Jordan Lopes came into the Friday-the-thirteenth feature in a three-way tie for leadership in Sport Fours, and the Full Moon as well couldn’t deter him as he chased Tim Bolger for seven laps to take the front away, then led the final seven to the checkers. Co-leader (and 2018 champ) AJ Manuel moved past Bolger into the runnerup spot and pursued Lopes the rest of the way, but could not wrest victory from the leader. Third co-leader Mike Lefort recovered from some accident damage early on and the leading trio finished up the leading trio on the feature. Karlin Levesque and Bolger rounded out the top five.
It took four tries to get the race started with the Full Harvest Moon rose over turn one. On the first try, Arthur Meack was slow to come to speed and the field took to evasive action. David Simpson, Jr. spun in turn one and Lefort dodged him but not completely incurring damage to his right rear quarter. Meack was unable to continue.
The full race restart resulted in a half-dozen cars piled up between turns one and two. Henry Lavalle suffered enough front end damage to go off on the hook, not to return.
Third attempt: same results. The fourth attempt finally scored and Bolger ripped off the pole into the lead. Timmy Ouellette dropped into second ahead of Christian Herman, who had Jason Finkbien and Lefort wheel-to-wheel behind him. Herman went high and into second and Lefort nailed fourth, then proceeded to third on lap four, easing Ouellette back. And here came Lopes, shooting up from a seventh-place start. Lap four saw him past Ouellette and behind Lefort. And on Lopes’ bumper came AJ, bringing the three challengers together behind Bolger and Finkbein.
Four laps in and Bolger was cruising with a half-straightaway lead. Finkbein, Lefort, Lopes and Manuel could only watch and pursue. Five laps in, Lopes hurdled past Lefort on the outside as Lefort clung to Finkbein’s bumper. As Lopes moved ahead, Manuel pulled up outside LeFort.
Six laps in and the speedy Bolger was already lapping slow cars. Lopes, a half-straight back, was trying to close. As he picked up a bit more speed, Manuel came up to Lefort’s bumper and then past onto Lopes’ tail. He looked under, but Lopes shut the door. Lefort then tried the same on Manuel.
Seven laps remained when Tyler Alemeida and Herman got together, catching Sabrina Beaulieu in the fracas. Beulieu retired to the pits. Bolger’s long lead collapsed in caution and he lined up with Lopes on his outside.
This placed two jackrabbits on the front for the restart: both drivers with a reputation of shooting away under the green flag. Row two had Manuel and Lefort, with Karlin Levesque and Finkbein behind them. Samantha Mattera and Sam Mesick followed.
Boger and Lopes came out of the box and across the stripe wheel-to-wheel but Lopes found some extra speed and grabbed the front coming out of turn one. Behind Bolger, Manuel and Lefort were door-to-door with Levesque waiting for the results. Mattera and Mesick were still side-by-side.
Bolger moved uptrack and Manuel seized the moment, shot under and claimed second. Bolger couldn’t get back down and Lefort deprived him of third.
Three laps left and Lopes was suddenly six cars ahead of Manuel and Lefort. Levesque was working in under Bolger while Mattera continued to battle Mesick. AJ bore down, but as the twin sticks came up, he’d only pared Lopes’ lead to five lengths. At the white flag, it was the same. The field roared around the final one-third mile to the checkers with Lopes hauling down the win. Manuel followed just ahead of Lefort and Levesque while Bolger filled out the top five.
The championship pretenders came into the matchup dead even. The left in practically the same situation with Lopes a bare two points up on Manuel, who is now two up on Lefort, leaving next week’s championship night a toss-up for the trio.
Sixth went to Mattera, while Mesick, Ouellette, David Westgate and Jason Finkbein completed the top ten.