Pro Stocks saw two leaders in the Championship Night race. The first eighteen laps saw former champ Radical Rick Martin in the lead. Not unexpectedly, when the lead changed hands it was Dave Darling at the helm, en-route to his record-setting seventh Pro Stock championship. Once in the lead, Darling went to autopilot and his lead continued to grow each succeeding lap.
Martin continued in second and had a lively time fending off challengers. Fred Astle, Jr. had run second to Martin until Darling charged by. The Rocket – Ryan Vanasse – had chased Darling to the front and followed him through, dropping Astle to fourth.
Flyin’ Fred was able to even the score with Vanasse later in the race, taking third back for the finish.
At the checkers it was Darling with the win – he had already clinched the championship – and Martin second. Astle captured third, ahead of Vanasse and Mike Brightman rounded out the top five.
Martin and Stampfl sat on the front row, ahead of Astle and Kevin Casper. Martin had stormed into the lead and Astle ducked under Stampfl to take second. Brightman dodged into third and suddenly Darling was on his bumper. Three laps more and Darling looked under Brightman. They ran door-to-door until Darling had third in turn four. Martin and Astle were ahead. Vanasse filled in behind Brightman.
The field had been running hard and single file when five laps in Martin still had Astle at his bumper and it was fifteen cars back to darling, who was five up on Vanasse. Dylan Estrella was battling under Brightman and gained the position on lap eight.
Darling had finished closing the gap to Astle on lap thirteen and was just a length behind and moved up to his bumper. The front three was now running nose-to-tail. Darling began to look alternating between high and low. On lap sixteen, he crossed under and got below Astle. They ran wheel-to-wheel until Darling took second in turn four. Astle was not ready to concede and was all over Darling’s bumper. leading the chase pack, some 20 cars back. Estrella was at his back, followed by Casper and Brightman At this moment, Bob Hussey lost traction and spun.
Martin and Darling were side-by-side for the restart, ahead of Astle and Vanasse. Estrella and Casper followed. Darling and Martin battled, but Darling took the lead in turn three. Martin settled in ahead of Vanasse, Astle, Brightman and Casper.
Astle now looked under Vanasse and drove in. They ran hard for a lap-and-a-half before Astle could get his nose past in turn four. Darling had generated a five=car lead on Martin. As Astle took over third, Brightman hauled in behind Vanasse, trailing Casper.
Brightman got onto The Rocket’s bumper and stayed close. Behind them, Estrella was snugged up against Stampfl. Fifteen laps remained, and Darling was fifteen cars up on the field with Martin the closes pursuer. Martin was five up on Astle, who had six cars on the Vanasse/Brightman cluster.
The top ten were in their finishing positions, fifteen laps out. The end of the race became a high-speed parade to the checkered flag. Astle continued to look for a way toward the front and was high and low but Martin was not letting anyone past.
At the finish it was Darling, Martin, Astle, Vanasse and Brightman. Sixth went to Casper. Estrella was seventh and Stampfl, Dick Benoit and Brandon Trubush rounded out the top ten. Just off the pace came Ted Urquhart, Hussey, Rey Lovelace and Danny Cabral.