DARLING DOMINANT AGAIN IN 60 LAP TRIPLE CROWN FEATURE
Stop me if you’ve heard/read this before… Dave Darling took home the Pro Stock feature crown to cap a great night of racing on a beautiful summer night on Saturday at Seekonk Speedway.
Darling took the lead with 22 laps remaining in the first race of the Phil’s Propane Triple Crown series, which added an extra 20 laps to the normal 40-lap feature which is also part of the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series. Darling joined fellow drivers Barry Shaw Jr. (Sport Trucks) and Chad Baxter (Sportsman) as a winner of four of the first five races in the 2021 season.
Like Baxter and Shaw, Darling began in the middle of the pack, starting the 60-lap feature tenth in the 16-car field. He had a partner to move up the standings with in Radical Rick Martin, who is the only other Sport Truck driver besides Shaw to claim a victory this year, with the pair moving up into the Top 5 in 10 laps. Mark Jennison and Mike Brightman held the lead early on, with Brightman taking the top spot on the first lap and Jennison snatching it back on Lap 5. Tom Scully Jr., who started fifth and has a win over Darling this season, took third on Lap 9 and got by Jennison for second on Lap 12.
The quarter of Brightman, Scully, Martin, and Darling nestled into the Top 4 on Lap 14 and separated themselves from the pack, with Martin and Darling exhibiting lots of patience in the extended race. Scully finally made his move to gain the lead on Lap 27, taking the inside lane to scoot past Brightman, but caution hit before the lap completed, with Bobby Pelland spinning to place Brightman back on top for the restart.
That restart saw some three-wide racing, with Brightman unfortunately getting stuck in the middle between Scully and Martin. Brightman dipped back to fifth with Dylan Estrella taking third by Darling, before another yellow flag due to a spin from Colby Fournier hit on Lap 28.
Martin took the lead on the restart, with Darling reclaiming third past Estrella at the halfway point of the 60-lap race. Scully grabbed the lead back on Lap 32, and Darling used an inside move to jump into second place with 26 laps left. It took a few laps, but Darling was able to find a hole to sneak by Scully for the lead on Lap 38, and once he was in front of the field in clean air he would not be caught. The duel was for the last spot on the podium for the remaining laps, with Estrella, Martin, and Brightman joined by Ryan Kuhn in a battle for the Top 5 spots. Estrella claimed third with 23 laps remaining and never looked back, while Kuhn took fourth from Martin with 13 laps left. Martin and Brightman fought for fifth until the very end, when Brightman spun out on the final lap to drop from sixth to 15th.
The top 10 was rounded out by Ryan Lineham, Ryan Vanasse, Derek Gluchacki, Benoit and Jennison, who finished in positions six through ten. The Pro Stocks will return on Saturday, June 12th for a traditional 40-lap feature that is also part of the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series.