A fixture in the Extravaganza Series for seemingly ever and for years to come. The Rock continues to be the most mentally grueling racetracks on the circuit. Rookie Mike Carroll crashed in qualifying, claiming the new team was "unprepared for one lap, let alone 393". On the veteran end, Rick Jackson, Matthew Dominique and Craig Lee look to rebound with a victory after a horrid Daytona 500.
The first 30 laps saw several lead changes between Rick Jackson, Ryan Heuser, Tim McDonnell and Alex Crapser. Towards mid-pack, Zakk Miller blew up and got smashed by Donald Stewart exiting turn 2. Michael Henson, Brandon Raines, Kevin Corbat and Ben Geer spun trying to avoid the incident. All but Kevin received serious damage.
Ryan Heuser and Tim McDonnell tandemed away from the field while the rest fell into a cyclone of despair. After Tony Pizzaro lost a cylinder, some four-wide action on the frontstretch took some breath away in the grandstands. Fortunately, everyone came out okay.
For the 60th time in Extravaganza Series history, the best of the best show up to take the crown of the most prestigious race in the nation. Rick Jackson comes in as the odds-on favorite to win an unprecedented fourth crown, with 41 other drivers ready to fullfill their own dreams in the Great American Race.
It didn't take long for the lead changes to start. Pole-sitter Ken Pettit fell back early, giving Craig Lee, Scott Jackson and John Battista turns at the lead. It would be a precursor for the rest of the event.
The entire field stayed together for the initial green flag run. Tim McDonnell, who led 40 laps total, took his first lead of the day just before the first round of green flag pit stops.
Lap 42 began the pit lane action. Rookie Mark Murphy spun on entry after contact with Alan Nesfeder. Otherwise, the spots ran smoothly with a 5-car breakaway up front consisting of Scott Jackson, Ryan Heuser, Steven Spears, Matt Raboin and David Butterworth. In 10 laps, the second pack caught up with Tim McDonnell at the helm.
After the second round of pit stops, Randy Dobbins blew a tire on lap 89 to bring out the first caution. The entire middle of the field crashed after a huge check-up while slowing for the pace car, destroying Matthew Dominique, Jim Fitzmaurice, Mike Carroll, Aaron Cummings, Jack Paynter, Scott Drake and Adam Crapser in the process. The #50 and #51 machines went for a wild ride, but continued on. As did the rest of the cars involved.
The next segment of the race saw complete domination by Tim McDonnell, John Battista and Ryan Heuser. Very few seemed to have an answer for the trio, though Rick Jackson, Tony Pizzaro and John Tharp stayed in the thick of things during the middle of the race,
The biggest green-flag crash of the day occurred on lap 143. Tony Pizzaro turned the the lapped car of Jim Fitzmaurice on the tri-oval, sending him into the path of Dave Miller. He, Ryan Heuser and Dalton Lucas recorded minor damage after a series of spins, and were able to continue on competitively.
During the caution flag, leader Rick Jackson blew up. He became the first and only casualty of the day, resulting in a last place finish after running 3/4 of the entire event. After a roller-coaster day, his teammate Ken Pettit got back to the lead after meandering towards the back for most of the day. The race had come full circle.
John Tharp, Alex Crapser, Jimmie Stevens and Tony Pizzaro short-pitted between lap 175 and 178. This led to a five-car draft with lapped rookie Mark Murphy. This pit stop would be the race winning move, as the line of five was able to out-pace the large pack in front.
The lead draft went from four lead-lap cars to twelve with 10 laps to go. Up front, The Pettit machine saved enough fuel until lap 191. This enabled him to take much less fuel, and was three-second ahead of the pack coming out of the pits. In just a couple laps, the field ran him down with Tony Pizzaro in the lead. He, Alex Crapser, Alan Nesfeder and Zakk Miller swapped the lead until lapped traffic became a factor. John Tharp sneaked on the inside of all of them with four laps to go, taking the lead and racing side-by-side with Tony Pizzaro.
On the final lap, Pizzaro was out in front. Tharp made a move to the inside in turn-1 with help from Alex Crapser. Once he was clear, he blocked Pizzaro's line on the outside and left Crapser with no drafting help, leaving the field scattering behind for every spot they could grab. Tharp came off of turn 4 practically uncontested and won his second consecutive Daytona 500 in amazing fashion! Congratulations to John, crew chief King Joe Dawkins and the entire PHR team for an excellent victory!
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A showdown between the greats of extravaganza commence, as Tony Pizzaro and John Battista start up front looking to win another exhibition race. This time it will be for a front row spot for the Daytona 500. Jack Paynter, Steven Spears, Glenn Kaufmann, Brodrick Wittmann, Kevin Corbat, Nate Moorehead, Alec Stelloh, Stephen Lowe and Brian Lowe will be attempting to race their way in.
It didn't take too long for the carnage to ensue. Early on, Jonathan Skrabacz made contact with Steven Spears, sending the entire field behind into a frenzy. Fortunately, most cars were able to escape without serious damage and continued to fight their way for a spot in the Daytona 500.
Just past the mid-way point, cars took advantage and short-pitted, leaving many to wonder who would come out on top. So far, no specific car has outclassed the field.
A serious distance was left between the first and second packs after green flag pit stops. Meanwhile, Champion Tim McDonnell and Adam Crapser made contact on the backstretch, sending the #22 into the infield.
With tfive laps to go, the second pack caught up to the first and became a 15+ car showdown to the checkered. By the final lap, Jonathan Skrabacz pulled past Zakk Miller and Matthew Dominique to take the lead!
Brian Lowe was battling for the second position into turn 3 before getting hooked. Zakk Miller got squashed into the outside wall and flipped hard, ending his race immediately while the Lowe's victimized themselves out of the Daytona 500. Nate Moorehead, Jack Paynter and Steven Spears flew by with glee and tears in their eyes.
Amid the craziness, Skrabacz crossed the start finish line uncontested for his first ever N.O.R.L. Extravaganza Series win! Congrats to Jonathan Scrabacz and the #48 team for an excellent victory, and a first-row spot for the Daytona 500!
Lucas Racing will not sweep the Duels this year. All of them will race in Duel #2, as the Jacksons, John Tharp, Johnny Reed Foley and half of the top-dog's in extravaganza try to win the pole for the Daytona 500. Meanwhile, Mark Guthrie, Dale Rosendaul, Scott Drake, Philip Parker, Mike Carroll, David Baldinger, Jim Fitzmaurice, Scott Deutsch, David Courtney, Jaxon Vaccher are racing for four Daytona 500 spots!
There was plenty of action during the initial laps. Matt Raboin won the pole for the duels and was the fastest car in speedweeks, losing the lead early before Rick Jackson took over. Johnny Reed Foley also flew through the field and raced up front early.
A lot of the drivers racing their way in to the Daytona 500 led some laps during the middle-stages. Mark Guthrie was out front for seven circuits, with Jim Fitzmaurice, Philip Parker, David Baldinger and Scott Deutsch all taking turns for the lead. It eventually cycled back to Ben Geer, Dan Johnston and the top-team cars fighting for the win.
Scott Deutsch almost saw their Daytona 500 hopes go into a tailspin during a lap-17 get-together, but both drivers managed to save their cars and continue. Four laps later, Dale and David Courtney turned in front of the field, sending the #11 into Jim Fitzmaurice. Both cars were damaged as well as Aaron Cummings, with the #13 escaping practically unharmed. The final caution saw David make contact with Jaxon Vaccher, spinning the #83 around on the back-straightaway.
Matt Raboin led the 16-lap shootout to the finish. Dave Miller made a three-wide move in turn one a couple of laps later, assuming the lead for a lap before Ben Geer passed. He, Alan Nesfeder and Rick Jackson dominated the next 10 laps before Johnny Reed Foley and Ken Pettit flew by.
Ken Pettit took the lead from the #18 with 5 laps to go and the field followed until the end. John Tharp and Foley tandemed past the Matt Raboin machine to run 2nd and 3rd, without a good opportunity to pass the #8. Congrats to Ken, crew chief Slim Horton and the Race2Win team for an excellent win and the pole for the 2020 Daytona 500!