Dave Miller and Johnny Reed Foley jumped within 100 points of the two leaders in the standings after Gateway. Neither Tony Pizzaro or Zach Michael have recorded a top-15 finish in the last two weeks, though both look for a rebound at a track that has produced them variable success in the past. Michael will start on the pole just as he did in 2019. Pizzaro, Foley and Miller will fight their way from outside the top-10.
Craig Lee snookered Michael on the start with the outside lane advantage, coming out with the lead entering turn 2. Cristian Torres would follow the two leaders for the first several laps while the rest of the field scurried behind. Surprisingly, only Ben Geer seemed to have enough speed of the top-10 drivers to keep up with the lead-3 in the early going.
The #26 Game Stop mobile was towards the front for the first time since Martinsville in April. He made an attempt for the lead in turn 11 to no avail, though stayed inside the top-3 before the first round of green flag stops on lap 38. Lee would lead the field through the entire first-third of the event.
David Baldinger exited the pits too high and clipped the Matt Raboin machine, bringing out the yellow flag and closing green flag stops. It was the second spin of the event, with Ken Pettit and John Tharp getting together in the early stages battling for the 6th spot. Zach Michael and John Battista were the biggest front-running victims of the caution, not coming in under green and having to drop to the rear of the field.
Lap 50 saw the first green flag lead change on the day. Ben Geer took the top-spot during a miracle road course performance, looking to intensify his program during his first year with owner Glenn Kaufmann. Geer would stay atop for 17 laps before short pitting on lap 67, leaving Craig Lee and John Tharp to battle for the lead.
Johnny Reed Foley drove by Lee and Tharp to take his first lead of the day on lap 76. He appeared to have the fastest car in the field, driving by racecars with relative ease while the rest of the pack struggled to make a pass on anybody. A debris caution would come out towards the end of green flag stops, forcing Lucas Racing teammates John Battista and Alex Crapser to be penalized for their excellent fuel mileage again. They would be two of the only three drivers to pit under yellow and drop to the back.
Ben Geer endured the option of benefiting from his early short pit to take the lead, knowing he would have to make one more stop while the rest of the field would cruise to the finish. He would decide to drop towards the rear and play it safe. Restarting in 25th, Mike Carroll and Matt Raboin spun in front of the #29 Twinkies Chevrolet, slamming Geer into the direction of the inside tire-barrier. He would hit it hard, ending his unbelievable day into the Goodyear barricade. He'd finish 41st, ahead of only Tony Long who suffered an engine failure three laps earlier.
Johnny Reed Foley pulled out of turn-2 multiple car lengths ahead of Jimmie Stevens on the restart and kept on digging. He was a full second faster than the other leaders, with only Ryan Heuser able to make headway. He made his way by Scott Jackson for the 6th position with 20 laps to go, though was still seven seconds back from the lead.
Heuser would fly by Rick Jackson two laps later. He nabbed his teammate Craig Lee with 16 laps to go, then power-drove past John Tharp in turn 11 to take the third position. He would use the middle-portion of the course to get by Stevens for second place, a part of the racetrack we haven't seen passing at all race other than on restarts. He would cross the 12-to-go mark a full 11 seconds behind Foley.
By way of complete miracle, Foley's tires had completely faltered while running by himself while Heuser's Goodyear's stayed afloat driving past the traffic. In eight laps, the #138 had run down the AC Delco machine and made his move with a bump-and-run effort entering the turn 4A chicane. Heuser would clear Foley down the straightaway and sail off into the sunset to hopefully record his first victory in 2022.
Despite several excellent runs at this facility, Ryan Heuser has never won an Extravaganza Series race at a road course. Today he did so in dominating fashion by crossing the line seven seconds ahead of the field, dominating the final run of the event in a vintage "Rocket Man' clutch performance. This victory gave life to his Championship hopes, only 511 points back from 10th position with 10 races to go in the regular season. The impossible has just become improbable. Congrats to Ryan, crew chief Mustard Mahoney and the entire Quick-Silver Racing crew for an excellent victory!
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