By Charlie Brown, Delmar, DE (4/14/12) – Racers and fans alike turned out in full force for Saturday night’s “Delmar Night” opener at the Delaware International Speedway. A record 141 competitors, a packed stands and the new clay surface combined for one great night of racing to kick off the 2012 season.
Any Delmar, Del. or Delmar, Md. resident was admitted to the opener free of charge. Also in attendance and special guests for the night were the Mayor of Delmar, Md., Carl Anderton, City Council members Mike Gibb and Bunky Luffman, and Delmar Chamber of Commerce President, Dori Mowbray, Vice President Diane Johnson, Past President John Johnson and member Roger Martinson.
Starting the 2012 season with wins were: H.J. Bunting in the NAPA Big Block Modifiieds; former champion Ray Davis, Jr. in the Super Late Models; sophomore driver Dylan Evans in the Crate Models; Jordan Watson in the AC Delco PSC Modifieds; James Hill in the Mod Lites; C.J. Schirmer in the Vintage Stock Cars and Bill Brittingham in the Little Lincoln cars.
Howard O’Neal led the first four laps of the NAPA Big Block Modified 25-lap feature before former two-time champ, Jamie Mills powered by on the outside to take the lead. Mils’ lead was short lived as Scott VanGorder slowed with a flat tire to bring out the yellow. Under the caution Mills tried to duck into the pits with brake issues but missed the pit exit, hitting the retaining bank and ending his night.
O’Neal was back on top with Brad Trice and Matt Jester chasing from second and third. Jester took second and on lap 10 became the third leader of the race. Trice followed into second and kept within striking distance. All eyes turned to H.J. Bunting who started in tenth due to the inversion draw.
Bunting worked by O’Neal for third with ten to go and closed on the leaders as Trice was challenging Jester on the bottom side. With four to go Bunting squeezed under Trice for second and quickly closed on Jester. With two laps to go, Bunting was able to move under Jester and drive to the win.
“Seems like every time I win the heat that’s what I get,” said Bunting referring to the ten car inversion. “But that’s what the fans come to see. I kind of shot myself in the foot when I went off the top there and I had to make it up. Everything worked out great.”
Jester finished in the second spot with Trice, who started in ninth, finishing in third. O’Neal finished in the fourth spot and Beau Wilkins came from the rear after a spin to finish in fifth. Heats were won by Trice and Bunting.
NAPA Big Block Modified Finish: 1. H.J Bunting; 2. Matt Jester; 3. Brad Trice; 4. Howard ONeal; 5. Beau Wilkins; 6. Michael White; 7. Dale Hawkins; 8. Tim Trimble; 9. Kyle Fuller; 10. Scott Van Gorder; 11. Dan Reidy; 12. Jamie Mills; 13. Robert Dutton; DNS: Shawn Ward; Joseph Watson.