Former champ Steve Axon left little to the imagination as he led 29 of the 35 laps in the Sportsman feature race, leaving precious few to the other leaders, Chad Baxter, Chris Gomes and Paul Williams. Once in the lead, Axon was quick to drive away under each caution restart and was unassailable at speed. Williams had come off the pole to lead laps one and two, Gomes led three, four and five and Baxter got ahead for a solo circuit. Once Axon got to the front on lap six, it was those who chased him who were as worthy of note: Baxter put in four laps at second, before Captain Fun — Craig Pianka — held sway into lap 19. Adam Pettey had a good, long run in the penultimate slot from lap 20 until lap 33. Then Kyle Casper rushed up to close out the final pair of circuits in pursuit of Axon.
Casper held on to the second, while Tyler Lallier closed out in third. Sparky Arsenault and Ant Kohler rounded out the top five. (Baxter completed the evening in sixth, just ahead of Ant’s brother, Smokin’ Joe Kohler.)
Williams led off from the pole, nosing ahead of Dave Gargaro, Jr. and going to the front on the first pass through turn two. Gomes sneaked in under Gargaro while Baxter and Axon were shoulder-to-shoulder in row three.
Four laps in, and Baxter had supplanted Williams in the lead while Axon led Gomes in pursuit with Pianka and Williams following.
Action slowed on lap seven with Scott Bruneau around on the backstretch trying to avoid some togetherness between Williams and Gargaro that send Williams shooting toward the infield. Gargaro, Justin Travis and Bruneau headed pitside for repairs.
Baxter and Axon lined up with Gomes and Pianka at their backs. Axon grabbed the lead in turn two and Baxter setteled in ahead of Gomes. Pianka and Eddy Perry dueled for fourth with Adam Pettey and Smokin’ Joe going door-to-door behind them. Gomes came loose, Pianka got under and they went wheel-to-wheel into turn three.
Lap ten saw Casper and Mike Brightman making contact with Brightman knocked loose and spinning in turn one.
The lap 11 restart saw Axon shoot back into the lead and Pianka going to second with Petty on his bumper. The field quickly strung out with Baxter following ahead of Gomes, Casper and Ant Kohler.
Casper went to work on Gomes and moved in behind Baxter while Ant and Arsenault followed him through. Pianka stuck his nose under Axon but was denied and then locked onto the latter’s bumper. With 18 laps remaining, the field was in a high-speed, single-file run. Paul Lallier, running on an intermitten schedule this season, now came up to challenge Gomes. And with 20 laps complete, Pettey edged Pianka out of second. Ant went to fourth ahead of Baxter, Sparky, Tyler Lallier and Paul Lallier. Bruneau backed them up.
Ten to go, and Axon had engineered a seven-car lead. Petty continued in second, followed by Pianka with Ant on his bumper. Baxter, Casper and Arsenault followed. Ant took a look under Pianka and completed the pass a lap later, in turn three.
Eight circuits remained and Axon was still running in clear air, five cars up on Pettey, who now had Ant Kohler on his bumper. In fourth and threatening was Casper. But Bruneau took his second spin in turn four, bringing a lap 6 restart.
Axon nosed out on Pettey, who dropped in ahead of a side-by-side with Ant and Casper. Kohler moved into third alone and Pianka came up alongside Casper. Kyle charged forward and in a fast move was suddenly on Axon’s high side. Axon powered up and Pettey moved in under Casper. Pianka and Ant dueled behind them.
Tyler broke ahead of Arsenault into seventh leaving Paul battling Baxter. Casper began to debate Pettey for second and this allowed Axon to again build a four-car lead with just three to go. Casper was working outside Pianka. Another lap and Axon had increased his lead as Pettey and Casper continued to duel until Casper succeeded in turn four. Arsenault had to drop as Pettey flew up to the wall as the white flag waved.
Axon charged home for the win and Casper gathered in second. Tyler Lallier was able to get past Ant, Pettey and Pianka into third with Sparky on his tail. Ant rounded out the top five. From there, it was Baxter in sixth, Joe Kohler, Paul Lallier, Pianka, Jason Steely, Donald Perry and Gomes.