Points leader Rick Jackson comes in an astronomical 83 points ahead of the rest of the pack coming into the 30th race of 2022. Martinsville may prove to be his Achilles heal with short track ace John Battista on the prowl looking for his second victory of 2022. Rick will probably fall short on his first, entering one of his less favorable racetracks on the schedule. He will grid 9th. Battista and Dave Miller will start 15th and 39th.
Ryan Heuser started the day on the pole and took no time to pull away from the field. Alex Crapser, Tim McDonnell, Logan Sheets and John Battista each battled for the second place position as the leader ahead already caught lapped traffic. Surprisingly, his teammate Craig Lee dropped from 22nd to last to become the first car one lap down.
The attrition rate manifested in pure agony during the early going. The high temperatures caused Bink Lucas and Stephen Lowe to become the first two casualties of the afternoon. Lowe pulled off a miracle fourth place qualifying effort, unable to capitalize on what could have been a career-changing day.
The battle for second remained firece as Alex Crapser took over the spot in hopes of catching Heuser, who was a whopping four seconds ahead. Green flag stops occured around the 1/3rd mark of the event with leader Heuser the last to come in. Despite not letting anyone else earn a bonus point during the cycle, he would relinquish his four second advantage on the field.
Pitting several laps later with a slight tire advantage did not manifest for Heuser, who lost the lead for the first time to Tim McDonnell on lap 190. It would be the first time McDonnell led double-digit laps in two-straight races all season, looking to dig deeper inside the top-20 in points and earn his first victory of the season. He won the rain shortened event in 2020, looking to re-chase down Heuser after leading 17 circuits.
A hard-nosed crash on the exit of turn-4 nearly took out the points leader on lap 240. Chase contender Donald Stewart missed the pit road after stalling his engine, forcing him to stop on the racetrack while the leaders traversed around in a frenzy for the ages. Third place Alex Crapser, Rick Jackson, Aaron Cummings and Craig Lee were all involved in the accident after failing to find their way through. Alex would persevere to finish 4th after minimal damage, while Jackson limped to 20th with a heavy rear end wound. Lee and Cummings were unable to finish the event. Jackson would lose points to both John Battista and Dave Miller, though still kept his points lead by the end. Craig Lee dropped from 4th to 6th in the standings. Alex Crapser bounced from 10th to 7th and looked stronger than ever after the incident. Stewart was able to continue on but occupied the 10th-in-points spot after limping to 31st. A John Tharp and Bill Werkheiser incident on the ensuing restart caused 6th-in-points Johnny Reed Foley to downshift to 1st while avoiding the accident, expiring his engine. He would drop to 9th in the standings in what looked to be his year to win the crown.
The next green flag run became a hard-fought battle between Ryan Heuser and John Battista for the top spot. Both took sinuous paths through the lapped traffic, each taking advantage of bad breaks and passing the other several times. By the end, these two would combine to lead 473 of the 500 total laps, with Heuser clinching the most.
Winding down to the 100-to-go mark and the two were still in a dead-heat for the victory. The #39 and #138 pulled ahead of Dalton Lucas, Alex Crapser, Matthew Dominique, Alan Nesfeder and Bill Werkheiser by over seven seconds, showing no mercy on the field. Ramshackled points leader Rick Jackson was mired just inside the top-20, possibly giving Battista the lead in the standings with a victory today.
Lap 392 saw a crash off of turn-2 just ahead of the two leaders. Third place Dalton Lucas stalled off the corner, causing Ben Geer, Matt Raboin and Jimmie Stevens to pileup attempting to avoid the Little Caesars chevrolet. Heuser darted low, coming to a complete stop to avoid the accident. Battista traversed to the high line and barely squeaked through. He would be the leader coming to the restart.
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