Barry Shaw did a lot on Saturday night to convince his fans and everybody else that he’s on top of things in his new Everett’s Team ride. Shaw started sixth and was at the front four laps later, depriving Connor Souza of the lead he’d grabbed from the pole. It wasn’t easy, as Rob Bryant continued to come to the front and was in second by lap eight after starting in the eighth position. From there, they engaged in fast pursuit through the final stanza with Shaw flashing under the checkers a half-second in front of Bryant.
It was a bellwether moment for both drivers. Shaw gathered in his second win on the young season and Bryant shook off the specter of last week’s tech DQ following his apparent win.
It was a tough night for rookie Mikey Cooper from the getgo. The division freshman who already has a win under his belt was off on the hook after a first-lap incident, but was able to gather things back up, return and eventually finished ninth on the field. It came after he and Darryl Dutch bumped each other, then Andrew Kun came in and made contact. All three bounced off in different directions with Cooper ending up against the wall just out of turn four. They pitted and returned and the race made a complete restart.
Souza was away from Ed Perry and outside pole Brittany Campbell crossing the stripe and Perry fired up to give chase. Shaw ducked under Mike Cavallaro and squirted into third. He came loose but was able to recover without losing position..
Three laps in and Tim Bolduc was waving the yellow from the starter’s stand for Nick Testone III’s spinout. Perry and Testone headed pitside for adjustments.
Souza looked to his right to find Shaw suddenly in the outside pole position and Bryant was filling his mirror with Murray on his outside. Then came Mike Cavallaro and Lenny Guy. It was door-to-door out of the box and down the frontstretch. Shaw took a nose in turn two, a half-length in turn three and was alone at the front coming off turn four. Bryant followed Souza in third with Cavallaro under Murray behind them. Mike Belanger, who had to retire from the heat race, was up from eleventh and in seventh and Cooper was already back up to eighth.
Shaw went to a four-car lead over the next lap and Bryant pressured Souza. Barry kept up his quest for the win by doubling the lead over the next 1/3-mile as Bryant took over second and Cavallaro worked in under Souza. Belanger and Murray were wheel-to-wheel for fifth.
Shaw lapped Tom Watson on the eighth circuit and was now a half-straight in the clear with the field strung out single file behind him.
Lap 10 saw Dutch heading for the pits under green. Murray was troubling Cooper for position, but the latter held him off. Cooper then ducked under Campbell. The field then settled in for more hard, single-file running with Shaw still holding his half-lap lead. Bryant was pressing to overtake, but at this point the lead was not changing. Murray and Lenny Guy now dueled for position with Cooper just ahead in fifth.
With ten laps remaining, lapped traffic became a real concern as the leaders – and half the field – mixed in with several overtaken vehicles. They pitched and yawed their way through until, with seven laps remaining, Cavallaro’s horses suddenly quit galloping and he coasted to a stop just short of the pit exit. He had to be pushed in and ended his night.
Shaw and Bryant matched up for the restart with Belanger and Souza at their backs while Murray and Guy held down row three. Shaw grabbed the front right out of the box and Belanger nosed in under Bryant. Souza, Murray and Guy followed just ahead of a duel between Campbell and Cooper. A resurgent Perry came up onto Campbell’s bumper but was loosening up.
Four laps to go and Bryant was able to escape from Belanger and they settled into second and third, with Souza, Murray and Guy being followed by the battling Campbell/Perry combination. Shaw now ran five lengths into the clear air.
Bryant bore down, but going under the white flag, Barry still had command with a three-car lead. Murray got under Souza on a final surge to the checkers and nosed ahead.
At the stripe, it was Shaw for the win, Bryant snaring second, Belanger, Murray and Souza rounding out the top five.
Sixth on the event went to Guy, followed by Perry, Campbell, Cooper and Nick Testone to complete the top ten. (Testone was the final car still on the lead lap.)