Pena wins 100 lap Feature by Slimmest of Margins
On a night when there was a total of one caution in the first four features combined, it would have led fans to believe the 100 lap Late Model Feature would be a caution free, single file race, but three cautions and three wide racing made for the wildest finish of the year.
The Dominion Late Model field was 21 cars strong, largest of any track running over the weekend, this past Saturday with names like Philip Morris, Tyler Hughes, Jeff Oakley, Doug Barnes, Michael Hardin, Timmy Phipps and Eddie Johnson making his 2019 debut. Morris qualified on the pole, but after the invert, he rolled off in the fifth spot. However, it didn’t take him long to get to the position that he is very familiar with, the lead. Morris was out front by lap 11 and was the car to beat as he drove away from the field which fanned out to single file racing.
Just before the halfway mark, things were starting to get interesting. Oakley who had been running in seventh spot after starting fourth, was starting to mount a charge to the front to try and track down Morris. Oakley’s efforts would get some help when with 32 laps to go, Morris developed a miss in the motor and had to pit four laps later, giving the lead over to Barnes. While Morris was in the pits dealing with the issue, a caution came out which allowed him to not lose too many laps. When the field came to take the green it saw Barnes on the inside of row one with Hughes on the outside, setting up what looked to be another great battle between the two, but when the green flag dropped, Hughes cut a right front tire and went towards the wall bringing out another caution.
Racing resumed for five laps until Pena made his first bid for the lead with 21 to go and went three wide with Oakley in the middle and Barnes on the outside. Barnes ended up spinning and bringing out the caution. Oakley had completed his charge to the front and was in the lead for the first time in the feature, while Barnes dropped to tenth.
With 13 to go, the field took the green with Oakley leading the way, Pena on the outside of him and Phipps in third. After 12 laps of intense racing, it all came down to the final lap when Oakley went high around a lap car, Pena went low, and the two ended up leaning on each other as they crossed the line with Pena taking the victory by only .004 seconds for his first win of the year.
“End of the race it was do or die having to go for it last turn, last lap kind of thing and I’m just glad it worked out,” said Pena following the race. When asked about qualifying seventh for the feature, Pena said “ We struggle qualifying. That’s one thing we haven’t figured out yet. We need to come back and practice that a little bit, We’re just missing it because getting outside the top six for the redraw is huge”.
If Dominion had a “hard charger” award, it most certainly would have gone to Phipps who had a poor qualifying effort, started 19th in the field, and drove to a fourth place finish behind Pena, Oakley, and Hughes. “ We had a mechanical issue in qualifying but the car is really good. At the open start of the race you just got to lay back cuz you know there going to stack up and sure enough they did. You just got to bide your time and when you have a good car you want to wait for them to get single file and you can get them one by one. That way you’re not worried about people getting together in front of you wrecking and you just pick your way through”.
In the dominion racer class, Cole Bruce picked up his second win of the year with points leader Aaron Donnelly finishing second and Davey Callihan coming home third.
Donnelly won the pole in qualifying, but the invert dropped him to third with Bruce on the outside of row one next to Bradley Kilby. At the green, Bruce was able to drive by on the outside, bringing Donnelly with him and the two would run that way the entire race. Things were made interesting though when with three laps left, the only caution of the 35 lap feature was shown for a spin in turn 4. On the restart, Bruce was inside row one with Callihan on the outside and Donnelly right behind him in third. When the green dropped, Bruce drove away for a two car length victory for his second checkered of the year.
The modified division ran caution free for the 35 lap feature and it saw two sets of relatives in the top four. Chris Johnson took the checkered for the win, Michael Johnson finished second, Jimmy Humblet was third and Chris Humblet was fourth.
On other acing Saturday night, Jon Carte win the mini mod feature, Chris Hammett won the Legends feature and Pete Sullivan won his third feature of the year in the Any car class.
This Saturday night, June 22nd, we have the CARS tour, Dominion stock will run 40 laps, UCAR going 25 laps, and the any car running 20. Gates open at 5 and racing stats at 7pm.