Nobody enjoys Pocono more than the great fans of Pennsylvania's countryside. New York City, Philadelphia and the Quakers are all ready for an excellent 2.5-mile bout across the northern Appalachian plains. Ryan Heuser is looking for four-in-a-row in hopes of resurging a nearly heart-broken season into one of sheer jubilation. He will start 12th.
Rick Jackson starts on the pole in conventional form with John Battista on the outside lane. The #39 would endure a terrible restart, getting passed by 3rd place Craig Lee exiting turn-1. Lee and Jackson would find themselves side-by-side on the second backstretch before the #101 took the top-spot outright to lead lap 1. A few circuits later, Matthew Dominique would seize first place.
Rob Scarberry and Mike Carroll make contact entering turn-3, bringing out the first caution flag on lap 6. Tony Long whacked the drivers-side of Carroll, sending the #15 into the outside wall while Dan Johnston pulverized the rear of the #50. Johnston's durable All-State front-end remained in tact to forge a 20th place finish while the others dropped outside the top-37.
Horror occurred on pit road when Geno Sphere and Ryan Heuser body-slammed during their initial stops. Heuser was attempting to exit his pit after a 2-tire change while Sphere darted for the same space. This sent the #138 hard into the Steven Spears stall directly in front. The Mello-Yello crew barely escaped from the mayhem, though Heuser destroyed the radiator and effectively ended his race. He would finish 42nd after five weeks of outright dominance. Spears and Sphere would wind up 25th and 35th respectively.
Craig Lee avenged his teammate's misfortune by re-taking the lead just before the yellow. Zakk Miller earned it himself with a two-tire change, leading the field on the restart. John Battista took it away on lap 14, hogging the top-spot for 20-straight laps before a Johnny Reed Foley pass on lap 34. Battista would steal it back the following lap and orbit another 22 laps up front.
It was the John Battista and Alan Nesfeder show at the top of the heap as we closed towards the halfway point. Nesfeder took the lead outright on lap 59 while towing Donald Stewart, Dave Miller, Foley and Matthew Dominique from behind. This would be Nesfeder's second-straight race competing for the win after last-week's 3rd place effort at New Hampshire.
Nesfeder came from the 31st starting spot to shatter through the field and take the lead, earning one spot for every two laps of action. He would be re-passed by Battista on lap 63, leading through green flag stops before handing it off to Donald Stewart after the cycle. Both Alan and Stewart are looking for win number two on the season, with Battista miraculously waiting for his first despite leading twice as many laps as the two combined.
A tunnel-turn pass on lap 76 sent the #78 to the front just in time for the Halfway Bacon Bonus. He would remain there through lap 90 as he and Battista swapped the immortal position several times. An excellent green flag stop by Battista gave he and Stewart a three second gap while Matt Raboin, Dave Miller, Tim McDonnell, Nesfeder, Logan Sheets, Zakk Miller, Ken Joynt, Randy Dobbins, Bill Werkheiser and Bink Lucas all sandwiched together a pack in effort to catch the top-2. They would eventually do so.
A debris caution in the middle of green flag pit stops nearly swapped the lead group with 26 laps remaining. Seven cars would stay out on at least one-lap old tires while Sheets, McDonnell, Michael Henson, and Nesfeder came out of the pits as the first cars with purely fresh rubber. The drivers lapped by the caution held up the leaders after the restart, checking up the field and initiating contact between Steven Spears and John Tharp from the back. Tharp meandered towards the turn-3 wall and into Jimmie Stevens, while Dalton Lucas, Mark Guthrie and Markell Murphy tangled during the aftermath. Murphy was the only driver unable to continue.
John Battista led the 16-lap shootout to the checkered flag. He and Stewart were divided by the lapped car of Alex Crapser until Alan Nesfed
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