Just two races into the Fast Friday campaign, it seems to me like we are already learning who will be the contenders for the division championships in 2018. And, yes, it is never early enough to think about points.
In the Seekonk Grand Prix Bandolero Bandits, Devin Deshaies has opened the year on a roll. In the first two races, Devin has clearly been the fastest car on the track during the practice sessions, and the speed has followed over to the 15-lap races. Deshaies picked up his second straight victory on Friday, dominating the second half of the race and pulling away to a winning gap of over three seconds. Winning two races in a row to start the year is a difficult accomplishment, especially with the competition in the field. Devin is making his victories look easy on the third-mile.
In the Seekonk Grand Prix Bandolero Outlaws, Connor Souza put together a dominant performance to capture his first win of the season. Evan Marchand, who won the opening night race, was able to cross the line second after the 15-lap distance. It seems to me like Marchand and Souza are going to be the two drivers who separate themselves from the rest of the class this year. They both have plenty of racing experience, and both have shown the speed it will take to win races going down the stretch run. The fight between the two of them for the championship should be appealing for us to watch.
As usual, the Sport 4 class stole the show on Friday with three drivers fighting it out for the lead over the second half of the 20-lap feature. Mike LeFort found himself at the front of the pack early on, and it looked as though his path to the checkered flag would be easy. However, a charge by AJ Manuel and defending champion David Westgate gave LeFort everything he could handle in the late laps. A few late restarts gave Manuel a chance to make a move, but he couldn’t quite get around LeFort and had to settle for second. It looked like Manuel’s car was a little bit too loose in week one, and a little bit too tight in week two. He will find that correct balance before long, and I’m sure he’ll be carrying the checkered flag soon. LeFort won the feature, with Manuel and Westgate second and third. Great run for Tim Bolger, Jr., to come home fourth.
The Pure Stock feature looked like it would see the return to Victory Lane for Bill Chouinard, before Doug Benoit took it away. Chouinard started up front, and was leading the field with just about 10 laps to go when a caution closed the pack up and gave everyone a chance to make a run at the win. In the end, a three-wide move helped Doug Benoit get his roll to the outside of Chouinard, and he was able to pull by across the line at the checkered flag to capture his second win in a row to open the year. Benoit has been fast ever since he unloaded that car, and last year, he was able to win three in a row at one point. I look for him to be a serious contender for the win next week to try and match that record, and right now, he is the clear favorite to capture the title in the Pure Stocks.
The 25-lap Nick’s Pit Stop Legends Cars feature started off a little bit rough with some cautions, but in the end, the finish was well worth it for the fans to watch. Jake Matheson and Derek Gluchacki worked their way to the front early, and for the second half of the race, they battled each other for the win while pulling away from the field in the process. The final five laps saw Gluchacki give Matheson everything he could handle, but it wasn’t enough. Jake has been trying to win a race at Seekonk for a while, and he was finally able to seal the deal on Friday. It was a great run for Derek as well, especially since he found himself in the hospital missing the first race — quite a rebound!