by Dana Rowe
Josh Hedges had to work his way past multi-champ Mike Cavallaro to grab the lead and it took several laps of battling to get there. But once in the lead, things didn’t get any easier. The constant threat known as Barry Shaw, Jr. got past Cavallaro to pursue him, then three laps later last week’s winner and another repetitive challenger in the shape of Rob Murphy appeared in his mirror with Shaw hanging tough in third and looking to exploit any of the leaders’ mistakes. Rounding out the top five was a brawl between current champ Mike Duarte and double-winner Bobby Tripp. And the race was just two laps past the halfway point. Hedges had a busy night for himself, but he survived restarts against Cavallaro then Shaw on laps 13 and 14 then pulled out to a six-car lead as Murphy stole second from Shaw with Tripp in fourth and Cavallaro side-by-side with Lenny Guy for fifth. Murphy whittled the lead down to five cars, but Hedges was fast on the evening and held him to that same margin. At the finish, Hedges had his second win on the season and Murphy gathered a second to add to last week’s win. Shaw grabbed third and Mike Duarte got by Tripp for fourth with Bobby grabbing fifth.
At the outset, Trucks rookie Andrew Kun, a former Pure Stock champ, came off the pole into the lead and Cavallaro trailed along from the second row under outside pole, Brittany Campbell and into second. All the signs were there for a crowd-pleaser of a race as at the end of the first lap, the order was Kun, Cavallaro, Hedges, Duarte, Eddie Gannon, Randy Burr and Tripp. Not to mention the first-circuit three-wide between Duarte, Gannon and Campbell. Gannon prospered by it, getting onto Hedges’ bumper in fifth, while Tripp came through the confusion into sixth.
Four laps in, things were interesting as Kun, Cavallaro, Hedges and Duarte were running nose-to-tail at the front. Tripp, Shaw, Gannon, Murphy and Burr formed a pursuit group a few lengths back.
Cavallaro nosed under Kun and ran to the front down the backstretch on lap five. Kun was stuck out there as Hedges followed Cavallaro underneath and then Duarte. Meanwhile, Murphy was moving into sixth putting Tripp and Gannon on the hunt behind him.
Eight laps in, the field was strung out single file with Cavallaro holding off Hedges, Duarte, Kun, Shaw, Murphy, Tripp and Gannon in that order.
Law nine saw Hedges burrowing under Cavallaro for some wheel-to-wheel running then eking his way ahead by increments. Duarte looked under Cavallaro, but Mike dropped in to shut the door, leaving Hedges alone at the front. It was the last time that Josh saw anything but clear air ahead. Still, the checkers were 20 laps in the future and he had work to do to make it happen. Back in the pack, Burr and Tripp were in a wheel-to-wheel confrontation.
Duarte locked onto Cavallaro’s bumper while behind them Shaw and Gannon were in a dogfight over fourth and Murphy was powering under Kun.
But Duarte got sideways in turn two and around into the turn two grass, bringing the first caution. On the restart, Gannon took a spin after a single lap and they lined up once again. Hedges now had Shaw on his shoulder, followed by Murphy and Cavallaro – and Tripp was joined by Kun in row three. Hedges nosed out, Shaw dropped into second, Murphy grabbed third and Tripp came to fourth underneath Cavallaro. Bobby looked under Murphy, but couldn’t get through. Lenny Guy then got alongside to battle Cavallaro for position.
With twelve laps remaining, Hedges was in a comfortable, six-car lead and Murphy held second. Shaw followed and behind him, Tripp and Cavallaro were side-by-side. Tripp secured the position and Duarte, headed back toward the front, got by Cavallaro; Gannon was on Mike’s tailgate.
Duarte was able to get by Tripp into fourth, the final change among the top ten: the field was spread out single file and the final three laps was a high-speed freight train to the checkers with the rewards going to Hedges.
Sixth on the field went to Cavallaro, followed by Kun, Gannon, Guy, Darryl Church and Burr.