After starting off the year with three top-three finishes, Jason Witty drove to victory lane at Sunset Speedway on Saturday night for his first victory of the season.
The night kicked off with Sean Cronan winning the first heat ahead of Gary Elliott, Tom Walters, Bruce Rankin, Britney Gresel, Joshua Stade, Tyler Liscum, Billy Zardo and Thayne Hallyburton.
2013 Limited Late Model Champion Mike Bentley won the second heat ahead of Dwayne Baker, Taylor Holdaway, Scott Beatty, Dario Capirchio, Travis Hallyburton and Ernie Fumerton.
Rookie Steven Wilson scored his first career heat victory ahead of Chris Morrow, Witty, Nick Goetz, Maltese, Mat Box, Kyle Passer and Jarrod Ranson.
The b-main didn’t go smoothly as rookie Mike Wilkinson would spin in turn three on lap nine. Capirchio would lead flag-to-flag for the win ahead of Stade, Travis Hallyburton, Maltese, Liscum, Gresel, Zardo, Box, Fumerton, Ranson, Passer and Wilkinson.
Bentley went on to claim the victory in the “Dash for Cash” ahead of Baker, Morrow, Cronan, Wilson, Walters, Witty, Holdaway, Goetz, Beatty and Rankin.
With qualifying in the books and the help of a random draw by the top 16 qualifiers, the field would be set for the 50 lap feature. Dwayne Baker would pull ‘1’ to put his No. 48 Zancor Custom Homes, B&B Towing, Nisco National Leasing, Clearview Heating & Cooling, Four Valleys Excavating, Baker Performance Parts and Knightworks Design Late Model on the pole. Taylor Holdaway drew second and would be followed in the starting line-up by Jason Witty, Joshua Stade, Scott Beatty, Tom Walters, Steven Wilson, Nick Goetz, Dario Capirchio and Mike Bentley. As last week’s feature winner, Morrow would start 11th followed by Bruce Rankin, Sean Cronan, Travis Hallyburton, Paul Maltese, Tyler Liscum, Brittney Gresel, Mat Box, Billy Zardo, Ernie Fumerton, Kyle Passer, Jarrod Ranson, Mike Wilkinson, Thayne Hallyburton and Gary Elliott.
The action started right away on the start in turns three and four as Walters would get sideways on lap one, possibly due to contact from Capirchio. Behind him, Rankin would spin in the direct path of the field. Cronan would slow up to avoid while Maltese didn’t slow, resulting in Maltese driving underneath Cronan. In the midst behind those two, contact would be made between Passer, Box, Zardo and both Hallyburton brothers. Everybody was able to continue, except for Box and Maltese. Maltese sustained heavy front-end damage, while Box ripped the whole right-side off of the car.
The restart would go much smoother as Baker would pull out ahead of the field while Morrow and Witty battled for second. Witty would clear Morrow and quickly go after Baker for the lead, putting his No. 19 Matco Tools, Queensville SOD Farms, Carrott Express, LaRue Haulage and Speedy Auto Machine Late Model in the lead. By lap five, the top 12 had sorted themselves out single-file with Witty leading Baker, Holdaway, Wilson, Morrow, Stade, Liscum, Beatty, Bentley, Capirchio, Goetz and Cronan.
The top four remained single-file while Morrow began his charge to the front, passing Wilson for fifth at lap seven. Bentley also began his charge as passed Stade for eighth at lap nine. However, Bentley’s run was cut short when he was caught up in an incident on lap 10.
Wilkinson, who was a lap down, was not moving down out of the way of the leaders. As a result, he was given the blackflag to pull off the track. Down the back, Wilkinson slowed, causing Liscum to hit him, which then caused Bentley to make heavy contact with the rear of Liscum’s car and spin Liscum around. Bentley would be done for the night while Liscum would get repairs and be able to continue. Wilkinson, meanwhile, would be blackflagged for “driver misconduct” and parked for the night. Walters and Beatty used the caution to their advantage as they both pitted for adjustments. With 40 laps to go, Witty led Baker, Holdaway, Morrow, Wilson, Stade, Capirchio, Cronan, Goetz, Gresel, Zardo, Fumerton, Thayne Hallyburton, Travis Hallyburton, Elliott, Rankin, Ranson, Passer, Walters, Beatty and Liscum.
The restart wouldn’t go smoothly as Passer would go around virtue of contact from Ranson, and that was possibly due to Walters giving Ranson a shot. The second restart – not much better – as Ranson went up in a shower of sparks with a flat tire.
The third attempt at a restart went smoothly as Witty would pull ahead of the field with Baker, Morrow, Holdaway, Wilson and Stade in toe. Cronan and Capirchio battled side-by-side for seventh with Cronan grabbing the spot before the caution flew at lap 16 for Beatty having a flat tire. With 34 to go, Witty led Baker, Morrow, Holdaway, Wilson, Stade, Cronan, Capirchio, Goetz, Zardo, Thayne Hallyburton, Travis Hallyburton, Gresel, Fumerton, Elliott, Walters, Liscum, Rankin, Passer and Ranson.
On the restart, Witty would clear Baker and hold down the lead, leaving Baker to battle with Morrow for second. Morrow would clear Baker on lap 20 as Holdaway held down fourth ahead of Cronan, Wilson, Stade, Capirchio, Goetz and Zardo. Rookie Travis Hallyburton would try to look for 10th on Zardo after his hard wreck last week on lap 22, successfully making the pass. Meanwhile at the front, Cronan’s charge towards the front continued with a pass on Holdaway for fourth at lap 24.
At halfway, the top six were single-file with Witty continuing to lead ahead of Morrow, Baker, Cronan, Holdaway and Wilson while Goetz and Stade ran side-by-side for sixth. Goetz would clear Stade for the spot at lap 28 as he was looking for a good run after wrecking in last week’s feature. Capirchio, who was running eighth and looking for a good run, would bounce off the frontstretch wall at lap 28 – but was able to keep it going. He would lose some spots as Travis Hallyburton moved into eighth followed by his brother Thayne and Fumerton. Travis would look for seventh at lap 34, successfully making the pass on lap 36.
The race wouldn’t go green to the end of the race as the caution flew at lap 40 for Rankin starting to spark due to a broken suspension part. With 10 laps to go, Witty would restart leader ahead of Morrow, Baker, Cronan, Holdaway, Wilson, Goetz, Travis Hallyburton, Stade, Thayne Hallyburton, Walters, Zardo, Fumerton, Liscum and Gresel.
Jason Witty would clear Chris Morrow on the restart to grab the win for his first win of the season after winning six features last year. Sean Cronan would get by Dwayne Baker on the restart to finish third for his best finish of the season, while Taylor Holdaway rounded out the top-five. Nick Goetz finished sixth, followed by Steven Wilson, Travis Hallyburton, Thayne Hallyburton, Billy Zardo, Joshua Stade, Tom Walters, Dario Capirchio, Tyler Liscum, Britney Gresel, Ernie Fumerton, Kyle Passer, Gary Elliott and Jarrod Ranson.