Andrews prefers the low line and he drove it to fourth by the ninth lap. A caution on the 14th lap bunched the field and two laps later, Andrews’ Sawyer-Kawaski went past Kirkman and Benson, who were racing on the outside, on the back straight to take second.
The final restart came on lap 20. Andrews never got close to Thomas.
“He didn’t make many mistakes on the cushion,” Andrews said.
Kirkman, who started fifth, eventually won his battle with Benson and held off Miller, who started ninth, for third.
“Our car (Yamaha-powered MT) was working well on top,” Kirkman said. “We were good.”
Miller has won twice at Belle-Clair this year, both in POWRi features, and is happy to be racing in the 66 Mike Phillips at a track he likes. He struggled in the previous two events, failing to make the grand finale feature in 2011 and barely making it in 2012. Miller finished 10th last year.
“We started ninth, jumped the cushion, fell back and worked our way back up,” Miller said. “We’re finally on a track I like. We’re going to give Cale a run for his money.”
Peters started 10th. “We ran the top, bottom, middle. It was good. The car (Sawyer-Yamaha) was fast. Nobody here is a slouch, you’ve got to be on top of your game.”
Benson, second in the POWRi championship, slid to sixth in the closing laps, holding off seventh-place Jake Neuman and eight-place Andrew Felker for the final position secure in tonight’s big money feature. In addition to $10,000 to win, second pays $5,000, third $3,250 and fourth $2,000.
“It’s going to be hard to beat that 15-year-old kid,” Andrews said. “He’s been on a rail all summer.”
Thomas is feeling confident. Winning four out of five races against many of the nation’s top drivers will have that affect.
“Chris Andrews is the biggest threat,” Thomas said. “I need to make good corners and make good starts and I think we can win it easy.”
Cale Thomas, Chris Andrews, Todd Kirkman, Joe B. Miller, Andrew Peters, Nathan Benson, Jake Neuman, Andrew Felker, Tyson Hall, Trent Wilson, Kevin Bayer, Trey Marcham, Jason McDougal, Tyler Gordan, Tyler Stump, Luke Thomas, Drew Shiveley, Ryan Leek, Scott Sawyer, Tyler DeVault, Scott Evans, Jason Lair, Travis Harris, Nate Lauderbaugh.