Ryan Heuser enters the Homestead arena 31 points ahead of Ken Pettit for the Championship crown, his fourth if he can pull off the feat. He is also 7 laps led ahead of John Battista for the laps led title, and tied for Timothy McDonnell for the series lead in top-10's with 20. Pettit has much less to lose, coming from behind his entire career to pull off continuous "Bob Marley" miracles. This could be another example of the #8 Race-2-Win Chevrolet's rasta-magic.
The #138 NOS Energy team grids eight spots behind Pettit in 15th spot with a Team Danger Zone 1-2-3 to cap off the qualifying season. It was heartbreak for Zach Michael, starting one spot behind Zakk Miller on the outside front row. He would go the entire season without a pole despite a myriad of top-5 starts, blackballed from the 2024 Bud Shootout along with Timothy McDonnell, Jimmie Stevens, Logan Sheets, Markell Murphy and Adam Crapser.
The race began with Miller off to an early advantage. At the back, Timothy McDonnell got decimated and desecrated after a turn-2 spin sent him into the backstretch infield. He, Steven Inkman, Jonathan Skrabacz and Logan Sheets all pitted for damage after the accident. Surprisingly, no caution flag was displayed.
A second crash caused by a Dalton Lucas engine failure sent him into the frontstretch infield after contact with John Battista. It was his greatest run of the year, inside the top-10 for the entire stint before the accident. By this point, Zakk Miller, Dakota Wilkins, Rick Jackson, Tony Pizzaro and John Tharp had all taken their turns at the helm.
A morbid pit stop by the Ken Pettit crew sent him from 6th to 32nd, with Heuser dropping from 20th to 30th position. William Perry clipped the inside sand-barrels attempting to steamroll into the pits, ending his night as our second casualty. Up front it was Dave Miller, Donald Stewart, Alan Nesfeder and Johnny Reed Foley taking turns in the lead during the second green flag run.
A halt to the caution-free frenzy occurred on lap 179 after contact between Steve Inkman and Matthew Dominique. The #57 went for a half-flip across the start-finish line, sliding upside-down for the entire length of the frontstretch. Surprisingly, Inkman would truck onward to a 28th place finish despite the devastation.
The green flag waved with a second chance at life for the Championship contenders. Both Heuser and Pettit charged maniacally through the field, securing the 11th and 13th place spots with 60 laps to go. Up front, Tony Pizzaro, Johnny Reed Foley, Rick Jackson and Donald Stewart fought hard for the ultimate position.
Both Heuser and Pettit worked their way inside the top-10, favoring Heuser with less positions ahead of him for Pettit to gain. The 31-point advantage was mute as long as the #138 placed inside the top-5, which would happen by the 40-to-go mark. Suddenly, he was battling for the win with with his two Quick-Silver teammates Dave Miller and Craig Lee, along with Nesfeder, Stewart, Pizzaro, Jackson and Foley.
Ken Pettit was the first of the Championship-duo to enter the pits, hoping to nab at his one-second deficit to Heuser. The #138 came in one lap later to dismantle the idea, coming out the same distance ahead with one lap fresher tires. For the remainder of the event, Heuser would tag along his pack while Pettit towed the rear exactly four spots behind. WIthout a caution, engine failure or a mistake of any kind, Heuser would become our 2023 Extravaganza Series Champion.
Up front, it was a three car battle for supremacy between Donald Stewart, Dave Miller and Tony Pizzaro. Stewart passed Miller just after the stops, leading the entire way through before Pizzaro made a move n the outside lane with five laps to go. It was to no avail, with Stewart using the lapped car of Timothy McDonnell as a pick to secure the lead on the bottom, maintaining the distance for the entire run to secure the #55's first victory of 2023.
Ryan Heuser goes for his fourth Extravaganza Series Championship. He needs to finish 5th or better to clinch, with Ken Pettit only 31 points behind. If both drivers finish outside the top-43, John Battista could make a bid at the crown with a victory. Zakk Miller, Zach Michael and Markell Murphy occupy the top-3 positions on the grid in a Team Danger Zone horsepower monopoly. Steven Spears made his bid for the top-4 with a turn-2 accident, starting dead last in the field. Pettit will start 7th. Heuser will start 15th. Good luck to both, and may the points race not overshadow the race for the victory!
Randy Dobbins will race his last Extravaganza Series event. A welcome goodbye to "Slinkydees", and the Georgia Boot #96. You will be missed!