Bill Bernard served notice that his new Late Model was the car to watch in his heat race, besting Bobby Pelland III by 1.5 seconds and setting top lap time in both preliminary races. Pelland set second best lap time and set the stage for another confrontation in the 30-lap feature race. Still there was 7-time champ Gerry DeGasparre, Jr. and a field of shoes who could make the challenge a tough one.
Bill was called for the pole. Pelland settled behind him in the second row. Outside front, Bernard faced The Hammer – Jeramee Lillie and hot rookie Nick Lascuola filled out the second row.
Bernard nosed ahead coming down the front stretch from the starting box as Lillie wrestled on the outside. Pelland looked underneath but couldn’t find any room. The pylon announced Bernard, Lillie, Pelland, Lascuola and Dylan Estrella after lap two. DeGasparre held sixth. Jariah Roderick and Eddie LeClerc battled behind him.
The fight at the front raged on until Charlie Rose spun out of turn four. On the restart, Bernard and Lillie went wheel-to-wheel again until Lillie fell back, crossing the stripe into lap 11. Pelland stayed tight on Bernard’s bumper as Nathan Tracy spun in turn one.
Now, Pelland was on the front row with Bernard and Lillie was down low in the second row. DeGasparre had solved Lascuola for fourth and the rookie faced of against Estrella. Out of the box, Bernard edged out on Pelland in hard running for the lead, but he had enough power and stick that he had the front to himself the next time across the starting line. DeGasparre was working laboriously past Lillie, on the outside line while Estrella was watching their bumpers waiting for an opportunity. Brandon Dion was working underneath Lascuola.
Lillie spun on lap 16 after battling DeGasparre since the restart.
Now Bernard had The Champ on his bumper and Pelland alongside. Estrella, Lascuola, Dion and Rose were knocking at the back door. Pelland pulled an advantage at the green, but Bernard rocketed back alongside on the backstretch and had his nose in front at the stripe. Pelland then fell back and relinquished the front. DeGasparre quickly bolted underneath him. They were door-to-door for second on lap 18 as Vinny Arrenegado looped in turn four.
Called back for a lap 17 restart, Bernard and Pelland were again door-to-door until Bernard regained the front, pulling DeGasparre under Pelland. Lascuola now was fourth with Estrella dogging his tail. Bernard began to move and by lap 20 had two cars on DeGasparre and Pelland, still battling alongside.
Pelland edged ahead into second, but Bernard now had clear air and with 5 to go had a 5-car margin. Bumper-to-bumper behind him were Pelland, DeGasparre, Lascuola, Dion, Estrella, Charlie Rose and Ron Barboza.
This field ran parade laps with DeGasparre making a lap 28 outside attempt on Pelland, going very wide to no avail. Bernard flashed home a third of a second ahead and DeGasparre finished another third of a second behind Pelland. Lascuola finished a solid fourth in his first pass at the division and Dion was fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Estrella, Rose, Barboza and Lillie.