Dick Benoit grabbed the initial lead on the 30-lap Sportsman feature, but eight laps in yielded to Tyler Lallier, who to the lead all the way to the checkers for the win. Lallier had started on the outside pole, fell to third, then came back to challenge polesitter Benoit for the lead. Ten cautions dragged the feature out to 67 minutes including two red flags for extensive cleanup of fluid spills which necessitated two appeareances of the street sweeper to scoop up excessive amounts of speedy dry from the cleanups.
Finally, Race Director Ron Manfredo warned the nine cars remaining of the 24 starters that the next caution would end the race. Six laps remained. When Ed Perry spun out of turn three with three to go, he gallantly restarted and powered alongside the pace truck to sit out the end of the feature.
Lallier collected the trip to Victory Lane and Scott Bruneau roared in at second just ahead of Craig Pianka. Sparky Arsenault and Corey Fanning rounded out the top five. Bruneau’s second place, coupled with points leader Paul Lallier’s sixth tightened the division’s points race. Paul Lallier, the current points leader now has a narrow four-point lead over Bruneau, the current champ and a real battle is shaping up over the final two regular season matchups.
Benoit had grabbed the lead off the start while Paul Williams got under Tyler to wrest second from him. Three laps later, however, Lallier was back in the spot. In the meantime, Benoit had a ten-car lead. But Kevin Rioux slowed to a crawl necessitating a lap 6 caution. He was able to recover and rejoined the field. Benoit grabbed the lead again and Lallier dropped in. Paul Lallier was mired 12 cars back and working hard to move up. Bruneau was two cars ahead.
Lap seven saw Tyler put his nose under Benoit and the battle began. Tyler had the lead at the stripe as Vinny Pangelinan spun on the back stretch. On the restart, Corey Fanning broke on the front stretch and Jason Steely, Don Perry and Fanning had to pit. Paul Lallier picked up Fanning’s front air dam under his frame and was dragging it, which forced him into a pitstop to have it taken away. This forced him to the back of the field. Kyle Casper went pitside with a broken axle. The axle had left a trail of gear lube around the track and resulted in the first red flag cleanup.
It took two more tries – three in all – to resume racing as more snafus delayed the action. After a single circuit another caution flew. Lallier and Benoit were still contesting the lead and resumed. Bruneau was working under Pianka, looking for third and Pianka was laboring to deny him. Arsenault had pulled into fourth with Williams at his back and Paul Lallier had made it all the way back to sixth. Fifteen of the 24 cars remained at this point.
Lap 17 saw a three-wide develop in the pack, between Justin Travis, Smokin’ Joe Kohler and Tim Watson. Travis and Kohler pulled away from Watson and Paul began looking under Williams to steal fifth place as Rioux rolled to the infield and was pushed to the pits.
Tyler and Pianka now lined up with Bruneau and Sparky behind them, followed by Paul and Williams. Tyler grabbed the lead crossing the stripe and Bruneau ducked under Pianka. Paul shot under Sparky but was showing signs of tire wear: loose in the corners. Before it could become a problem, another caution saw Al Clements IV off on the hook.
Tyler and Bruneau faced off and they went wheel-to-wheel, hacksawing the lead. But Tyler reclaimed the front out of turn four. Bruneau tried to drop under, but the door was closed. Tyler clung to the lead as Arsenault stayed on Bruneau’s tail, followed closely by Pianka, Fanning and Travis. Paul Lallier, trying to nurse the tires and forge ahead at the same time, stayed on Travis’ back. With seven laps remaining, Pangelinan spun out of turn four. Vinny refired and was about to rejoin but the field was closing in and caution flew.
Again they restarted and went a lap but Chris Gomes and Williams tangled and spun in turn two. Gomes limped away into the path of Pangelinan and the latter could not avoid. Williams pitted. Pangelinan, Gomes and Watson all retired.
At this point, Race Director Manfredo issued the “last caution” warning and they lined up for the restart. Tyler and Sparky lined up with Bruneau and Fanning in row two. Pianka and Paul followed, ahead of Ed Perry and Kohler. Tyler grabbed the lead for the final time after a lap of side-by-side racing. With five laps remaining, Perry was sideways in turns three and four. He continued but limped to the infield, parked it by the pace truck and the race continued to the finish.
Tyler hauled down the win, followed by Bruneau after Arsenault fell back. Pianka claimed third, just ahead of Arsenault and Fanning was fifth. Still running on the worn tires, Paul Lallier claimed sixth, ahead of Travis, Kohler, and Perry. Gomes, in the pits, was recorded as the tenth place finisher.