“This is a great finish to year,” Matt Bentley said in victory lane. “That is awesome.”
In a battle that will be remembered by many throughout the off-season, Matt Bentley would hold Lane Zardo off to score his first victory of the 2012 season. Bentley and Zardo have had their side-by-side battles for the lead before, always putting on a show for the crowd.
“I’m pushing him up, he is pushing me down, wheels are rubbing, just another day of racing,” Bentley said.
At the line, it was only by inches that Bentley beat Zardo to take the victory.
“A little iffy at first off the corner, got some tire spin, but knew I got the win ‘cause I didn’t see his bumper beside my side,” Bentley said.
The win means a lot to Bentley following a lot of hard work putting in throughout the season.
“I spent my time after work and everything,” Bentley explained. “I didn’t get home till 12 o’ clock, 1 o’ clock sometimes and ended up getting up at 4:30 to go to work. Man, it pays off at this point.”
At the other end of the spectrum, Randy Rusnell would come back to finish fourth after being spun on lap 18 and would finish the night unofficially tied with Nick Roth for the championship. Virtue of winning more features, Rusnell would be crowned unofficial champion of the Super Stock division at the end of the night. Rusnell came back from being over 70 points behind Roth during the mid-summer part of the season.
“This one means a lot and to pull off the comeback that we did,” Rusnell said afterwards. “We were down 77 some odd points, I’m on cloud nine here. I want to thank all my relatives that came out tonight and fans.”
Coming into the night, Rusnell led Roth by four points, which is equal to one feature position on track.
The night started off with Rusnell winning the first heat in his No. 72 Camaro, ahead of Bentley, Roth, Paul Geniole Jr. and Rob Morrison. Cashmore finished sixth, followed by Semple, Butler, Swindell and Phinnemore.
The second heat would see Zardo take the victory in his No. 46 Monte Carlo, ahead of Dan Archibald, Paul Maltese, Herb Walters and Stephen Wilson. Lapcevich would finish sixth, followed by Cutting, Weeda and Leftler.
The third heat would see Roth take his turn in victory lane behind the wheel of his No. 17 Camaro, ahead of Geniole Jr., Rusnell, Bentley and Richard Butler. Morrison finished sixth, followed by Cashmore, Phinnemore and Swindell.
The final heat of the 2012 season would be won by Herb Walters in his No. 88 Camaro, ahead of Maltese, Cayden Lapcevich, Jay Cutting and Archibald. Zardo would finish sixth, followed by Weeda, Wilson, Leftler and the No. 15.
With Rusnell and Roth keeping even in the heats, they would go into the feature with Rusnell still leading Roth by four points.
When it came time for the feature, Rob Morrison would start on pole, followed by Richard Butler, Mike Weeda, Steve Cashmore, Cayden Lapcevich, Paul Maltese, Paul Geniole Jr., Lane Zardo, Jay Cutting, Herb Walters, Ryan Semple, Matt Bentley, Dan Archibald, Stephen Wilson, Nick Roth, Randy Rusnell, Bob Phinnemore, Tim Leftler, the No. 15 and Andrew Swindell.
At the opening of the feature, it’d be Morrison jumping ahead of Butler and Maltese while Cashmore and Zardo battled for fourth. Maltese would pass Butler for second and Zardo would pass Cashmore for fourth on lap five while championship contenders Roth and Rusnell ran 11th and 12th.
On lap six, Zardo would get alongside Butler for third, completing the pass on lap eight while Maltese got alongside Morrison for the lead. Paul Maltese would put his No. 28 Monte Carlo out front on lap nine, while Zardo would pass Morrison for second on lap 11. At this point, championship contenders Roth and Rusnell were up to seventh and eighth.
On lap 12, it’d be Maltese leading ahead of Zardo while Morrison and Bentley battled for third. At the halfway mark (lap 15), Bentley would get by Morrison for third while Roth and Rusnell ran sixth and seventh.
On lap 16, Maltese would continue to lead ahead of Zardo and Bentley while Morrison battled with Geniole Jr. for third. Geniole Jr. would then pass Morrison for third on lap 17, with Roth passing Morrison on lap 18 for fourth. Roth would then look to get by Geniole Jr. for third while Rusnell looked for a way by Morrison for fifth. However, that would be when trouble would strike for Rusnell and make his championship bid tougher as he would get spun by Morrison to bring out the caution. As a result, both Morrison and Rusnell would be put to the back of the field.
“I’m a little disappointed at the 86,” Rusnell said of Morrison after the race was over. “I was going to have a talk with him. I was racing with him there and you know, we were running for the championship and I got around him, never touched him, and I don’t know what happened but he just decided to go into three without hitting the brakes.”
So with 11 laps to go and the championship on the line, it’d be Maltese leading Zardo, Geniole Jr., Roth, Butler, Walters, Archibald, Cashmore, Semple, Weeda, Phinnemore, Wilson, Swindell, Cutting, Rusnell, Morrison, Lapcevich, the No. 15 and Leftler.
On the restart, Maltese and Zardo would side-by-side for the lead while Roth looked for a way by Geniole Jr. for fourth while Rusnell ran 15th. Rusnell would put everything on the line, making a three-wide move in turn four on lap 20 to continue moving up, running in 12th by lap 21.
On lap 23, Bentley would pull the shocker, pulling a three-wide move to get alongside Zardo for the lead, kicking Maltese back to third while Roth now ran fourth after passing Geniole Jr. Rusnell, meanwhile, would be back up to the 10th position.
On lap 25, Geniole Jr. and Walters would get side-by-side for fifth, though trouble would strike for Walters as he’d suffer a flat tire on lap 26, bringing out the caution.
So with five laps to go after going back a lap as per the rules, Zardo led Bentley, Maltese, Roth, Geniole Jr., Butler, Archibald, Rusnell, Semple, Cashmore, Phinnemore, Wilson, Weeda, Swindell, Morrison, Cutting, Lapcevich, the No. 15 and Tim Leftler.
On the restart, Bentley and Zardo would once again side-by-side for the lead while Roth moved past Maltese to get up to the third position. Rusnell, meanwhile, used the restart to get by Archibald and then passed Butler on lap 27 to move up to sixth.
On lap 28 with two to go, Zardo and Bentley remained side-by-side for the lead while Rusnell got alongside Geniole Jr. for fifth. Rusnell would complete the pass for fifth heading into the white flag lap.
In the battle between Zardo and Bentley, it’d be Matt Bentley taking the victory to cap off his season. 2011 Super Stock Champion Lane Zardo would finish second, followed by Nick Roth. Randy Rusnell, meahwhile, would get by Paul Maltese on the last lap to finish fourth and tie Roth for the points championship unofficially.
Paul Geniole Jr. finished sixth, followed by Richard Butler, Dan Archibald, Ryan Semple and Steve Cashmore.
Stephen Wilson finished 11th, followed by Bob Phinnemore, Herb Walters and Mike Weeda.