Andrew Kun and Mike Belanger came down to the checkers looking more like a couple of double-A fuel dragsters than Sport Trucks on an oval, but that was sum and substance of the race that gave Kun the victory by just a couple of inches. Belanger was a mere 55 thousandths of a second off Kun’s pace, probably the closest second-place of the season, thus far. Barry Shaw, Jr. rolled into third place just off their back bumpers and Last week’s winner Mikey Cooper collected fourth. Mike Cavallaro was good for fifth place overall.
It appeared that Rob Bryant had hauled down his first win after grinding his way to the front from a seventh-place start. Bryant had an opening-night near miss as Barry Shaw knocked him out of the lead late in the opener, relegating him to second. Last time out he collected third. This time, he battled Ed Perry out of the lead and crossed in the lead, but later on, tech inspectors took issue with his headers and the win went to Kun.
Kun started inside Barry Shaw in row three and got By Cavallaro into fourth. But Shaw knocked him out of fourth and he then slipped backwards until he could settle into seventh and end the slide. From there he began to follow Radical Rick Martin forward through the field.
If angst be the word of the day, it should go to Ed Perry on this event. Perry came off the pole and led the race for 22 of the 25 laps before Bryant could slip past with just two to go. Perry had survived challenges by Darryl Dutch at the outset, then from Belanger, who pursued him to lap 14. Bryant then took over second from Belanger and began to hound Perry.
As the initial green fell, Perry quickly pulled away from Dutch and Kun got underneath looking for second. By lap three, Bryant had springboarded to third behind Belanger as Perry took the advantage to generate a four-car lead. Bryant ran eight cars behind Belanger and five cars up on Shaw. Kun was fading and Connor Souza ducked underneath him and then Rick Martin followed suit. Seven laps in, Perry had a solid lead over Belanger, followed by Bryant with a good space back to Shaw, Souza, Martin, Kun and Dutch.
Belanger got up to Perry’s bumper and Bryant came in to make it three cars nose-to-tail. With eleven laps remaining, Perry got a little space on Belanger as Bryant began to worm his way underneath for second. He succeeded Belanger in the spot but now more problems aros as Shaw and Martin were closing on their positions.
Perry suddenly slowed and Bryant and Belanger ducked under, but Elias Dib and Maddie Harkin spun on the front stretch. It was discovered that Souza had developed a gear-oil leak and the cars were parked in the top groove while a cleanup ensued which covered nearly 360 degrees around the track.
When the battle resumed, Perry, Bryant and Belanger were again the top three; Shaw was on Belanger’s high side with Martin and Cooper in row three. Perry rose up on the restart and made contact then pulled away. Bryant settled in behind while Belanger and Shaw dueled over third. Martin followed and got under Shaw, leaving Barry to Kun’s ministrations. The duo went wheel-to-wheel.
The field strung out into single file with five remaining and Bryant was looking under Perry. Perry dropped, there was contact and he wavered. Bryant seized the moment and rushed under into the lead but caution was called. Martin had taken a blow from the wavering Perry and both were considered accident cars and relegated to the rear.
On the restart, Bryant had a slow start allowing Belanger to gain a half-car on the outside. But Bryant pulled back even and they were door-to-door the next time across the stripe. Kun had still been following Martin and had restarted in third. With two remaining, Bryant was in the lead, and Kun was working under Belanger and receiving severe resistance. Shaw waited for opportunity behind them. As they battled, Bryant used the battle for second to generate a five-car lead.
With two remaining, Kun and Belanger were still locked in combat Shaw still in pursuit and Cooper on his back. The field bore down through the white flag lap, but there were no changes to the order and Bryant roared under the checkers. However, due to the technical DQ, the firefight between Kun and Belanger produced the winner in Andrew Kun, his first trip to Victory Lane on the season.
Sixth overall went to Dutch, followed by Richie Murray, Martin, Lenny Guy and Perry.