by Dana Rowe
DJ Pires got from fifth place to the lead over the first seven circuits of Pure Stocks racing, Then had to fight off Mike Henriques, Dave Desrosiers and Doug Benoit before he could claim the laurels for the divisional win. It was tight at the end as Benoit, who had won the two previous races to start the season off, shouldered his way past Henriques to fire a few shots across Pires’ bow. DJ had held off the rest and managed to keep even Benoit at bay and outlasted him to the tune of .213 seconds for the win.
Benoit claimed second, followed by Henriques, Amy Arsenault and Desrosiers to complete the top five. The big four at the front for the beginning of the race were Herniques, Desrosiers, Lenny Sousa and Randy Laplante. Henriques nosed out and Desrosiers dropped in front of Sousa. Lenny moved high and ran up alongside Desrosiers. Bob Moore poked his nose under Sousa and didn’t back out when Lenny moved down again as Desrosiers pulled away. Sousa went 360 degrees in turn two on the contact and he and Moore made their dissatisfaction with each other obvious.
The lap 23 restart saw Desrosiers outside Henriques on the front with Pires and Daryl Perry backing them up. Outlaw Danny Massa, Jr. and Laplante were in row three. Henriques grabbed the lead with Pires coming up to his bumper. Desrosiers and The Outlaw followed closely and by lap four, it was four cars, running nose-to-tail like a fast freight train. Arsenault rushed up to Massa’s bumper.
Pires ran outside Henriques, then took over at the front and Desrosiers then got under Henriques and Arsenault waited nervously looking for one of them to yield an opportunity. Pires began to pull away and Max Bergstrom briefly dodged in before Desrosiers went back to second and Henriques, Arsenault, and Massa followed with Laplante nosing under Massa.
Pires led by three at the midpoint as a four-wide ran between turns three and four, featuring Laplante, Massa, Benoit and Missy Charette. It was, for the briefest of moments, a five-wide in turn four, but things went bad for Laplante as he started throwing large quantities of smoke and was black-flagged to the pits under green. He retreated but was able to return, although he was a lap down after fixing the problem.
Ten to go and Pires had Desrosiers on his bumper, but Henriques and Arsenault were also running close behind as Laplante, attempting to exit to the pits, became stuck high in turn four and caution resulted. Pires and Desrosiers lined up with Henriques and Arsenault behind them. It was door-to-door across the stripe before Pires pulled out on turn one and Henriques got under Desrosiers. Benoit now slipped below Arsenault and into fifth. Behind Arsenault, Bergstrom and Massa were wheel-to-wheel. Moore, then Sousa followed.
Pires took a three-car lead and Benoit got into third, behind Henriques. Desrosiers looked under Benoit but couldn’t find room. Now Pires had a seven-car margin, with six to go. Henriques set to work and pared it down to five cars. But Sousa went to the outside and Moore got underneath and they came together. Moore pulled ahead, but Sousa came loose and spun up to the turn four wall. He was able to stay off it. He took it to the pits.
The restart with three laps remaining saw Pires pull away from Henriques and Benoit slide underneath in search of second place. Pires got away from Henriques, but Benoit stalked him for the final two laps, looking underneath the whole distance. Pires held him off to score his first win of the season, to add to his one from last year. Benoit took second, just ahead of Henriques, Arsenault and Desrosiers. Massa took sixth, followed by Bergstrom, Moore, Greg Perry, Tommy Blackwell and Marissa Morgan.