by Dana Rowe
Multi-champion Gerry DeGasparre, Jr. dueled veteran Charlie Rose and Mark Jenison in a three-car brawl that spilled over into the final lap, bringing the trio under the checkered flag still battling for supremacy. Top dog in the final analysis was DeGasparre while Rose outlasted Jenison for second. Behind them, Ryan Kuhn and Vinnie Arrenegado were in an outright brawl over fourth with Kuhn winning out by a tenth of a second.
The thirty-five lap affair featured eight cautions, favoring tight running and battling for position.
Rose was first to lead, pulling ahead of polesitter Jenison as DeGasparre got past John Paiva into third. The lead trio then locked up the top positions except for themselves but the brawl it produced was dizzying.
Rose commanded the lead for 28 laps but was never free from assault as Jenison and then DeGasparre engaged in frequent assaults on him and each other. Jennison got a nose back in front for lap three, but Charlie went back in front but three laps in, Louie Romiza took a spin in tunr four. Jenison got the pole for the restart based on the previous lap and they went at it again. But Jenison wobbled, eased back, corrected and then suddenly pulled uptrack going through turns three and four. This set up an accordion effect, sending Mike Teague around (and to the pits for the rest of the evening) and Rey Lovelace diving to the infield to avoid. Lovelace was off on the hook, but returned for the restart.
Since a lap had not been completed, and since Jenison had not made contact plus continuing on the outside, he went back to the front row with Rose at pole. DeGasparre and Paiva followed with Tom Scully, Jr. and Chase Belcher in row three. The lead four took off en masse and ran nose-to-tail in a torrid pace line. Scully claimed fifth and Arrenegado dug under Belcher to grab fifth. He eased Scully back, who then fell prey to the rising fortunes of divisional champ, Ryan Lineham. Lineham had started a remote fifteenth, but had been checking off a spot per lap as he rose through the field.
Kuhn bolted past Belcher and Scully then eased Lineham back then got past Paiva into fifth on lap ten. The turbulence of his passage sent Scully past Paiva who then fell prey to Mark Hudson. Hudson and Scully then swapped sixth twice.
Arrenegado got in behind DeGasparre to battle for third at the race’s midpoint. He was outside Gerry in the second row for a lap 17 restart. DeGasparre reclaimed third as Rose outran Jenison for the lead. Kuhn rolled in on Vinny’s tail to further complicate the swirling combat among the top five.
Rose had a four-car lead going into lap 18, but Romiza spun again coming out of turn three and headed pitside under the two-spin ordinance. It took a full lap of dueling between Rose and Jenison before the former could retake the lead and DeGasparre followed him underneath Jenison to challenge for second. While they sparred, Arrenegado dodged under Kuhn to steal fourth. The pace line ran hard for three laps until Jenison got slippery on the back stretch, but was saved by caution as Hudson and Blecher spun together in turn three. With Hudson ending his evening at that point. Belcher returned.
Now Rose had DeGasparre on the outside with Jenison and Arrenegado behind them. Ro0w three was Kuhn and Jeramme Lillie while Lineham and Dan Johnson backed them up. With enough dynamite up front to blow the race into next week, the green fell and motors erupted. Eight cars ran wheel-to-wheel until Rose could retake his lead in turn two of the second time around. Gerry stayed outside with Jennison low on him and Kuhn in pursuit. Then came Arrenegado and Lineham.
A spin by Jeremy Lambert lined them back up and this time Vinny was outside Jennison with Kuhn in row three under Lillie. Lineham and Johnson backed them up.
Charlie nosed out on Gerry again, but this time, DeGasparre found a couple extra horses under the hood. After Rose had managed to get ¾ past, his antagonist heated up and squirted into the lead on the backstretch. After another lap, a Belcher spin brougth the final caution on the event, sending him to the pits for the rest of the race. DeGasparre now had the restart from the pole with Rose up high. Jenison refused to go away and restarted low in the second row with Arrenegado on his outside. Then came Kuhn and Lillie.
DeGasparre pulled a half-car ahead then grabbed the lead alone in turn one. Rose dropped in front of Jenison and Kuhn roared up under Arrenegado. He continued on into fourth and Vinnie dropped in. Kuhn wasn’t done: with two laps remaining, he started nosing under Jenison and they fought it out to the stripe. Under the checkers, it was DeGasparre with Rose on his tail. Jenison retained second with Kuhn fourth and Arrenegado fifth. Lineham added a sixth to his two early season wins, followed by Lillie, Lovelace, Mikey Toner, Jr., Johnson, Paiva, Nick Uhrig and Scully. Final two cars were the Lambert brothers, Colby and Jeremy in that order. The race had seen an attrition rate of six cars posted to the pits at the finish.