Mike Lefort gritted out the Sport Four final event of the season for a big win, which was made huge when it gave him the tie-breaker to win the championship over last year’s laureate AJ Manuel. Jordan Lopes, who had led Lefort in the championship effort, was caught up in a passing accident, trying to get by Tough Tim Bolger and was unable to come back from the rear after the lap 13 restart. (He made his way through the 22-car field for a seventh-place finish.) After Lefort completed the win, it took some expert mathematics and quick thinking to determine whether Manuel had the championship or Lefort, as AJ’s second brought them into a statistical tie. But the win gave Lefort the edge in tie-breakers and he pocketed the entire sum of feature and championship.
The trio of Lopes, Manuel and Lefort had entered the evening in that order for the championship, each two points short of the one ahead. In the virtual dead-heat, Sport Fours had come down to a one-race championship (not to diminish a season of grueling work on everyone’s part). Could it have finished closer?
David Simpson, Jr. and Tyler Dunancik lined up to kick things off. Timmy Ouellette and Sam Mesick backed them up. Simpson had the lead by turn four and Dunancik settled in, followed by Mesick, Ouellette and Bolger.
But Ouellette spun in turn three and ended his evening after two laps. Simpson lined up with Dunancik again; Mesick and Bolger followed, but now Lefort was in row three with Manuel alongside. Lopes and Levesque were in row five., behind Meack and Samantha Mattera.
Simpson dodged out but Dunancik held on before Simpson grabbed the front in turn three. Mesick grabbed third with Bolger staying outside to challenge. Lefort gabbed Mesick’s bumper. Mattera was fending off Lopes on her bumper on the next circuit and suddenly was under Meack and Dunancik for a three-wide. As she pulled ahead, Lopes ducked under Meack and Dunancik. Meack made contact with Dunancik and they spun. Red flags blossomed and emergency crews checked both drivers, whereupon Dunancik headed pitside to end his night.
Mesick and Lefort were now the front row with Simpson and Manuel behind them. Row three was Bolger and Mattera and Lopes had Levesque on his shoulder in row four. Mesick grabbed the lead crossing the stripe and Lefort elected to stay outside as Manuel came up to Sam’s bumper. But AJ fell off briefly and Lefort shoehorned himself between them into second.
Seven laps in and Lefort went under Mesick, towing Manuel on his bumper. Simnpson, Mattera, Bolger, Lopes and Levesque followed. Tyler Pitassi was at Levesque’s back.
Lefort had pushed out to a six-car lead as Manuel was working past Mesick, then pushed out to ten on lap 12. Manuel began to bear down, chased by Mesick. Lopes was passing Bolger and suddenly they were together coming out of turn one and up to the wall bringing caution with eleven laps remaining.
Lefort and Manuel were together on the front, while Mesick was joined by Simpson behind them, then came Mattera and Levesque. They ran wheel-to-wheel out of the box and over the stripe. Lefort edged to the front and Manuel settled in with – once again – Mesick at his back. Mattera got by Simpson into fourth.
It became a war of attrition with AJ dodging up to Mikey’s bumper and falling back repeatedly. Lopes was running seventh with nine laps remaining, behind Pitassi. They got door-to-door to debate the issue and whipsawed the lead with seven remaining.
Suddenly, Joseph Pilling was sideways in front of the leaders as the came up to lap him. Both LeFort and Manuel skillfully avoided and he slewed about then righted his ship and was able to continue without bringing out the caution.
Lefort moved ahead and with two to go had an eight-car lead. At the back of the pack, four cars ran side-b-side. By the white flag, Manuel hand shaved the lead down to five cars. But it held to the checkers, bringing Lefort the win and the championship.
Mesick grabbed third just ahead of Mattera, who completed her best season since joining the division. Levesque rounded out the top ten. Sixth went to Simpson, followed by Lopes, Pitassi, Tyler Alemida, Meack, Jason Finkbein and Henry Lavalle.