Chad Baxter came home the winner in the Sportsman division after Justin Travis led them from green to checkers – only to be disappointed by a DQ for a tech infraction. Baxter, however, had earned his place in victory lane. He had started on the low side of the second row, dropped to fifth on lap one then climbed back into second, all before crossing the stripe into lap three.
While Travis leapt off the pole to grab the front, where he continued throughout the feature, Baxter saw Captain Fun – Craig Pianka – slide past from his fifth place start. But Baxter, meanwhile, had to sink or swim in a crowd. He fired up and before lap two arrived, he’d gone back past Pianka as well as Kid Chaos (Corey Fanning). Passing Fanning was easier than getting away from him. Fanning dogged Baxter for the remainder of the 25 laps to collect second to Chad’s win.
Scott Bruneau is not to be overlooked, as well: he slid in behind Fanning on lap two and followed him to third two cycles later. Lest we forget Captain Fun, Pianka passed Donald Perry into fifth on lap four and the top five remained rock solid for the rest of the race. Without cautions the field stretched out single file and ran like a long snake from start to finish. Elapsed time on the 25 lapper was recorded as 6 minutes, 22 seconds. Average speed, then, came out to 78.385 – not bad for the Sportsmen. Statistically, Baxter ran best, setting the best lap speed at 79.654 mph.
Once at the front, Travis ran hard and built a substantial lead, at times as much as ten cars. Once settled in, Baxter was able to keep the separation from stretching further. He had to be equally concerned with Fanning’s antics behind him, as the Chaotic Kid was looking for any way he could move into Baxter’s space. And the threat of the steady Bruneau behind Fanning was equally goading. Baxter was equally concerned with holding his pursuers at bay as he was at overhauling the leader.
Midway through, some action at midpack saw some interactions between competitors: Mike Brightman ducked under Donald Perry into sixth. Kyle Casper was also involved in the episode and latched onto Mighty Mike’s bumper. They chased Tyler and Paul Lallier as the quartet ran sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth for the rest of the way to the checkers.
The field was moving so fast and without cautions, a good deal of mixing with lapped traffic occurred over the final ten laps. Baxter was able to move through them quickly and began closing in on Travis until, with three laps to go, Perry was smoking badly from his right front and losing speed. His concern with the problems did not allow him to see Travis approaching and the latter had to slow radically to avoid him. Baxter closed in before Travis could compensate, but was unable to entirely cut the gap. Perry moved up and Travis roared on with Baxter still trying to close the distance.
The final laps were a high-speed parade to the stripe. Baxter had the win, while Fanning made runner-up. Bruneau, Pianka and Tyler Lallier were the top five, while Paul Lallier, Casper, Jesse n Melberg, Austin Erickson and Adam Pettey completed the top ten.