Seekonk, Ma. - It never is a surprise to see Bentley Warren in victory lane - anytime, anywhere. Bentley just never ceases to amaze. He dazzled the huge crowd at Seekonk Speedway Sunday when he put the Dunigan 7 past his new teammate Pat Abold on...
Seekonk, Ma. - It never is a surprise to see Bentley Warren in victory lane - anytime, anywhere. Bentley just never ceases to amaze. He dazzled the huge crowd at Seekonk Speedway Sunday when he put the Dunigan 7 past his new teammate Pat Abold on lap 72 of the ISMA-Lucas Oil 75 lap opener as the duo diced through lap cars. The win was Bentley's first in some time in the division he dominated for many of his 5 decades of racing.
Smiling widely as fans shouted congratulations, Bentley said after the exciting event, "This was great. It feels real, real good. The car was excellent. I think the traffic probably helped me a little bit I guess." Indicating that it was Pat's race to lose, Warren commented, "I couldn't do any wrong. Anywhere Pat went could be wrong and I couldn't be wrong. It was wicked fun out there."
Abold, in the Dunigan 26, who had taken the lead from Rick Wentworth on lap 6, appeared to be headed for an easy win, but lost two spots in the final three laps when both Bentley Warren and Randy Ritskes, in the Howie Lane 9, used traffic to get by. Pat, in his newly painted purple 26, said after his third place finish, "It was great. The car was just a little too neutral from the beginning, but really good. I have to hand it to these guys on the Dunigan crew to bring four competitive cars here. It's just unbelievable. It looks like it's going to be a fun season. Everybody is getting along good and I think that's the main thing here.. This is really going to be a lot of fun.:"
In turn, Ritskes, who had maintained a top five spot throughout most of the ISMA season opener, was more than pleased to relieve Abold of second. Randy attributed his success to one of the Howie Lane crew. "Kevin, my crewman, changed just about everything but the number. He said it would be a little tight at first, but it would come on at the end.. I just humored him, but he was right. It was a lot of fun out there. The guys worked hard. It's nice to come back. The car let me make that move on Pat."
Rick Wentworth led the 25-car ISMA-Lucas Oil field down to the first flag of 2003, but quickly lost out to the rapidly moving Abold who took over on lap 7. Two quick yellows slowed things - one for the Dan Osmeloski 01 and one for Eric Lewis
Chasing Abold, who has not raced supers for several years, was Justin Belfiore, in his number 8, an old Eddie Bellinger machine which had seen victory lane many times. Also, coming on strong was Randy Ritskes who soon overtook Belfiore.
Lap 26 saw the field bunched when the Budnick 88 of John Payne spun. The restart found no less than four lap cars between Abold and challengers Ritskes, Russ Wood, Scott Martel, Warren, Chris Perley and 17-year old wonder Bobby Santos, in the second Lane car, the 97.
Scotty Martel's day ended in a cloud of smoke, bringing out the yellow on lap 29.
Abold pulled away on the green as Wood charged into second past Ritskes. Bentley stayed right on Ritskes' bumper with Perley and Santos trailed by the 2002 race victor Lou Cicconi.
Abold was making some spectacular moves through traffic, leaving the aforementioned six to battle amongst themselves. Abold, however, suddenly slipped off the track surface for a brief moment on lap 58, with a gasp from the crowd. "I don't know if I got into something out there or what. The car was really getting loose, but I hadn't done anything different there from the 60 laps before. It definitely got sideways and I was really lucky to save it. I thought I'd drop back to about tenth, but I lucked out. I didn't know how far out ahead I was at that point."
The only damaging yellow came on lap 61 when the 99 of Joe Petro, the 76 of rookie Rod Sauder and the 72 of Greg Furlong. All three went to the pits. Russ Wood, who had fallen back to sixth, used the time to replace a tire going down.
With less than ten to go, Abold pulled away from Warren on the green, but not too far away. On lap 65, Abold approached Eric Lewis' 28 and had to make a decision which way to go as the wily Warren was just laying in wait. Pat made his choice and it was the right one as he kept Warren at bay this time. Ritskes, Perley and Santos were still fighting as well.
With five to go, the race was on. Inside and outside Pat went while Bentley followed. On lap 72, the 7 dove underneath the 26 and pulled into the lead. On the final go, Abold, trying to recover his lead, lost second to Ritskes as Perley and Santos crossed behind them in fourth and fifth. Perley, whose car seemed to come on in the latter stages of the feature, commented, "In the heat the car was real tight and after that we made some adjustments and then it was real loose. I really didn't think we'd get as far as we did. It was a lot of fun racing with everyone. It made it a good time. You didn't know who was going to come out on top. If we could race like that all the time and still not win, I think I'd be happy. At least it was racing all the way through."
Ritskes' teammate, Santos, made it two top fives for car owner Howie Lane. "It felt really good out there," said the multi-talented teen. "racing with a lot of veterans. It was fun. Traffic was tough but it was a good experience passing cars on a tight little track like that. It was a great car and you couldn't ask for a greater group of guys to work with. It was fun."
Lou Cicconi, Wood, Dave McKnight, John Payne and Brad Lichty rounded out the top ten.
The next ISMA -Lucas Oil events are at Kawartha Speedway on May 22 and Oswego Speedway, May 23.