What went from a death-defying event turned into a three-way battle for the lead across three green flag runs. The veterans ended up running away with the top-positions, as the young guns ran into hard luck all day.
Immediately, there was a horror crash on lap 3 involving John Battista after Matthew Dominique blew up on the frontstretch. Battista tried to dodge the #25 on the inside, but failed and flew into the infield grass, careening into the inside wall and flying through the racetrack. He flew so fast that he sailed through a gap between Rick Jackson and Zach Michael and head-on into the outside wall at 143 miles-per-hour. The #39 was feet from climbing the wall and floating into the forest, but instead flipped five times and landed upside-down on it's roof. In sheer amazement and determination, the car was able to continue with ARCA driver Bink Lucas at the helm. Battista was rattled, but will hang on to race at the track he won at last year, Watkins Glen next week.
After Alex Crapser and Dave Miller led a few laps, the battle turned to Jimmie Stevens and Tony Pizzaro for the top-spot. Speedy held it for three laps before falling back rapidly. Pizzaro would continue to be a factor.
On lap 20, Pocono master Rick Jackson took the helm and led for the next 22 laps. After a terrible green flag pit stop, he would relinquish the lead to Randy Dobbins.
A Steven Spears and Jonathan Skrabacz crash in turn 3 brought out the caution during green flag pit stops. This trapped chase contenders Scott Jackson and Donald Stewart a lap down, as well as Speedy, Ben Geer, Tex Perry, Tony Long, Brandon Raines, Glen Kaufmann, Adam Crapser and Brodrick Wittmann. Leader Randy Dobbins was in complete turmoil, racing them while trying to mantain his advantage.
Glenn Kaufmann scraped the tunnel-turn wall on lap 48. He corrected into Michael Henson and Ryan Heuser, and slammed hard into the inside barricade. Heuser and Henson spun with him into the turn three-traffic. Scott Jackson, Dale Rosendaul, Cristian Torres and Bink Lucas were all injured from the incident, but carried forward.
The middle of the race was a battle for second, as Pizzaro pulled away from the field. Lapped car Adam Crapser passed him with fresh tires, and towed Pizzaro away from the pack during the first green flag run. It took John Tharp 65 laps to finally catch up and pass. The two would remain the front-runners as the battle for the win loomed near. It seemed they would be the only two, until Rick Jackson jumped ahead on lap 129.
One lap after Rick took the lead, Tharp made a three-wide move in turn 1 and made it stick. It caused some confusion between the R2W teamates. Pizzaro refused to give to the #44 on the outside and sent he and Rick into the outside wall. Fortunately, they would continue on with minimal damage and stay in contention for the win.
Pizzaro took the lead back on lap 137, but pitted on lap 142 in an attempt to gain track position. Despite coming in three laps later, Rick managed to beat the #12 on the track by a nose, killing two birds with the fresh tires. Tharp was not so fortunate, pitting one lap after Rick and coming out 2-1/2 seconds behind. There was only 12 laps to go.
Other than valiant efforts to gain time through the traffic, the #12 had nothing for the Crown Royal machine. Tharp caught the draft too late, and looked to be the only car who had anything for Rick. The #44 machine crossed the finish line first for the first time since the Charlotte fall race last season, breaking one of the longest losing streaks of his career. Congrats to Rick, crew chief Falco Lombardi, and the entire Race-2-Win crew for an excellent victory!
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