Veteran racer Mike Gular returned to his “home track” of Grandview Speedway on Saturday night to participate in the running of the 49th Annual Freedom 76-lap T.P. Trailers 358 Modified feature which netted him $25,000 plus lap money as the winner.
The 2018 defending point champion accomplished the goal he set out to achieve last year which was a point title. The 2019 season saw the Sassamansville, PA speedster venture to other tracks as a learning experience in which he did quite well despite the long haul to New York.
Gular, who started seventh in a field of 31 competitors, moved into third on the fourth lap and made a bold move when Frank Cozze and Rick Laubach running first and second got bottled up behind lap traffic. T.J. Lily broke right at the finish line causing the top three to scramble. Gular saw an opportunity open and shot into the lead just as the yellow came out on the 19th lap. Gular maintained the lead on the restart and held off the challenges of Cozze and later eventual runner-up Laubach on the three restarts needed once he was in front. When the checkered unfurled Gular proved he still knew his way around the 1/3-mile oval and pulled into victory lane for a well-earned triumph. It was a “dream come true” for Gular and the team since it was something he wanted to win for several years.
In addition to monetary awards from T.P. Trailers and product certificates from VP Fuels provided he sported the proper decals, Gular received the Dan’s Deli ½-way hoagie award and a Bob Hilbert Sportswear jacket. Craig Von Dohren, who finished sixth after starting 29th having to get into the field via the Minuteman 20, received $500 from fellow driver Bobby Gunther Walsh and his sponsors as the Hard Charger of the race.
Through the luck of the draw Cozze, a guaranteed starter by finishing second in the Forrest Rogers Memorial a race won by 2019 point champion Duane Howard which also earned him guaranteed position, grabbed the early lead trailed by Laubach, Billy Pauch Jr., Ryan Beltz and Gular.
Beltz, while running fourth, spun into the backstretch infield for the first yellow on the third lap. The previous lap Pauch Jr., third place runner, pulled out of competition. Cozze held onto the lead when action resumed with Laubach trying every which way to get around him.
The top there comprised of Cozze, Laubach and Gular, scrambled on the 19th lap yellow when Lilly broke on the homestretch. Gular saw an opening just before the yellow was thrown to overtake the lead as the trio crossed the line. Second through fifth with Gular at the head of the pack when action went green again was now comprised of Cozze, Jared Umbenhauer, Laubach and defending race winner Howard. Trying to get into the top five was Brett Kressley and he did that on the 30th lap.
By the half-way marker Gular distanced himself from the competition with Cozze, Laubach, Brett Kressley and Umbenhauer in tow having a four-way battle for second. Right in the thick of the action was Doug Manmiller in sixth and by the 56th lap he overtook Kressley for fifth.
Kressley, in sixth, spun in the second turn with a flat tire for the 68th lap yellow, but Gular still maintained the number one position on the restart.
A multi-car tangle between turns three and four brought out the yellow with 69 laps in the books. Gular wasted no time pulling away on the restart as he knew now Laubach, Manmiller, Cozze, Howard and Von Dohren wanted to change the order.
Gular stuck to the bottom trek while Laubach attempted to overtake him running the top lane.
Gular never gave up the lead and went on to claim the biggest win of his career. Chasing him across the line were Laubach, Manmiller, Cozze and Howard. Rounding out the top ten were Von Dohren, Jeff Strunk, Umbenhauer, Mike Lisowski and Bobby Varin.
Kressley, Colt Harris, Nick Rochinski, Beltz, Ray Swinehart and Umbenhauer won the six 12-lap qualifying heats. The two consies in which three from each advanced to the Schaeffer’s Motorsports Minuteman 20 were won by Von Dohren and Glenn Strunk. Bobby Varin won the non-stop Minuteman Man 20 with Billy Osmun III, Richie Pratt, Ryan Watt and Von Dohren also getting into the Freedom 76.
Howard also picked up an additional $1,000 and a Penske Shocks certificate by winning the 10-lap Cash Dash.
Tire certificates were also awarded by Lias Tires.
Coming up next at Grandview Speedway is Enduro and Blast from the Past Vintage racing. It all happens on Saturday, September 28th at 6 p.m. and features Big Cars, Small Cars, Junk Yard Cars, Mechanics Race, Xcel 600 Modifieds along with two features for the Vintage racers. A lot of action for just $10 (adults) and youngsters under 12 free.
Then on Saturday, October 19th, 6 p.m. Thunder on the Hill Halloween Party featuring 358/Big Block Modifieds in a 40-lap main event plus Sportsman and MASS Sprinters.
49TH FREEDOM 76 T.P. Trailers Modified Feature (76-Laps): 1. Mike Gular, 2. Rick Laubach, 3. Doug Manmiller, 4. Frank Cozze, 5. Duane Howard, 6. Craig Von Dohren, 7. Jeff Strunk, 8. Jared Umbenhauer, 9. Mike Lisowski, 10. Bobby Varin, 11. Danny Erb, 12. Brandon Grosso, 13. Kenny Gilmore, 14. Briggs Danner, 15. Richie Pratt Jr., 16. Jimmy Reppert, 17. Billy Osmun III, 18. Ray Swinehart, 19. Brett Kressley, 20. Richie Hitzler, 21. Dylan Swinehart, 22. Neal Williams, 23. Ryan Lilick, 24. Alex Yankowski, 25. Nate Brinker, 26. Colt Harris, 27. T.J. Lilly, 28. Ryan Watt, 29. Billy Pauch Jr., 30. Matt Stangle, 31. Ryan Beltz. DNQ: Ryan Grim, Clay Butler, Timmy Buckwalter, John Willman, Kyle Weiss, Kevin Hirthler, Glenn Strunk, Ron Kline, Don Norris Jr., Dave Dissinger, Keith Hoffman, Ryan Anderson, Mike Laise, Dave Dissinger, Danny Bouc, Frank Yankowski, Louden Reimert, Craig Whitmoyer, Kyle Lilick, Bobby Gunther Walsh, Dominic Buffalino, Jesse Leiby, Steve Swinehart, Ron Myers, Joe Funk III, Justin Grim, Kory Fleming, Brian Hirthler.
Schaeffer Motorsports Minuteman 20: 1. Bobby Varin, 2. Billy Osmun III, 3. Richie Pratt Jr., 4. Ryan Watt, Craig Von Dohren
Cash Dash (10 Laps): 1. Duane Howard, 2. Ray Swinehart, 3. Jared Umbenhauer, 4. Colt Harris, 5. Frank Cozze, 6. Brian Kressley, 7. Ryan Beltz. DNS: Rich Rochinski.
Grandview Speedway PR
The calendar might show the arrival of fall next week, and many around East Tennessee will welcome the expected cooler temperatures after an extremely hot summer the region has experienced with around 40 days reaching the 90-degree-plus mark.
Fans were treated to an exciting Chase for the Championship six division points racing program Saturday at Volunteer Speedway, and the action was heated on the high banks.
Tim Byrd from Jonesborough set fast-time in Crate Late Model qualifying at 13.359 seconds, with his former teammate Jensen Ford of Johnson City second quickest at 13.451.
The two Washington County residents Byrd and Ford led the 16-car field to green from the front row, and over the first four laps they put on a show as they battled side-by-side for the lead before Ford moved to the point. Directly behind them Logan Roberson was glued to Byrd’s back bumper, followed by Rusty Ballenger and divisional points leader Tim Maupin.
With Ford showing the way out front, Byrd on several occasions stuck the nose of his ride under Ford through the corners. But Ford was up-on-the-wheel maintaining his advantage. Midway through the 30-lap event, Ford had put around eight car lengths between himself, Byrd and Roberson.
Byrd had his hands full in trying to hold back the hard-charging “Thugg Nasty” Roberson. Behind them racing between Ballenger, Maupin, Heath Alvey and Gary Crittenden for position was good.
With the race running clean-and-green, a late race caution waved on lap 23 when John Tweed spun directly in front of the lead trio of Ford, Byrd and Roberson between turns one and two, forcing them into evasive action to avoid making contact.
Ford smashed the loud pedal on the single-file restart leaving Byrd and Roberson to fight it out for the runner-up spot. Maupin dropped a couple of positions to Alvey and Crittenden.
But out front the race belonged to Ford as he completed the flag-to-flag run to the checkered flag for his second win of the season over Byrd, Roberson, Ballenger and Alvey.
Noted race engine builder Travis Fultz of Harrogate doesn’t get the opportunity to race as much nowadays as he once did in the past, due to his position traveling on weekends as head technical inspection director for the American Crate All-Star Series. But there’s no doubt when he does get behind the wheel, he’s a definite front-running contender for the victory.
Fultz set fast-time at 13.653 seconds to earn the pole position for the Sportsman Late Model feature, narrowly edging out veteran racer Vic Chandler’s time of 13.668.
Fultz powered into the lead on the opening lap while Chandler was quickly overtaken for position by Rex Coffey and Chris Coffey. An early caution when David Bullington spun between turns one and two slowed the action.
Back under green and Fultz flexed his muscle in pulling out to almost a full-straightaway advantage over the Coffeys, Kip Sawyer and Chandler. Chandler was feeling pressure from Brad Dyer, with Logan Seal and Chris Raines following.
Fultz was making just his third start of the season, with one win and a fifth-place finish to his credit. The race he didn’t win, he was leading midway through the feature when cars wrecked directly in front of him and he had nowhere to go.
Fultz cruised to his second win over Rex Coffey, Chris Coffey, Sawyer and Dyer, who got around Chandler a few laps from the finish.
Shannon Emery jumped out to lead at start of the Modified Street feature and quickly put several car lengths between himself and closest challengers Chris Rickett and Wayne Rader. Rickett and Rader got together racing off the fourth turn on lap 7, with Rickett spinning to bring the caution out and pulling into the pits ending his race.
Back under green with Emery leading Rader and Kurt Owens, caution waved when Owens slowed to a stop high in turn four. Looking like he was on his way to victory, Emery slowed on lap 10 with mechanical issues and entered the pits. Rader, from Parrottsville, assumed the lead and went on to win over Kaleb Trent, Landon Steele, Lance Creasman and Austin Lefevers.
Tony Trent was fastest in Street Stock qualifying, but it was fellow front-row starter Austin Atkins of Morristown capturing his fifth feature win. He was chased to the checkered flag by Trent, Jamie Whitt, Tim Stevens and divisional points leader Jason Rollins.
Michael Millsap took the checkered flag over John Stevens and Shane Taylor in the Classic feature, but unfortunately for Millsap his car failed post-race technical inspection. Thus Stevens, from Wallins Creek, Ky., recorded his division-leading 11th victory over Taylor, Chris McKinney, Chad Manning and Chuck Kilian.
Making his first-ever Mini Stock start at "The Gap," Shane Bullock of Caryville grabbed the lead at start of the 20-lap feature and held off a hard-charging Chad Manning at the finish to get the win. Rounding out the top five were Daniel Moody, John Gulliver and Justin Meredith.
Volunteer Speedway PR
It’s a rare moment in motorsports when a rookie pulls out a huge victory in the top echelon of their driving discipline. On this night, Rookie of the Year contender Demetrios Drellos did just that, shocking the world of Big Block Modified racing by winning his first Super DIRTcar Series race at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in one of the biggest races of the year.
Drellos battled back the best in the business including Matt Sheppard, Larry Wight, Billy Decker, and Mat Williamson to pick up $10,000 and a guaranteed start in the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 at NAPA Super DIRT Week XLVIII. Billy Decker crossed the line in second and Mat Williamson had his two-race win streak broken with a third-place finish.
The night of racing started out well for the Queensbury, NY driver Demetrios Drellos after setting the second fastest lap in his Time Trial group, which put the No. 111 on the outside pole for his Heat Race. Pole-sitter Matt Sheppard got the best of him but soon the roles were reversed. In the Dig Safely NY 811 Redraw, Drellos drew the pole position and Matt Sheppard’s designated drawer put the No. 9s on the outside pole.
At the drop of the green flag, The Greek Streak outdueled Sheppard to retain the top spot in the early going. He eventually stretched out a substantial lead with the first caution coming around lap 40. After that, the rest of the heavy-hitters like Larry Wight, Billy Decker, and Mat Williamson stepped up to the plate but Drellos denied all-comers.
“Every lap that clicked by I thought Larry, Matt, Billy, or Williamson would get by on the bottom. I was just so persistent on the top. I know it’s really risky picking the top lane here on the restarts but the top has been so fast here. It worked out for me,” said Drellos.
The No. 111 pilot sliced and diced his way through heavy lapped traffic in the latter half of the race. The track conditions were conducive to fast, side-by-side racing, which made the traffic difficult to work through.
“I follow a lot of good guys on the Series and they aren’t afraid to take risks in lapped traffic. You gotta go and if you don’t go, someone’s gonna pounce on you,” Drellos explained.
Needless to say, Drellos was a very happy driver in Victory Lane. He’s worked hard learning new tracks and refining his Time Trial program all season.
“It’s been such a learning curve running with these guys every week and it’s finally paid off.”
Drellos’ voice wavered with emotion as The Voice of the Super DIRTcar Series Shane Andrews interviewed him in Victory Lane when he said, “I watched a lot of Super DIRTcar Series races from those seats right up there and it feels really amazing to be standing down here not too many years later beating the best.”
The win will take a little time to sink in because it’s a rare feat to beat your heroes at their own game:
“I’m speechless, to be honest. You have Mat Williamson, Matt Sheppard, Billy Decker, Pat Ward, Tim Fuller, I mean, I’ve watched those guys for years. They are just unbelievable stars here. Just to say I beat them in a Super DIRTcar Series race is something I never even dreamed of.”
The Franklyn Flyer Billy Decker was the final driver to reach the rear bumper of the No. 111 but he too failed to overtake the young rookie.
Mat Williamson now has four podium finishes in a row including two race wins. The team has been constent all year but now Williamson is clicking off great finishes and has begun reeling in points leader Matt Sheppard.
“Confidence as a lot to do with it. It seems like when we won Orange County [Centennial Celebration] it started rolling from there. Fortunately, I have a really good car owner and really good crew guys. They make my job real easy behind the wheel,” noted Williamson.
The racing surface was tacky and provided a lot of grip from the bottom to the top of the speedway.
“We tried to move all over the place. The track was really fast and racy,” said Williamson. “I think we tightened up a little bit too much. Demetrios was really good. Hats off to those guys, it’s cool to see him win.”
Mike Mahaney stormed through the field to pick up sixteen positions as the KSE Racing Hard-Charger Award. He finished seventh after starting deep in the field, but the tenacious Huttig No. 35 team’s hard work paid off.
In the Dig Safely NY 811 Redraw, Peter Britten had his daughter for a designated drawer. The curly-haired youngster joyfully picked up a neon yellow t-shirt and awarded Britten one free Hoosier Racing Tire, but also a twelfth place starting position.
Home-track hero Kenny Tremont Jr., who picked up the 2019 Mr. DIRT Track USA title at Lebanon Valley Speedway, set the fastest lap in Time Trials, which granted him the Billy Whittaker Cars Fast-Time Award.
The next Super DIRTcar Series race is the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 on Sunday, October 13 at Oswego Speedway to conclude NAPA Super DIRT Week XLVIII.
FEATURE (100 Laps)
1. 111-Demetrios Drellos [$10,000]; 2. 91-Billy Decker [$5,000]; 3. 88-Mat Williamson [$2,500]; 4. 44-Stewart Friesen [$1,800]; 5. 99L-Larry Wight [$1,600]; 6. 9S-Matt Sheppard [$1,400]; 7. 35-Mike Mahaney [$1,300]; 8. 93-Danny Varin [$1,200]; 9. 18-Anthony Perrego [$1,100]; 10. 2-Ronnie Johnson [$1,000]; 11. 19m-Jessey Mueller [$800]; 12. 20-Brett Hearn [$700]; 13. 19-Tim Fuller [$600]; 14. 25-Erick Rudolph [$575]; 15. 97-Bobby Hackel [$550]; 16. 3d-Matt Delorenzo [$525]; 17. 2L-Jack Lehner [$500]; 18. 98H-Jimmy Phelps [$500]; 19. 26-Ryan Godown [$500]; 20. 74-JR Heffner [$500]; 21. 91NY-Jackie Brown [$500]; 22. 27J-Danny Johnson [$500]; 23. R2-Rusty Smith [$]; 24. 21A-Peter Britten [$500]; 25. 17-Marcus Dinkins [$]; 26. 115-Kenny Tremont [$500]; 27. 96S-Paul St.Sauveur [$500]; 28. 3j-Marc Johnson [$500]
KSE Hard Charger Award: 35-Mike Mahaney[+16]
Super DIRTcar Series PR
NASCAR fans will be up for an exciting final battle for ELITE 2 Division title at Circuit Zolder on October 5-6 with Giorgio Maggi and Lasse Soerensen separated by just nine points entering the last two races of the 2019 season. The Dane closed the gap on championship leader Maggi by grabbing a spectacular win in Sunday’s Semi Final race at Germany’s Hockenheimring.
RESULTS ELITE 2 SEMI FINAL 2
The Dexwet-Df1 Racing rookie grabbed the lead right after the start and fended off Maggi in the early stages of the 16-lap race, surviving two restarts to grab his fifth Euro NASCAR win of the season.
“It was a really good race today, as my plan was to catch Maggi right from the beginning,” said the 22 year old Dane, who managed to position himself in the title hunt despite missing the season opener in Valencia. “The plan worked out really well but I had to defend my position after the two cautions, which was not that easy. I managed to have three good starts and it seems like I was very quick in the first 2-3 laps after each restart. Now I want the title, which was the goal even before the start of my season in Italy. We will get there!”
NWES debutant Hugo De Sadeleer grabbed his second Euro NASCAR podium out of two starts by finishing right behind Soerensen. The Swiss took over second place in his #88 Racing Engineering Ford Mustang on lap 14 with a bold maneuver on championship leader Giorgio Maggi, who had to deal with brake issues in the closing stages and settled for a smart fifth place under the checkered flag.
Racers Motorsport’s Alessandro Brigatti ended up third and earned himself the first NWES podium finish with a strong performance. The average age of the drivers on the podium was below 22, confirming the quality of the new talents making their NWES debut in 2019. The Rookie Trophy podium mirrored the overall top-3.
“We were very fast in the beginning of the race, but I struggled a lot in the end,” said NWES newcomer De Sadeleer. “I was side-by-side with Lasse in the closing laps, but due to the yellow flags I was not allowed to overtake him in the Motodrom. I’m really pleased with the result and Racing Engineering did a great job, setting up an awesome Ford Mustang. Hopefully I will be able to come back at Zolder and fight for the win.”
Brigatti commented his first ever NWES podium: “It’s crazy and unbelievable to stand on the podium here at Hockenheim. I never expected to finish inside the top-3, but we managed to get there. I didn’t run in qualifying but I did a good lap in a strong first race. We had a better starting position in the second race and a good pace. I’m really happy with the result today.”
The safety-car was deployed two times, the first on lap 4 after 16-year-old Ben Creanor hit the wall in the famous Motodrom. The second caution came on lap 7 due to a multi-car crash. Andre Castro, Mirco Schultis and Pol van Pollaert were all involved in the accident and had to retire from the race. On the following restart, Soerensen took the lead in turn one and never relinquished it, bringing home the win in the NASCAR GP Germany.
Jesse Vartiainen confirmed Saturday’s strong pace by finishing fourth. The Alex Caffi Motorsports driver took advantage of Maggi’s technical problems in the closing stages to pass the Swiss in the last lap. Maggi contained the damage and brought home his #50 Hendriks Motorsport Ford Mustang in fifth place, preserving the championship lead by nine points on Soerensen.
Brigatti’s teammate Nicholas Risitano ended up sixth ahead of CAAL Racing’s Advait Deodhar and Martin Doubek at the wheel of the #7 Hendriks Motorsport Ford Mustang. Deodhar’s teammate Pierluigi Veronesi finished ahead of American NASCAR veteran Myatt Snider, who closed the top-10 in his #48 Racing Engineering Ford Mustang.
Memphis Racing’s Ian Eric Waden grabbed another Legend Trophy win at the Hockenheimring, bringing his season total up to five and setting up a very tight battle for the over-40 classification in Zolder. At the wheel of her #54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet, Arianna Casoli, who also won the Lady Trophy classification, was second among the Legend drivers ahead of points leader Michael Bleekemolen.
The ELITE 2 Division will be back in action on October 5-6 at Circuit Zolder in Belgium. The qualifying and both final races will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the NWES Facebook and YouTube page, Motorsport.tv and a vast network of websites and social media pages from around the world.
Loris Hezemans will be the man to beat on October 5-6 in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Finals at Circuit Zolder, Belgium. The Hendriks Motorsport driver grabbed his fourth consecutive ELITE 1 win of 2019 in an exciting dash to the checkered flag in which he beat Nicolo Rocca by just 0.203 seconds.
RESULTS ELITE 1 SEMI FINAL 2
The Dutchman also stretched the championship lead he took over after Saturday’s race to 21 points over Rocca, making it a perfect weekend for Hendriks Motorsport. The team took three wins out of four races at the NASCAR GP Germany.
When polesitter and current race leader Alon Day was sidelined by a technical problem on his #54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet SS on lap 3, his teammate Thomas Ferrando was the quickest to take advantage of the moment and grabbed the provisional lead. Hezemans was too strong for the Frenchman, and moved past the #27 CAAL Racing Mustang just two laps later. He then fended off every attack from a charging Rocca brought in the remaining 15 laps until the checkered flag dropped.
Rocca fought hard to catch Hezemans, but had to settle for second when a couple of door-to-door battles were not enough for the PK Carsport driver to pass the Flying Dutchman.
“It’s been a great feeling to win the second race here at the Hockenheimring,” said the Hezemans, who’s the winner of the Tijey’s Fastest Driver Award. “It wasn’t easy as Alon was driving very well until his car broke down. Hopefully he can compensate that at Zolder. When Alon slowed down Rocca and I were a little bit surprised, but then we saw Ferrando take the lead and I was thinking: ‘Wow, we gotta go!’ The team did a great job and we find a great way to have a fast car. In Zolder it’s all about bringing the car home and win the championship.”
Rocca said about his second place: “It was a great weekend and we’re still in the middle of the championship battle. We showed that we have the right pace and can fight Loris. I tried my best to overtake him and I was way more aggressive than yesterday. I really wanted to win, but I’m happy with the second place. I hope, it was an entertaining race to watch with all those intense battles. Everything can happen in Zolder and the gap is not that big. We’ll focus on qualifying to have a good starting spot on the grid and we’ll be going for the championship.”
Racers Motorsport’s Gianmarco Ercoli carved his way up to third after an intense battle against Racing Engineering’s Romain Iannetta and RDV Competition’s Frederic Gabillon, who closed the top-5.
“It’s amazing to be back on the podium, as this season is not my best one in NWES,” said Ercoli. “I worked very hard to be back on top of the standings and I’m really happy about the podium today and the fourth place yesterday. The team did a great job, they really deserved it and we are all very happy.”
After leading the race in the early stages, Thomas Ferrando fell back to sixth. The CAAL Racing driver closed the Junior Trophy podium behind Hezemans and Rocca. Ander Vilarino was part of the podium battle too until lap 18 when he was shuffled back to 15th.
Go Fas Racing driver and former Formula One World Champion Jacques Villeneuve was seventh ahead of Alexander Graff. Scott Jeffs finished ninth in his ELITE 1 debut for Braxx Racing and grabbed his first ELITE 1 top-10 in what was his second start in the NWES premier division. Reigning ELITE 2 champion Ulysse Delsaux, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Sunday, rounded out the top-10.
Ioannis Smyrlis won the Challenger Trophy in the very first NWES weekend of his career. The Marko Stipp DF1 Racing driver edged Kenko Miura and Henri Tuomaala in the championship for bronze and silver drivers of the ELITE 1 Division.
The only caution of the race came up in lap 13, just seven laps before the checkered flag. Dario Caso’s Racers Motorsport Ford Mustang broke down and the Italian had to stop the car beside the race track.
On October 5-6 at Circuit Zolder it will be Hezemans versus Rocca for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series title. Qualifying and all races from the legendary Belgian track will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the NWES Facebook and YouTube pages, Motorsport.tv and a vast network of websites and social media pages from around the world.
Team 08 Panini Chevrolet Camaro:
Last week a late gamble on fuel by Crew Chief Patrick Donahue nearly earned the 08 team a spot in the playoffs. Although they did not win the race, the call proved successful with Gaulding bringing home a seventh place finish. If anyone thought not making the playoffs would kill the spirit of this small under dog team, you are sadly mistaken. The 08 team showed up in Richmond, Virginia with an attitude of something to prove. In the one and only practice session of the weekend, Gaulding went out and posted the fastest lap in practice. After a fantastic practice session, the team backed up their speed by qualifying in the ninth position for the race.
The race began and the first caution of the day waved almost immediately. After a quick clean up the race resumed and Gaulding fired off as expected. Gaulding worked his way up to as high as the sixth position in the opening 40 laps. Two more cautions waved on lap 52 and lap 61, slowing the pace down. During the second caution, it seemed like something was a miss on the 08 car. Gaulding had just started dropping through the field and something wasn't right. At the conclusion of the first stage Gaulding had dropped all the way back to the 18th position.
The team attempted to diagnose Gaulding's issue during the stage break; however, they could not find the cause. The entire second stage went caution free, as Christopher Bell completely dominated the stage. After 150 laps Gaulding was in the 19th position and two laps down to the leader. The final stage got underway and the goal of the 08 team was to simply finish the race and run as competitively as possible with their undiagnosed troubles. Christopher Bell continued to dominate the race. The final stage went the distance without any yellow flags. At the conclusion of 250 laps, Gaulding managed to still bring home a 22nd place finish. The result was only the team's fourth finish outside of the top twenty for the entire season. With only six races remaining in the 2019 season, Gaulding holds a 15 point advantage over the 51 of Jeremy Clements for the 13th position in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings.
“ It was a tough night finishing 22nd after qualifying 9th. Our SS Green Light team will diagnose the problem and will have us ready for the Roval next Saturday! Shout out to Panini for helping us turn some heads today!"
Bobby Dotter Thoughts on the 08 Team:
“It was great to see that no. 08 on top of the board after practice. It's unfortunate our finish did not reflect what kind of speed we had; however, it is very encouraging to see that we can have speed competitive to the leaders. We'll be ready for the Roval!"
Team 07 Isokern Fireplaces & Chimneys Chevrolet Camaro:
Ray Black Jr started off his day from the 18th position for the 250 lap dash. Four cautions including the one for the stage break plagued the opening stage at Richmond Raceway. At the end of the first stage, Black had gained one position and was up to the 17th position.
After an eventful stage one, the second stage was as calm as could be. The 75 laps flashed by quickly with Christopher Bell setting the pace. At the conclusion of stage two, Ray Black Jr. found himself back in the 18th position, one lap down. The team nearly received the lucky dog, but needed to be in front of the 51 car to claim it. As the final stage got underway the 07 team seemed to stall out a bit. The entire length of the third stage went caution free, giving teams only limited opportunities to work on their race cars. At the end of 250 laps, Ray Black Jr. brought his No. 07 Chevy home in the 18th position. The result marked the team's ninth top 20 finish in the last ten races. Ray Black Jr. currently sits in the 16th position and trail the 86 of Brandon Brown by just 14 points in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings.
Ray Black Jr:
“It was a tough night having such few opportunities to adjust the cars. I think we made the best out of our situation. We'll take this and get ready for the Roval!"
Bobby Dotter Thoughts on the 07 Team:
“Ray did a great job tonight. I think this team is really hitting their stride since the middle of the season and it's great to see the consistency. Excited to finish out these last six races strong!"
SS Green Light Racing drivers Gray Gaulding and Ray Black Jr. remain thirteenth and sixteenth respectively in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings. With only six races remaining in the 2019 season, the teams will prepare next for the Charlotte Roval next Saturday. Coverage of the Drive for the Cure 250 from the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval will begin Saturday September 28th at 3:30 PM ET on NBCSN.
SS Green Light Racing PR
Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100):
● Aric Almirola started seventh and finished 12th.
● The Smithfield Ford driver ran inside the top-10 for the majority of Stage 1, but he said his No. 10 Ford wouldn’t roll in the middle.
● By lap 81, handling conditions forced Almirola outside the top-10.
● He said the car would not turn and needed air pressure adjustments to correct it.
● He pitted for four tires, fuel and chassis and air pressure adjustments at the end of the stage.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200):
● Almirola started 12th and finished 16th.
● The No. 10 Smithfield Ford pitted for chassis adjustments under a lap-113 caution and restarted 17th.
● Shortly after the changes were made Almirola said the No. 10 Ford still struggled to turn and was loose.
● Almirola fought handling conditions for the remainder of the stage but was able to hold the Smithfield Ford on the lead lap.
● He pitted at the conclusion of the stage for four fresh tires and fuel, and the team reversed adjustments previously made.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 201-400):
● Almirola started 16th and finished 16th.
● Almirola raced inside the top-15 before the caution was called on lap 243.
● He noted that the handling of the car was the best it had been all night.
● Under caution, Almirola pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments. He was handed a speeding penalty and forced to the rear to restart 20th.
● Almirola pitted on lap 313 for four fresh tires and fuel. While he was on pit road the caution was called, putting him a lap down.
● He earned the Lucky Dog and pitted again for a large swing on adjustments before returning to the track in 16th.
● Almirola continued to battle for position until the end despite the difficult handling of his No. 10 Smithfield Ford.
● Almirola earned his 23rd top-20 of the season and his 12th top-20 in 16 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond.
● This is Almirola’s fourth straight top-20. He finished 13th in the series’ last race at Las Vegas.
● Martin Truex Jr. won the Federated Auto Parts 400 to score his 25th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his series-leading sixth of the season, his second in a row and his second at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was 2.63 seconds.
● There were five caution periods for a total of 32 laps.
● Only 13 of the 38 drivers in the Federated Auto Parts 400 finished on the lead lap.
Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“I feel like we brought a spoon to a sword fight tonight. We did everything we could with what we had. The silver lining is that we are three points ahead of the cutoff. Tomorrow is a new day, and our Smithfield Ford team will get focused on the Roval as soon as the sun comes up tomorrow.”
Playoff Standings (with one race to go before Round of 12):
1. Martin Truex Jr. (2,141 points) 2 wins; clinched spot in Round of 12
2. Kevin Harvick (2,120 points) +69 points; clinched spot in Round of 12
3. Kyle Busch (2,117 points) +66 points; clinched spot in Round of 12
4. Denny Hamlin (2,106 points) +55 points
5. Brad Keselowski (2,105 points) +54 points
6. Joey Logano (2,101 points) +50 points
7. Chase Elliott (2,088 points) +37 points
8. Kyle Larson (2,076 points) +25 points
9. Ryan Newman (2,065 points) +14 points
10. Ryan Blaney (2,059 points) +8 points
11. Aric Almirola (2,054 points) +3 points
12. William Byron (2,053 points) +2 points
13. Alex Bowman (2,051 points) -2 points
14. Clint Bowyer (2,049 points) -4 points
15. Kurt Busch (2,039 points) -14 points
16. Erik Jones (2,008 points) -45 points
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bank of America Roval 400 on Sunday, Sept. 29 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. It is the third race of the 10-race playoffs and the last race in the Round of 16. It starts at 2:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
With the race going green for a majority of Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drove his Fastenal Ford to a 16th-place finish.
“I made a huge mistake there after we pitted under green,” Stenhouse said. “I drove it down into turn three and I thought the No. 19 was going to give me the top and then he went to the top, so I dove back to the bottom and when I did it got on the splitter and pushed up into him and spun him. All I was hoping for after that point was he’d come back and win, but our Fastenal Mustang was a top 10 car. We were running there and just a bummer two weeks in a row that I’ve cost us a good finish.”
After starting in the 18th position for the 400-lap race, the two-time Xfinity champion worked his way up to 16th before a scheduled green flag pit-stop on lap 50. With a majority of the field not pitting during stage one, Stenhouse was able to capitalize with fresher tires and take the first green-checkered flag in the 13th position.
After battling a loose in and tight center condition for a majority of stage one, Stenhouse Jr. lined up in the 14th position after a wedge adjustment for the second 100-lap stage. Within 25 laps in stage two, the Olive Branch, Miss. native worked his way inside the top-10. With the stage going caution free the final 84 laps, Stenhouse took the second green-checkered in the 12th position despite battling a tight handling machine.
After taking a big swing with adjustments during stage break, the Roush Fenway Racing driver restarted in the 12th position and quickly maneuvered his Fastenal Ford back inside the top 10 where he maintained until a scheduled green flag pit-stop on lap 311.
As he was returning to the track, contact was made with the No. 19 machine bringing out the caution. Unfortunately, Stenhouse was not eligible for the lucky dog position so he was forced to take the wave around lining up at the tail end of the field with 80 laps remaining.
With the remainder of the race going caution free, Stenhouse Jr.settled with a 16th-place finish.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team return to action next Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the ROVAL race. Race coverage starts at 2:30 pm EST on NBC. Coverage can also be heard on PRN and SIRIUSXM Channel 90.