by Dana Rowe
Mark Jenison made a couple years of toil at Seekonk Speedway seem like a cakewalk when he all but stole the lead from Bobby Tripp, who had led the entire race, with just two laps remaining. It was no easy evening for the two frontrunners and there was a ton of sweat equity in Jenison’s win. But the soft-spoken Jenison came off the outside of the second row to pursue the polesitter for 33 laps. Tom “The Bomb” Adams came in to make it a three-way battle as Jennison didn’t spare the horses on the high side of Tripp. Bobby, caught between the two, tried to defend both high and low and Jenison took advantage to power to the front and claim the checkers. Adams gathered in third after Tripp and just ahead of Mark Hudson and Ryan Lineham who rounded out the top five.
Tripp was having the best night of his season, so far, when he burst away from Nick Uhrig into the lead at the start. Tyler Tomassi poked a nose under Uhrig before he could drop in and Jenison ran on their heels. Behind Jenison, Hudson and Adams were wheel-to-wheel and Gerry DeGasparre, Jr. was under Vinny Arrenegado. Two laps in, Tripp had rushed out to an 8-car lead and Tomassi held second while Jenison ran door-to-door with Uhrig.
Jenison got a nose into Tomassi and it allowed Uhrig to reclaim second. Adams squirted up outside to make it three wide with Tomassi and Jenison below him, running for third.
Arrenegado and Tomassi were prodding each other when Tomassi came loose and slid up the track, carrying Arrenegado into the frontstretch wall with him. Arrenegado, on the high side, took the brunt of the impact to the concrete. Both were out of action with just five laps run.
Tripp and Uhrig lined for the restart with Jenison and Hudson in row two, DeGasparre and Adams followed. Tripp bounced ahead under green and Jenison jetted in under Uhrig. Ten laps in and Tripp had Jenison, Uhrig, DeGasparre and Hudson in tow with Jeremy Lambert debating sixth with Adams. Two laps more and Jenison was at Tripp’s bumper and Uhrig was falling back into a fourth-place tie with Hudson as Adams, Lambert, John Paiva and Chase Belcher pursued.
DeGasparre snugged up to Jenison and the top three were running nose-to-tail. Twice more around and the line tightened up to six cars, adding Hudson, Adams and Uhrig in a string. This went on for another two laps until Mike Duarte took a solo spin down the frontstretch and headed toward the pits for the evening.
The lap 13 restart saw Tripp nose out but Jenison stayed outside to challenge. DeGasparre ran to Tripp’s bumper, freezing Jenison outside. Adams was under Hudson behind them and Belcher was debating sixth alongside Uhrig.
Tripp and Jenison put on a display for the crowd, running hot and hard, hacksawing the lead while DeGasparre exhausted his patience waiting for an opportunity. Finally, Jenison slipped back alongside Gerry and behind them, Adams, Hudson and Belcher ran single file. Lineham was coming forward and moving up on Belcher.
With 15 laps yet to go, DeGasparre and Jenison were still wheel-to-wheel but next time around, Jenison pulled ahead at the stripe. Tripp, meanwhile, had generated a three-car lead, which Jenison began to whittle down. With 10 circuits remaining, he was cruising on Bobby’s bumper. He tried to look high and then low but Tripp countered each move and now DeGasparre made it three cars in line.
Jenison went to the outside and pressed forward. DeGasparre moved in underneath as Jenison continued to edge up until they were door-to-door. Adams then sneaked in under DeGasparre and got by. With three laps remaining, Adams was on Tripp’s bumper and Jenison slipped back alongside.
However, the latter looked to his left then called for more horses and flew back alongside the leader. Adams began looking on Tripp’s low side, creating the proverbial between-a-rock-and-a-hardplace for Tripp, who tried to guard both sides. This played into Jenison’s hand and he nosed ahead into the white flag lap then grabbed the lead alone over the final circuit. Tripp held off Adams to the line to claim second and Hudson flew in for fourth.
Sixth on the run went to Lineham, followed by Uhrig, Belcher, DeGasparre, Paiva, Lambert and Dane Saritelli.