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!
Russell Charneski has been cleared to race this weekend after some vigorous impacts at Atlanta. The most violent was the drivers-side impact with Tony Pizzaro, causing the already destroyed Activision machine to fall into the clunker category by races end. It is a welcome distraction for the #17 team, as the initial headlines were pertaining to their reckless abandonment. Tim McDonnell is quoted as having "no concern" for his possible injury, stating that "his injured head should have been a warning sign to park".
The 2019 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 started off with QSM Teammates Ryan Heuser and Craig Lee dominating the field, racing hand-in-hand or the lead during the first-half of the initial fuel run. For them, it would be the pinnacle of their race.
Between 5th and 15th, the racing remained 3-wide during same fuel run. There would still be enough draft to keep up with the Quicksilver cars, keeping about 25 different cars in serious contention early.
After a Russell Charneski and Dale Rosendaul crash in turn 3, Heuser, Lee, Matthew Dominique, Rick Jackson, Tim McDonnell, Tony Pizzaro, Zach Michael, John Battista and Alex Crapser all get busted for passing the pace car before entering the pit road. These top-9 cars would have to take a stop-and-go penalty, and spend the rest of their race trying to get their lap back the only way they can: The hard way.
A series of incidents were to be expected with the intense racing, partially caused by the 9 fastest cars trying to get their lap back. The first one again involved Charneski, who made contact with Adam Crapser entering turn 3. Russ's car flew down the track into Tony Pizzaro, sending both cars flipping wildly while Alex and Zach parted the seas. Craig would also get involved in the incident. The second crash was the most mentally devastating, as Charneski again got rear-ended by Rick Jackson on the front-stretch. The #17 would clip Tim McDonnell and send him hard into the wall and over Rick's roof. Both cars were an inch away from getting their lap back too, a chance that neither would receive again. The final big wreck was started with Zakk Miller and William Perry making contact in turn 1, sliding them into the entire field. Bill Werkheiser slammed Miller upside-down as Scott Deutsch did the same for Dan Johnston. Jonathan Skrabacz would also receive severe damage from the incident.
Ken Pettit and Matthew Dominique dominated most of the race. The former was steady throughout, while Matthew was one of the three lucky ones to win their lap back. Zach Michael and John Battista were the other two, and both would play a part in the final laps.
On the final pit-stop, John Battista was the first car to take on two-tires instead of gas and boy did it pay off. He was strong enough, and smart enough, to push Pettit away from the faster Matthew Dominique As the laps winded down. With a late-race caution and a 6-lap shootout, the gap would close.
Dominique restarted 5th and charged immediately, passing Michael and Donald Stewart before catching Battista. With 2-laps to go, the two would race side-by-side as Pettit pulled away. The #39 was able to hold his ground on the high-line to finish second while Ken Pettit and the Bob Marley crew cross the line with the Folds of Honor victory. Congrats to Ken, crew chief Slim Horton and the Race2Win team for an excellent win!
Steven Spears is undergoing collarbone surgery after a devastating catch-fence accident in final practice on Saturday. Team Sacramento has commented by saying they have no plans to race this weekend after the setback to their driver, giving Squall Motorsports and Philip Parker the final spot into the show. Everyone on the team is in shear devastation and grief, especially crew chief Lamar Hill, who commented on the points situation and the commitment to only Spears. Rookie Donnie Exide missed the Atlanta race in 1996 after an impressive top-10 finish in the Daytona 500 as well. He went on to have a 12-year career in the N.O.R.L., something Spears hopes to achieve after his inevitable comeback.
The 2019 Daytona 500 started off in grand style with Lucas Racing teammates John Battista and Alex Crapser starting on the front-row. Race favorite Rick Jackson qualified outside of the top-10, with Rocket Ryan Heuser directly behind the teammates looking to become the lap-1 leader.
The lead-swapping commenced early, as Johnny Reed Foley, Tim McDonnell and Ken Pettit all began their eventual double-digit laps-led totals. The three-wide racing would ensue even after the first round of pit-stops.
Ryan Heuser would lead the field down to the pits on lap 69, with only teammate Dan Johnston receiving damage after contact from Johnny Reed Foley coming into his stall. The leaders would come out in a pack of 8, with a huge pack behind ready to chase them down.
Huge crash on lap 102 after Tony Pizzaro takes out the field! Pizzaro was on the front-stretch apron and merged into Cristian Torres, sending Jimmie Stevens, Scott Deutsch, David Butterworth and Jonathan Skrabacz into a frenzy for the ages. Stevens would make hard side-contact with Torres in the infield trying to avoid the wreck, as Pizzaro flew through the deep-infield grass at 190 mph, merging into turn one violently.
Walt Flowers and Glenn Kaufmann make contact on lap 166, sending both cars hard into the outside turn 1 wall. Kaufmann received heavy front end damage, nearly putting his car into the garage area while Flowers and Dan Johnston race on with moderate aerodynamic issues.
Alex Crapser and Zakk Miller are out! The outside-pole sitter had a handling issue, while the ignition box on Zakk Miller's car blew to smithereens with only 2 laps to go. What a horrible way to go!
To the finish, after diving past the lapped traffic of Glenn Kaufmann and Scott Deutsch, the race went on. Tim McDonnel led the last lap before Ken Pettit made a move on the inside heading into turn 2. John Tharp, who had severely benefited from the traffic, came out of practically nowhere to follow Pettit and make his move on the back-straightaway. The #14 would clear him, and never look back. Our Champion of the 2019 N.O.R.L. Daytona 500 is Mr. Zig-Zag himself, John Tharp. Congratulations to John, crew chief King Joe Dawkins and the entire PHR team for an excellent victory!
It was a very competitive Shootout with just about everybody in line for a chance to lead the field. It happened exactly that way, as there was enough slipstream for even the slowest of engines to stay with the pack towards the end. Granted, there were no slow engines in The Shootout.
It was a 50-lap dash to the finish and were three-wide nearly throughout, sending many cars flipping, ripping, and into the garage. Zach Michael and Ben Geer glued together between turns 3 and 4, sending Ben up the racetrack and into Ryan Heuser. Ben went for a ride, as Ryan spectated the disaster with minimal front-end damage. Tony Pizzaro was sandwiched three-wide battling for second and hooked Craig Lee into the field. Rick Jackson and Johnny Reed Foley slammed into them hard, destroying Foley's radiator and sending Jackson flipping over the roofs of the former two. The final wreck mimicked the first one, with John Tharp and Dave Miller tangling out of turn 4 and into John Battista on the outside. Miller would flip, and only Battista would have enough horsepower after the crash to stay competitive. Tim McDonnell managed to avoid the wreck in style, saying to his spotter "The damage is minimal, I can still win".
The Final laps closed down as Zach Michael and Scott Jackson took the point. Zach's day almost ended in disaster with turn 3 contact from John Battista. The field spread out for a couple of laps, as the #20 Home Depot chevrolet was able to use the draft to fly by the field and take second place behind Scott. Zach and Scott were neck-and-neck coming onto the backstraightaway on the final lap. Tim McDonnell was pushing Zach on the inside, but was forced to drift high as Jimmie Stevens made a move to the inside of Tim for third. Speedy was pushing Zach, and Tim was now helping Scott to the finish. In the end, the high-line momentum prevailed as Scott Jackson took the checkered flag. Congratulations Scott on winning the 2019 Big Bud Shootout @ Daytona!