Dave Darling continued to dominate the field of Pro Stocks as he came from a tenth place start to win the laps-added Phil’s Propane Triple Crown race. He methodically progressed through the crowd ahead, which included Dick Houlihan, both Casper brothers, Larry Gelinas, Rick Martin, Fred Astle and Ryan Vanasse – the division’s toughest. He then had to get past Mike Brightman who was having the best night of his season, running at the front for the first 37 laps.
But as he has come to be known by his frequency of winning the long races, he did it once again in this 65-lapper. At the end, he was leading runnerup Tom Scully, Jr. by a full straightaway and it seemed he still didn’t need his second wind. Third on the evening went to Bobby Pelland III, while Ryan Vanasse, Fred Astle and Kevin Casper captured the rest of the top five.
Brightman came off the pole ahead of Dick Houlihan, who made a contest of it on the outside, but Pelland was underneath him from the low spot in row two. Pelland took over second to chase Brightman for the first 33 laps and Houli fell into third with Kyle Casper on his trail.
By lap five, Brightman had a two car lead over Pelland while Kyle and Houlihan battled for third. Rick Martin ran fourth and Vanasse swung in behind. Darling was moving up fast, and was behind Vanasse on lap 9 and past him on lap 13. As Brightman led by five cars over Pelland, Darling worked past Martin and stepped onto Kyle’s bumper and stuck his nose under out of turn four. Lap 19 saw him in third, a straightaway behind Pelland. He began to close the gap.
Martin looked under Kyle for fourth and they were side-by-side down the backstretch.
Darling was closing rapidly on Pelland and was just six cars behind him on lap 29. Behind them, Scully was moving up fast and dropped under Kyle to take the position on lap 30.
As Brightman continued to run hard, four cars ahead, Darling was at Pelland’s bumper, looking to overtake for second. He dropped under on the backstretch and had secured second by turn two of lap 34. Brightman had a two car advantage.
But Darling was at his bumper on lap 36 and crossed under the next time around. He had the lead in turn four of lap 37 and immediately found himself immersed in lapped traffic. On lap 38, Brightman continued in second, followed by Pelland, Vanasse, Scully, Kevin Caper, Martin and Astle. Another circuit and Vanasse, Scully and Kevin were running nose-to-tail each looking to own fourth.
Pelland ran up to Brightman’s bumper and looked under but couldn’t make the pass. Darling, meanwhile was a half-straight ahead. Pelland tried again and they were running wheel-to-wheel and took over second on lap 50. Behind Brightman, Scully was coming in under Vanasse to fourth while Kevin and Astle pursued. Daryl Stampfl then spun in turn two, to bring the first caution of the event.
Darling and Pelland were side-by-side for the restart with Brightman and Scully behind them. Darling pulled away from Pelland, leaving Brightman and Scully alongside behind them and Vanasse under Kevin. Darling quickly took a six-car lead and Scully left Brightman to get on Pelland’s bumper.
By lap 60, the lead was a full straight and Scully had gone past Pelland into second. Brightman was third, but Vanasse passed under and after some due debate he had secured third on lap 64. Brightman was stuck on the outside, and Astle and Casper ran underneath, setting him back to seventh.
The field was single file and they ran the final three laps in order to the finish. Nick Johnson gathered up eighth, followed by Martin and Stampfl.