by Dana Rowe
Bobby Pelland III worked a sedate game into his card as the Pro Stock Division had a wild evening, and Pelland’s patience paid off. He came home with a big win on the second feature of the season. His eleventh place start took him away from most of the wild action at the front and at the end, he succeeded where many had failed.
Dave Darling, who had had an up again-down again evening came back from a late trip to the rear after making contact with Todd Annarummo, which set him in ninth with nine laps remaining. But as suddenly, he was charging through the field and when Mike Brightman and Annarummo spun after some rubbing, and leader Ryan Vanasse’s car gave him enough trouble that he set himself at the rear for the restart, Darling was sitting outside Pelland on the front row with Jake the Jet Johnson and Radical Rick Martin at his back.
Pelland was able to hold the dangerous Darling off for the win but it was three laps of ultimate suspense to the finish of the race.
Vanasse’s car suffered a control breakdown, swerving up toward the wall as the field navigated through the white flag lap. He drove it to the infield and parked it to allow the finish, then climbed out and ran to congratulate his racing partner of many years on the epic win.
Vanasse’s fortunes had seemed golden for most of the feature as he took the lead from Fred Astle on lap one and charged off, holding the front lap after lap for 25 circuits. He survived a restart against Astle at lap 6 and another opposite Angelo Belsito on lap 16 before having to face off with Annarummo on lap 25. Annarummo had been pacing him from second since the previous restart and now managed to steal the lead with a little help from Darling ducking under from the second row to create a 3-wide following the green. Dave backed off and Kevin Casper was caught in the move’s accordion effect, going around in the middle of the chaos. Five cars were involved, including Mike Mitchell, Bob Hussey, Jake Johnson, Tom Scully, Jr. and Kevin Folan.
They set back up to restart the race with one more lap in the books, but this time Annarummo had the low side on Vanasse. Darling and Brightman followed, just ahead of Belsito and Pelland. Annarummo pushed halfway past Vanasse, Darling tried to get under and was rebuffed then Vanasse dropped into second just ahead of him.
Todd sped out to a one-car lead while Vanasse had Darling on his bumper, followed by Brightman. Darling drove under Vanasse and into second, but Austin Blais was around in turn four and Vanasse again restarted outside Annarummo.
They went side-by-side to turn one and Todd began to nose ahead. Darling remained in third ahead of Brightman, Belsito and Pelland. Annarummo began falling back. Vanasse now ran hard on the outside and managed to push his fender past. For two laps he inched ahead, finally able to drop just before Astle spun with eleven laps remaining. Fred took it to the pits and they lined up once again with Vanasse again on the pole.
They did a bit of rubbing coming out of the box but Vanasse nosed out and took the lead in turn two. Darling wasted no time in driving under Annarummo, trailing Brightman, Pelland, Martin and Scully, who was door-to-door with Belsito. He was able to pull away from Belsito just before Darling spun coming out of turn for after making contact with Jake. Nick Johnson spun to avoid wrecking.
Ten laps remained as they lined up again: Vanasse below Annarummo and Brightman under Pelland. It was dead even down to the stripe with Brightman on Vanasse’s bumper. Annarummo slid back alongside Mighty Mike and Pelland searched for an opportunity from fourth. Martin followed and Casper was side-by-side with Scully. Kevin was able to pull ahead. Annarummo dropped in and Brightman stuck to his bumper. Casper now pushed in under The Radical One and Scully followed with Darling roaring up on his outside.
Vanasse had earned himself a five car lead as Nick Johnson spun coming across the stripe. With four laps remaining, they lined up for another go with Vanasse and Annarummo leading. Brightman came in under Annarummo as Vanasse took the front and they made contact, sending both cars spinning. Mike pitted and returned. Three laps remained.
First try and Scully went around in turn one. Same lineup but Vanasse found something wrong with his car and settled in at the rear to finish the race. Pelland had the pole. Dangerous Dave was on his shoulder. Jake-the-Jet and Radical Rick followed with Belsito and Nick Johnson in row three.
It was a dash for guts and glory and the field threw everything into it. They were door-to-door for a lap and then Pelland eked ahead. It was chaos coming out of turn four to the checkers and as the dust settled, Pelland had the win with .363 seconds to spare. Darling had come back from adversity to lead the division on to consecutive second places. Jake Johnson had third place points going toward his rookie-of-the-year status. Angelo Belsito was back in form with a fourth and Rick Martin was once again putting his personal stamp on the Cement Palace with a fifth.
Nick Johnson was in at sixth and Brightman came back from his late spin with seventh. Tom Scully nabbed eight ahead of Kevin Folan, Todd Annarummo and Bob Hussey. And Ryan Vanasse had survived the adversity of a failed car with still a twelfth place.
Seven competitors had been unable to complete the 45 laps out of eighteen.