Dave Darling’s victory skein gets longer and longer as he once again outran all comers to the checkers. This time he held off Bobby Pelland III for the trip to Victory Lane. It was a tour-de-force for the multi-champ and current points leader as he started tenth and wound his way to the front to ease Pelland back on lap 22. Bobby wasn’t going away easy and pursued Darling with abandon, but it seems that these days, nothing can stop the Darling juggernaut.
At the outset, Larry Gelinas and Mike Brightman had the front row, ahead of Pelland and the returning Angelo Belsito. Brightman went to the front in turn three of the initial circuit and Belsito went from the outside of row two around Gelinas. Pelland followed and Rick Martin was side-by-side with Kyle Casper.
By lap 3, Belsito was dominating the view in Brightman’s mirror. Pelland closed in and the trio was running nose-to-tail on lap 4. Martin moved to fourth and Gelinas came up to fifth.
Lap five saw Belsito take the outside on Brightman and they went wheel-to-wheel down the backstretch and through turn four. They whipsawed the lead through lap six and across the stripe into lap seven and through turn three. But they came unglued and spun between turns three and four. Fred Astle and Kevin Folan pitted for adjustments.
Pelland inherited the lead and lined up with Martin; Gelinas and Tom Scully, Jr. followed with Darling and Ryan Vanasse in row three.
Pelland grabbed the lead immediately and Gelinas ran under Martin. But Radical Rick held his position and Scully came up to Gelinas with Darling in tow. Scully went to second on lap nine just before Phil Meany went around in turn one and took it to the wall, ending his night.
Pelland and Martin took the front with Scully and Gelinas behind them. On the green, Pelland and Martin battled until Pelland again took the lead in turn four. Scully then got under martin and had second in turn four on lap ten. Pelland went to a three-car lead over Scully, who had Darling in pursuit while Vanasse was working underneath Martin for fourth.
Lap twelve saw the same as the field strung out. Darling rushed up to Scully’s bumper, followed by Vanasse, Martin and Casper.
Dave ducked under Scully on lap fifteen and took the position going down the backstretch. Now Pelland had Darling in his mirror on lap 16. The stretched out line included Pelland, Darling, Scully, Vanasse, Martin, Casper and Gelinas. This continued through laps 17, 18 and 19.
Belsito and Brightman were moving back up through the field and Belsito dropped under Dick Houlihan, looking for eighth place. He ran through and Brightman followed.
Darling had sized up his opportunities with Pelland and ran up to his bumper on lap 20. He dropped under crossing the stripe and was able to jump into the lead coming out of turn two. Pelland attempted to drop under, but Darling closed the door. Belsito was working on Gelinas and passed him on the backstretch of lap 22. Again, Brightman followed suit.
As the field continued single file, Belsito went to work on Martin, looking underneath but Martin moved down, blocking the move. Belsito went outside and made no progress, so he dropped in again and came alongside. Martin fought it out and they were wheel-to-wheel before Belsito passed him into fifth.
Darling now led by a full straight and continued to open up the lead as he rocketed along. Brightman went to work on Martin, making the pass good on lap 35. Casper came up to make the try and succeeded on lap 36. Astle tried but Martin was able to hold him off.
Darling continued to run with the afterburners on and was lapping car after car as the laps went into the record books. As he wound down to the checkers, he was nearly a half-lap ahead of the nearest pursuer.
As he closed out the race, crossing the finish line, there was a tangle on the backstretch. Astle and Martin were together and against the wall and Daryl Stampfl was in the grass in turn three with the body sheared off his right side.
Pelland came home second, followed by Scully and Vanasse while Belsito completed the top five. Brightman was sixth, followed by Houlihan, Casper, Gelinas and Davis Silvia.