By Sam Tully
SEEKONK, Mass. -- Round Two of Fast Friday’s Drive for the Cup presented by Sunoco Race Fuels got underway this past Friday, September 16. At long last, the final four drivers in each division who will be going forward to compete for the championship have been decided.
Let’s take a look at how Round Two panned out, which playoff drivers are out, and which ones will be driving for the cup next weekend.
SEEKONK GRAND PRIX BANDOLERO BANDITS
The Bandolero Bandits came into the week with five playoff drivers remaining, but only four would advance to the final round.
After a couple of early spins and cautions right off the bat, calamity unfolded in the field, involving a couple of playoff drivers.
Coming off Turn 2 on the second restart, Darren Krantz Jr. applied the pressure to Nick Uhrig Jr. early, and it was just a little bit more that Uhrig could handle. Trying desperately to save his ride, Uhrig slid up just enough to collect Bryson Robidoux, causing the entire field to stack up.
Milania Shilosky sat fourth in line on the inside behind Krantz as the moment unfolded, and as drivers swerved to the high side to avoid spinning cars, Shilosky was caught out, becoming sandwiched between Krantz on Collin Vanasse to her outside. Shilosky’s No. 99 machine spun and stood still on Turn 3 as the yellow flew. In a highly unfortunate fashion, the incident would bring an end to Shilosky’s championship hopes.
Uhrig limped his No. 11RI Bandit around the third-mile through another couple of restarts to complete one more lap, scoring him ahead of Shilosky, and sending him to the Final Four, ultimately retiring on Lap 3.
Collin Vanasse would go on to clinch the third transfer spot, but he too would make an early exit after a Lap 8 incident involving contact with a spinning Brody Wakefield off of Turn 4.
Ryan Vanasse Jr. and Sam Macedo were the only two playoff drivers to see the checkered on Friday night, and after some hearty battling with Ben Morabito at the point, Ryan Vanasse Jr. picked up the feature win, with Sam Macedo coming in third, both moving on to drive for the cup on championship weekend.
SEEKONK GRAND PRIX BANDOLERO OUTLAWS
The Bandolero Outlaws took to the grid with playoff drivers rolling off in spots two through six, and quickly comprising the entire top five in the early running.
The first slip up would come between Brent Robidoux and Adam Harrison, who were racing for third when Harrison barely clipped Robidoux in the left rear coming off Turn 4. Both drivers were sent to the rear, and from there, the race was on for the final transfer spot.
Robidoux restarted behind Harrison, but went to work early passing his way through the field with a three-wide pass on Harrison and Dylan Calabro down the backstretch. Robidoux continued on his torrid pace, distancing himself from Harrison with every lap and eventually passing Joey LeMay for fourth. This move put LeMay in the position to have to fend off a charging Harrison for the final transfer spot!
Meanwhile, Bradley Strickland was at the point, chasing down his second win in as many weeks, with a spot in the Final Four in his grasp. Andrew Gomes was in third with the second transfer spot all to himself.
As the laps wound down, Strickland successfully held off Chase Silvia for the win, transferring himself into the Final Four in the process. Gomes also transferred in with his third-place finish overall. Robidoux didn’t look back after the Lap 5 restart and cruised through to the Final Four with his fourth place finish. The last man in, by .4 seconds, was Joey Lemay, leaving Harrison on the outside looking in for the Drive for the Cup.
EVERETT’S AUTO PARTS SPORT 4’S
The Everett’s Auto Parts Sport 4’s started the night with six championship hopefuls, all well aware that after 25 laps, only four drivers would go on to compete for the cup in Round Three.
One driver was dropped from the running in devastating fashion early in the going. As the field rounded Turns 3 and 4 for the first time, Stephanie Bruneau’s No. 74 car hooked a sharp right turn, making contact with the wall in violent fashion. In a flash, the Bruneau’s playoff run was over.
Following the ensuing restart, the five playoff drivers tailed leader Matt Pion through 16 laps. Crystal Murray had the first transfer spot to herself after passing Jarrod Freitas, but wanted more as she challenged Pion for the lead. Freitas and Tyler Duhancik squabbled over third for several laps, while Henry Lavallee rode around in fifth overall holding onto the fourth and final transfer spot. Meanwhile, Taylor Bowser battled to get by DJ Thibeault so that she could set her sights on her playoff counterparts.
Bowser caught a huge break when the caution flag waved for a stalled out Sam Mattera on Lap 16. This moment afforded Bowser the chance to restart right alongside Lavallee, setting up a nine-lap shootout for the final playoff transfer spot.
At the drop of the green, Lavallee hit his marks early, speeding through on the inside and eventually putting Duhancik behind him, forcing Bowser to recalibrate her target for the final transfer spot. As the lap counter on top of the pylon climbed higher, the gap to Duhanick grew larger for Bowser, and when the checkered flag waved, it was Bowser on the outside looking in.
Crystal Murray went on to take down the win as she cruised on to the Final Four, followed by Freitas, Duhancik, and Lavallee in that order. All four drivers will square off for one more week and only one will take home the cup.
HELGER’S SOUTH COAST POWER EQUIPMENT PURE STOCKS
For the second week in a row, the Pure Stock playoff anxiety began long before the field even took to the asphalt. Playoff driver Sam Lincoln was faced with engine troubles early in the afternoon, and it was questionable whether his No. 34 machine would be able to make it to the starting grid, let alone best two of his five fellow Drive for the Cup challengers.
The six playoff drivers lined up in succession starting in the sixth spot: Jeremey Lambert, Ethan Souza, Lincoln, Greg Perry, Danny Massa, and Mike Henriques.
Lincoln faded back early as the rest of the playoff drivers continued on to battle nose-to-tail and side-by-side. Souza was first in the line when he found himself on the bumper of Nick Brightman. Brightman proved hard to pass for several laps, putting Souza in a tough spot as Perry, Henriques, Lambert and Massa were chomping at the bit to work their way forward.
The pressure continued to mount off the rear bumper of Brightman, and finally, Souza got to the inside down the front stretch. Perry swung his No. 0 machine up high.
Diving into Turn 1, Brightman shut the door on Souza, causing both cars to scrub speed, giving Perry a big-time run on the outside. Brightman worked to get his hot rod pointing straight and slid up the track about a half a groove in the process. As the pack rounded Turn 2, Perry came around the highside to meet the rear bumper of the slightly slower Brightman, sending Brightman spinning to the left, and collecting Souza in the process. Souza and Brightman were called to the rear for the spin, as well as Greg Perry who was ruled responsible for causing the spin! A major development with just 10 laps to go.
By some miracle, Lincoln had found himself in a transfer spot, and only needed to outpace Perry for 10 more circuits to clinch a Final Four berth. Lincoln and Lambert went on to spar for breathing room from the drop zone, as initially Lincoln gained the position, but Lambert stormed back with a bold three-wide move to the inside. Henriques and Massa had all the breathing room in the world as they cruised on to claim the top two transfer spots. Lambert followed through in the third transfer spot, and defying all odds, Lincoln held his own and ran just strong enough to claim the fourth and final seat at the table for Round Three of the Drive for the Cup. Perry and Souza will have to look forward to 2023 for a run at a championship.
NICK’S PIT STOP LEGENDS
The Nick’s Pit Stop Legends were the fifth and final division to determine their final four playoff drivers on Friday night.
Reese Bogue did a nice job getting towards the front early and leaving the playoff brawl in his rear view mirror. Just behind him, Jake Silvia, Josh Parsons and Brenden Hammann tussled for position amidst numerous non-playoff drivers. Rounding Turn 4 for the fifth time, the fighting ring reached capacity, and PJ Evans and Hammann got together, collecting Devin Deshaies in the process. Just like that, Hammann and Deshaies found themselves on the chopping block.
Bogue fired off again strongly from the restart, quickly working his way toward the lead, while Jake Silvia followed suit and drove up to second. Isaiah Newcomb and Parsons worked feverishly to distance themselves from the drop zone. On Lap 12, Newcomb committed to the low groove approaching Turn 3 as Nick Bulkeley simultaneously shuffled from the top to the bottom on corner entry. The two drivers got crossed up, sending just Bulkeley spinning, collecting Mason Tessier as well. The field would rerack again, and fortunately for Newcomb, he was allowed to maintain his spot in the running order.
Newcomb and Parsons lined up door-to-door in the final two transfer spots, but now Devin Deshaies was just off Parsons’ rear bumper ready to climb his way into a transfer spot. The field fired off and the high line got moving first, allowing Deshaies to move by Newcomb for the final transfer spot, quickly followed by another caution. Hammann was still in danger of elimination towards the rear of the field.
The field restarted again and time was running out for Hammann to mount his charge to the front of the pack. With laps winding down, Hammann found himself as the unfortunate victim of circumstance when Richie Helger Jr. and Dustin Gagne collided into Turn 1, leaving Hammann with nowhere to go. Hammann was collected in the conflict, and the resulting damage forced him to park his No. 7 Legend for the remainder of the feature. At that moment, Hammann’s playoff run had come to an end.
The field bunched up and crossed over for the final time with three to go following a Tessier spin. Parsons and Newcomb lined up alongside each other with the final transfer spot hanging in limbo. The two drivers battled it out down to the wire, both doing an impressive job dodging a spinning Jacob Burns on the last lap all the while, but it was Parsons with the edge at the checkered, transferring into the Final Four on the last spot. Newcomb would join Hammann as the second driver to be ousted from the Drive for the Cup.
Jake Sivlia went on to win his first ever Legends feature, and also earned himself a spot in the Final Four, alongside Bogue, Deshaies, and Parsons.
After 14 weeks of racing, it all comes down to this. Four drivers in each division have fought all season long for a shot at one race to claim a season’s worth of spoils. Just one question remains: WHO will emerge victorious in each division’s final stint of the Sunoco Drive for the Cup.
No matter who you think will lift this trophy on Friday night, make sure you are there to see it in person. Join us as Fast Friday goes green for the final time this Friday, September 23 at 7:00 PM. You are not going to want to miss this.
For tickets and more information on Seekonk Speedway, visit seekonkspeedway.com.
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