The fourth annual Eddie Money Classic begins with Johnny Reed Foley as your points leader after a 3rd place finish at Darlington. He will roll off the grid fourth today, his exact finishing spot in this event last season. Donald Stewart and Ryan Heuser occupy the front row with qualifying speeds over 192 miles per hour to start the 267-lap event.
The green flag waved with Donald Stewart getting a minor jump on the field. Before long, Rick Jackson and the rest of the front pack charged past Stewart, with Jackson taking the lead on lap 3. The #55 would drop back to 8th while the #44 led through lap 6.
The best handling car in the early-go seemed to be John Battista, who took the lead on lap 7. He and Ryan Heuser maintained a two-second advantage on the rest of the field, drafting away from the pack through green flag pit stops. Heuser caught and passed Battista on lap 84, leading through the next set of stops.
There were no cautions and no drivers out of the race as we headed towards the halfway mark. John Battista flew by Heuser on the outside lane as he came out of the pits, becoming the first two-time leader of the event. Rick Jackson had caught both of them by this point, flying by Heuser and on the charge for the Wendy's Chevrolet.
The first and only crash of the night occured just before the halfway point. Dan Johnston came out of the pits and misjudged his exit, crashing into Craig Lee while points leader Johnny Reed Foley slams into the the #101 from behind. Johnston and Lee collect the outside wall, dropping back down the racetrack into the path of Zakk Miller. Miller slammed hard into the front of Johnston's machine as the rest of the field barely squeezed below the All-State machine. Johnston and Miller would fail to continue, while Lee and Foley limped to 28th and 35th. Foley dropped from 1st to 4th in the standings, with Lee from 6th to 8th.
A familiar foe flew back to the front on lap 136 when Rick Jackson passed by John Battista for the top-spot. Battista earned the halfway bacon bonus and slipped back, giving up the second position to Tony Pizzaro for a Race-2-Win 1-2 show. Pizzaro passed Jackson for the lead on lap 145 and kept it for 39 laps.
Multiple pit accidents destroyed the hopes of several top-names in Extravaganza. A missed pit entry forced Tim McDonnell to drive through the grass, causing mass confusion on the pit road and clipping Scott Jackson as he entered the asphalt. Both cars sustained relative damage and would continue on at a lesser pace. The next pit crash involved Matthew Dominique and Zach Michael. The #25 missed his entry and backed up into his stall, forgetting that Michael's pit was directly in front. In severe misfortune, the #20 was in service and got body-slammed in the front, going a lap down to repair the hood damage after his crew frenzied out of the way. Dominique dropped to 7th in points, with Michael dead last in 10th.
A hard-fought battle between Donald Stewart and Tony Pizzaro saw the first place spot up for grabs with 84 laps to go. Stewart made it by, pulling away from the Race-2-Win bunch in a Cindarella bid for the Championship. He would drop back after the final green flag stops, handing the top-spot back to Pizzaro while he and Jackson fell nearly outside of the top-5.
A debris caution on lap 220 initiated a 44-lap shootout to the checkered flag. It took three laps for Bill Werkheiser to work his way by for the lead, looking to use the momentum of his second place finish at Darlington to earn his first victory in years. Bink Lucas made an incredible three-wide move on the inside lane to pass by John Battista for the third position.
Werkheiser had pulled away by a half-second before Bink made his charge for the victory. He passed Pizzaro with 23-to-go and made several attempts to get by Werkheiser on the inside lane. Finally with seven circuits remaining, Lucas pulverized through turn 1 and flew by the #6 with relative ease.
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