By Charlie Brown, Delmar, DE (4/30/11) – H.J. Bunting got his season off to a good start as he won both his heat and the 25-lap NAPA Big Block Modified feature in Saturday night’s Kyle Dixon Memorial at the Delaware International Speedway. Rookie Tyler Reed scored the victory in the 15-lap AC Delco TSS Modified feature and Brandon Dennis survived a wild feature to win the 15-lap Mod Lite main.
The fan draw for the feature inversion was zero placing Bunting on the pole for the main. “There was nowhere to go from there except to the back,” smiled Bunting. “That doesn’t look real good so you just have to run like someone is chasing you and hope that you are the fastest one there.”
Fastest he was a Bunting led flag to flag. Scott Ambruster, Jr. captured the second heat and gave chase from second until Joseph Watson dropped him to third on lap five. Ambruster regained the spot two laps later then Watson came to a stop to bring out the yellow. On the restart, Beau Wilkins shot into second with Brad Trice following into third.
Trice took second at the halfway point with Wilkins, Robert Dutton and Matt Jester (who had started in the rear) rounding out the top five. Jester picked off Dutton and worked his way past Wilkins for third. With two laps to go he got by Trice but time was too short and Bunting’s lead was too big for him to mount a challenge.
Bunting posted the victory with Jester second. Trice finished a solid third with opening night winner Wilkins fourth and Dutton turning in a good run to round out the top five. A full field of 23 cars started the main.
Rookie Tyler Reed took full advantage of an eight car inversion draw which placed him on the pole. The talented young driver would not give in to the race long pressure mounted by Brandon Blades and Joseph Tracy.
The feature was only slowed twice for cautions first at the halfway sign when Brandon Sturgis slowed with mechanical problems and then two laps later when Herbie Hempel would get around.
Reed was smooth as glass but Blades wasn’t about to settle for second. Going into the third turn Blades made a bid to the inside but the hole closed. The lead pair made contact and Blades spun off the top of the turn. The race finished under the checkered and caution with Reed the winner, Matt Hawkins took advantage of the tangle to finish in second with Tracy third. Fourth went to Scott Baker and Westley Smith rounded out the top five. Baker set fast time in qualifying.
The Mod Lite feature was a wild one with an intense six car battle ensuing from the drop of the green. Kirk Miles, Sr. held to point barely ahead of the pack which included Landis Musser, James Hill, Kevin McKinney, Alan Passwaters, Eric McKinney and Brandon Dennis. Dennis made a banzai move from third to first on lap seven. Someone in the pack got sideway which resulted in three cars flipping and five total involved. James Hill was able to climb from his car with assistance but was complaining off neck pain and was transported to the hospital. No other drivers were injured.
On the restart, Dennis was able to distance himself from the rest of the field as he drove to his second straight checkered. Kevin McKinney held off his brother Eric for second and third with Jason Musser fourth and Curt Miles, Jr. recovering from the tangle to finish in fifth.
NAPA BIG BLOCK MODIFIED FINISH: 1. HJ Bunting; 2. Matt Jester; 3. Brad Trice; 4. Beau Wilkins; 5. Robert Dutton; 6. Scott Amburster Jr; 7. Larry Soloman; 8. Dale Hawkins; 9. Steven Downs; 10. Tim Trimble; 11. Norman Short Jr; 12. George Richardson; 13. Dana Walker; 14. Kyle Fuller; 15. Shawn Ward; 16. Scott Irvin; 17. Drew Simmons; 18. Kenny Brightbill; 19. Eric Kormann; 20. Jerry Carter; 21. Joseph Watson; 22. Michael White; 23. Howard ONeal.
AC DELCO TSS MODIFIED FINISH: 1. Tyler Reed; 2. Matt Hawkins; 3. Joseph Tracy; 4. Scott Baker; 5. Westley Smith; 6. Bryan Applegate; 7. Danny Smack; 8. Dwayne Crockett; 9. John Curtis; 10. Herman Powell; 11. Scott Hitchens; 12. Jamie Eichholz; 13. Nate Benson; 14. Greg Taylor; 15. Trent Willey; 16. Herbie Hempel; 17. Brandon Blades; 18. Brandon Sturgis; 19. Justin Griffith
MOD LITE FINISH: 1. Brandon Dennis; 2. Kevin McKinney; 3. Eric McKinney; 4. Jason Musser; 5. Curt Miles Jr; 6. Landis Musser; 7. Ray Gulliver; 8. Kerry King Jr; 9. Kyle King; 10. Kirk Miles Sr; 11. James Hill; 12. Alan Passwaters.