by Dana Rowe
Tyler Tomassi took advantage of a snafu at the start of the Bandolero Outlaws feature to vault from fifth to second on the opening lap of the 15-lap feature and land behind Wesley Heard, then take over the front. It was a lead he would not relinquish the rest of the way to the finish.
Connor Souza claimed second on the event, holding off Evan Marchand as the top three finished on the same second according to the timers. Fourth went to Samantha Dell and Heard claimed fifth.
The mishap which shook up the field came as Heard rushed into the lead and Michael Cooper got under Samantha Dell for some wheel-to-wheel running over second. Cooper was loose and bumped Dell, who caromed off and up out of the second groove. Souza took the opportunity to charge into second, and Evan Marchand went to third. Despite the dustup, Cooper and Dell continued behind them, going side-by-side over fourth place. Hailey Brightman and Brandon LaVoie followed.
Dell powered up and pushed ahead to claim fourth, still running very wide through turn four going into lap four. This allowed Heard to get back alongside going down the backstretch. She continued to battle and finally edged into control of fourth place, but there was considerable distance to the trio running at the front. She bore down on the pedal and began to slowly close the gap.
Souza was seeking any way he could get past Tomassi but encountering extreme resistance from the leader. Marchand pursued Souza, a carlength back. He rushed up and got on Souza’s outside but had to drop back in line. With four laps remaining, Tomassi, Souza and Marchand were running a furious nose-to-tail while Dell continued to close in.
Souza was now all over Tomassi’s bumper as the laps ran down and he stayed there through the white flag. Marchand was doing the same on his rear. Coming out of turn four for the final time, Souza pushed a bit too hard and came loose, forcing him to fall back and recover, giving Tomassi the straight shot at the checkers. Souza followed with Marchand locked on behind and Dell still closing.
Following Heard in sixth was Cooper, then Brightman and LaVoie.