Ernie Francis Jr., of Dania, Fla., finished second for the second day in a row in the No. 98 Breathless Performance Mazda MX-5. Jason Cherry, of Gambrills, Md., in the No. 13 Autism Society of America/Avpro/Purposeful Architecture Mazda MX-5, was third. Points leader Jason Wolfe, of Mt. Vernon, Ohio, in the No. 36 Wolfe Trucking Kia Forte Koup, was unable to repeat his Friday performance and finished fourth.
While the TC lead battle was intense, the action throughout the top five or six all race in TCB. In all, four drivers exchanged the lead four different times over the TCB 23-lap race.
PJ Groenke, of Toronto, looked to follow up his fourth place in Round 9 with a podium in Round 10, and led the first two laps in the No. 66 Verax.ca/Tundra/Mulligan Gold Honda Fit. But he slid off track exiting Turn 1 later in the race and eventually dropped back.
Points leader Brian Price, of Middletown, Va., in the No. 51 Unlimited Racing/RP Performance Honda Fit then moved to the lead from Laps 3 to 6. Price had started eighth but quickly maneuvered his way to the front following a great start, a gain of seven positions off the line netting him the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start of the race.
Pelletier was able to pass the fellow Honda on Lap 7, before John Heinricy, of Clarkston, Mich., then got past them both by Lap 8 in the No. 35 Matick Chevrolet Chevrolet Sonic.
Heinricy held the lead for four laps but Pelletier, like Heinricy in his first Pirelli World Challenge weekend of the season, was able to get back to the lead on Lap 12 to take home the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race. The young Canadian would not relinquish the lead the rest of the race, en route to his first career series victory.
“It was definitely a challenging race. The first standing start I’ve ever done!” Pelletier said. “Once we got that out of the way, there was a lot of passing, side-by-side driving. Pound out some laps. It was a bit of a challenge, I’m used to open-wheel, so I’m not used to traffic and Touring Cars going by.”
Behind him, Price, in second and 14-year-old Nathan Stacy, of Owasso, Okla. in the No. 14 MDG/Ford Racing Ford Fiesta engaged with Heinricy and Tyler Palmer, of San Diego, Calif., in the No. 37 MINI USA/Mobil 1/Flying L Racing/ThePainter’sFriend.com/Discount Tire Mini Cooper for a fantastic scrap over the remaining podium positions.
Ultimately, Price held on with Stacy third. Stacy, who gained nine spots from start to finish, was the race’s Sunoco Hard Charger. For both drivers, it marked their first visit to the podium since Round 6 in New Jersey, when they finished in the same positions.
“That’s why I picked this class,” Price said. “Everybody raced clean the entire race. There was no touching. It was lead change after lead change, position change after position change.”
Added Stacy, “It was a ton of fun. Best race I’ve had all year. The most trading back and forth. It was so clean. Some bruising, but that’s TCB racing for you.”
Palmer and Heinricy rounded out the top five.