By CAMDEN PROUD
After a remarkable Thursday night battle with Erick Rudolph, Steve Bernier, and Danny Johnson, Lightning Larry Wight passed Bernier with two laps to go to win his first ever Hurricane 100 at the Brewerton Speedway.
“This is awesome,” Wight said from victory lane. “The Hurricane is one of the biggest races of Super DIRT Week so it feels really good to be able to check this one off my list.”
Wight started on the pole, but lost the lead to Rudolph just before lap 40. When Rudolph caught lapped traffic about 15 circuits later, Wight was able to capitalize and get back by the driver of the No. 25, who won Wednesday’s Super DIRT Week Kickoff at the Weedsport Speedway.
Just as Wight made his pass, the yellow flag came out when Randy Green slowed on the backstraightaway. It was determined that Wight crossed the start finish line before the caution lights came on, so he was able to officially take over the lead.
On the double file restart, Wight chose to fire from the high road and this ended up proving a little bit costly, at least for the time being. Rudolph had Wight beat going into turn 1, but bobbled in between the corners, allowing Wight the opportunity to rip back by on the outside. Unfortunately for the leaders, both of the top two cars wound up out of shape at the exit of turn 2, allowing fifth starting Steve Bernier to slip into the lead.
With Bernier now out front, Rudolph was simultaneously able to get back by Wight and shortly thereafter begin to chase after the new race leader. In an exciting turn of events, Bernier and Rudolph swapped the lead back and forth three times in two laps, with Bernier wrestling the point away on lap 65.
While all this was going on, Johnson had charged from tenth to join Michael Parent in pressuring Wight for the final podium position. This gave Wight a bit of a wake up call, and Lightning turned up the wick. Soon after Bernier re-took the lead from Rudolph, Wight also got back by him as well, before Rudolph’s run went south with a flat right rear tire on lap 69.
On lap 70, Bernier now lined up in the lead ahead of Wight, Parent, Johnson, Steve Bernard, Mike Maresca, Chad Brachmann, Pat Ward, Tim Sears Jr, and Lance Willix.
For the restart on lap 75, Bernier chose the outside lane, which was interesting due to the fact that he made his pass for the lead on the very bottom portion of the speedway. Bernier was able to keep Wight at bay for several laps, but Wight was later able to reel him back in.
Nearly every lap, Bernier would slip up a little bit high in turn 4 opening the door for Wight. Just before lap 80, Wight tried to drive through that opening, which nearly resulted in a disastrous outcome. Bernier and Wight made significant contact coming down the frontstretch on lap 79. Bernier was able to keep going, but Wight had to wrestle the 99L off the wall, setting him back considerably as Johnson was able to capitalize and get by both Parent and Wight to take over second.
For just a moment, it looked like the Doctor may have a shot at Bernier, but on lap 82, Johnson opened the door for Wight in the same exact spot Bernier did. The two rubbed rim rails, but Wight was able to muster his way back underneath for second.
With 10 laps to go, Bernier was catching traffic and at the same time, Wight was catching Bernier. It looked as though a tremendous battle was going to take place in the late stages, until the yellow flag was thrown for a spinning Maresca in turn 2, negating his otherwise strong magnificent effort.
As it turned out, the final restart of the race gave Wight the opportunity he needed to capture his first Hurricane 100 victory. For the remaining 10 laps, he stalked Bernier until this year’s Airborne Park Speedway track champion made a mistake with 2 laps to go. It was a mistake that ultimately cost the Canadian driver a huge victory.
“I just tried to stick with Steve (Bernier) the best I could after the last restart,” mentioned Wight. “I think he was starting to drive a little bit too cautious and it ended up costing him. He made one little mistake over in turn 2 and that gave me what I needed to get by and take the lead.”
Wight filled the hole left open by Bernier coming to the white flag and went on to win the Hurricane 100 ahead of Bernier in second, Johnson third, Parent fourth, and Ward fifth. Brachmann, Bernard, Carrey Terrance, Rudolph, and Lance Willix completed the top ten.
In the DIRTcar Sportsman Hurricane 30, polesitter Dave Marcuccilli picked up his second win of the week over Jackson Gill, Bob Henry Jr, Kevin Root, and Zach Sobotka.
Cars will see the track surface at the Oswego Speedway for the first time of the week tomorrow at 10am as NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week 47 continues.