by Dana Rowe
With 20 laps remaining in the caution-plagued Late Model race, Jeramee “The Hammer” Lillie and Vinnie Arrenegado set up to renew their race long challenge for supremacy, but lurking in row two sat Ryan Kuhn, underneath Ray Parent. To add to the charged thunderhead, Nick Uhrig and Bobby Tripp were preparing their options for the resumption of the green.
As it fell, The Hammer danced away from Arrenegado and Kuhn wasted no time burrowing in underneath into second, then without taking another breath, he dodged under the leader. Before the lap could be completed, Kuhn was into the clear air and Lillie was latched onto his bumper. Thirty laps of hard labor for Kuhn had paid off in just a few seconds and he continued unheaded for the rest of the distance. It wasn’t 19 easy circuits, despite the fact that he quickly opened a two-car lead over Lillie as another restart loomed at lap 34 and he again faced The Hammer. Arrenegado was at his bumper. The dangerous Parent was behind Vinnie and Bobby Tripp was behind that.
But Kuhn was away right out of the starting box. Lillie, trying to find drop-in room caught Vinnie’s nose with his rear bumper as he settled toward the racing groove and went into a spin. Kuhn’s new problem was Arrenegado starting on his shoulder and Uhrig and Mark Hudson in row two.
But Ryan jumped out to a car-and-a-half lead. Vinnie dropped in and put three lengths between himself and Uhrig while the latter contended with Hudson on his high side. With twelve laps remaining, it stood: Kuhn, Arrenegado, Uhrig, Parent, Tripp and Hudson. Charlie Rose pushed under Hudson to steal a spot, then Tripp did the same to Parent. Division champ, Ryan Lineham then edged Rose Back to seventh.
Kuhn ran out to a ten-car lead and headed for the checkers with three laps remaining. Arrenegado was 15 lengths up on Uhrig, who had ten spots over Tripp. The field dashed furiously toward the checkers with the order unchanging among the top five: Kuhn to take the trophy lap, then Arrenegado, Uhrig, Tripp and Parent.
Mark Jenison and Uhrig began the feature at the front and Jenison nosed ahead while Tom Scully, Jr. began looking underneath from the second row but Rey Lovelace went around and Austin Blais with him forcing the field to scatter. Ryan Lineham made directly for the pits.
On the restart, Scully put his nose under Jenison and was rebuffed. He tried again and Jenison went around. Tom piled in and suffered extensive body damage then went to the pits, ending his evening. Blais required a push to start then pitted again.
Now Uhrig and Hudson were at the front and they went wheel-to-wheel until Uhrig could secure the front in turn four. Kuhn was now in the picture: second row, up high with Dan Johnson under him. But caution flew again: for the third time in five laps.
The yellow flag was a prominent feature in the event: coming out an even dozen times for a four-laps-per-caution average. Five of them fell on the first ten laps.
Arrenegado leapt to second after a lap five caution which required two restarts to get going again. Lillie took over second on the next restart: lap 11. Vinnie was again into second passing Kuhn on the next restart: 11 laps later. Eight cars were lost over the span of the contest, among them were Scully, Lovelace, Blais, Gerry DeGasparre and Blais.
But following a tough night on the hottest day of the year, so far, Ryan Kuhn had his first win on the season and launched himself into the Phil’s Propane Triple Crown and Vinnie Arrenegado had kept pace with his high finishing tract on the season. Uhrig also continued with one of the best seasonal starts he’s had since winning the Pure Stock championship.
Sixth on the day went to Lineham, followed by Charlie Rose, Hudson, Lillie, Dan Johnson, Tom “The Bomb” Adams and Jeremy Lambert.