Remember last year at Indianapolis, when Dave Miller blew up in 6th position and hurled Alex Crapser into his second career chase? Only he and Johnny Reed Foley missed the chase after being in the top-10 for the first 8 races. Matthew Dominique was 17th in points by this point and also made the show. Unfortunately, Tony Pizzaro will have to come from 33rd to make it in. With the level of competition this year, it may be nearly impossible.Mr. Consistency Tim McDonnell is looking good on winning his second career N.O.R.L. Extravaganza Championship, so long as the momentum continues through Richmond.
2018 Standings After 8 Races:
1. Craig Lee -
2. Tim McDonnell -5
3. Ryan Heuser -22
4. Tony Pizzaro - 48
5. Johnny Reed Foley -55
6. John Tharp - 72
7. Rick Jackson -80
8. John Battista -106
9. Dave Miller -109
10. Scott Jackson -135
2019 Standings After 8 Races:
1. Tim McDonnell -
2. Matthew Dominique -11
3. Donald Stewart -47
4. Rick Jackson -57
5. Dave Miller -60
6. Ryan Heuser -88
7. Ken Pettit -90
8. Matt Raboin -93
9. Craig Lee -109
10. Zach Michael -120
It was a rare race where the middle-stages of the event sparked the most attention. There was side-by-side racing and plenty of lead changes by a few drivers who weren't expected to be on the lead lap by halfway. Besides that, the first and final third of the race were dominated by two teammates, and won would be the winner.
The first 30 laps saw Tony Pizzaro, Johnny Reed Foley, Steven Spears and Mark Guthrie having to pit due to either blown tires or engine failures. All four drivers were immediately out of contention from the start, with Foley becoming the first casualty.
Ryan Heuser dominated the opening stage of the race, leading every green flag lap through lap 220. A broken jack during a yellow flag pit stops sent him to the rear of the field, forcing him to driver aggressively for the rest of the night,
There would only be three cautions all night, which was a testament to the drivers meeting. Many were concerned about the aggressive maneuvers at such high speeds last week, resulting in the near fatality of Russ Charneski. They proved their concern to be genuine.
Scott Jackson braked late entering turn 1 on lap 92, spinning Ben Geer to bring out the first caution. Coming to the flag, John Tharp and Zach Michael made contact and spun into the outside wall with Zakk Miller.
Points Leader Rick Jackson blew a tire on lap 153, shattering his streak of top-22 finishes. He would fall to 4th in the standings after a 37th place finish, 57 points behind new leader Tim McDonnell. Adam Crapser would blow an engine and finish outside the top-40 for the second straight week.
Dalton Lucas led a miracle 107 laps after starting dead last, the most in his N.O.R.L. Extravaganza career. He would be surpassed by Donald Stewart, who would lead 5 laps before losing it to Mathew Dominique.
Lugster would pass Matthew back and lead another 21 laps before Dalton re-took the top-spot. With green flag pit stops looming, everyone up front wanted the top-spot so they could lead the strategy play coming to the final stretch of the race,
Craig Lee and him QSM horsepower wound up outmatching the winless veteran, passing Dalton with only 120 laps to go. He would go on to short-pit and come out over five seconds ahead of the field by the end of the pit cycle.
Craig was on his way to a sure victory when Glenn Kaufmann and William Perry made contact, erupting an enormous crash and sending both Scott Jackson and Dan Johnston for a wild ride. Miraculously, both drivers would finish in the top-10, limping for the final 10-lap run.
Craig would pull away from the pack easily, making it a race for third following teammate Ryan Heuser crawling his way back to second. Tyler Scott pulled off a miracle by winning that race, his first top-5 since the spring Talladega race in 2017, and first ever at Bristol. Craig Lee broke a 27-race winless streak of his own, and moved back into the top-10 in points after his engine failure at Texas. Congrats to Craig, crew chief Spook Millikan and the entire QuickSilver Motorsports team for an excellent victory!
It was a fast-paced race filled with several surprises. The top-11 drivers would all lead a lap, and the winner needed their victory more than anyone in the field. Unfortunately, the race also ended in a life-threatening injury, leaving us all left to wonder whether the speeds have gone to high.
The race started with Rick Jackson at the point with a 210.461 mph qualifying lap. The race pace was intense from the start, with Jimmie Stevens and Ben Geer (twice) ending up in incidents. There would be 19 lead changes before green-flag pit stops on lap 69, between Rick, Craig Lee, Alex Crapser, Matthew Dominique, Scott Jackson, Ryan Heuser, John Battista, Matt Raboin and Johnny Reed Foley.
On lap 120, Kevin Corbat and Jonathan Skrabacz made contact on the backstretch. Kevin hit the inside wall hard, flying back onto the racetrack. The smoke from the incident was so bad that Tony Pizzaro hit him head-on, flying Kevin into John Battista's hood. He then pirouetted 11 times in 4 seconds before Zach Michael's hit forced his car to stop. Corbat, Battista and Pizzaro all suffered minor injuries, while Michael would remain hindered for the rest of the race.
William "Tex" Perry, Johnny Reed Foley and Tim McDonnell would end up in incidents quickly, with Tex the only one suffering severe damage. Afterwards we would see a lot of good racing, including a rare appearance by Michael Henson up front. Ryan Heuser, Matt Raboin, Alex Crapser and Randy Dobbins all led a lap during this period.
Rick Jackson and Ryan Heuser were pulling away from the field when disaster struck. Alan Nesfeder and Ben Geer made contact out of turn 4, spinning Alan out. Dave Butterworth and Zach Michael hit him hard, sending Alan's car straight into Rick and Ryan. Both were damaged after the incident, Rick severely, and each of the top-6 were involved. It would be the wreck that changed the outcome of the race.
Michael Henson crashed on lap 313, leaving Alex Crapser and Dave Miller to race hard for the final 16 laps. Tim McDonnell, Ken Pettit, Johnny Reed Foley, Ryan Heuser and Scott Jackson would all duke it out behind them, but it easily became a two-man race up front. Alex would take the point from lap 321 to 329, and Dave from lap 330 to 332.
On the final lap, Alex and Dave were side-by-side coming out of turn 4 trying to avoid the slow Michael Henson. Crapser used his skills to force Miller outside so he couldn't avoid having to slow, giving Crapser the lead coming into the final lap. Steven Spears, however, was not as patient as Dave. With a small three-wide opening, Spears took a chance to ensure his top-15 finish and it backfired dramatically. Scott Jackson hit the wall head-on and suffered a cracked collarbone. Spears himself ended up with his second concussion in five weeks. Russell Charneski ended up flippiong 20 times in 6 seconds and is currently in critical condition suffering from severe head-trauma, a fractured skull, broken collarbone, three broken ribs, two collapsed luings and a bruised heart. Only Alex, Dave, Tim McDonnell, Ken Pettit and Ryan Heuser would be able to cross the line on their own power, the only five drivers to finish on the lead lap.
After all of that, Alex Crapser was able to fly by the ensuing carnage to grab his first victory in his only flag-to-flag competitive race of the season. After finishing 10th in points last season during a sub-par chase, everyone figured he would bounce back this season at full stride. Unfortunately, good qualifying results have resulted into poor finishes every race so far, until now. He is currently up to 19th in points, and very much in chase contention after this win. Congrats to Alex, crew chief Jeremy Hebel and the entire Lucas Racing team for an excellent victory!
Russell Charneski flipped over a miraculous 27 times in a horrifying crash on the final lap coming out of turn 2. Action Ice Motorsports is in severe devastation, praying for their driver. It remains to be seen whether they will race again, with a new driver, or at all.
Martinsville became a race dominated by front-runners, and finished with a top-10 filled with cars who struggled in practice all week long. The journey begins...
Sunday's wide world of short track racing began with Ryan Heuser's third pole of the season. It became a wild scramble for those wanting to stay on the lead lap by the halfway point, knowing the Rocket Man's savvy at Martinsville.
The first incident of the day came on lap 8, with Adam Crapser getting spun out in turn-2 with contact from Dalton Lucas.
Tim McDonnell, Matthew Dominique and Alex Crapser battle for the lead early. Dominique prevailed in the end, dominating most of the show while the others eventually dropped out of the top-10.
Dale Rosendaul went on a rampage, spinning out John Tharp and Scott Jackson in the same corner. Tharp would recover for a 15th place finish, while Jackson finished 30th, dropping him out of the top-10 in points.
Rick Jackson and Craig Lee tangle entering turn 3 right after Ryan Heuser made a green flag pit stop Jackson and Lee struggled onward, finishing 22nd and 23rd. Heuser finished 39th, also falling out of the top-10.
Zach Michael goes 3-wide for the lead and takes it temporarily. Him, Dominique, Matt Raboin and Alan Nesfeder would pull away from the field as the top-4 during the next two runs.
Matthew Dominique, who led 330 of the 500 laps, would get spun out by Donald Stewart and bring out the caution flag. Pizzaro, Miller, Battista, R. Jackson, Pettit, Crapser and Dominique himself would all fall a lap down, giving some new front-runners a chance at an unlikely victory.
With an excellent set of tires, Randy Dobbins passed 5 cars in only a few laps to take the lead away from Zach Michael. He would never relinquish it for the final 48 circuits.
It's been a long road for Randy Dobbins. Teamed up with Rick Jackson and Bill Wekheiser as a force to be reckoned with in the early 2000's, the WASP motorsports team has lost it's edge in the last half-decade. Many said that Rick's move to the modern Race2Win Motorsports in 2011 was indicative of changes to come, and they were correct. Fortunately, a racetrack like Martinsville proves to be a great equalizer, as Randy proved he can still get it done even after all these years. Congrats to Randy, crew chief Ward Boom and the entire WASP Motorsports team for an excellent victory!
Johnny Reed Foley and points leader Rick Jackson made up the front row in a race that would involve 104 lead changes by 27 different drivers, both N.O.R.L. records. Foley would only lead one, hoping for it to be the last one after a disappointing start to the season.
Two drivers inside the top-5 in points would blow up within the first 15 laps. The first was Scott Jackson on lap 2, with Daytona and Phoenix race winner John Tharp doing the same just 10 laps later. Fortunately, everybody else drove by unscathed.
There was an enormous amount of 4-wide racing throughout the first green-flag run, giving everybody in the field a chance to sniff the front of the pack at least once. Somehow, it would take 38 laps before the first caution flag.
Zakk Miller was in the middle 5-deep when he, Ryan Heuser and Jonathan Skrabacz all made contact off of turn 2. Miller wheel-hopped into Matthew Dominique, sending pole-sitter Foley into the wall and flipping. William Perry slammed into Skrabacz just afterwards, causing severe damage to the #48.
Tony Pizzaro led the most laps in the race with 40. Most of them came mid-race while teammate Rick Jackson followed along. The rest of the pack grew restless behind.
Green flag pit stops occurred on lap 89, with a newly-sponsored Spears machine keeping up with the crowd all day.
A nine-car pack came out on top, eventually losing their leeway to a Rick-led second pack before the next caution.
Matt Raboin, Dale Rosendaul and Jonathan Skrabacz were severely down on speed for most of the day, slowing down cars and separating packs. Walt Flowers, who complained of a dirty windshield, ran into Raboin and smacked the outside wall with severe force, knocking into Mark Guthrie and Rob Scarberry on the way down.
Coming to the caution flag on lap 103, the worst had become reality for the Race2Win team. The lead-pack checked up for a slow Skrabacz, causing Pizzaro to spin Bill Werkheiser around into Tim McDonnell and Rick Jackson. The two dominant cars would be hindered for the rest of the night, as all of the top-5 in points have endured their share of issues.
Ryan Heuser dominated the next green flag run, leading 14-laps straight before pit stops on lap 153. 20 cars remained in the lead pack.
The final green flag run saw a 9-car pack turn to 5, with Zach Michael out-powering Quicksilver Motorsports teammates Craig Lee and Dave Miller. Zakk Miller and Adam Crapser were the other two left, riding safely behind while Michael burnt out his fuel racing up front. He would have to top-off with only two laps to go.
The other four drivers would barely have enough, as Craig and Dave strolled through the lapped traffic and raced side-by-side coming into turn 3.
With the low-line preferred and some extra draft help from Scott Drake, Dave Miller would clear the #101 and grab his first victory of the season, propelling him into the top-5 in points. Congratulations to Dave, crew chief Sonny Sundae and the entire QuickSilver Motorsports team for an excellent victory!
The 2019 TicketGuardian 500 started with no other than Ryan Heuser at the point and pulling away from the field at Phoenix. Most of the drivers who would impact the final two-thirds of the race were hidden deep in the field, causing everyone to think it as another Heuser/Pizzaro showdown in the desert.
On lap 20, the dream would die. Pizzaro blowed up in 2nd place, causing the entire field to wabble in fear on the backstretch. Exiting turn four, Dan Johnston would get spun after narrowly avoiding Pizzaro's pitting car. He would endure minor damage after hitting the inside wall.
Heuser, Matthew Dominique and Tim McDonnell battled for the lead early. Scott Jackson meandered his way from 11th to 1st in only 24 laps to grab the top spot, with Ken Pettit following his coattails through the field to grab second.
Johnny Reed Foley went from 20th to 3rd during the first fuel run. After 14.2 second pit stop, he took the lead dominated the second fuel run. It would all come to a screeching halt when Scott Drake and David Courtney touched in turn 3, sending Drake into the outside wall just before green flag pit stops were to end. As the yellow came out, everybody went a lap down except for Ken Pettit, Matthew Dominique and John Tharp.
By way of miracle, the N.O.R.L.'s two oldest drivers tangled, giving 11 drivers their lap back including the dominant Johnny Reed Foley and Ryan Heuser. The two drivers who would fight for the win later both narrowly missed the incident.
Randy Dobbins, who hasn't won since Homestead of 2012, was looking to pull an incredible upset in 3rd place before blowing his engine on lap 220. It will be a wonder if a better run for him will come this season.
Rick Jackson took the lead away from Matthew Dominique on lap 236 and pulled away. Eventually, John Tharp would catch him as the two swapped the lead 5 times in the final 55 laps.
After a second Deutsch/Flowers tangle, there would be a 5 lap shootout to finish. In the first 4 laps, Jackson would dive underneath Tharp for the lead before the #14 pulled back in front on the outside. On the final lap, Tharp would run his own line the entire lap and take the victory at Phoenix, his second of the season. Congratulations to John, crew chief King Joe Dawkins and the entire PHR team for an excellent victory!
The 2019 GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400 commenced with Alex Crapser leading the field to the green flag. Unfortunately, he would fly towards mid-pack early as the Lucas Racing teammates struggle with loose racecars.
Dave Miller took the lead with a charge of impatient drivers behind, easily taking the lead on lap 3. Tony Pizzaro would take it on laps 7, and kept the spot until green flag pit stops.
The most horrific event of the day was on lap 4, when points leader Ken Pettit broke a valve and fell out of the event. His 41st place finish would drop him back to 7th in the standings, devastating the entire Bob Marley fan-base and rastamen around the world.
After a Scott Deutsch spin, Tim McDonnell and Matthew Dominique battle for the lead as the rest of the pack goes into a frenzy of madness. Several backstretch accidents would occur towards mid-pack, leaving some of the drivers 10th through 25th in dire need of racing ahead of the madness before they become it. Alex Crapser, Zach Michael, Tony Pizzaro and Craig Lee were among the notables to be involved in at least one.
In a series of leaders to fall, Rick Jackson charged from 25th to first by lap 128, only to have a loose lugnut and fall a lap down early. Tim McDonnell would dominate this portion of the race.
The next to fall was Scott Jackson on lap 242. The #38 over-drove turn 2 trying to pass lapped traffic and hit the wall, bouncing into Craig Lee who spun him into Russ Charneski. After minor damage from tapping the inside wall, Scott was able to sustain a respectable 13th place finish.
The final tragedy was with 22 laps to go, after Ryan Heuser proved to have the fastest car down the stretch. Suddenly, his car shut off coming out of turn four, giving way for Pizzaro, McDonnell and Rick Jackson to fight it out for the win.
Tony Pizzaro was able to sail past the lapped traffic before McDonnell and Jackson could reach him in time. A loose John Battista let McDonnell go by after racing Pizzaro, but to no avail for Tim. Many quoted the racetrack as "too abrasive" for the masses, but neither of the top-3 had any bad words to say. Congrats to Tony, crew chief Neil Justice and Race2Win team for an excellent victory!