Rehoboth’s Dave Darling made opening day his own once again, taking over at midrace and building a solid lead through to the checkered flag. Darling likes the big race scenario, and this continued the momentum he had set up, winning 2010’s year-ending Venditti Memorial.
Westporter Fred Astle, the 2010 division champ, finished second, .668 second back. Mike Brightman, Tom Scully, Jr. and Ken Spencer filled out the top five. Spencer chased them across the line in sixth.
Kevin Casper and Brightman made up the front row for the start, followed by Spencer and Darling; Astle and Scully, Jr. were the third row.
At the drop of the green, Casper stutter-stepped, giving Brightman the good start to run to the front. Darling latched onto his tail and the chase was on. Casper, Scully, Jr, Spencer and Astle pursued.
On lap 5, Brightman still led the group; Astle had moved past Spencer for fifth place. Spencer was forced into the infield grass through 3 and 4, but was able to keep straight and keep going, coming back onto the track at the head of the front stretch.
Lap 10 saw Brightman still leading Darling with Spencer third and Astle behind him. By lap 13, Darling had pulled in and was all over Brightman’s rear bumper. On the following circuit, Darling moved along side and began to edge ahead. By lap 15, he had command of the front. Spencer and Astle continued to follow Brightman.
Darling pulled out to a five car lead and Spencer was worrying Brightman; Astle was 3 cars back. Five laps later, the leaders came up to lapped traffic. Brightman was still dueling with Spencer while Astle followed carefully. Another eight cars back, Scott Dion pursued while Kevin Casper and his brother Kyle were contesting, side-by-side.
By lap 34, Darling had built a lead the length of the straightaway. Three later, Astle worked his way around Spencer and set his sights on Brightman. The battle continued until lap 38, when Kevin Casper spun in the third turn.
On the restart, Darling went back to the lead, while Astle, starting third, powered under Brightman for second spot. By lap 41, Darling had again built a 10-car lead over Astle, Brightman and Scully, Jr. Dion was holding to fifth, when he spun in turn four on the forty-third lap.
This set up a green-white-checkered restart with Astle on Darling’s outside shoulder. Brightman and Scully, Jr. were behind them, while Spencer and Scully, Sr. made up the third row. Kyle Casper, Dave Hutchins, Dick Houlihan and Colby Fournier followed.
Darling grabbed the lead and Astle and Brightman fought over second for the remaining two laps; Astle was able to hold off his antagonist by inches at the line. Tom Scully, Jr and Tom Scully, Sr. were divided by Ken Spencer at the finish.
Four drivers led the inaugural Late Model feature of 2011 in a well-contested 35-lapper, but after losing the lead at midrace, Acushnet’s Matt Breault took the lead back and led the final nine to the checkers.
Dylan Estrella led off his rookie season from the pole, but had wily competitor Rick Martin on his outside at the green. Martin wound it up at the start and went quickly to the front coming off turn three of the second lap. Estrella quickly found himself the meat in a 3-car sandwich, between Gerry DeGasparre and Bill Bernard. Bernard went around, forcing a restart after just one lap.
Martin and Estrella swapped positions on the front row with DeGasparre and Tyler Thompson at their backs. Breault and 2010 champ Ryan Vanasse followed. Martin nabbed the lead while Estrella began to lose positions. DeGasparre took over the second slot with Breault behind him followed by Randy Burr and Vanasse.
A spin on lap eight by Kevin Folan saw him, Bob Pelland III, Brian Vincent and Estrella head for the pits, all returning for the restart.
Coming up for the restart were Martin and DeGasparre. Breault and Randy Burr were line two and 2010 Champ Ryan Vanasse shared row three with Thompson. With Martin worrying about DeGasparre, and leaving an opening underneath, the hungry Breault went low and powered through a three-wide to the front. With the flurry underway, Vanasse got under DeGasparre for third and Burr held onto fifth. Jeramee Lillie and Thompson were duking it out for fifth.
Lillie got in too deep in turn four and looped, bringing out a lap 11 restart. With Breault and Martin battling off the green, Vanasse almost used Breault’s tactic to take the lead, but Breault was able to shut the door. Martin and Breault dueled to lap 15 when Breault took the lead, leaving Martin high on Vanasse. Two laps later, Vanasse worked his way underneath and into the lead on turn 4.
Two laps later, Martin was suddenly going backwards rapidly falling all the way back to eighth. Pelland got into Martin’s side and both spun. Both went directly to the pits with Folan.
Breault jumped the restart before a good, even go on the second try, but John Paiva looped in turn two, bringing out a third try to get things underway. Vanasse took the lead with Breault, Burr and DeGasparre and started building a lead. DeGasparre got around Burr and went in pursuit of Breault. Vanasse was gaining distance as the two battled for second.
With Vanasse moving comfortably ahead of his pursuers, Ron Barboza spun out, bringing the caution. Vanasse made a sudden and surprising turn up pit road, putting Breault back into the lead with DeGasparre on his shoulder. Burr and Bill Bernard made up row two, followed by Thompson and Estrella. Vanasse had returned to the tail end of the pack.
Breault led DeGasparre out of the stocks, but Lillie looped on the backstretch. He took it to the pits to end his afternoon. On the second restart, all got away clean, with Breault going to the front after a battle with DeGasparre through turns 3 and 4 while Burr was painting his back bumper.
Into lap 30, Breault maintained charge over the field while DeGasparre and Burr fought over second. With just two laps of the 35 remaining, Breault got loose in turn 4, giving DeGasparre the opportunity to challenge. DeGasparre made the end a nail-biter, but Breault held him off for the win on the day. Rounding out the top 5 were Burr, Bernard and Thompson.
Seekonk Hometowner Mike Cavallaro sported a new paint job but was up to his old tricks dominating the Sport Trucks division as he led opening day’s opening feature race from the green flag all the way to the checkers. Fall River’s Ed Gannon gave him plenty of challenge both before and after he was shuttled to the rear by race director Mike Chapman for twice jumping restarts. Gannon nabbed second, 1.209 seconds back. Dan Leach, Michael Ronhock and Robert Andreozzi rounded out the top 5.
Cavallaro faced off with Somerset, MA driver Ted Berube on the outside pole, coming off a big DAV Memorial win to end the 2010 season. Berube had problems at the outset, however, going backwards at the green flag, and shuttling back to fifth place in the first lap. Mike Ronhock pulled into second for a pair of laps before the hard-charging Gannon got a leg up on him in an underneath move. The two dueled briefly before Gannon set his sights on the leader.
First caution came out on lap eight, as Ron Cornell went around in turn 4. The restart reverted to lap 7 and Cavallaro used his V-8 power to get away from Gannon. New Bedford’s Lenny Guy challenged Ronhock on the outside for third place with Berube on their bumpers. Guy began to have problems with the vehicle, and slipped back to fifth. Just as Berube made a dive under Ronhock for position, newcomer Pete Donato made a big loop, bringing up a lap 9 restart. Cornell earned a trip to the rear for an assist on the spin.
Cavallaro and Gannon battled off the green, with Cavallaro edging into the lead on turn three. By lap twelve, Berube, Ronhock and Guy were chasing the two leaders with Andreozzi, Leach, Donato, Clarke and Jim Hawkins behind them.
As Guy and Ronhock dueled over fifth place, an alert Andreozzi dived under for a brief 3-wide to secure the spot. Ronhock held on, while guy fell in step behind him. While Gannon worried the back bumper of Cavallaro, Andreozzi’s turn four spin to the infield grass netted them a lap 16 restart.
Gannon, worried about Cavallaro’s eight cylinders, made his second false start of the event, taking the rear for the replay. Berube held the outside pole again, with Leach and Ronhock making up the second row. The field made one complete circuit before Clarke made a loop in turn 3.
Cavallaro and Berube were at it again, but the former held his lead while Gannon leapfrogged from eighth on the restart to fourth behind Ronhock. He made his way past into third while Gannon was painting Berube’s tail. Leach began to duel Ronhock and succeeded to fifth spot while Gannon moved into second.
Cornell spun in the fourth turn, taking the positions back to the last full lap (23) and Berube again faced off against the leader. Gannon and Leach made the second row, followed by Ronhock and Andreozzi. Again Cavallaro went to the front coming out of turn two, while Gannon and Berube scrapped over second. Berube held him off but again encountered mechanical problems and went rapidly backward.
Cavallaro flashed under the checkers to finish the 30 laps with Gannon behind. Rounding out the top 10 were Berube, Donato, Guy, Cornell and Hawkins. Clarke was 11th.
East Taunton’s Justin Travis pulled off a double on opening day, winning both his heat race and the feature, but it was not an easy victory, by any means. Returning veteran George Rego of Dartmouth spent the waning laps pressing him hard falling only .21 seconds off the pace. Chris Rioux, Ryan Lineham and Paul Lallier all finished in the same second.
Travis won the pole with his heat win over Chris DeMoura, while Rioux took the outside pole with his preliminary victory over Mike Mitchell.
Travis went right to the front over the Rehoboth native, and was not to be headed, making the second green-to-checkers feature of the afternoon.
The field was stacked behind them as Chris DeMoura got around Mitchell into third. The pack battled until lap six, when Steve Axon went around at mid pack, taking a hit from Mike Tashereau. Mitchell earned a trip to the rear on the assist, setting up a tough ride home for the two teammates. Both Axon and Tashereau were in and out of the pits prior to the restart.
Rego had been easing his way from his 14th starting position to 11th. On the restart, he made a big jump from there to seventh in a single lap. Travis pulled away from Rioux again. By lap ten, Travis led Rioux, Rey Lovelace, Chris DeMoura, Lallier and Rego. Lineham broke around Crystal Serydynski and Chris Beaulieu to snipe at Rego.
With Travis leading by a couple cars, Joe Kohler’s motor quit on the backstretch of lap 22. The retry had Travis and Rioux at the front again. DeMoura and Rego made up the second row with Lallier and Lineham on their bumpers. At the green, Travis went back to the lead over Rioux while Rego jumped to third and Lineham followed into fourth, making it a dogfight for the final 5 laps.
On lap 27, Axon spun into the infield entering turn 3. The restart had Travis and Rioux challenging each other as they had all race, rego and Lineham and DeMoura versus Lallier. Lovelace and Serydynski made up the third row.
As Travis edged back into the lead, Rego got under Rioux for second, but Vincent Arrenegado, Jr. spun in turn two, bringing things back for a restart. Travis held off Rego on the outside pole. It was three laps of mayhem with Rego trying every trick in his extensive book of tricks to pull by for the win, but Travis held him off for the victory.