. Scully was hard on the binders and avoided contact.
Again, Darling had the lead in turn two. Vanasse, Pelland, Brightman and Martin followed and the field quickly strung out. Pelland kept looking under, but Vanasse kept him at bay.
Hussey began losing speed and limping through turns one and two, trying to make the pits. It was here that Astle found himself in an unavoidable crash with Hussey, who’s power had chaotically failed midway down the backstretch.
On the restart, Darling had the lead in turn four, one car ahead of Vanasse and Pelland battling over second. Vanasse succeeded leaving Pelland third, ahead of Brightman. Darling’s lead expanded to three cars two laps later as the field stretched out behind him. Martin and Scully followed behind Brightman. Scully ducked under Martin into fifth and Casper came by into sixth.
Lap 30 saw Darling with a 15-car lead. The field was stretched out and running for the finish, circling the track as Scully began to pare down the distance between himself and Brightman. He got to Brightman’s back bumper on the white flag lap, but Mighty Mike was able to prevent him from passing.
Darling flew home, 2.2 seconds ahead of Vanasse. Pelland was third while Brightman and Scully rounded out the top five. Sixth went to Casper, followed by Martin, Folan, Phil Meany and Larry Gelinas.