Sparky Arsenault chased John Hanafin for the lead over the first dozen laps of the 30-lap feature in the D. A. Venditti Memorial, then stuffed his Sportsman underneath to grab the lead. And he never looked back, running hard to the checkers for the coveted season’s-end win. Had he checked his mirror, he’d have seen trouble: two laps later, 2017 champ Scott Bruneau was all over Sparky’s bumper, and he stayed all over it until Ryan Flood made a bold move to snare second on the event, relegating the tenacious Bruneau to third. It was a good day for newlywed Vinny Pangelinan, just two weeks after tying the knot with Pure Stock combatant Katie Neville – Vinny parried his way up from an eighth-place start to nab fourth, just ahead of Scott Serydynski, who had battled among the top five since lap 3. Serydynski, the division’s winningest driver, hauled down fifth place on the event.
Paul Williams had the honor of starting on the pole with Hanafin on the outside. The latter ran hard out of the box and after crossing the stripe in a dead heat, he squirted into the lead on lap two. Williams grabbed second with Sparky on his tail while Ed Perry grabbed fourth with Flood all over him. It took Flood but two laps to edge past and as Williams fell off the pace, Arsenault and Flood came in control of second end third while Serydydnski leapt into fourth, passing Perry, Williams and Bruneau.
The top five became a hotbox as Arsenault began looking under Hanafin and Flood looked for anyway to get by the leaders; Serydynski and Bruneau dueled each other while grazing at Flood’s bumper.
By lap 5, Arsenault was closing up a 4-car lead Hanafin had generated near the outset and was just four lengths back at lap’s end. Another circuit and the gap was 2 ½ cars. Behind them, David Serydynski was working underneath Flood and Bruneau was in hot pursuit. Suddenly, Bruneau went into a gap they left on the low side and Serydynski was the meat in the sandwich between Bruneau and Flood. Flood elected to drop out and fell to sixth while Bruneau squirted into third and Serydynski dropped onto his bumper. Scotty dropped under but came loose and fell back. Arsenault, meanwhile, was again on Hanafin’s bumper. Bruneau moved up tight with Serydynski in tow while Williams, followed by Flood, stayed close.
Arsenault was now all over Hanafin and nosed under in turn two of lap eleven. It took a lap, but he was underneath Hanafin, now, crossing the stripe into lap 12 and stole the lead in lap two. Everybody closed up and the front four – now Arsenault, Hanafin, Bruneau and Serydynski – were locked in and running nose-to-tail.
Bruneau was hogging Hanafin’s rear view and looked underneath in turn four. He had a nose in turn two of lap fourteen and Serydynski grabbed his bumper to follow through. At the same time, Gil Bradstreet became an early casualty, heading pitside. The leaders began lapping the stragglers as they went.
Arsenault had lost the clear air of the lead to lapped cars and Bruneau followed with Serydynski two cars back, pursued by Hanafin, Flood, Williams and Pangelinan. With the field pretty much strung out, the following laps repeated.
As Sparky rolled on at the head, Bruneau had put seven carlengths between himself and Serydynski on lap 22. Next time around, Flood became impatient and found his way under Hanafin at the stripe, putting his nose ahead in turn two. He claimed the position in turn four.
But as they powered into lap 24, Don Perry spun to the infield out of turn three.
The restart saw Bruneau on Arsenault’s high side with Serydynski and Hanafin behind them. Row three went to Flood and Williams.
The lap 23 restart saw Sparky nosing out and Serydynski diving onto his bumper to get under Bruneau, who attempted a drop-under move which became a wheel-to-wheel duel, won by the challenger. As they went into lap 25, Bruneau was again chasing Arsenault for the lead, Serydynski was pursuing him and Flood gave chase with Pangelinan on his case. Hanafin and Williams followed. The field quickly went single-file.
Suddenly, Serydynski and Pangelinan were sideways and the accordion effect had Tim Watson in a valiant struggle to stay off the wall – a struggle he won by inches as the caution flew for the second time.
Again, Arsenault and Bruneau preceded Serydynski, who had Flood outside while Vinny and Hanafin made up row three. Arsenault nosed out but Bruneau came back at him and they went side-by-side through turn two, only to see Sparky nose out again. Serydynski came in under Bruneau again to steal third on lap 26 as Flood, Pangelinan and Hanafin watched from behind. Arsenault was not conserving fuel at this point and roared ahead, putting insurance distance on the pack.
Bruneau was stuck outside and Flood took advantage, going to Bruneau’s low side with Pangelinan watching for some sort of advantage. As Flood cleared, Serydynski began to fall back and Flood took full advantage.
Arsenault went under the white silk ten cars ahead of Flood, but Bruneau was running third and sought to make a contest over second. They roared through the final lap and after Arsenault had claimed the checkers, they drag raced to the line with Flood holding Bruneau off to the line.
Sixth on the even went to Hanafin, followed by Williams, Ed Perry, Brenden Nutter and Ryan Souliere.