by Dana Rowe
Pro Stock rookie Dylan Estrella shook off last week’s trip into the backstretch wall with a sterling run at the front for most of the 65 circuits of the Pro Stock feature. However, this was an extra-laps feature, thanks to Phil’s Propane Triple Crown, and guess who is always expected in one of these? Bingo, Dave Darling took his time and methodically worked his way from a last place start and into second with twelve laps remaining on a late-race caution.
Estrella and Mike Mitchell took the front while Darling settled into the second row behind Estrella. Estrella took off at the green and Darling slipped under Mitchell. Dylan took a one-car advantage as Jake-the-Jet Johnson got under Mitchell for third. Angleo Belsito watched them as behind him, Tom Scully, Jr. and Bobby Pelland III battled over sixth place.
With four laps remaining, Darling wedged in under Estrella for some door-to-door and with three to go, nosed ahead, finally claiming the lead for himself in turn three. Coming out of turn four, Darling suddenly was three carlengths to the good as Belsito conquered Mitchell to pull into third behind Estrella. Two laps later, Darling was charging under the the checkers with his second win on the season and Estrella, after leading the bulk of the circuits had to settle for second. Belsito claimed third just ahead of Mitchell and Johnson rounded out the top five.
At the top of the feature, Ryan Vanasse, celebrating his birthday, led off from the pole with Scully on the outside. Mitchell and Mike Brightman followed. Vanasse broke away from Scully in turn two of the initial lap and Mitchell powered in under Scully. Estrella followed him under into third and settled onto Mitchell’s bumper.
Four laps in, Darling and Johnson tangled in the back of the field and brought out the caution. On the restart, Rick Martin had handling problems and saved it in turn three, but suffered the same between turns one and two and this time drew caution.
Once again, Vanasse and Mitchell were at it with Vanasse pulling ahead. But Estrella ducked under and ran to the lead on the backstretch, with Vanasse then going around out of turn three. The field scattered to avoid. Estrella won the next restart over Mitchell in turn one and Mitchell took a bump from Scully, got loose and Mike Brightman seized the opportunity to vault into second. Mtichell settled in behind him as Belsito came in from seventh to fourth, leaving Scully in fifth.
Dylan pulled away as Brightman, Mitchell, Belsito, Scully and Fred Astle, Jr. tightened up and ran nose-to-tail for three laps. Estrella built a straightaway lead as Brightman, Mitchell and Belsito remained bumper-to-bumper behind him. Ten laps in, however, Daryl Stampfl spun on the front stretch, continued after doing a 360 but spun again out of turn two onto the backstretch as caution flew.
Brightman poked his nose out on Estrella then they ran door-to-door to turn three before Estrella grabbed the lead once more. As he generated an eight-car lead, Darling had come to mid-pack and was jockeying for position with Astle just behind Pelland. As Darling moved ahead, The Jet got under Fast Fred and followed Darling through. Darling then put Pelland between himself and Johnson.
At the front, Mitchell got under Brightman and into second once again. Belsito awaited and eased Brightman out of third and Scully pushed Mike back to fifth, in front of Darling. Dave got by Mike and then Scully into fourth behind Belsito.
The field stretched out, with Estrella a half-straight ahead. Mitchell pursued at a didstance, ahead of Belsito, while Darling closed on him. Scully followed and Johnson was door-to-door with Pelland. Distances between combatants continued to increase.
Darling got by Belsito into third with three-fourths of the laps complete. Estrella now had most of a straightaway lead and was about to begin lapping Martin, whose problems continued. As Dylan dropped below the Radical One, Kevin Folan spun out in turn two. Martin immediately pitted for adjustments.
The restart spelled it all, as Darling was directly behind the leader with 12 laps remaining. The period of gradual advance was over for Dave, and he applied the pressure after getting beyond Mitchell. He took the lead with three to go, pulled away and claimed the checkers.
Following Johnson’s fifth, Scully claimed sixth, followed by Kevin Casper, Pelland, Brightman, Vanasse, Astle and Martin.