By Charlie Brown, Delmar, DE (4/9/11) – Second generation driver, Beau Wilkins of Milford, Del. ended a five year drought in Saturday night’s Delmar Night NAPA Big Block Modified opener at the Delaware International Speedway. The race was a classic battle between race-long leader Howard O’Neal and Wilkins in the closing laps.
O’Neal started on the pole by virtue of a ten car inversion from the qualifying heats and looked like he was going to pick up where he left off last season when he won the final points event. Wilkins got around the outside of H.J. Bunting and the chase was on.
Wilkins made his first bid on lap 10 when he took the lead but O’Neal was back on top one lap later. The first yellow flew on lap 12 when Richie Pratt, Jr., who had been running fifth, slowed with a broken front suspension. Larry Solomon now moved into fifth and on the restart, Joseph Watson, driving this season for Jamie Mills, locked into a battle with Wilkins for second.
A five car jingle on at the half sign involved Solomon, Robert Dutton, Dana Walker, Michael White and Shawn Ward. Matt Jester drove past Kenny Brightbill and Bunting to grab fourth on the restart.
The race would stay green the rest of the distance. O’Neal started to have problems keeping his car low in the fourth turn. With three to go Wilkins once again too the lead going into the first turn but O’Neal again fought his way back on top. O’Neal would get out of shape coming off the second turn with two laps to go and Wilkins moved on top. Watson followed into second and Jester took third before O’Neal could recover.
At the checkered, it was Wilkins, in his Blair View Farm/Window World/Coastline Medical/Bicknell taking the win. Watkins finished in second with Jester third. Bunting finished in the fourth spot and O’Neal rounded out the top five. Heats were won by Brightbill and Brad Trice.
“Howard made me work for that,” said Wilkins. “I was wondering with two to go. I kept watching him and I knew the mistakes that he was making. We made it work. The last time I won here was in ’06.”
In other open wheeled action, Danny Smack led the first eight laps of the 15-lap AC Delco Modified feature. Matt Hawkins took advantage of a restart to get by Smack for the lead. With five to go defending point champion, Joseph Tracy got by Smack for second. A caution with three to go would put Tracy on Hawkins’ back bumper but Hawkins held off the challenge for the final laps to take the win. Tracy finished in second with Smack turning in a personal best in third. Fourth went to Scott Baker and rookie Tyler Reed rounded out the top five. Fast time in qualifying was set by Tracy.
In the 15-lap Mod Lite feature defending three time champion, Brandon Dennis led flag to flag for the win. James Hill chased from second until lap six when he slowed to a stop. Kevin McKinney picked up the chase with his brother Erik running third. The order would remain unchanged to the checkered with Dennis picking up the win. Kerry King, Jr. finished in fourth and Jason Musser fifth. Fast time in qualifying was set by Dennis
NAPA Big Block Modified Finish: 1. Beau Wilkins; 2. Joseph Watson; 3. Matt Jester; 4. HJ Bunting; 5. Howard O’Neal; 6. Tim Trimble; 7. Eric Kormann; 8. Kenny Brightbill; 9. Michael White; 10. Dale Hawkins; 11. Dana Walker; 12. Jerry Carter; 13. Robert Dutton; 14. George Richardson; 15. Kyle Fuller; 16. Scott Amburster Jr; 17. Shawn Ward; 18 Larry Soloman; 19. Richie Pratt Jr; 20. Norman Short Jr; 21. Drew Simmons; DNS: Brad Trice, Scott Van Gorder.
AC Delco Modified Finish: 1. Matt Hawkins; 2. Joseph Tracy; 3. Danny Smack; 4. Scott Baker; 5. Tyler Reed; 6. Scott Hitchens; 7. Herman Powell; 8. John Curtis; 9. Dwayne Crockett; 10. Herbie Hempel; 11. Trent Willey; 12. Nate Benson; 13. Justin Griffith; 14. Garrie Bostwick; 15. Brandon Blades; 16. Bryan Applegate; 17. Westley Smith.
Mod Lite Finish: 1. Brandon Dennis; 2. Kevin McKinney; 3. Eric McKinney; 4. Kerry King Jr; 5. Jason Musser; 6. Alan Passwaters; 7. Kirk Miles Sr; 8. Chad Passwaters; 9. Landis Musser; 10. Mike Stratton; 11. Ray Gulliver; 12. James Hill; 13. Tim White; 14. Trey Hicks; DQ: Curt Miles, Jr.; DNS: Bucky Mcnatt