by Dana Rowe

After opening night’s win, Doug Benoit earned a twelfth-place start on the second night of Pure Stock racing: Billy Chouinard ran the front from the pole slot and stayed there for 18 laps. But Tommy Blackwell came off the outside pole and hacksawed the lead or brawled at Chouinard’s rear bumper the entire distance. Late in the affair, Benoit churned his way past Amy Arsenault into third place as Blackwell stripped the lead from Chouinard. Tommy led five laps, but Chouinard battled him and took the lead back with two remaining and Benoit rammed in between them for a three-wide (Chouinard under Benoit under Blackwell.) Arsenault hung in waiting for something – anything – to happen. Blackwell fell back on the outside and Amy got under him. Chouinard and Benoit stayed locked in combat through the white flag lap, whipsawing the lead all the way to the checkers. As they flew under the final silk, it was Benoit by mere inches (.06 seconds) for his second consecutive win. Chouinard claimed second and Arsenault outlasted Blackwell for third. Randy Laplante grabbed the fifth spot.

Chouinard bolted from the start and Laplante got under Blackwell from the second row. But Blackwell charged ahead and Laplante fell to third as Mike Henriques stole third. Another lap down and Laplante was eased out of fourth by Arsenault. Lenny Sousa followed with Bob Moore and Danny Massa, Jr. doing door-to-door behind him. DJ Pires and Greg Perry were wheel-to-wheel and then Benoit.

Massa got under Laplante on lap four. Behind them, Pires, Moore and Perry were three-wide.

Five laps in, Blackwell was all over leader Chouinard’s bumper. Blackwell was feeling Henriques as well; Amy and Lenny gave chase. Sousa nosed under Arsenault but she held him off while Pires and The Outlaw continued to brawl and Benoit waited for a chance to move up.

With just over half the race remaining, Massa pulled past Pires and wound up alongside Sousa while the leaders remained locked into their nose-to-tail.

Pires pushed ahead, and Arsenault, Pires and Benoit made a second three-car nose-to-tail just behind the lead trio, looking much like a runaway train. Dave Desrosiers was coming forward and dug in under Massa for position.

With 12 laps remaining, Benoit nosed out Pires to steal fifth but with ten laps to go, Ava Chouinard, just up this season from a SYRA championship, took a spin out of turn four and bounced off the outside wall on the front stretch. In the caution, Bill Chouinard came around at the lead to confront his daughter’s car against the wall. Fortunately, the damage, though an evening-ender, was not substantial and she had her window net down, indicating she was OK.

Billy and Blackwell met for the restart and the former pulled away crossing the stripe. Blackwell stayed outside to challenge and Chouinard finally nosed away in turn four. He and Blackwell led the dueling duo of Arsenault and Henriques who had Benoit on their bumpers and then Pires running outside Desrosiers.

Coming through turn four, however, Henriques threw his left rear tire as something major let go in his rear axle. He collected Desrosiers and they had a meeting with the outside wall. Perry took a glancing blow with the wall but was able to resume racing. The red flag came out for track crew members to clear the front stretch.

On the restart, it was again Chouinard and Blackwell, but Benoit was now low in row two with Arsenault. Jason Larivee, Jr. and Laplante lined up behind them. It was door-to-door out of the box and through turn two and for nearly two laps. But Chouinard wiggled in turn four. Blackwell charged ahead but Chouinard fought back alongside. Benoit and Arsenault remained side-by-side as Laplante kept nosing under Larivee.

Benoit looked outside Chouinard and Blackwell while the latter nosed ahead of Chouinard. Benoit dropped down and sandwiched between them. They brawled all the way to the line for Benoit’s two-fer win.

Sixth went to Massa, followed by Larivee, Perry, Moore and Sousa.