SEEKONK, Mass. — Story by Race Chaser Online New England Correspondent Kyle Souza — Seekonk Speedway photo —
For most of the 2015 season in the Sports Trucks division at Seekonk Speedway, drivers have struggled to click of a faster time then Mike Duarte in practice all day long.
Duarte, nicknamed “Showtime,’ is an upcoming driver who hails out of Dighton, Massachusetts. He is always towards the top of the speed charts in practice, however, some bad luck and misfortune this season had kept him from posting the finishes that he should have gotten.
One week it was the rear end breaking, one week it was a flat tire and another week it was the shifter coming off in his hand. With all of that behind him, Duarte showed up to Seekonk Speedway Saturday night and put on one hell of a show in front of a good crowd.
Mike Lopes and Dan Johnson brought the field of Sports Trucks to the green flag for the 25 lap feature event and Lopes was on the gas extremely quickly, surprising Johnson just a tad. He couldn’t stick with him going into turn one and Duarte was able to drop to the bottom of the track and make the move of the race.
He found himself quickly under Lopes going down into turn three and took the lead away before the first lap even clicked onto the scoreboard. While Duarte started putting some distance between he and Lopes, Chase Belcher took advantage of the inside lane being open to take second spot quickly. While he did that, teammate Rob Murphy charged through the field quickly and allowed himself plenty of time to try to catch the No. 50 ride of Duarte.
Murphy was able to slide around the outside of his teammate Belcher before lap eight clicked up on the scoreboard and clear the No. 81 truck. The charge from Murphy was then on, giving everything he could to catch Duarte, who by then had built a huge lead of over two seconds.
While the two leaders gapped the field, points contender Mike Cavallaro ended up black flagged for a rubbing fender on a tire, hurting his championship hopes a ton. A 14th place finish for the former champion continued what has been a tough season thus far.
While Belcher held third spot, points leader David Lougee tried everything he could to close the gap to the top three, but could not get the truck up to their bumper. Murphy was not able to do much with Duarte, only closing it from two seconds down to six tenths in the final half of the event.
“I have to thank my Dad, my brother who couldn’t be here tonight and George Tourgee, who built this thing from the ground up. His Pro Stock he works on couldn’t be here tonight because of a motor problem and he deserves this,” Duarte said post-race.
For Showtime, his second victory of the season only makes him even more confident headed into the final stretch of the season. He picked up a spot in the point standings as well on Saturday.
Duarte notched his second win, with Murphy second, Belcher third, Lougee fourth and Lenny Guy fifth.