The Rocket, Ryan Vanasse, saw his smooth, accurate style of driving come to fruition with a big win on the second night of competition in the 2019 season. He was able to come from a ninth-place start and overhaul rookie sensation Austin Blais just before midway through the 40-lap feature. From there, it was catch-me-if-you-can. And none could.
Blais suffered only one more indignity on the evening, as Champ Dave Darling overhauled him on lap 33, making Blais settle for third after a brilliant early-race run at the front. Tom Scully, Jr. came up to bother him from behind, but had to settle for fourth while Fred Astle, Jr. gathered in fifth place honors.
Blais came off the pole at the outset to nose out on Daryl Stampfl, then pull away. Mike Mitchell, starting third, slid in under Stampfl to follow Blais. Dylan Estrella moved into third and began to look for ways around Mitchell and Radical Rick Martin grabbed fourth, just ahead of Vanasse, who had come up from a ninth-place start alongside Astle.
Five laps in, Blais had a two-car lead and the field had settled in for the chase. Darling had started scratch, owing to his early retirement from his heat race, but was at ease powering his way up from the back at the rate of one position each lap. He puled into ninth behind Kevin Casper on lap six; three circuits more had he was eighth behind Scully, who was contending with Astle over sixth. He got past Tom Jr. just two laps before Estrella made contact with Mitchell while fighting for position. Mitchell got loosened up and spun in turn four and down the front stretch. Mitchell and Brightman went to the pits for adjustments and Estrella was called for the assist on Mitchell.
Blais had Radical Rick on his shoulder for the lap 16 restart, while Vanasse and Astle made up row two. Darling and Scully followed, just ahead of Casper and Stampfl.
Martin was unable to come up to speed on the green, making for a mad scramble. Something had failed in his rear end and he had to be taken to the pits on the hook.
Now, Blais had The Rocket on his outside. Astle and Darling made row two. Out of the box, it was Vanasse by inches across the stripe, but he ran to the lead down the backstretch. Darling outdistanced Scully to chase Blais and Astle eased back along the outside. Casper, Mitchell and Brightman gave chase. Vanasse fired the boosters and steadily pulled away.
Darling was up on Blais’ bumper, looking for second as Vanasse began to put some more distance on them. Darling was all over Blais back end as Scully closed, looking to take third, and Astle bore in on the leaders. Blais’ stubborn defense held them off, but it was also providing Vanasse with time to add a lot of space between them.
Dave looked underneath on lap 25 and kept pressing the issue. The pass was finally complete with seven laps remaining and Darling had third, but Vanasse had what seemed to be an insurmountable lead. Darling set out after him and began to close, but the laps were winding down. Scully tried to get under Blais for third, but Austin pushed back ahead of him. Astle, Casper and Mitchell ran nose-to-tail behind them.
Three laps remained, but the finishing order was established and positions remained through the white flag lap and the checkers.
Casper collected sixth place and Mitchell, Estrella, Brightman and Dick Benoit completed the top ten.