Rey Lovelace’s reunion with the Sportsman Division was a happy celebration as he borrowed Danny Cabral’s car for the evening, took the outside pole on Tim Watson, then waltzed all the way to Victory Lane, including restarts on laps 2, 7 and 9.
It wasn’t exactly a cakewalk for Rey, as he was joined on the second circuit by two-time champ Paul Lallier, who was seldom more than a few inches off Lovelace’s back bumper for the rest of the 25 laps. It was a real crowd-pleaser as they duked it out like a couple of old heavyweight boxers in a championship match.
Lallier had just finished latching onto Lovelace’s bumper then gone to the outside when Scott Serydynski took a spin in turn two. The restart was tense and it took Lovelace onto the backstretch before he could get his fender ahead of Lallier. Lallier heated it back up and flew even before Rey could take the front in turn four. Watson was under Kid Chaos – Corey Fanning – in a deadly duel behind them.
By lap seven, the lead duo had 15 cars on their followers as Raymond LeBrun, Jr. spun and Ed Flanagan, Jr. pitted for adjustments. Flanagan was unable to return.
The Lovelace/Lallier firefight resumed and Lallier fell back, putting him outside Watson. Lallier added some pedal and pulled ahead after Lovelace. But Watson suddenly pointed his nose down and dived into the infield to end his evening. Vinny Pangelinan was also around in turn two.
Again they set up for the restart and again ran wheel-to-wheel all the way through turn three. Lovelace went back in front and Lallier settled on his bumper. Sparky Arsenault had now moved into third. Dick Benoit followed but Kyle Casper came storming past, followed by Scott Bruneau. Former Champ Steve Axon, on hand for the evening, surveyed Bruneau’s bumper and Ryan Flood gave chase. Adams moved up onto Benoit’s rear and they skirmished for a couple laps.
Lallier continued to run up to Lovelace’s bumper, looking for any sort of opportunity as Sparky, Fanning, Bruneau and Axon gave pursuit. Adams looked under Benoit for a second, then went in. A spin at midpack shook things up but racing continued as Lovelace labored out to a two-car lead over Lallier. They were four cars up on a five-car group running bumper-to-bumper, including Arsenault, Casper, Bruneau, Axon and Flood. Serydynski inserted himself into the squadron on the following lap, then Bruneau nosed under Casper and went ahead as Axon followed him underneath.
They were running into lapped traffic, now, and Lovelace used it to gain a little more of a margin over his pursuer. But Lallier pushed down a little harder and closed the gap down to a car-and-a-half by lap 23. Bruneau now ran fourth, on Arsenault’s tail, chased by Axon, Serydynski and Casper. John Hanafin had powered forward past Flood to put himself on Casper’s tail.
They wound around to the checkers with Lovelace claiming victory over Lallier. In third came Arsenault while Bruneau and Axon rounded out the top five. Sixth went to Serydynski, followed by Casper, Hanafin, Flood, Craig Pianka, Fanning, Benoit and Pangelinan.