For the third time this season, Mike Bentley made it to victory lane after an early race pass for the lead on Gary Elliott after a restart. It marks his third victory this season at Sunset Speedway and his fourth feature win overall of 2012 after a win at Barrie Speedway on June 30th.
In the first heat, Thane Woodside would spin and hit the inside wall. Cronan would come home victorious after fixing the car following a wreck on Wednesday night in the M.R.E Pro Series event. Taylor Holdaway finished second, followed by Kevin Cornelius, Bentley and Billy Zardo.
Jason Witty would win the second heat for his first checkered flag of 2012, followed by Tom Walters, Gary Elliott, Keith Maiato and Dario Capirchio.
The third late model heat would be a tight race between Cornelius and Bentley involving contact, however, Cornelius would come with the victory over Bentley. Scott Beatty got third, followed by Cronan and Holdaway.
Tom Walters would win the last heat, followed by Elliott, Capirchio, Ernie Fumerton and Bruce Rankin.
In the feature, Bruce Rankin would start on the pole virtue of his qualifying effort and points position. Keith Maiato would start second, followed by Gary Elliott, Dario Capirchio and Billy Zardo. Taylor Holdaway would start sixth, followed by Jason Witty, Scott Beatty, Mike Bentley and Sean Cronan. Tom Walters would start 11th, followed by Kevin Cornelius, Ernie Fumerton, Kyle Mombourquette and Frank Davey. Sean Grosman would start on the tail of the field in 16th.
Rankin and Maiato would run side-by-side for a lap on the start for the lead, with Maiato clearing Rankin for the lead on lap two while Capirchio and Elliott ran side-by-side for third.
Elliott would hold off of Capirchio and go after Rankin for second on lap three. Elliott would clear Rankin for second on lap six while Zardo moved past Rankin for third.
Rankin would continue to drop through the field as on lap eight, it was Maiato leading, followed by Elliott and Zardo while Holdaway and Bentley battled for fourth. Bentley would get by Holdaway for fifth and go after Zardo for third on lap 11.
The first and only caution of the Late Model feature would come out on lap 13 when Keith Maiato would run into problems while leading. This would hand the lead over to Elliott, followed by Bentley, Zardo, Holdaway and Cornelius. Walters ran sixth, followed by Rankin, Capirchio, Beatty and Witty.
On the restart, Bentley would grab the lead from Elliott while Cornelius would move up to the second position on lap 18. Walters would also make his way up through the field, making it to third on lap 20.
Mike Bentley would lead the final 12 laps to score his third victory of the season.
“We had a few adjustments that we made before the heat and they didn’t work so we went back, and man, it was a rocket in the feature,” he says. “Inside, outside, anywhere I wanted to go, it went.”
It marked the end to a busy week for Bentley after finishing second last Saturday and running the Pro Late Model event on Wednesday, finishing second to Tom Walters.
“Can’t thank my crew enough,” Bentley continues. “They worked hard through the week to get switched over for the Pro race, get it switched back for this race and got it all working right and ended up in victory lane.”
The win will work towards getting Bentley back up closer to Walters and Kevin Cornelius in points, following three bad finishes in the first month of racing.
“I think we’ll be right there in the contention for the championship,” he says. “It’s just the heat races too – Kevin beat us in both the heat races –that’s more points for him. I gotta make sure I stay ahead of him and beat him in the feature, too.”
Cornelius would finish second to keep the points close with Walters third. The battle from Cornelius and Bentley is one to watch going forward, following some contact in the heat race.
“Oh yeah, we talked,” Bentley says of that. “I told him I tried to do the cross over and got in there. We laughed about it. Just racing. Hope the fans enjoyed it.”
The driver of the No. 51 Late Model would go on to thank his parents, his brother Matt, his uncle and crew members, Brad, Craig, Dave and Dylan for their help.
Despite the feature wins, Bentley’s car still goes unsponsored. They are looking for support and if you’d like to help, you can contact Bentley at email@example.com
Gary Elliott and Taylor Holdaway rounded out the top five. Scott Beatty finished sixth, followed by Billy Zardo, Dario Capirchio, Sean Cronan and Ernie Fumerton.