It was a wonderful day for the drivers who were farthest out of contention for the chase. While they reeled themselves back in, it was the opportunity for them and the rest of the field to beat the road course Big 3: Battista, McDonnell, and Pizzaro.
Tony Pizzaro qualified a miserable 24th, but worked his way up the field immediately. On his way up, he spun out Jimmie Stevens and kept the train chuggin'. Speedy was understandably upset.
Averaging over two positions a lap, Pizzaro took the lead away from pole sitter Rick Jackson on lap 11. He continued to lead until the lap 22 caution, when Ben Geer and Dale Rosendaul wrecked coming off of turn 5.
What was already deemed the fastest car in the history of the Extravaganza Series since the "Rapid Riker" in the 1983 World 600, blew up on the same lap 22. Some have already speculated that it was a test motor prepared for the chase.
Scott Jackson led the next 20 laps of the race before pitting. The rest of the field came in several laps later, handing the lead to the short-pitting John Battista, still recovering from the whiplash from last week.
It would be a loss for Battista, as Scott Deutsch flipped coming out of the pit lane with Bill Werkhesier. Ironically that wasn't the caution, as teammates Dave Butterworth and Ken Pettit blew up a few laps a part, with the latter bringing out the caution and forcing the #39 to pit virtually alone. Teammates Matt Raboin and Matthew Dominique grabbed the #1 and #2 spots.
A lot of confusion stems as to why the Race 2 Win Lombardi-Justice duo would decide to take a big risk this close to the chase. Perhaps it is only coincidence, but seeing Rick Jackson with arguably the fastest car in a road course race made some think otherwise. It could be dire straits for the field if this program hits it's stride. For now, Quantum Racing looks like the brains, as R2W engines go up in flames.
On lap 58, Dominique had a left-front tire going down and was forced to pit. Raboin came in after the next caution, giving the lead to Tim McDonnell. He had Rick Jackson, Johnny Reed Foley and Craig Lee up his tail before a three-wide incident into the inner-loop settled the race back down. Zakk Miller, Alan Nesfeder and Adam Crapser all have different opinions about who caused the wreck. The #4 says Miller dove down too late. The #28 says Adam was a lap down and should have let them go. The #78 made a remark about a sandwich, and how it's tastier when you don't crash.
It became a four-way battle for the lead in the waning laps. McDonnell suffered the same pressure from the #44 and #18 as the last run, but kept his cool as the two raced side-by-side for second. Foley would grab the spot.
Tim and Foley raced side-by-side for a half-lap before the AC Delco machine cleared the CAT car for the lead on lap 68. Rick tried to take advantage of the lost momentum, but came up short. Behind them, Battista was able to pass Craig Lee for fourth.
After a Cristian Torres spin on lap 82, it became a six-way battle for the win. Foley was able to pull away from the field after an incredible battle for second place. Battista was able to scoot by McDonnell after a lap-and-a-half. He was ready to run Foley down.
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