By the end of this race, we would have a new points leader, a two-time Extravaganza Series Champion out of the top-10, and a race winner coming back to form after a recent slump. The event ran quick.......... for some more quickly than others.
The race was dominated by Ryan Heuser and Tony Pizzaro early on, until race favorite Rick Jackson took the top-spot on 23. He would only lead four laps, as he and John Battista went a lap down early due to unfortunate circumstances. Neither of them would get it back.
After a spin by Dan Johnston and Alan Nesfeder, Pizzaro and Johnny Reed Foley dominated the next run. With both drivers falling out of chase contention, it was a well needed boost of horsepower for the duo.
Alan Nesfeder went fo a wild frontstretch ride on lap 57, caused by contact between John Tharp and Zach Michael. Cristian Torres and Kevin Corbat made hard contact with multiple cars, heading to the garage with Nesfeder. Tharp would go on to finish 5th, with Zach limping a hindered car to a 20th place finish.
It was very hard to match the horsepower of the #18, staying in the top-10 for most of the night and easily keeping up with the #138 and #12 powerhouse. These three, along with Tim McDonnell, looked to be the mid-race favorites to win.
Most of the field came in to pit between lap 116 and 117. Dale Rosendaul used the Old Fart's Racing low-horsepower engine to truck along for two extra laps, before handing Foley, Alex Crapser and Dave Miller the 1-2-3 spots.
The entire field went for a frenzy after a four-wide battle for the lead destroyed almost half of the field. Donald Stewart and Matthew Dominique made contact, spinning the #55 head-first into the outside wall and flipping. Jimmie Stevens and dominator Johnny Reed Foley also went for a tumble, as Dominique would lose the points lead to Tim McDonnell because of the incident. Walt Flowers, Jimmie Stevens and Aaron Cummings were now out.
Through attrition and pure speed, suddenly Tim McDonnell and John Tharp had the two cars that could beat Tony and Ryan. Tharp has been coming from behind all season to win races, and with six laps to go, it looked to happen once again.
Tony Pizzaro got shuffled back late, and made a daring four-wide move to cause the last big crash on lap 155. Brandon Raines, who was having one of the best races of his career, got tagged by the #12 in turn three. Crapser got crunched, Heuser got slammed, and the miracle run of Steven Spears was thrown into the garbage disposal of lost dreams.
One final lap remained after the restart, with Tim McDonnell immediately taking the inside lane underneath leader Tharp. Craig Lee made the obvious choice and went with the #22, as the lapped cars of John Battista and Rick Jackson decide who to help draft.
McDonnell blocked Tharp on the outside lane, giving Lee some room low to sneak in. With Jackson backing off of McDonnell, Battista was able to get to the bumper of Lee and pas him through. To the line, it would be Craig Lee victorious, with McDonnell and Tyler Scott coming out of nowhere to finish third. Congrats to Craig, crew chief Spook Millikan and the entire QuickSilver Motorsports team for an excellent victory!
It was an incredible run with incredible fun. From points-contenders crashing down to oblivion, to the guys on the bubble staying out of trouble. Safe to say, the action was in full-force for most of t his one.
Early on, it was already a horror story of the ages for points leader Matthew Dominique, who crashed in the same corner twice. He made contact with Scott Jackson on lap 10, and then with John Tharp on lap 40. Both suffered big hits to the outside turn 1 wall, ending his day with a 42nd place finish.
Rick Jackson and Tim McDonnell were the front-runners early on, each leading 40 laps of the event. As the field looked on, it appeared that there were at least 5 cars that could easily keep up, including John Battista, Matt Raboin and Zach Michael.
Johnny Reed Foley meandered hios way through the pack to race the "Big-2". Despite leading no laps, he would remain a factor throughout, keeping his car in the top-5 for most of the event.
Dave Miller, Ken Pettit, Tim McDonnell, Tony Pizzaro and Matt Raboin were the biggest point- losers other than Dominique and John Tharp. They were all involved in wrecks, giving some action to the point-lead race after this one was over. For Pizzaro and Miller, they would dig into a deeper hole from chase contention.
Tony Long, who had used miraculous pit strategy to come out first with almost 100 laps to go, was involved in an accident with David Baldinger on lap 163. He and Randy Dobbins were able to short pit on what what people were calling "Hell's tires" today, and got out to a spectacular lead. Unfortunately, it ended in spectacular fashion.
The race heated up late as the leaders were stuck behind Scott Jackson and Ken Pettit, who were all eagerly racing to stay on the lead lap. Zakk Miller had a short-lived stint at the lead before Zach Michael passed him on lap 176. Alex Crapser and Johnny Reed Foley made various attempts for the top-spot during the spanning laps.
Rick Jackson re-pitted during the previous pit stop and used his four tires to gather himself to the front. He raced Zach side-by-side for five straight laps before finally taking the spot. Unfortunately, he could not pull away far asthe #8 and #38 impeded his progress to further his lead.
On lap 223, the #20 and #18 came in for four fresh tires. Rick entered the pits three laps later and fell to a five-second deficit over the Home Depot/Coke machine. It was doubtful that he could catch up, but the fears of his winless streak would outway his common sense as he would make a run for it.
Zach got caught up in heavy lapped traffic during the final laps, as Rick's deficit went to less than a second by the white flag. It was all he could muster, as the 51-race winless streak came to an end on this day for the #20 NSRA machine. Congrats to Zach Michael, crew chief Justin Knapp, and the entire NSRA Racing crew for an excellent victory!
Scott Jackson managed a top-15 finish after an impressive run at Sonoma. He's still in pain, but the three-time N.O.R.L. Extravaganza Champion is ready to clinch his first victory of the season at Chicagoland.
The pole-sitter was Rick Jackson, but by the first few corners Zach Michael swerved his way past and held the pace early on.
Coming off of turn 11, Ryan Heuser and John Battista make contact battling for fourth, leaving the #39 parked on the racetrack. He would fall back to 41st.
On lap 16, Matt Raboin and Tony Pizzaro made contact out of turn 3A battling for second, sending the #87 flying through the dirt and back onto the track into Pizzaro. Despite hitting the tire barriers, the #12 would continue on.
Tim McDonnell took the second position after the incident. For 37 laps, Zach Michael continued to set the pace with the #22 within seconds behind for the entire run.
Despite a very long green-flag run, 20 cars stayed out on the track during the next yellow flag. Zach Michael was shocked when his fully-fueled Monte was mired back in the field, eventually getting spun by Tony Pizzaro and hit by David Butterworth.
It took 11 laps for the field to pit, and Tim McDonnell led them all with ease. Ryan Heuser. Matthew Dominique, Alex Crapser and Ken Pettit were all in a fierce battle behind.
A four car spin between Tyler Scott, Aaron Cummings, Adam Crapser and Cristian Torres brought out the caution right after the leaders made pit stops. On strategy, John Battista stayed out took the lead after being spun early.
Having to take fuel eventually, Battista took to the pits after Alex Crapser and Johnny Reed Foley brought out the yellow battling for the eighth. McDonnell took the lead again with no more pit stops in sight.
Within 10 laps, Tony Pizzaro drove from 6th to 2nd. He made a move on the outside of Tim McDonnell in turn 1 with 15 laps to go, and cleared him easily on the one-lane exit.
The car that was losing a second-a-lap to the #22 mid-race was suddenly the powerhouse of the field, pulling ahead by 10 seconds before crossing the finish line on the final lap without any respite. Congrats to Tony, crew chief Neil Justice and the Race2Win team for an excellent victory!
Back in 1996, Samuel "Dusty" Dobbs retired from the N.O.R.L. to showcase his road racing skills on television, presenting new techniques on how to attack tracks like Watkins Glen, Sears Point and Lime Rock Park. Drivers like Tim McDonnell have studied his approach to near perfection, giving road racing a new significance in modern day stock car racing. It has been 13 years since his death, but many still commemorate Dusty as the standard example of smoothness and aggression at right-turn auto-racing.
After an Alex Crapser pole, the Jackson's led early on with Craig Lee in hot pursuit. It would not be indicative of things to come.
On lap 30, Scott made contact with Bill Werkheiser, sending the #38 into John Battista and spun into the outside wall. Dave Miller hit him on the drivers side, flipping Scott into Jonathan Skrabacz who flipped Scott so violently, it broke 2 of his ribs and gave him a major concussion. All three drivers dropped out, with Scott Jackson's near future in question.
Craig Lee and Zakk Miller made contact on the frontstretch ten laps later, causing a multi-car pileup that sent Aaron Cummings, Kevin Corbat and Bill Werkheiser to the garage.
It was a tough day for Ryan Heuser, who got tagged with Brandon Raines and David Butterworth on lap 45, and later flipped after contact with Michael Henson on lap 54. He would miraculously go on to finish 10th.
John Battista and Steven Spears found themselves 1-2 after the series of incidents was over. John would lead 32 laps, third most behind Tony Pizzaro and Matthew Dominique.
Tony and Matthew battled hard late, showing that the Pocono controversy of last week was still in full force. This time they raced clean, even letting Dan Johnston get into the mix.
It looked as if the bad luck was over for Ben Geer, who made a statement by passing the points leader for the lead on lap 163.
It turned into complete horror again for the #29, who got pinched between Brodrick Wittmann and the outside wall coming to the caution flag. Brandon Raines, David Butterworth and Cristian Torres all made hard contact with Ben, sending him into a series of spins that would end his night. All four drivers were out after the incident.
Zach Michael took the lead on lap 187 and was the dominant car late, easily holding off Matthew Dominique and John Battista before some surprise drivers showed up to challenge.
Donald Stewart, Dalton Lucas and William Perry all gave it their all for the win, Donald got underneath Zach with four laps to go, but draft help from William helped the #20 keep the lead with 2 laps to go.
Donald "Lugster" Stewart dove underneath Zach on the start-finish line coming to the final lap, and the other two followed. Zach dropped back to fourth, as the #55 took a surprise victory for a team that was once thought as an aberration in the points standings. The Muzzy team is proving to be for real. Congrats to Lugster, crew chief Lonnie "The Frog" Bass, and the entire Gear-5 team for an excellent victory!
Two-time N.O.R.L. Extravaganza Series Champion Scott Jackson's Sonoma hopes are in doubt after breaking three ribs and suffering a serious concussion after severe contact from Dave Miller and Jonathan Skrabacz during the Michigan race yesterday. The #38 broke the top-10 in the N.O.R.L. G-force records after roof contact with the #48, causing a series of horrifying flips that lasted only a full second. Fortunately, what looked to be another Russ Charneski moment became only a minorly-severe injury, as he continues his search for career victory #75 this season.