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Introducing a new concept to race day, Phoenix Raceway has partnered with Farmboy Food Company to bring an exciting new menu featuring farm-fresh, local ingredients to the concession stand for fans to enjoy at November’s Can-Am 500 race weekend.
“We’re a local concessions company based out of Phoenix,” said Farmboy Founder Zach Gibbs. “We’ve got this whole new ‘farm-to-fan’ concept that we’re doing where we bring local produce and meats to the concessions world. Using our network of local farms and ranches, we build our menus around what is available and in season. We’re excited to bring that out to Phoenix Raceway for the NASCAR race this fall.”
Fans attending the Can-Am 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race weekend Nov. 10-12 will find three must-have signature items on the menu. The main star of the weekend is the bison burger, featuring meat grown down the street from the track, at Adam’s Natural Meats in Buckeye. The burger is topped with a cole slaw made with local vegetables, including carrots and cabbage, and complimented by fresh crinkle fries, which are perfect to dip into Farmboy’s secret sauce.
To make sure fans don’t get too thirsty from that burger, there is the Arizona Honey Sweet Tea. Sweetened with organic honey from Crockett’s Honey in Tempe, it is the perfect pairing with the corn elote, made with bell peppers and onions. For a little something extra, fans can chose to top off the elote with some local pulled pork or bacon.
Tickets to all events throughout the Can-Am 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend at Phoenix Raceway are available online at PhoenixRaceway.com, by phone at 1-866-408-RACE (7223) or in person at the Phoenix Raceway ticket office.
Tickets for Earnhardt Jr.'s final race at Texas Motor Speedway in the AAA Texas 500 are still available for as little at $69 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under. Fans can purchase their tickets by calling (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.
Tickets for the 60th annual Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola, the Independence Day holiday weekend classic scheduled for Saturday, July 7 at Daytona International Speedway, will go on sale Wednesday, Nov. 1 at 9 a.m. EDT.
Race fans can experience the excitement of night racing at the “World Center of Racing” as the stars of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series battle underneath the lights in the 160-lap, 400-mile race.
Tickets for the Coke Zero 400 start at $60 and children 12 and under are $20 in reserved stadium seating. Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com. Other ticket options for the Fourth of July weekend include:
- Hospitality and premium seat packages, including the Rolex 24 Lounge, DAYTONA 500 Club, Harley J’s, Trioval Club and UNOH Fanzone/Pre-race.
- The Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race on Friday, July 6. Tickets start at $40 and children 12 and under are $10 in reserved seating and free in general admission areas.
In addition to the action on the track, Daytona International Speedway will celebrate the Independence Day holiday weekend by recognizing Medal of Honor recipients and capping off the event with one of the largest fireworks shows in the Southeast.
Kyle Busch took advantage of a finish at Martinsville Speedway that featured cheers from the crowd, tempers on the track and a checkered flag under the lights to punch his ticket to the Championship 4.
Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick navigated a last-lap incident involving over a dozen cars to follow Busch home and round out the top-five finishers.
Busch’s fellow playoff drivers Keselowski, Chase Elliott, and Denny Hamlin were involved in a number of incidents in the final laps of Sunday’s First Data 500 as the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion earned his second career win at NASCAR’s oldest track. Busch earns an automatic berth as a championship contender at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the third straight year with the victory.
“It’s just a great win,” Busch said. “It’s awesome to get to Victory Lane here at Martinsville. I wanted to win Charlotte, Martinsville, and Homestead and that’ll make us this year’s champions, so we’ve got one more. We weren’t the best all day, but we put ourselves in the right spots there at the end and there was kind of chaos ensuing and none of it was our fault, we just came out on the right end of the stick.”
Overtime took center stage after Hamlin made contact in turn 4 with Elliott, who was just laps away from scoring his first career win. The two drivers exchanged words on the backstretch after the race, with both drivers battling for the automatic Championship 4 berth that was eventually picked up by Busch. Now, the remaining seven playoff drivers will either have to win or earn their way into the Top-4 on points in order to keep their title hopes alive.
Elliott led 123 laps of the First Data 500 before the crash, and eventually finished 27th.
“[Hamlin] came over and talked to me on the backstretch and he said somebody was pushing him, but it wasn’t two lengths between him and the next guy,” Elliott said on pit road after the race. “So, my Momma always said if you don’t have anything nice, not to say anything at all. So, not even worth my time. We’ll just go on to Texas.”
Busch’s win was his fifth of the season and eighth Top-10 finish in 25 starts at Martinsville Speedway. He led five times for 184 laps on the day, the most of any driver.
Keselowski won both Stage One and Stage Two before fading to his fourth place finish.
Caution slowed the field 11 times for 74 laps in the three-hour, 32-minute race.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to Martinsville Speedway on Sunday March 25, 2018 for the STP 500.
Martinsville Speedway PR
Mahoning Valley Speedway’s Octoberfast 2017 was well rounded by the Late Models, Street Stocks and Hobby Stocks which provided fans with an abundance of exciting feature races.
There was the Late Model 60 which ended in a wild multi-car tangle and photo finish that saw Lorin Arthofer II cross the line backwards and just ahead of Frankie Althouse.
The Street Stock 75 race came down to a pair of veteran stars going nose-to-tail at the checkers. Todd Ahner held off determined Mark Deysher for his first win in two years.
Capping off the amazing night was the Hobby Stock 50. Long time Mahoning fixture Todd Geist used his years of experience to hold back first time starter Austin Gustafson for the victory.
In the Late Model show it seemed evident that leading was a tough spot to hold onto. Frankie Althouse and 2017 champion Mike Sweeney exchanged the helm while being closely pursued by Broc Brown. This trio put on a dazzling battle as the laps clicked on.
After Sweeney went back to the front on lap 36 the next time around Althouse was being strained from behind which caused him to be pushed underneath Sweeney’s back bumper and nearly lifting his Ford’s rear wheels of the ground. While trying to save from spinning Sweeney drifted high on the back straight and hit the wall. Officials deemed there was help from Arthofer.
The race was over for the reigning Octoberfast champ while Arthofer went to the rear for the restart. Leading when the action got back underway was Althouse but it would only last four laps as Brown made contact and both cars went to the back afterwards.
Geno Steigerwalt was now at the front and a lap later George Ramos was shown as the leader. That was also short lived too as Arthofer had charged back and took advantage of a lap 43 restart to move ahead, bringing Brown with him.
From then on it was a nip and tuck battle until the fateful last lap. As Arthofer was holding back Brown, Althouse was able to slip by third running Jacob Kerstetter and that’s when the gloves came off.
Brown tried to go under Arthofer in turn four and the process all heck broke loose. Arthofer lost control and went sideways while Brown was hard on the breaks. Althouse drove the very top of the track to avoid the mayhem.
Coming to the stripe all eyes watched in awe as Arthofer was nearly turned backwards. Brown was still trying to go low while Althouse remained topside. As they crossed the line scoring showed Arthofer with the very slight advantage and was deemed the winner.
More chaos followed as cars where spinning and wrecking in the confusion. After the dust settled Victory Lane went on with winner Arthofer, however, Althouse protested the outcome. After further in detail review the ruling stayed in favor of Arthofer.
Brown, unfortunately, was placed in last spot for an after race incident in the pits.
In the Street Stock event Shayne Geist was making a statement with a solid hold on the lead as he showed the way and with authority over the first 52 laps.
But, Deysher was turning up the pressure and thanks to a restart on the 52nd go, he unseated Geist for the lead. The two-time class champ was now in position to earn his first win of the season but Ahner, who was also trying to end a winless streak, had his sights set on the same big prize.
Ahner stayed glued to Deysher until four laps to go when he worked inside and picked up the lead and win. Deysher would have to settle for second with Geist third.
The Hobby Stock 50-lapper began with champion Austin Beers in command. Handily Beers was making this a race for second but as the 29th lap rolled around he developed a flat which allowed first time starter Gustafson to pick up the lead.
In second spot was Todd Geist who was biding his time against the newcomer. On lap 32 he waited no longer and drove to inside of Gustafson. The rest of the way Geist showed his years of experience as he steadily kept ahead for the checkers.
Gustafson, the 2017 Chemung Speedrone 4-Cylinder champion, took a very respectable runner up in. Shawn Kistler, Michael Wambold and Beers completed the top five.
Bobby Jones wins thrilling Octoberfast Mahoning Modified 200.3-wide last lap run to checkers worth $600029 Oct 2017 Written by Steven B. Wilson
Mahoning Valley Speedway’s Octoberfast 2017 will be an event long talked about as the 200 lap feature went right down to the wire in an electrifying finish.
Bobby Jones won in a three-wide battle to the checkers and nipped Gene Bowers by just .007-seconds with Zane Zeiner right there as well.
There was much anticipation in the lead up to the race, being the longest distance in track history for the headline class and awarding the highest payout ever at $6000 to win.
With the never before run distance strategies were varied among on how to make a game plan. As expected, however, the first half of the race was a steady pace, most of it being headed by newly crowned track champion Brian DeFebo. It would not be until a lap 127 caution when DeFebo would take his No. 53 pit side for change of American Racer tires. Things from then on would get interesting.
That calculated move to pits by DeFebo was followed by those who were in chase including Earl Paules, Zeiner, Eric Beers, Jones and Bowers.
Todd Baer would assume the lead under the caution with Jack Ely and James Pritchard Jr., second and third. Ely, who had yet to pit, was leading within seven laps and looking strong in the process.
With 50 circuits to go Zeiner motored up to second and made use of the inside lane for a lead pass six laps later. At the same time a caution was out and Ely would duck to the pits for fresh rubber.
That put Beers to second but Jones was able to unseat him within a few tours. Beers then had to make an unscheduled pit stop while under a caution period at lap 165.
When the action would resume the stage was now set for the thrilling shootout to the finish. Zeiner was the leading over Jones, DeFebo and Bowers.
The lead battle was now in overdrive as Jones and Zener went side-by-side for several laps. Jones finally squeezed his way on the inside of turn three with 27 laps to go in gaining the top spot. Bowers and DeFebo where in their own double wide tussle as well keeping the excitement to a maximum.
With 15 laps remaining Ely was back in the fold making it anyone’s guess as who within the top five to would emerge the winner. The answer would soon come to light among either Jones, Zeiner or Bowers over the waning laps.
With the top two back in a neck-and-neck battle Bowers hovered closely in their tire tracks. When chief starter Bob Stull waved the white flag it was still anyone’s race. Jones was pushing Zeiner to the topside in order to protect his spot. Bowers quickly seized the opening from that as they entered turn three.
As the trio flatfooted out of the final corner Bowers was barely ahead but by the time they reached the checkers Jones had just enough momentum to eke forward for the spine-tingling victory.
“I really thought I was in trouble near the end because my right rear (tire) was shaking badly. I didn’t know if I was losing the tire or grip or what. But I stayed with it and figured if I’m going to go out it will be in a blaze of glory,” said Jones on the biggest win of his career.
“There was a lot of respect out there even in those final laps. It was for a win and $6000 and we did what we had to do. It was a great race and I was very happy with how my guys setup the car. This was for them,” he continued.
“My car just really turned so well on the bottom so that’s where I went all race long. I was very pleased with the tire wear. To run 200 laps there was really no issues.”
Ely and DeFebo rounded out the top five. Paules was making his first start of the season and never missed a beat. He was sixth at the end. John Markovic, Baer, Beers and Don Wagner completed the top 10. 13 cars completed the 200 lap distance.
For Bowers it was understandable to his dejection as he sat in his car trying to collect his thoughts afterwards.
“I’m good with it. I came second to Bobby (Jones) and he’s a good guy and to finish behind him, I’ll take it,” said Bowers, who collected $3000 for his hard fought effort.
“I knew that I could run the car as hard as anyone else. If I could have gotten out front I feel that we I could have pulled away but Bobby and Zane where just so hard to pass, they were very fast – what a race.”
Zeiner noted afterwards that trying to get around Jones was a tough deal as his car became tight.
“I just couldn’t get back ahead of him (Jones) in those final laps. We were both tight but I wasn’t able to keep him down in order to make a pass,” said Zeiner.
“It was just hard clean racing. We leaned on each other but we still gave each other room coming off the turns. That last lap was amazing.”
Heat races were won by Baer, DeFebo and Ely.
A vibrant autumn afternoon greeted Meridian Speedway competitors Saturday, October 28, as the quarter-mile asphalt oval hosted the Trunk or Treat Halloween Championship races. The TEAM Mazda Mini Stocks, Pepsi Crate Cars and ISRL Super Sixes, TATES Rents Hornets, and Teleperformance Claimer Stocks closed 2017 in thrilling fashion as the final four division champions were crowned.
The TEAM Mazda Mini Stocks hit the speedway first for their final thirty lap feature of the season. On the green Boise, Idaho’s Scott Shoecraft shot past pole sitter Will Ostrum to lead lap one. The high line was the place to be, and soon Fred Vigil and Luke Wolverton charged into the lead battle. Vigil was first to make his move, and on lap three the Nampa, Idaho racer worked his Ben’s Auto Glass, Larry H Miller Collision Center machine to the top spot.
Championship leader Jason Sanders spent the first five laps with his Divel Services, Valley Property Management machine mired in traffic, while second place point runner Ray Bolinger worked his Mulder’s Auto Machine, 208 Picker entry into the third spot. Kuna, Idaho’s Bolinger closed on Vigil and Wolverton, and the duel for the lead turned into a three-way battle. At the race’s halfway point Wolverton broke free and planted his Hart Construction, Idaho Center for Integrative Medicine racer in the lead, followed by Jayson Wardle, Vigil and Bolinger.
As Bolinger fell through the field Sanders caught up, and soon the fight for fourth turned into a championship duel. Bolinger wheeled his racer hard to keep Sanders at bay, and with ten laps left he caught and passed Vigil for third. Sanders tried to follow suit, but the inside line proved too slick for the Caldwell, Idaho driver to make the pass. But a caution flag with two laps left allowed Sanders one last shot at Bolinger.
The green flag waved and Sanders dove to the inside line and caught Bolinger. High and low Sanders pressured Bolinger, but couldn’t take the spot and he finished fourth behind Bolinger, Wardle, and Wolverton.
Sanders’ fourth place finish scored just enough points to earn the veteran campaigner his seventh TEAM Mazda Mini Stock championship.
The Pepsi Crate Cars and ISRL Super Sixes joined forces to bring thirteen machines to their final forty lap clash of 2017. On the break Caldwell, Idaho’s Rich Montes dispatched Pat Young to take his Fast Track Auto Sales of Fruitland, Montes Racing entry to the early lead. Mike Anderson and standings co-runner up Casey Tillman followed Montes forward, and on lap three Anderson put his Royal Purple, Bender Electric sprinter in the lead. Tillman followed suit in his YMC, Taylor Made Upholstery machine, as did championship leader Rob Grice. A caution flag on lap twelve bunched the field, and brought Tillman to Anderson’s outside for the restart.
Tillman jumped to the lead on the green, which dropped Anderson into the clutches of Grice. Grice took second two laps later, and set his sights on Tillman for the top spot. But behind the leaders, Riley Rogers found the handle on his H&H Accounting, Wildside Wraps sprinter and sliced through the field. The Meridian, Idaho racer made his way from seventh to third in just nine laps. Tied with Tillman for runner up in the Pepsi Crate Car points entering Saturday’s action, Rogers muscled his way by Grice for second, then with a dozen circuits left Rogers caught Tillman.
Rogers tried the low line first, but Tillman shut the door. Next Rogers moved up high, but Tillman again held station. As the leaders fought, Grice and Tony Ackerland caught the battle for the lead. With time running short Rogers blasted past Tillman on lap 35 and motored away from the pack. Tillman fought hard to keep second, but nobody would catch Rogers, who stormed to the main event victory.
Preliminary calculations named Rogers both the Pepsi Crate Car and ISRL champion.
The TATES Rents Hornets had 100 laps to settle their 2017 division championship. The green flag waved and chaos ensued. Through a bevy of early caution flags Chuck Youngblood raced his way to the lead. Behind Youngblood, Travis Pavlacky battled Neil Wassmuth, Brandon Kelley, and a host of others for the runner up spot. A bobble on lap 25 allowed Wassmuth to take his Neil Alan Fine Jewelry, RPM Tire and Wheel racer to second, but the Nampa, Idaho driver fell to championship leader Tommy Harrod and James Pahl a handful of laps later.
Once in second, Harrod closed on Youngblood, but the engine in Harrod’s PBT Auto Sales entry expired near the race’s halfway point. This left the runner up spot to Pahl, who faced a four second gap to the top spot. Pahl pedaled his Raceway Video, Printcraft machine to catch up, and with forty laps left Pahl threw his mount hard into turn one and came out the other side with the lead. In his bid to catch Pahl, The move came just in time for Pahl, as Youngblood’s engine detonated on the front stretch one lap later.
Once Pahl found open race track he set sail from the field. But behind Pahl, Lynn Sharp was on the move. With the pack thinned by attrition, Sharp sliced to the runner up spot and stalked the leader. Lap after lap Pahl’s advantage shrunk, but Pahl dug deep through the race’s final dozen laps and the Nampa, Idaho competitor raced his way into the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s Circle.
After dominating the 2017 TATES Rents Hornets division, Tommy Harrod collected the championship honors.
The Teleperformance Claimer Stocks packed the quarter-mile with nineteen racers for the season settling YMC Heating and Cooling 75. On the green Meridian, Idaho’s Preston Henderson stormed to the lap one lead, but it was Josh Jackson who worked his Motor Mayhem Chassis Dyno Tuning, Cyclone Cycles entry into the lead on lap two. Jackson came under immediate fire from Filer, Idaho racer Mitchell Pehrson, and on lap six the lead duo made contact. The fight for first raged until a lap fifteen caution reset the field and brought Pehrson even with Jackson for the restart.
The green flag waved and the side-by-side action continued. After three physical laps Pehrson body checked Jackson out of the lead, a move that cut Jackson’s left front tire and brought out a caution flag. This restart brought Orangeville, California’s Erick Ray to Pehrson’s outside when the green flag waved. Ray and his Buckhorn Bar and Grill machine got the best of that battle and stormed to the lead.
Lowther jumped to the outside line and passed Brian Hyde for fifth, then Pat Young for fourth. By lap 23 Lowther had dispatched Pehrson for third and set to work on Fitzgerald for second. Fitzgerald ducked into the pit area one lap later, which left Lowther to work on Ray for the race lead.
With thirty laps to go Lowther drove his Allan Marsh Travel Center, Klines Alternators and Starters of Marsing machine to Ray’s rear bumper. Ray felt the pressure and responded with a flurry of fast laps that opened a two second advantage over Lowther. But a late race caution erased Ray’s lead and put Lowther on his rear bumper for the final restart.
Racing resumed, and Ray walked away from the field. This left Boise, Idaho’s Lowther to fend off a resurgent Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald got the better of that battle as the white flag waved, but couldn’t track down Ray, who sped across the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe first.
Lowther’s third place finish sealed his Teleperformance Claimer Stock division championship.
Official point standings will be posted on meridianspeedway.com as soon as they are tabulated. Meridian Speedway swings back into action Friday, March 9, through Sunday, March 11, 2018 at Expo Idaho for the 47th Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Boise Roadster Show presented by Les Schwab. On behalf of all speedway staff and officials, thank you for your patronage, and we’ll see you under the big yellow water tower at your NASCAR Home Track, Meridian Speedway in 2018.
Meridian Speedway PR
Closing out an incredible, 2017 race season at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway was the much anticipated event, “Day of Destruction”. An afternoon filled with carnage featuring well over one hundred cars participating in such events as a Reverse Race, Tug of War, Bag Race where you race with a bag over your head. The popular Train Race, Appliance Race and so much more. Prize money and the prestige of survival was all on the line and here is a summary of the winners surviving the, “Day of Destruction”.
Reverse Race: In a three lap race going backwards around the .397 mile oval, eighteen competitors participated and when the green flag dropped, so were the wrecks. With cars crashing into the wall, spinning out and some in the ditches on the inner parts of the infield. It was Denver Alvis steering his way through and winning the race event.
Flag Pole Race: With locations on the front and back stretches of the track, competitors had to circle the stationary flag for five laps before a winner could be determined. As the green flag waved, twenty three cars jammed up around the first flag pole as the damage began. The one emerging unharmed and able to go the five lap distance to the checkered flag first would be the winner, Bill Eaker. As for the rest of the field, many tore up race cars was all that was left.
Bag Race: In this event, the driver is required to wear a bag over their head. A second occupant of each car is responsible for the navigation instructions for the driver. Twenty cars took the green flag and wasn’t long before the cars were running over each other. But tipping through the mess seen all over the track, it was Kenny Shrader and Chris Jackson victorious in the Bag race event.
Train Race: In the train race, the feature would be a five lap adventure where two car tandems connected by a single chain made up each team. The rear car was not allowed to be under power as the front car did all the work. With the green flag over the track, the destruction began right at the start finish line as several teams crashed hard on the infield wall. Somehow, race winners Williby Snowden and his teammate Jeff, last name unknown, emerged from the wreckage and went on to win the feature.
Appliance Race: In the appliance race, two separate heats were featured taking the top two finishers of each race. Then, to determine the winner, the four best would compete in the main feature. Race teams had to complete five laps, come to pit road, adding an appliance to the car to haul each lap. First one to haul five appliances on the car and cross the strip first wins. In the first heat, David Hall won round one with Rex Royal advancing to the main. In round two action, Danny Harrell would win heat two with Kyle Davis advancing as well. In the main feature appliance race, Kyle Davis would win completing all five laps without dropping any appliances.
Tug of War: With two cars parked nose to nose, the car that was able to push the other backwards would win. Danny Harrell was victorious outlasting several others for his second feature win on the day.
Burn Out Competition: Four hot rods competed in the Burn Out Competition and much to the excitement of the fans, the tire smoke ensued. Given 10 seconds to cook them down, Derek Roberts not only smoke them down but blew the right rear in the process. Determined by the fans, Roberts was awarded the win.
Enduro Feature 50 Laps: Blake Russell in a pill draw would start on pole for the Enduro feature consisting of sixty five cars set for action. With the drop of the green flag, the racing began and so did the demolition. One by one, lap after lap, cars would fall off the pace and the track. But in a dominating performance, having to start sixtieth in the sixty five car field. Chris Roberts once out in front, would go on to win the Enduro race feature.
Compact Car Demolition: Nineteen cars competed in the Compact Car Demolition event and as expected, many of the competitors were eliminated early. When all was said and done, Earl Whitehouse in his car named Hulk Smash survived the carnage to win the Compact Car Demolition.
Full Size Car Demolition: In the evenings final event, twelve cars competed in the Full Size Car Demolition which saw some of the biggest hits and destroyed cars on the day. Joshua Fehrle in a Station Wagon outlasted the rest and easily won the Full Size Car Demolition.
In conclusion to our 2017 race season, a few announcements to share about some upcoming events and news to next year’s race season. Come join us December 2nd for the Langley Speedway Champions Banquet, tickets are still available and can be purchased at the track office during normal working hours. March 10th, 2018 will be the next, “Day of Destruction”, event with anticipation of being bigger than ever for the competitors. Langley Speedway is happy to announce at this time that our 67th race season is set to start on March 31st, 2018. Full race schedule is soon to be finalized and forthcoming in the upcoming weeks. Also, the 2018 Denny Hamlin Shortrack Showdown is coming to Langley Speedway on April 19th, 2018. More information about our upcoming race season along with the race schedule will be coming out soon. Thank you for your support of an exciting race season from your friends at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway.
Langley Speedway PR
Noah Gragson Scores Victory in Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions at Martinsville Speedway28 Oct 2017 Written by Steven B. Wilson
Noah Gragson, like many athletes, is a fan of big trophies. He probably didn’t think his first piece of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series hardware would be one of the most famous in all of sports, the Martinsville Speedway grandfather clock trophy.
Gragson used an impressive restart with ten laps remaining to score an upset win, the first of his career, Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions, holding off former Martinsville victors and series champions Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter in the race’s closing laps.
“This is awesome,” the 19-year-old Gragson said at the start/finish line. “We were driving up here and we were talking about how much history is at this track. It’s so cool to be out here racing with Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, and the rest of the field. I’ve proven to myself that I have the capability to race with them, and have that opportunity to come here is a privilege.”
Crafton, who won Saturday’s opening stage, and chose the bottom lane on the race’s final restart, before Gragson strong-armed him around the outside and made it stick to create yet another memorable Martinsville Speedway race-winning moment. After the checkered flag, Crafton was left lamenting the runner-up finish, with a productive points day being no comfort.
“It just sucks,” the two-time champion said. “We’ve given away two races away while leading late here. Honestly, I don’t even care [about earned stage points] in this race. It just sucks finishing second.”
Sauter appeared poised as the favorite to earn his second straight playoff victory at NASCAR’s oldest track until a slow pit stop at the end of Stage 2 sent him tumbling seven positions down the running order, costing valuable track position in the process.
“We had a good day, but just didn’t execute when we needed to. I just know [the pit stop] was slow. Track position is king. You’ve got to have clean air, and you can’t give up anything. When you give up seven spots, it’s pretty tough to overcome.”
John Hunter Nemechek, who entered Saturday’s race 4th in points, suffered a brake failure and made heavy contact with the outside wall in turn two on Lap 39. The 20-year-old will now likely need to win at either Texas Motor Speedway or Phoenix Raceway in order to keep his championship hopes alive.
“No brake pedal. It didn’t give any warning,” Nemechek said after exiting his heavily damaged Chevrolet. “We were just riding around, biding our time. I dove into [turn one] normally, hit the pedal, and it went straight to the floor.”
Sauter finished second, followed by Crafton. Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland rounded out the top-five.
The race was slowed for caution six times and there were six lead changes among five different drivers.
The doubleheader race weekend at Martinsville Speedway continues Sunday, with the First Data 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
Qualifying is at noon with the race starting at 3. The First Data 500, is the first race in the Round of 8 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. If the winning driver is in the Playoffs, he would be the first to clinch a spot in the Championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Last fall, Jimmie Johnson won his ninth grandfather clock, on the way to winning his record-tying seventh NASCAR Cup Series championship.
Tickets for the First Data 500 are on sale and may be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX, online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com, or at the track ticket office on race day.
Martinsville Speedway PR