Ryan Lineham took home the trophy for battling his way out of a late-race dogfight with Mark Jenison and Vinnie Arrenegado, but looking back to the dramatic Late Model races he’s seen, including the high-drama season’s-ender, he might have also been awarded an academy award. The 2017 Late Model Champ spent the final two thirds of the race brawling with Mark Jenison and Vinnie Arrenegado, the other two drivers who spent any time on the front of the field. Vinnie had grabbed the lead off his outside pole position, dueling rookie Tyler Tomassi for the first five laps, but then Lineham and Jennison arrived to steal the focus. Lineham poked ahead on lap 14 and Jenison on 15 and 16 before Lineham took over on 17. He held the lead for the rest of the distance, but Jenison and Arrenegado combined to steal away any secure feelings the leader may have had. Add to that the hungry youngsters, Jake Johnson and Derek Gluchacki appearing in the top five just after Lineham seized the lead, and the crowd found themselves treated to nearly the same high-action drama they witnessed last time out between Tom-the-Bomb Adams and Gluchacki.
The field was ready to rock from the get go and roared away from the green flag. Bobby Tripp ducked under polesitter Tomassi as Vinny broke into the lead loosening him up in turn four. Tomassi recovered as Tripp eased back. Paul Newcomb came off the outside of the second row to add more challenge and dueled with Tripp into lap five, before Jenison moved through on his way to the front.
Action was delayed by caution on lap six as Mike Mitchell and Mike Duarte got together in turn four. At the front of the restart came Arrenegado and Tripp, while Jennison and Tomassi backed them up. And Lineham held down row three with Newcomb. The show was starting early.
Vinny came away with the lead, but Tripp stayed outside to challenge. Jenison grabbed the opportunity and Arrenegado’s back bumper as well and went door-to-door with Tripp, while Lineham and Tomassi ran side-by-side behind them.
Jenison dug in underneath Arrenegado as Tripp gave way outside. He succeeded at getting by Arrenegado in turn four of lap eight, but Ryan followed through on his tail. Arrenegado dropped into third ahead of Tripp. Dan Johnson then arrived to slip under Tomassi while Nick Uhrig and Newcomb battled it out behind them.
Next to arrive was Adams but his co-star from last event, Derek Gluchacki also appeared and they picked up where they left off in underneath.last time, with a door-to-door duel. But Tomassi and Newcomb got together out of turn two, spinning up to the wall.
Jenison and Lineham came out of the starting box with Jenison nosing ahead but unable to break away. Lineham powered up and they went wheel-to-wheel with Arrenegado behind them, seeking opportunities. Dan Johnson and Tripp were contesting fourth place with Uhrig battling Gluchacki in the next pair.
Lineham eased off and dropped under Jenison, powering up and slipping forward. They again ran neck-and-neck until three laps on, Lineham could claim the lead. Jennison was not finished, nor was Arrenegado. The trio hurtled around the arena nose-to-tail with Gluchacki and Dan Johnson shoulder-to-shoulder behind them. This continued until Tony Macrino spun out of turn four while running twelfth.
Lineham and Jenison lined up again; Arrenegado now had Gluchacki outside in row two. Lineham edged ahead, Jenison dropped into second and Gluchacki dropped in behind Arrenegado and in front of Jake Johnson. But caution suddenly waved again as Gerry DeGasparre, Jr. and Adams got together on the backstretch.
Thirteen laps remained as Lineham stormed across the stripe a half-car ahead. Jenison fired up and again they were in a dogfight with Vinny on their bumpers. Jake had leveraged past Gluchacki into fourth and Dan insinuated himself into the gap underneath. Dan and Jake were in contact but the action again paused as DeGasparre spun in turn four.
The lap 24 restart saw Lineham again grab the lead and again Arrenegado got under Jenison. Jenison nosed ahead but Vinny wouldn’t let him drop in. Into lap 25, Lineham was finally by himself at the front, with Jenison and Arrenegado in close and pursuing while Gluchacki and Jake battled behind them. Mike Mitchell had now appeared in fifth. But with eight to go, Dane Saritelli and Louie Romiza got together right in front of DeGasparre. Gerry had nowhere to go in avoidance and skidded along the turn four wall, ending his evening.
Again, the lead trio lined for the lap nine restart. Jake was outside Arrenegado with Gluchacki and Mitchell in row three. Chase Belcher had labored his way into row four with Dan, just ahead of Mark Hudson and Tony Macrino. They came out of the box, door-to-door and Chad nosed out once more. Jenison battled on the high side while Arrenegado was again exhausting his patience and awaiting the outcome. Gluchacki edged into fourth and Mitchell was bothering Jake about fifth place.
Vinny again began looking under Jenison as Lineham moved ahead. Belcher and Dan were battling behind Mitchell, with Belcher gaining the advantage, but the laps were winding down, now.
The lead trio made a hot pursuit toward the finish with Gluchacki, Mitchell, Belcher, Hudson, Adams and Jake all brawling for a shot. Lineham got his only breathing room – about three carlengths with three laps to go. Still, Arrenegado was looking underneath Jenison in turn two but had the door slammed. They wound into the white flag lap and dashed for the checkers. Drivers held their breaths and their places over the stripe.
Final analysis: Lineham with the win and Jenison the hard-earned second with Arrenegado still all over his bumper for third. Gluchacki and Mitchell rounded out the top five, while Belcher, Hudson, Adams, Jake Johnson and Dan Johnson completed the top ten.