WELCOME BACK, BOBBY TRIPP!

by Dana Rowe

Or perhaps it should be Bobby Tripp welcomes back Seekonk. That’s the way it was as the Sport Trucks Division opened competition Saturday night. Tripp was in the lead by lap two and nobody got by for the rest of the 35 laps of the Phil’s Propane Triple Crown for Trucks. Division champ Mike Duarte took plenty of shots in the beginning, in the middle and at the end while Barry shaw jumped in on lap eight, then Josh Hedges from 12 to 19 only to be supplanted by Duarte over the final eleven laps. They came close but were unable to decipher Tripp’s equation and he rolled home for the win and the first stop on the triple crown. He showed little of the rust one might acquire from a couple decades off and seemed to be greatly enjoying himself.

Duarte was a half-second off the lead in second, while Shaw, Mike Cavallaro and Darryl Dutch rounded out the top five. The other Darryl – Church – rolled in on his tail for sixth.

Middleboro’s Randy Burr and Cavallaro made up the front row at the outset and Burr drove for the front while Tripp came from low in row two to get under Mike, who had early difficulties and slid back. Burr gained a sense of life with Bobby Tripp on your back as the latter went around him into the lead before they crossed the stripe into lap two. Burr then had Duarte on his case as the champ zipped past Shaw and Cavallaro into third and set his sights on Randy. Mike stole second by lap three and looked ahead to Tripp. Burr continued in third while Shaw disentangled from Cavallaro and went to work.

Duarte closed on Tripp and looked underneath but Bobby was having none of that. Still, Duarte was in the mood for dogfighting and the tracers flew. Behind them, Shaw (fourth) led Cavallaro, Hedges, Lenny Guy, Ed Gannon and Ed Perry.

Duarte again began closing on the leader but Guy spun in turn four, bringing out the caution and putting Tripp and Duarte side-by-side with Shaw and Burr at their backs.

Tripp nosed ahead and Duarte stayed outside to challenge. This let Shaw in underneath him. Hedges got by Burr and Church jumped on Burr’s tailgate with Cavallaro on his high side. Tripp pushed hard and generated a six-car lead while Shaw got under Duarte to battle. Hedges and Burr went at it as well as Church and Cavallaro. Mike fell back, leaving Shaw in second and Church got in underneath.

It went this way for three laps, then Dutch took over sixth and Cavallaro dropped in ahead of Andrew Kun. Now Hedges went after Shaw and then stormed past him into second. Tripp was enjoying the warfare behind him which left him clear to generate a good lead of about 12 truck lengths.

Hedges, Duarte and Shaw made a tight pace line behind him. Then Brittany Campbell, just up from SYRA, spun on the front stretch.

Bobby had Hedges on the outside for the restart with Duarte and Shaw in row two. Hedges made and early start, bringing a callback by starter Tim Bolduc. This time, Trip got away and Duarte got under Hedges as Shaw, Burr, Dutch and Kun (with Church on his high side) gave chase. Burr got by Shaw and with a dozen laps remaining, Hedges and Duarte were in a duel for second. Tripp took advantage and went to a ten-car lead but Kun suffered a spin to the grass in turn four.

Hedges had Tripp’s high side with Duarte and Burr in row two, while Shaw and Dutch were three rows back. Again, Bobby was away and the field strung out after the first circuit. Hedges, Duarte, Shaw, Burr and Cavallaro gave chase in single file. With seven remaining, Hedges kept running up to the leader’s bumper and falling back. Burr spun in turn two on the next lap. He fired back up and kept on, but caution had already flown.

Six circuits remained as Tripp and Hedges lined up again. Hedges was called for jumping on the first try and went to the back on his second infraction. Second try saw Tripp outrun Duarte for the lead and Mike dropped into second ahead of Shaw and Cavallaro. The field quickly went single-file with Tripp followed by Duarte, Shaw, Cavallaro, Dutch, Church, Hedges, Guy and Burr. With two to go, Kun got under Burr and on the white flag lap, Hedges went to the high side on Church, but neither was able to complete the pass. Turn four claimed Guy’s eighth place with a spin as the field romped home to the checkers.

Following Church’s sixth place came Hedges, Burr, Kun Brittany Campbell, Maddie Harkin and Guy.