By CHARLIE BROWN, DELMAR, DE – You might have thought that is was a full moon from the wild racing that took part on Saturday night at the Delaware International Speedway. The 25-lap NAPA Big Block Modified feature would be highlighted by six lead changes and the 10-lap King of Kings for the Big Block winners turned into a five lap eliminator.
The heats were won by Howard O’Neal and H.J. Bunting but the six car inversion draw would put last week’s feature winner, Beau Wilkins on the pole. Wilkins would lead lap one but would slow with mechanical problems on the second circuit that were problem the end result of a tangle in the heat.
Jamie Mills quickly filled the top spot with Matt Jester taking second. Jester became the third different leader in three laps when he crossed the line out front but Mills cranked it up and moved back on top for lap four. Bunting got by Michael White for the third spot as the first of three cautions flew on lap eight when Art Valdesere, Jr. slowed with a flat tire.
Jester kept the pressure on Mills as Bunting entered the picture. The trio came off the fourth turn for lap twelve three wide with Bunting getting second at the stipe. One lap later for halfway, Bunting became the fourth different leader and the fifth lead change of the race. Jester followed into the second spot and found himself back in the lead one lap later when Bunting rolled to a stop in four.
Howard O’Neal was fourth on the restart but by ten to go was up to second. Dana Walker held the fourth spot and Dale Hawkins ran in fifth. With three to go Jester had built a two second lead over O’Neal but the caution would be out for a third time on the final lap as Shawn Ward and Dave Dissinger tangled.
Jester handled the one lap shoot-out to take his fourth win of the season and move into the points lead. O’Neal finished in second while Mills went off the second turn and Walker finished in third. Dale Hawkins had his best run of the season finishing in fourth with his son Matt Hawkins rounding out the top five.
“It was getting ready to be a pretty good race,” said Jester. “I don’t know what happened to H.J. I’ve got to thank the crew. We’ve been working pretty hard to get this done. They may beat us on the track but they won’t beat us off the track.”
The scheduled 10-lap King of Kings for Big Block winners turned out to be a comedy of errors. Four of the five season winners (Jester, Mills, Bunting and Wilkins) were in the field with Joseph Watson being the only one absent. Both Bunting and Wilkins were in their backup cars after problems in the feature. Jester, Bunting and Wilkins started three wide with Mills the solo car in the second row. Mills tried an outside move in the first turn an spun and under the yellow, Wilkins headed to the pits.
The three remaining cars started three wide again with Mills grabbing the lead. Mills and Bunting tangled going into the first turn on lap two and Jester decided he had had enough and headed to the pits. Bunting would lead the next two laps before Mills moved on top. The pair tangled a second time! Mills would lead at the halfway sign but Bunting went high In the turn and pulled to pits and the checkered was thrown on Mills.
NAPA Big Block Modified Finish: 1. Matt Jester; 2. Howard ONeal; 3. Dana Walker; 4. Dale Hawkins; 5. Matt Hawkins; 6. Michael White; 7. Brad Trice; 8. Jamie Mills; 9. Shawn Ward; 10. Dave Dissinger; 11. Drew Simmons; 12. Scott VanGorder; 13. HJ Bunting; 14. Art Valdesere Jr; 15. Beau Wilkins.