What a difference a week makes: just ask Barry Shaw. Last week, he was challenging points leader Chase Belcher for the season’s championship when his head gasket parted, fluids began to leak and he was black-flagged at mid-race. This week, he was back, climbed into the lead, then held off tough Josh Hedges for a major win; this at the same time that Belcher suffered Shaw’s luck from the previous week. The dramatic turnaround and Belcher’s sixth place finish put Shaw back in the points race with Belcher and Mike Duarte. Duarte came in just two points back of Belcher and finished on his bumper, setting up a big final race for the glory, next weekend.
John Robidoux captured the initial lead from the pole as outside polesitter Doug Rioux went backwards from the start. His luck was also bad and he retired on lap four. Shaw spent those initial four circuits holding steady in fifth after passing Belcher and Rioux. But Rioux came to naught as he neared the pit exit and the caution waved as he was stuck just 50 feet from the portal.
On the restart, Robidoux and Lenny Guy faced off but Josh Williams grabbed a golden opportunity as Robidoux went uptrack leaving Williams a gateway to the front from Williams’ spot on the low side of the second row. Shaw was under Mike Cavallaro in row three and ran behind Williams to find himself in second. By lap six, Williams was leading Shaw, Robidoux, Cavallaro, Belcher and Rob Murphy. The field was thinning out to single file on lap eight as Robidoux spun off the back stretch.
Williams and Shaw were side-by-side for the restart with Cavallaro and Belcher in row two. On the break, Williams grabbed a two-car lead as Cavallaro ducked under Shaw and Murphy came in under Belcher. Hedges was coming up from behind and there was contact between him and Belcher, with Chase coming loose for a turn three spin. Ed Perry was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was collected. They went pitside along with Robidoux. All three returned.
Williams and Shaw faced off again with Cavallaro and Murphy in row two. Hedges and Mike Duarte followed, just ahead of Guy and David Simpson. Williams nosed out but Shaw battled back, getting his nose ahead on turn three. He was ahead by a foot at the stripe into lap ten, then took command down the backstretch. Williams dropped in behind and Cavallaro moved in behind him. But Hedges ducked under as Cavallaro moved up. Murphy followed Hedges and Guy joined in with Duarte on his outside.
Shaw built a one-car lead over Williams, who had three lengths on Hedges. Murphy was on Hedges’ bumper. Caution came out as Perry spun on the next lap and Robidoux pitted again.
The lap 18 restart featured Shaw and Williams again; Hedges and Guy followed with Simpson and Duarte just ahead of Cavallaro and Belcher. Shaw pushed ahead by a fender and took the lead in turn two. Hedges got under Williams as Cavallaro headed for the pits under green. Shaw led hedges into lap 19 as Murphy went under Williams, looking for third. Guy followed, ahead of Duarte and Simpson.
The field was established for the finish, save for a final duel between Belcher and Duarte as Belcher moved to seventh behind Duarte. Belcher went underneath and then took the position away from his rival.
At the finish, Shaw claimed the win, ahead of Hedges, Murphy and Williams, with Guy rounding out the top five. Belcher was sixth, followed by Duarte, Simpson, Curtis Robinson and Robidoux.