Longest NASCAR race of the season on tap
The racing was hot and heavy last weekend, both locally and at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
I want to get right to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series All-Star races. I want to mention that the Camping World Truck series did race Thursday night, and it turned out to be a Kyle Busch benefit. Busch dominated the event, winning all the stages and the race. Johnny Sauter finished second after he passed Christopher Bell on the last restart. Ryan Truex finished fourth. Veteran driver Timothy Peters brought his Red Horse Racing Toyota home in fifth. He and his rookie teammate, Brett Moffitt, were both in the Top 10 in points; however, the team owner chose to close the doors on their shop and withdraw from the series sighting failure to secure sponsorship for these teams.
The All-Star Open was first up on Saturday afternoon. This race is for the non-qualified cars to see who can transfer to the All-Star race later and race for a cool million dollars. Clint Bowyer drove his Stewart-Haas Ford to victory in the first stage from the pole position and grabbed the first transfer spot. Ryan Blaney grabbed the lead on the restart for stage two and secured his spot in his Wood Brothers Racing Ford. Daniel Suarez broke up the Ford party and grabbed the third and final stage win in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. One driver is selected by a fan vote, and Chase Elliott nabbed a chance at the million with his Hendrick Motorsports Chevy through that process.
The All-Star race was up next. These teams and 16 other drivers were ready to fight it out over three stages as the field would be pared down to 10 cars to shoot it out over 10 laps to find the All-Star champion. Kyle Larson appeared to have the car to beat early, and won the first two stages. With a million on the line, Jimmie Johnson captured the third stage and the transfer to the fast 10. With a daring move on the final restart, Kyle Busch drove away to victory and grabbed the million dollar first-prize purse.
Larson just didn’t quite have the handling at the end and finished second. Johnson finished third. Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray rounded out the Top 5. Sixth through tenth were in order; Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin. All-in-all, it was an OK event. Goodyear provided an optional softer compound tire that teams could put on once during the event, and this made for some interesting strategy. This had little to do with the final outcome and, like most mile-and-a-half tracks, being out front in clean air was certainly an advantage.
This week, these and the other Monster Energy Cup teams will battle for 600 miles in the longest race on the NASCAR schedule, the Coke 600. This race takes place Sunday afternoon/evening of the Memorial Day weekend. Saturday afternoon, the Xfinity cars will battle the CMS track.
Last Friday evening, Elkins Raceway hosted another Thunder in the Mountains race event. In the mini-mods, A Group, Chandi Currence won over Landon Marple. Brayden Beachler, Ryan Hare and Blake Runyon rounded out the Top 5. B Group action saw Noah Whited win over George Casto III and Presley Wilt.
Jenkins Ford Super Late Models saw Parkersburg’s Tyler Carpenter win over Steve Wilmoth. Shane Hitt was third. Bob Gordon and Shaun Polling rounded out the Top 5. Eight cars started the feature.
The Budweiser FasTrak Crate Late Models had 20 cars on hand. Chad Green won over Billy Beachler. Andy Spooner was third. Dylan Lewis and Derek Rodgers rounded out the Top 5.
The AMRA Performance Chevrolet Open Wheeled Modifieds had 17 cars on hand. Brent Trimble won over Paul Wilmoth Jr. Vic Vandergrift was third. Jamie McCloud and Mathew Chenoweth rounded out the Top 5.
I had a Top 10 in our first race, finishing tenth. I had a busy week. I towed the John 3:16 Mud Bus through the Strawberry Festival Junior Royalty Parade Thursday evening. I raced Friday night, then cleaned the car and took part in the Children’s Miracle Network Car Show at Elkins Wal-Mart Saturday. Eleven-year-old Mitch Thomas continues to improve and had a solid run finishing ninth.
The West Virginia Pools Street Stocks finished out the evening, and Anthony Arbogast won over Jamie Keene. Another lady, Teresa Vaughan, finished third. Brian Youtzy battled back to fourth over Chris McDonald after being the victim of a spin.
The Memorial Day weekend always is a special time for racing. Along with the Coke 600, there’s the little race they hold in Indianapolis, the Indy 500 and the Grand Prix of Monaco. There will be great racing at Elkins Raceway with Friday Night Thunder once again, and on June 2, be ready for Autograph Night. Other area tracks have special nights scheduled.
So take some time to remember our fallen heroes who have paid the ultimate price to assure us we can have the freedom we enjoy. Remember, at the end of the straightaway, there’s Another Left Turn.