REID LANPHER SCORES $10K PRO/SLM NATIONALS PRIZE
Persistence is a great weapon in an intense stock car feature, and it came to Reid Lanpher as he stayed an arm’s reach away from the frontrunners throughout the Pro Stock/Super Late Models feature. He had earned the outside pole through time trials and heat racing – both he and polesitter Travis Benjamin had been the top two in time trials and had won their heats. Lanpher and Benjamin stayed in to top five most of the feature until Benjamin was forced out with mechanical problems on lap 163.
Lanpher continued to pursue and when leader Jake “The Jet” Johnson and Joey Pole got together with 30 laps to go, Lanpher and Joe Squeglia were the front row for the restart. (Johnson continued, but as Pole was sent to the back for assisting Johnson’s spin, he elected to retire from the feature.) Squeglia stuck his nose in front but Lanpher came back to seize the front after a lap-and-a-half running wheel-to-wheel. Squeglia fastened onto his bumper and remained there to the finish as Lanpher sought to flee Joe’s jurisdiction. At the checkers, they were 1-2. Derek Ramstrom collected third after a hard fight up through the field from a seventeenth-place start. Dave Farrington, Jr. and Garrett Hall rounded out the top five.
The 200-lap race came in two parts, each 100 laps in length. At the completion of the first 100 laps, competitors pitted for the length of a Nick’s Pit Stop Legends feature of 25 laps. Following the feature, the top 5 in the Nationals were inverted (first went to fifth and fifth to first, etc.) for the restart. Lanpher had gone in as the leader and came back out on the low side of the third row. The Jet was the new pacesetter and took off from the point of resumption.
At the outset of the first hundred-lapper, Benjamin and Lanpher were wheel-to-wheel until Lanpher got the lead in the first pass through turn three. Third place starter Dave Darling pursued them just ahead of Derek Griffith and Nick Johnson, who were battling door-to-door. Dylan Estrella was waiting in the wings behind them with Jake The Jet following and Pole backing him up.
Darling set to work and disposed of Benjamin on lap 14 and five laps later eased Lanpher out of the lead. It was beginning to look like a typical major feature for Darling who is no stranger to Victory Lane on extended features. He began building a lead over Lanpher, who refused to go away and motored along in second, jealously holding onto his position. Benjamin pursued Lanpher, seeking a way around him while Jake Johnson and Squeglia debated fourth place. Dylan Estrella had found his way past Pole into sixth on Johnson’s back.
Darling seemed at the peak of his ususal game, adding gradually to his lead and running smoothly until lap 64, when he appeared to suddenly spin out in turn three. Lanpher, who had been running behind Darling, later said it appeared to have been his rear end letting go. Track crews added evidence, laying speedy dry along a line of fluid down the middle of the backstretch. They also covered a puddle when Darling’s car was towed out of turn three.
In the scramble to avoid, Estella had been unable to escape, bouncing between scattering vehicles and then unable to avoid piling into Darling. He was able to pit and return.
Lanpher was back on the low side of the front row for the restart. Benjamin pursued him until Pole edged him out of second on lap 74. Squeglia and Johnson continued their duel for fourth, interrupted by Pole passing through to second and Farrington climbing into the affair. Farrington made it a three-car argument for position.
At the hundred-lap mark, the order stood: Lanpher, Pole, Benjamin, Squeglia, Jake Johnson, Farrington, Garrett Hall, Derek Ramstrom and Wyatt Alexander. Before retiring to the pits for the Legends feature, Lanpher drew the number for the inversion and came up with a five, meaning the top five cars would reverse their order. This set The Jet up to start the second 100 on the pole with Squeglia on his shoulder. Benjamin, Lanpher and Pole would follow in the inversion.
For the next 70, the Seekonk Pro Stock rookie let the world know he was to be reckoned with as he led the field a merry chase. Johnson and Squeglia went side-by-side until Jake pulled ahead in turn four. Benjamin immediately ducked under Squeglia into second and the lead trio ran nose-to-tail. Lanpher, meanwhile, was getting under Pole for fourth.
Ten laps in, Squeglia was cruising on the leader’s bumper and Lanpher was on his. A short gap saw Hall with Pole tailgating him. Jake grabbed a car and Squeglia went back to his bumper. They telescoped the gap for several laps, but lap 118 saw all five locked together like a fast freight train. Alexander and Ramstrom followed.
Two laps later, Lanpher was under Squeglia and into second. Squeglia had Benjamin following, just ahead of pole, Ramstrom and Farrington. Lanpher began running a half-lap wider in the groove than Jonson, apparently conserving some rubber. Pole began looking under Benjamin but couldn’t make the move. The lead between Johnson and Lanpher seesawed between a half-car and three cars.
Estrella was fighting his car and pitted under green just moments before Kevin Folan spun to bring out caution. Estrella returned, but had lost a couple laps.
Johnson was away again, pulled away from Lanpher and went out to nearly a straightaway lead.
Lanpher narrowed it down to three lengths over the next few laps but Jake pulled it out to eight lengths.
Lanpher, Squeglia and Pole then got into a dogfight over second as behind them, Ramstrom was passing below Benjamin. Ramstrom was now moving up well. As Pole went to second and Lanpher to third, he ducked under Squeglia, looking to hijack fourth. Jake, meanwhile, generated a four-car lead over Pole. That evaporated in a caution generated by a Mike Brightman spin.
The came away as before, Johnson, Lanpher, Pole, Squeglia and Ramstrom. Pole got past Lanpher and ran up to Johnson’s bumper and began looking underneath. He pushed under a couple times and then got his nose into Jakes left rear quarter. The result was a Johnson spin in turn one. Pole then was called on the assist and directed to the rear. He chose, instead, to put into the pits for the remainder. Lanpher and Squeglia were back to retstarting on the front row with Ramstrom and Hall behind them. Alexander and Jake Vanada made up row three. After a half-lap of running side-by- side, Lanpher eased ahead and Squeglia grabbed his bumper. Ramstrom, Hall and Alexander followed. Hall nosed under for some door-to-door running and went to third place. Lanpher led by a length.
He pushed that out to four cars and Squeglia was five up on Hall. The black flag came out for Vanada after he lost power and was running slowly around the outside. The top five began to compete with each other for finishing positions. Ramstrom got past Hall into third and on the final lap, Farrington did the same to grab third and fourth behind Lanpher and Squeglia. Hall retained fifth place.
Sixth went to Alexander, followed by Mike Mitchell, Craig Weinstein, Jake Johnson, Cory Casagrande, Ryan Kuhn, Nick Lascuola and Folan.