SEEKONK, Mass. — The final results in the Pro Stock feature race on Saturday night may have had a very familiar look, but the 40-lap feature was anything but normal, with Dave Darling needing just 13 laps to go from the back of the line to victory lane, claiming his third victory in four races to cap an exciting night at Seekonk Speedway.
The Pro Stock competitors wasted little time to bring the excitement to the track, with Colby Fournier, Dick Benoit, and Brightman going three-wide as the green flag was waved. That start was called off, as the pole sitter must take off first, but business quickly picked up on the second attempt at going green, as Fred Astle moved to the lead on Lap 5 and Brightman took over the runner-up spot one lap later. While Astle and Brightman dueled up front, Darling was working with Rick Martin to march up the ladder, as both started the race back in the pack. The duo was up to sixth and seventh with 13 laps to go, but both were involved in late-race incidents with differing outcomes.
A spin by David Simpson led to a restart on Lap 27 , which nearly ended in disaster for Darling. Fournier, who resided in third place, had issues accelerating with the rest of the Pro Stock vehicles as the flag changed from yellow to green, causing several cars behind him to check up. The bottleneck claimed Darling and Ryan Lineham, with both drivers spinning out before the lap could be completed. Lineham remained on the track, while Darling took a brief stop in the pits to assess any damage, which at the time seemed to halt any chance of him grabbing another victory. Boy were we wrong.
The subsequent restart gave fans one of the best moments of the night, as Brightman dazzled the fans in attendance with an impressive move to take over first place with nine laps remaining. Brightman initially used the outside line to pass Estrella and Astle before diving down to the inside to block both of his chasers from regaining the spot. Another caution came out with six laps left, as Astle and Martin made contact and ended up facing the wrong direction on track after a spin during a fourth-place battle, and somehow Darling had marched up to fifth when racing began again on Lap 34. Darling used the outside lane to get past Bobby Pelland, Estrella, and Brightman by the final lap, and a near-incident on the last turn shuffled the field further, as Brightman nearly not only wiped himself out but collected the majority of the field behind him as well before righting the ship to take third place.
The top 10 was Darling, Ryan Kuhn of E. Bridgewater, MA , Brightman, Ryan Vanasse, Fournier, Estrella, Martin, Pelland, Benoit, and Daryl Stampfl. Half of the drivers in the Top 10 – Darling (13th), Kuhn (12th), Estrella (9th), Martin (11th), and Pelland (10th) began the race outside of the front four rows, showcasing how exciting and unpredictable Saturday’s finale ended up being.
Following post-race inspection, the official top-five was deemed to be Darling, Kuhn, Brightman, Vanasse and Estrella.
The Pro Stocks will have next weekend off – for the Memorial Day Thrill Show – before returning on Saturday, June 5th for a 65-lap feature, which will be their first race in the Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Series.