A pair of past Street Stock champions made the renamed division, now known as Sportsman, an intense duel for 25 laps, ably assisted by several competitors hungry for a win on opening day. Paul Lallier and Scott Serydynski battled it out lap after lap from sitting side-by-side on the front row at the start to finishing 1-2 at the end. The victory went to Lallier, but Serydynski flashed across the stripe on his tail, perhaps setting up a recurring scenario for the 2017 season. Rob Murphy battled up from sixth into third and 2016 title holder Scott Bruneau, despite suffering body damage to the car, pulled in at fourth place. Kid Chaos (Corey Fanning) brawled in for fifth.
Owing to the green track, practically unused since September, and the fact that test and tune sessions were rained out two out of the three scheduled events, the race was fraught with cautions, eight in all. The longest sustained runs were eight laps, two of them between laps 4 and 12 and from lap 17 to the finish. Through it all, Lallier and Serydynski were in their own, private dogfight, with occasional intrusions from Murphy and Tom “The Bomb” Adams.
As polesitter Lallier nosed ahead of outside pole Serydynski, Ed Flanagan got crossed up in turn two and swerved up into the middle of the pack, catching Danny Cabral and Sparky Arsenault. On the lap zero restart, Dick Benoit got sideways and Ryan Flood wound up driving across Cabral’s nose, retiring both cars at the outset with Cabral stopping just inches short of the turn four wall.
After a single lap, another two tries had to be made to restart the feature, which went four laps as Adams edged into second behind Serydynski. Flanagan’s steering apparatus suffered a failure and he was left frozen in action by the pit tunnel, unable to turn into the exit.
Serydynsky took the lead and Adams dropped in front of Lallier but came loose and Lallier looked underneath as Murphy went below John Hanafin into fourth. Lallier got under Adams into second as Vinny Pangelinan, fighting control problems, spun but was able to keep things going.
Murphy forced his way under Lallier and Adams ducked under in pursuit. Lallier powered back up to retake his slot, while Adams clung to fourth. Serydynski went out to a straightaway lead. Lallier had Murphy on his bumper followed by Anthony Belfiore and Bruneau. Serydynski had engineered an eight car lead as caution was called for debris on the track.
He nosed away from Adams who then was passed on the low side by Lallier and Belfiore followed into third. Lallier began to close on Serydynski and Adams began running very wide. But Jesse Melberg, Ant Kohler and Pangelinan piled together. Vinny was able to pull away but Kohler and Melberg needed help. They pitted and returned.
Serydynski and Lallier lined up at the front but two laps more and Pangelinan and Austin Erickson spun in turn one, continued, and saw caution for the debris they left behind. Paul Williams came out squirrelly and Erickson got his nose locked up on Arsenault while Vinny spun to avoid their wreck.
Again, Serydynski took the lead while Lallier worked under Adams into second once again. Lallier closed up a one-car lead onto Scott’s bumper. Then, with five laps remaining, Lallier got his nose in underneath. Serydynski was caught to the outside and they went door-to-door. Lallier began to nose ahead in turn four and he had the lead with three laps remaining. Serydynski fastened onto his bumper and Murphy latched onto his. Bruneau, Fanning, Arsenault and Hanafin gave chase, single file.
Serydynski was unable to get by Lallier as the final lap concluded, having to settle for the runner-up spot on the track but was awarded the win after Lallier failed inspection.
Sixth went to Arsenault, followed by Hanafin, Kyle Casper, Melberg, Pangelinan, Craig Pianka and Williams.