by Dana Rowe
David Gargaro started ten cars back, then wound his way through the field to challenge leader Jason Poitras. Poitras had led since wresting the lead from polesitter Karlin Levesque on lap one. He ran the final five laps with Poitras on his bumper to take his third win. Last week’s fourth place was the first time he had been outside Victory Lane in July.
Karlin Levesque gained second on the final lap, while Cliff Avila, Alexander Manuel and Arthur Meack rounded out the top five.
Poitras had taken the lead from polesitter Levesque in turn two after the green fell. Avila had gone under Levesque, who had gone very high on the track and Avila captured second. Samantha Mattera took the opportunity to get under Levesque into third while Jordan Lopes ran in to make it door-to-door. This as ambrosia to Poitras, who generated a six-car lead on Avila just four laps in and lapped Tyler Dunancik at the same time. Mattera pulled in behind Avila, pursued by Lopes, Levesque, Meack and Tough Tim Bolger. Bolger went around Meack into sixth.
Nine laps in, Poitras could see Avila closing in his mirror. And at the lap 10 halfway point, Cliff had pared it down to just three cars. Behind them, Lopes was working his way under Mattera. Samantha suddenly was very high and spun downtrack on the backstretch. Bolger was unable to avoid her and struck a glancing blow. Mattera was forced to the pits with problems in her right rear.
Poitras now had Avila on his shoulder for the restart; Levesque and rookie Richie Murray lurked in row two. It was wheel-to-wheel out of the starting box with Poitras grabbing the front in turn one. Levesque surged forward under Avila to Poitras’ bumper and Gargaro, who had springboarded from eighth to fourth on the restart, got under Murray. The latter opted to escape in a three-wide move. As Murray came by, Avila’s nose caught him and he came loose, bouncing off the wall coming out of turn four. Murray became the seventh car eliminated during the feature.
Poitras and Levesque lined up at the front, and now Gargaro was low in row two with Alex Manuel on his outside. Avila and David Westgate waited in row three with Manuel behind Avila.
Poitras and Levesque went down the front stretch door-to-door and through a complete lap before Poitras could retake his lead in turn one. But Gargaro stuck his nose under Poitras and wormed his way into the lead. Levesque followed in third with Manuel on his high side. Alex pressed forward and got outside Poitras as Tyler Almeida was forced to pit under green. Three laps remained.
Gargaro had been making the most of his time in front and generated a half-straight lead while his competitors debated behind him. Poitras and Manuel battled on behind him until there was contact during the white flag lap. They came loose but Manuel was able to save it. Poitras, however, ended up going through the infield as the checkers waved over the pack.
Westgate rolled home in sixth with Mike Lefort on his bumper, followed by Mike Glad, Matthew Smith, Christine Cavallaro, Christine Simpson and Poitras.