Walt Flowers final race at The Rock ended with a 27th place finish. Up front, the talk was all about Tony Pizzaro and Matthew Dominique. One came in with nothing to lose, and one with everything to gain with the #22 machine pulling away with the Championship lead.
Scott Jackson and Johnny Reed Foley battled hard early. Like Pizzaro and Dominique, one was in severe Championship contention and the other in a make-or-break season. It wouldn't be wise to presume fate before lap 10, but the one with most at stake would have trouble late, and limp to a 39th place finish.
Points leader Tim McDonnell made an incredible save after contact with Ryan Heuser on the frontstretch. The #22 machine went low as the Quicksilver NOS machine endured a terrible tailspin after another engine failure. Another last place finish would put him out of the points hunt for good, after starting the year as the favorite.
Dave Miller was up front again, racing Tony Pizzaro for the lead early. He finished with 24 laps led, but an accident late in the race would take him out. Pizzaro continued to be one of the fastest cars on the track all day long, finishing with 106 laps up front.
Coming in only 99 points behind leader McDonnell, it was Craig Lee's time to shine. The Quantum Racing duo followed right behind, with Foley, Dave, Ben Geer and Ken Pettit right at the tail. For the first time all season, the #29 machine was a factor from green to checkered.
Dominique began his run of 82 laps led after passing the #101 machine, becoming the third drivers to eclipse 1000 for the season. He is the only driver in championship contention of the three, and looked to gain more valuable points on the #22, who was currently mired back in the field.
With 61 laps to go, Dave Miller was in 8th place before a tire let go. He spun out of control across the turn-3 asphalt, with Michael Henson making contact. Craig Lee, who was in second place, didn't see the wrecked racecar and smacked the entire right side off of the car, ending his night and pretty much ending his championship hopes. The most dominant car of the chase has endured bad luck one too many times. The QSM stable is near-officially OUT.
Within the last 60 laps, Ben Geer and Rick Jackson raced side-by-side for the lead multiple times. The final attempt saw Ken Pettit take advantage on the bottom, stealing the top position from both drivers. The quietest chase driver all season was now in contention for victory #2 and a Championship title.
Scott Jackson's title dreams ended up in smoke with 35 laps to go. He was the fastest car on the racetrack, working his way up to second before the explosion. His 39th place finish will make it nearly impossible to catch McDonnell, who had just gotten back on the lead lap in 13th place.
Rick Jackson re-took the lead on the final restart before Ben Geer slid by on the backstretch with 14 laps to go. 2 laps later, Ken Pettit dove underneath in turn 3, sending Ben up towards the wall as John Battista dove underneath three-wide on the frontstretch. Battista took both positions. Two laps later Rick re-took the lead with help from lapped car Dalton Lucas. With five laps to go Alan Nesfeder drove by both Battista and Jackson, who had worn out their tires up front. He led until there was 2 laps to go. John Tharp and Ken Pettit went on a rampage run on the bottom lane and flew past the field. Tharp, who was in 21st place and one lap down just 50 laps before, was battling for the win with fresh tires.
The final short track race of the season proved to be a worthwhile one, as the ten chase contenders prepare to stay out of trouble and exit the domain in at least half of a racecar. There were 29 lead changes, and a near-record amount that finished on the lead lap.
The beginning of the race saw action between second-in-points Tim McDonnell, Craig Lee and Matthew Dominique for the lead. All came in within 121 points of leader Rick Jackson, who flew through the field to take the top-spot early.
There was plenty of racing between the same four through the first 150 laps. Tim led 9, Matthew 10, Rick 13, and Craig led a whopping 143 once the day was said and done.
On lap 171, a Dalton Lucas and Dave Miller spin in turn 3 brought out the first caution just before green flag pit stops ended. Zach Michael had just entered the pit lane, and came out a full lap ahead of the field. Today, it seemed like the #20's day to shine.
Much pandemonium and chaos occured during the next restart, as everybody gave themself an anurism trying stay on the lead lap. Zach was 30th in line despite being the leader, and had to navagate past a Cristian Torres and Michael Henson crash in order to save his soul. 27 cars got their lap back in one full swoop. Zach, who thought he was front of the line on the next restart, was supposed to let Matt Raboin by and got penalized. He would drop to 37th, one lap down. Ken Pettit took the lead.
John Tharp was able to drive by Ken through the mid-stages of the race. Despite struggling for seemingly most of the chase, he is only 73 points back of Jackson with two-straight 6th place finishes coming in. A victory would solidify his "back into it" status.
Alan Nesfeder, who has turned up the wick in the past 9 races, took the lead on lap 211, 243, and 309. He led an amazing 138 laps, by far his most of the season and looked to hold off the field to grab victory #2 of the season.
The first big wreck of the day involved Dale Rosendaul, who blew up coming off of turn 4. Dave Miller and Dalton Lucas made contact with the stopped FedEx machine. Then a bottleneck of racecars piled in, including Bill Werkheiser, Scott Jackson and Ben Geer. Other than Dale, all drivers were able to continue.
Late in the race saw plenty of action, as Craig and Alan, who combined for over half of the total laps led, battled for the lead late. Unfortunately Jimmie Stevens, Ken Pettit and many others were about to sneak their way into the mix and battle for the victory.
Jimmie Stevens took the lead on lap 329, and led for 23 laps before Alan took it back. He would go on to lead one more lap and finish in the 3rd position, which was redemption for the multiple times he had trouble in the later stages of races this season. He would exit this race up to 17th in points.
Mark Murphy blew up with just over 100 laps to go. The ensuing caution bunched the field back up with Alan back at the helm. Within a few laps, J
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The Martinsville sign outside of the racetrack is destroyed, but the track has held up and we will commence more championship racing! Rick Jackson and Tim McDonnell are neck-and-neck for the king of extravaganza with 4 races to go!
Coming into Kansas, there are nine drivers within 70 points of the points lead which Matthew Dominique possesses. Without incident, every one of these drivers will be on the verge of glory, with John Battista, Alex Crapser and John Tharp looking to win their first Extravaganza Series Championship.
Tim McDonnell and John Battista shared the front row to start. Matt Raboin used his Quantum Racing horsepower to skate by both immediately, bringing Johnny Reed Foley with him.
Foley took the lead early, leading much of the initial stages of the event. Matt blew a tire while running in second and held up the field while trying to navagate to pit road. This gave Foley a four second advantage. Matt never recovered and finished 32nd.
Foley did not have the best pit stop and gave Dave Miller the opportunity to close in. He would take the lead on lap 89 for 11 circuits before Tony Pizzaro flew by. Dave went on to finish 25th after getting trapped a lap down late.
A Cristian Torres spin brought the field back together. Everyone scrambled for their lives trying to gain the positions that were too difficult to muster during the long green flag run.
Johnny Reed Foley re-took the lead just after the restart. Ben Geer then led six laps before re-handing it to Tony Pizzaro, who kept the spot before Jimmie Stevens blew up on the backstretch. The ensuing caution gave the opportunity for Matthew Dominique to have a lights-out pit stop, leading nine laps before John Tharp, Ryan Heuser, and Scott Jackson started dominating the show.
Johnny Reed Foley short-pitted during green flag pit stops, handing him his third lead of the night before a hard charging Ken Pettit and Alex Crapser drafted their way by. Ryan, John and Scott couldn't hold a breath to these two, pulling away until the final stages of the race.
With only 24 laps to go, a William Perry and Kevin Corbat spin brought out the caution as half of the leaders came in to make their final pit stop. Johnny Reed Foley, Ken Pettit, Alex Crapser, John Battista, Dave Miller, Ryan Heuser, Matthew Dominique and Zakk Miller were all trapped one lap down, giving Tim McDonnell, Rick Jackson, Scott Jackson and John Tharp the opportunity to take the championship into their hands with a high lead-lap finish.
Rick Jackson and Scott Jackson battled ferociously for the lead, struggling to navigate through lapped traffic. This gave Dan Johnston the opportunity to sneak past both of them with only nine laps to go, attempting to win for the first time since 2017.
Zach Michael came out of nowhere. Outside of the top-10 all night, the pit-stop fiasco gave Zach the opportunity to gain track position and use the lapped traffic to his advantage. His car was also as good as it's been all night, passing Dan Johnston with only 7 laps to go.
Zach was defiant not to get trapped behind lapped traffic and sneaked his way ahead for his third victory of the season. At this point, he is 159 points ahead of Matt Raboin for 11th place in the standings, earning 4 top-10's in the past 5 races. Congrats to Zach, crew chief Justin Knapp, and the entire NSRA Racing crew for an excellent victory!
Craig Lee proclaimed the words "Vengeance will be the outcome of your pitiful season. You will lead the DNF total when I'm through with you." after the Talladega race. Those words were directed at Johnny Reed Foley, who stated that the rapid slow-down of the pace car was the cause of the Foley-Lee incident that cost Craig the points lead. Nobody knows what will come, but Kansas could be the end all for the #18 if he is anywhere on the racetrack.
We are halfway through the chase, and so far nobody has had any less than two bad finishes. It is even closer then the 1994 Championship, when Ronnie Presley defeated Harrison James by 3 points to swipe away what could have been his fourth-straight championship. Here are the points with five races left:
What a way to go for the chase contenders, as a race that should have split the championship chase into fractions ended up making it close again. 18 leaders in all, it was the one who dominated the middle segment that fell, but he did not fall the hardest.
Early on it seemed dangerous, too dangerous for drivers like John Battista to even consider driving towards the back to stay away from the mayhem. His car was strong enough to out-speed the three-wide traffic during the beginning stages, while the other chase contenders were burrowed in agony.
The first big wreck involved Tim McDonnell, Alex Crapser, Ken Pettit and Kevin Corbat. All four cars were minorly hurt until the caution. Johnny Reed Foley made contact with Michael Henson and Zach Michael while slowing for the pace car, slowing in front of points leader Craig Lee before he smashed the front of Foley's car with the right front. The engine blew immediately and Craig was furious, throwing his can of bottled NOS at Foley's pit-sign holder after the incident. He could only repeat the words "You will lead the DNF total when I'm through." Lee finished 40th, winding up 3rd in points.
Zakk Miller flew and flipped into the catch fence several times on the frontstretch, causing a melee behind, and underneath. Fortunately, with the rapid DNF's soon ahead, he would limp 3 laps down and finish 23rd by the end. Michael Henson went on to finish 25th.
Chase contenders and all were battling 4-wide for the lead near the mid-point of the race, attempting to gather those all powerful bonus points with Craig Lee done for the day. John Battista and Rick Jackson were sitting pretty in the standings, as some found it hard to believe that they would race this hard. John Tharp was the only driver in desperation mode, and was happy to finally have a fast racecar after all of these weeks. He went on to finish 6th and get back into the points race.
After leading his 9th race in-a-row, Ryan Heuser blew up again. The field was in a severe holocaust behind, with disrupted vision and indecision plaguing the masses. They all scattered through, though the field was now split in three. Ryan went on to finish 28th, now 10th in points.
The mid-stages of the race saw a four-car breakaway between John Battista, Scott Jackson, William "Tex" Perry and Jimmie Stevens. They stayed in line for the entire green flag run, but a few cars in the second pack caught them after some poor green flag stops. Battista went on to lead 39 laps, but finished 22nd after being involved in a wreck late.
The big story of the day was the amount of engine failures. Donald Stewart fell first for his only DNF of the season. Then Ryan, Glenn Kaufmann, Adam Crapser, Zach Michael, along with chase contenders Rick Jackson and Matthew Dominique all fell to the motor bug. Matthew actually grabbed the points lead after the race, simply by blowing up later than Craig crashed.
More big wrecks were to come, involving John Battista, John Tharp and Matthew Dominique. It brought the field back together as Tony Pizzaro, Alan Nesfeder, Tim McDonnell and Dave Miller all raced for the lead up front. These four would dominate the final stages of the race.
The final round of pit stops led everyone to believe the #12 would run out of fuel by the end. He pitted nearly 10 laps before Bill Werkheiser, John Tharp, Dave Miller and Tim McDonnell, as they all watched firmly behind and waited for him to sputter.
It never happened, and now the race was coming to the final lap with a frenzy of 8 racecars. Alan Nesfeder was a full car-length away from Dave Miller coming into lapped traffic. Scott Jackson gave the #90 an
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