by Dana Rowe

Tyler Tomassi and Evan Marchand started fifth and sixth and spent much of the race mixing it up at mid-pack of the eight car field, then came out of the swirling mass with two-thirds of the race gone by to push Nickolas Hovey out of the front and battle each other for the prize.  In the end, Tomassi outlasted Marchand for the honors.  Marchand was second and polesitter Michael Cooper came back up to third while Hailey Brightman scored fourth with Hovey fifth.

Cooper came off the pole, leaving Wesley Heard on the outside.  Suddenly, Samantha Dell and Hovey dived under Heard to make it three-wide on lap two.  There was contact back in the pack, however, sending Marchand spinning.

Dell was outside Cooper for the restart, while Heard and Hovey were row two.  Tomassi and Connor Souza backed them up in row three.  Dell sprinted out ahead of Cooper, but the latter pushed back and took the lead.  Heard and Hovey remained side-by-side briefly, but Hovey pulled into third and Souza came around into fourth.

Three laps in, Cooper continued at the front but Hovey got under Dell into second.  She spun and ended up facing into traffic in turn four.  Souza was around in turn two and popped his roof hatch open, leading the Preferred Towing crew to move in and check the driver.  He was fit but unfortunately his car went off on the hook.

Cooper and Hovey lined up and now Marchand and Tomassi were side-by-side in row two with Dell and Hailey Brightman in row three.  Cooper and Hovey were wheel-to-wheel down the frontstretch before Cooper began nosing ahead.  But Hovey drove back into contention, then grabbed the lead in turn one, then next time around.  Marchand and Tomassi wrapped around Cooper for a three wide and Marchand grabbed second.  Tomassi dropped into third while Brightman wedged under Cooper, looking for fourth place.  Dell got sideways behind them in turn four but saved it.  Heard hit his brakes hard to avoid her and spun as a result.

Hovey now had Marchand on his shoulder for the green.  Tomassi and Cooper backed them up.  Marchand nosed ahead on the outside, but Hovey drove back underneath as Heard and Brightman got together in turn two with locked bumpers.

It was Hovey and Marchand again.  They went side-by-side before Hovey grabbed the lead and Tomassi gut under Marchand while Dell and Cooper followed.  Marchand and Tomassi dueled over second as Dell watched from behind them, followed by Cooper and Brightman.

Tomassi dropped to third at the midpoint of the 20-lapper but as suddenly, there was thee cars nose-to-tail at the front:  Hovey, Marchand and Tomassi.  Marchand looked under, was denied.

A lap 12 caution had Hovey and Marchand shoulder-to-shoulder at the front once again with Tomassi under Cooper behind them.  This time, Tomassi got under Marchand onto Hovey’s tail then looked underneath.  Hovey, Tomassi and Marchand were again nose-to-tail until Tomassi slid underneath and into the lead.  Hovey continued in second with Marchand all over him for position.  It was a three-car swarm at the front and all that Cooper, Dell and Brightman could do was observe and wait for opportunities.

Marchand pressed past Hovey with three laps remaining and next time around, Dell moved into third.  Marchand looked under Tomassi, but Tyler slammed the door going into the white flag lap.  Dell was third with Hovey looking for a way around her and Cooper in sixth.

But in turn four, with the checkers waving, Dell spun once again.  Cooper got by into third and Brightman charged into fourth.  Hovey fell to fifth and Dell sixth.