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GOOD & BAD: 2019 NASCAR K&N Pro Series Season

Another year of NASCAR K&N Pro Series competition is in the books, as the transition now begins towards the new era of combining the NASCAR Home Tracks program with ARCA. Along the way, though, there were some highlights and low lights to consider from the action on-track all year.

Although I was unable to watch all of the races, let’s take a look back at the good and the bad.

GOOD: A little bump and banging, drivers making their way up and down the field, and a bump and run for the win – it sounds like the perfect short track event. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East was able to check each of those boxes when they visited Bristol Motor Speedway. 

BAD: The field size could certainly use some improvement, as highlighted with just 16 entries at Bristol. Hopefully the new format will allow for that to happen. 

GOOD: Thoughout the season, Sam Mayer was a step above the rest en route to winning the championship – and that was certainly on display at Bristol in August. 

After having to go back to the field at the beginning of the race, he methodically made his way forward, making passes as he went to continue gaining ground. He was then able to catch Davis in the closing laps, perfecting the bump and run to get the lead and cruise to the win.

Not only as he proven to be a master at one of NASCAR’s toughest short tracks, his ability behind the wheel has shined at other speedways. He won at Iowa Speedway, and ran strong in a couple NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series starts. As he makes his move up the ladder with GMS Racing and their Driver’s Edge Development program, the potential for him to be quite successful for years to come is there. 

BAD: It was not all sunshine for the driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet as his day was not clean at Bristol. He got put to the back on the first lap due to spinning fellow competitor Chase Cabre right off the drop of the green flag. 

While these two haven’t had the smoothest season racing each other in 2019 with contact throughout, it’s not a good appearance to be causing trouble right away. It also looks worse when you show no remorse about the contact. Mayer would admit he “didn’t mean it at all,” but went on to add that Cabre “kind of deserves it.” 

GOOD: Bristol wasn’t the only track that the young series shined, as South Boston Speedway’s event was arguably even better. A late caution set-up a green-white-checkered finish to the WhosYourDriver.org Twin 100 Race 1, and it impressed every fan watching the free stream on FansChoice.tv.

After giving up the lead to Mayer over the course of the long run, Tanner Gray took full advantage of the restart, with a well-timed bump to the back of the No. 21 Chevrolet, followed by some rubbing well alongside on the tight track to take over the lead. He then held on through the final lap for the victory.

It’s always been stated that “racecars have bumpers for a reason,” as well as the classic stories of the “chrome horn.” Gray perfected the move in that moment as he got the position on Mayer, however he didn’t go over the limit by wrecking his competitor. 

BAD: Hailie Deegan may be applauded for her aggressive ability, but she showed the need to learn patience in driving over Colin Garrett in the first 18 laps of the second event at South Boston before it was postponed to Sunday due to weather. Garrett showcased his frustration to his fellow competitor, resulting in shock from the fans in not being able to see a replay of the incident despite FansChoice.tv using that feature for other previous incidents. 

GOOD: Derek Kraus rarely makes mistakes and appeared to be ready to cruise to another victory at Irwindale Speedway, but he would get outside of the groove in turn three – opening the door for one of the most exciting battles in series history.

Both Trevor Huddleston and Tanner Gray would be able to clear Kraus in the process, with Huddleston beginning to stretch out an advantage. However, as the laps begin to count down, Gray was able to close the gap. Gray would get to Huddleton’s bumper with two to go, diving underneath in both ends as he tried to clear him. The battle would go all the way to the checkered flag. 

BAD: Sometimes it’s best to double check that your microphone is off before you make a candid comment.

Hannah Newhouse was pegged to speak with Riley Herbst following his crash for the at-track public address system at Bristol, and FansChoice.tv’s broadcast. She made the comment in which she wasn’t sure what took Herbst out of the race, to which he replied, “The car is killed. Look at the right side of this thing.”

Although improper etiquette to not fully know what happened entering the interview with a comment like that, the discussion point did not come from there. Rather, she left her microphone open following the interview, calling Herbst a “douchebag.”

Although honesty is appreciated from the on-air talent, that certainly is not the best look to have. 

GOOD: Hailie Deegan is currently regarded as one of the best young talents coming up in motorsports. She proved why on Thursday night at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway dirt track, and the fans were entertained in the process.

She would close the gap between herself and Jagger Jones, despite being just over five seconds behind with 26 laps to go.  Jones would find himself in lap traffic, and those cars would not move out of the way as the driver of the No. 6 would’ve hoped, as the bottom was the preferred line all night and where they tell lap cars to stay other places. Perhaps it was a bit of impatience, or maybe not having the knowledge of how to pinch himself underneath them, a he would get hung up on two occasions. The first would allow Deegan to close to within a couple car lengths, the second cost him the victory.

As Jones got hung up with Kenny Bumbera, a small space opened up between the tractor tire and them. Deegan would stick her nose in the hole, pushing Jones out a little (rubbing is racing, right?), and taking the lead. Although Jones tried to retaliate with the chrome horn going into turn three, it was not enough as Deegan kept it straight to the checkered flag.

GOOD: Anybody remember how the NASCAR K&N season started at New Smyrna? Despite starting 16th on the grid, Kraus conserved his tires while slowly making his way to the front, choosing to ride just inside the top-five. 

When the opportunity presented itself with the youthfulness of Garrett and Dollar getting together on a restart with 44 laps to go, Kraus did what he had to do, splitting the middle between the pair to drive by and cruise away en route to victory. Arguably, it was probably one of the best textbook restart passes that you will probably see all season. As he said post-race, “I might’ve gotten in the grass, but I got it done.”

GOOD: Can we also applaud NASCAR for their cost-saving measure in only allowing one single set of General Tires for the event? On top of the money not being spent, it also teaches the drivers about conserving equipment – something we know can come in handy when they move up the ranks. 

GOOD: The choice to stream the events live for free via FansChoice.tv was probably the best decision made. It allotted fans who may only know of the big three series a chance to get a glimpse at the grassroots action, perhaps resulting in them becoming more interested and wanting to attend an event closer to home.

Furthermore, it gave those short track attendees a chance to check out the middle ground of NASCAR. While they may not be too thrilled by the intermediate tracks, this may be the series level that attracts their interest in being closer to what they’re used to.

They always say the hardest part of advertising a product is getting it in front of fans, and doing that this way probably certainly improved the awareness.

BAD: It’s too bad, though, that the option won’t be there in 2020 with NBC Sports Gold taking over broadcasting the series, and now charging so much a month. Certainly those work to put the coverage together deserve something in return for their hard work respectfully, and the amount being charged is not too far out there.

However, making it only available to those in the United States, whereas FansChoice you could view anywhere around the globe, is ignoring a lot of potential race fans. An example would be the Canadian fan base, which makes up 40% of attendees to both Watkins Glen and Michigan. Now you’re taking away something for them view race fan wise, combined with the truck series just being able on one television provider, how does that make them feel included?

In a time where NASCAR recognizes that their numbers were going down with sponsors harder to find, you would think that we’d be wanting to reach as many markets around the world as possible. 

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Derek Kraus Celebrates Championship as Ty Gibbs Survives Overtime To Win at ISM

AVONDALE, Ariz. — The 2019 K&N Pro Series West season finale showcased the up and coming talent in NASCAR. And when the lights shined the brightest, the young drivers delivered.

Derek Kraus officially clinched the series championship by taking the green flag, and allowed himself to get a little introspective once the title was finalized.

“It’s a dream come true to become a NASCAR champion and it’s all because of you guys,” he said over the radio.

Dream: meet reality.

After failing pre-race inspection and starting in the rear, Kraus fought his way to finish inside the top five for the 11th time this season. Once he made the trip to Victory Lane, the gravity of what he’d just accomplished began to sink in.

“It feels really good,” Kraus said with a smile ear to ear. “We had a really good season this year. If we had a bad night, we were able to capitalize on it and do as much as we could do make the bad night as good as we could.”

“I really can’t thank all these (Bill McAnally Racing) guys enough. They work their tails off on this race car to get it as good as it is every single race. And to finish the year out strong finishing fourth after starting towards the back of the field, it was a really good night and I’m really excited for the following years.”

Kraus’ third full-time season in the series resulted in seven total wins (five West, two East) and an average finish of 4.0, a series best.

Further up front, Sam Mayer controlled the majority of the race, leading 68 laps total. But restarts plagued the 2019 K&N East champion all evening long, as he lost the lead to Ty Gibbs in Turns 1 and 2 with a little over 30 laps remaining

Gibbs, who didn’t give the lead up after taking it on Lap 71, was able to hold off Mayer for two green/white/checkered overtime restarts and win his first career K&N West race and second this season.

“There was a lot going on there,” Gibbs said of the finish to the Arizona Lottery 100. “Those restarts really kind of got me flustered there. I got nervous for a little bit. I could really set (Mayer) up on the restarts. That’s where I could get him the most. We just persevered, started in the back and the car was so good that we got to Victory Lane, it was a cool day.”

The win for Gibbs came under the Levin Racing banner in a partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing. The win is the team’s second in the organizations history (Sheldon Creed, Las Vegas 2018).

Corey Heim of Chad Bryant Racing crossed the finish line third. He was credited with a 25th-place finish, however. The No. 22 team, at the request of NASCAR Competition officials, ran an Illmor engine. NASCAR officials and the No. 22 agreed the team would be placed last in the official results regardless of their finish in the running order.

Kraus officially finished third, with his Bill McAnally Racing teammate Hailie Deegan fourth and Scottsdale, Arizona native Jagger Jones rounding out the top five.

Brittney Zamora, Trenton Moriarity, Trevor Huddleston, Todd Souza and Riley Herbst completed the top 10.

With his fifth place effort, Jones earned the runner-up spot in the 2019 standings, three points ahead of Deegan, who finished third. Huddleston and Zamora round out the top five.

The Arizona Lottery 100 is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Thursday, November 14 at 6 p.m.

The NASCAR Touring Awards Banquet will take place on Saturday, November 23 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Jagger Jones Returns Home for First Race at ISM Raceway

AVONDALE, Arizona — The Arizona Lottery 100 at ISM Raceway was the final stop on the circuit for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, but was also the first race in a NASCAR sanctioned series at his hometown facility for Jagger Jones.

“This is my first time racing here at ISM Raceway and it’s obviously so different from watching in the stands,” Jones told POPULAR SPEED.  “Growing up watching the races here and now being able to race here is super cool. I’m looking forward to it, it’s cool to be the local kid for once because usually I’m traveling all around the west coast – all around the country really for races, so it’s cool to race here in my hometown.”

The Scottsdale, Arizona-Native entered the series finale ranked second in the standings – and this was as high as he could soar, being that all points leader Derek Kraus had to do at the 1.5-mile speedway was start the race to lock up the 2019 Championship.

Jones would go on to put down a sixth-best qualifying lap, putting him on the outside of Drew Dollar to start the 100 Lap event.

“We have a really competitive field here this weekend,” the 17-year old admitted. “We’ve struggled a little bit on the bigger tracks for our series, so I think if we can get up inside the top-five it’ll be a good say for us.”

When the green flag waved atop the unique LED-cactus flag stand, Sam Mayer raced from the lead and did not surrender that position until 12 laps remaining – when race-winner Ty Gibbs passed him after the 16-year old made contact with Ty Majeski on a three-wide restart.

A good majority of the race was a product of single-file long-run racing in which Jones saw himself mainly battling with fan-favorite, Hailie Deegan for the eighth-spot.  After a healthy-dose of cautions in the final 30 laps of the race, Jones didn’t quite salvage that top-five he’d hoped to attain in pre-race, finishing sixth.

The driver of the No. 6 was able to hold on to the second-ranked position in the standings. He finished the year with eight top-fives, 11 top-10s, one pole award, 248 laps led and his first win – which came at All American Speedway in Roseville, California.

It’s safe to say that after what can be deemed an incredibly impressive season that Jones will be one of the young talents who will be in NASCAR for years to come.

“We’re setting up things for next season,” said the Arizona-native. “They’re changing the whole series in 2020, so we’re just trying to put everything together for that. Next year I want to run a lot of races and win as many as I can – those are my main goals for he offseason.”

EMAIL COLE AT: colecusumano88@gmail.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management to other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered and endorsement.

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Derek Kraus Survives Meridian Carnage, Wins In Overtime

MERIDIAN, Idaho — The man to beat all season was the man to beat on Saturday night.

Derek Kraus charged up through the field from seventh to lead 100 laps and earn his fourth K&N Pro Series West victory this season, 12th overall of his career and first at Meridian Speedway in the NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208.

“Finally,” Kraus said with a smile. “It’s been a good year so far and tonight was just another short track race. There was lots of beating and banging, there were lots of yellows for sure. There were a lot of restarts, and I was able to get the lead over Jagger (Jones) about halfway through the race and I was able to keep it. That was really good, I’m really proud of how tonight went and I can’t thank these guys enough.”

Last season, Kraus led 189 of 208 laps from the pole, only to finish third after a late race incident with a lapped car. In three of his four K&N West wins this season, he’s led 100 laps or more.

But Kraus’ main competition was the man who led the most laps (121) on the evening from the pole: Jagger Jones.

With three laps to go in regulation, Kraus opted for the high lane on the restart, allowing Jones to take the bottom. The two made contact in Turns 1 and 2, and Kraus tapped Jones in Turn 3, sending him spinning, causing a massive pileup involving almost half the field.

“I’m sure he’s not very happy with me, but that’s racing,” Kraus said of the incident. “I’ve been on the other end of that and I know how it feels with Colorado. I’m sure he’s mad, and I’m sorry about it, but I guess that’s short track racing.”

Jones, understandably, wasn’t in the mood for apologies.

Following Kraus to the checkered flag was Todd Souza, who cleared the smoke to come home runner-up, his second-best career result. Trevor Huddleston did the same to finish third.

Josh Jackson, making his K&N debut, finished fourth after earning three free passes throughout the race, with Brad Kossow (also making his debut) rounding out the top five.

At the time of the green/white/checkered overtime restart, Josh Fanopoulos was running fourth, the highest he’s ever ran in a K&N Pro Series race. Despite being spun on the frontstretch on said restart, he earned his career best finish in sixth. Travis Milburn, Brittney Zamora, Zach Telford and Keith McGee completed the top 10.

Telford, a 15-year-old from Middleton, Idaho, was running second on the final lap before contact from Souza sent him spinning in Turn 2. He was making his first series start, as well.

The defending winner of the race, Hailie Deegan, got into some trouble of her own on Lap 132. After racing hard with Souza, she and Huddleston got together, giving her Bill McAnally Racing machine heavy nose damage. She ultimately finished 13th, 13 laps down.

Devin Dodson, who started a career-best fourth, finished 17th, 71 laps down after an accident on Lap 153 with Takuma Koga damaged the radiator.

In total, 12 caution flags flew for 70 laps, falling one yellow shy of the track record in 2016.

With the win, Kraus extends his championship points lead from 29 to 40. With his podium run and Deegan’s troubles, Huddleston now sits second in the standings, with Deegan third, Jones fourth and Zamora fifth.

The NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208 is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Friday, October 4 at 6 p.m.

The next K&N Pro Series West event will take place at All American Speedway in Roseville, California on Saturday, October 12.

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Ty Gibbs Earns First Career K&N Pro Series Victory at New Hampshire

LOUDON, N.H. — After four runner-up finishes, Ty Gibbs finally did one better at New Hampshire.

The DGR-Crosley driver led a race-high 112 laps in Saturday’s Apple Barrel 125 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway en route to his first career K&N Pro Series East victory, coming in his sixth start overall and first at NHMS.

“It’s really cool, man,” Gibbs said post-race. “I came here, and it’s a hard track, a fun track too. Just a little tight there but once we worked on it, we got better. Super cool to win here.”

Gibbs earned three straight second-place finishes this season to begin his career. Add in a fourth-place run at Watkins Glen as well as another runner-up at Bristol, he was poised to earn his first checkered flag.

It was a matter of when, not if.

“You work so hard for this stuff and finishing second the last four times I’ve raced, it sucks,” he admitted. “It’s heartbreaking. But once you get that win, it feels so good. I feel so good right now. Plus to have two (won last weekend in the ARCA Menards Series at Salem Speedway), it’s just a great deal.”

Gibbs has earned two wins (Salem and Gateway) in the ARCA Menards Series this season, garnering seven top fives as well.

His teammate Tanner Gray came home in second, earning his best finish since winning at South Boston in May and his first top five since the first Loudon race.

Josh Berry, making his third career series start and first with Visconti Motorsports, came home third, with Gateway winner Spencer Davis and championship points leader Sam Mayer rounding out the top five.

Chase Cabre led 13 laps from the pole, but fell back on the restart following the second scheduled break due to what he and the team called a “bad set of tires.” His Rev Racing teammates Ruben Garcia Jr. and Nick Sanchez finished seventh and eighth, with Justin Carroll and Robert Pawlowski completing the top 10.

Max McLaughlin, running a tribute paint scheme to the late Mike Stefanik, finished 13 laps down in 12th after experiencing electrical issues late.

Mayer’s maintained his 30-point championship points lead over Chase Cabre heading into the final race of the season, and has virtually wrapped up his first NASCAR championship. He must finish 27th or better at Dover to clinch the title.

The Apple Barrell 125 is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Wednesday, September 25 at 6 p.m.

The final K&N Pro Series East event of the season will take place at Dover International Speedway on Saturday, October 4.

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Spencer Davis Earns First Win In Over Three Years With Late Gateway Restart

MADISON, Ill. — For the first time in 1,181 days, Spencer Davis can call himself a winner in the K&N Pro Series again.

One week removed from leading a career-high 137 laps at Bristol Motor Speedway, the Dawsonville, Georgia native took the lead from Sam Mayer on the final green/white/checkered restart into Turn 1 and never looked back in the Monaco Cocktails 125, claiming his first victory since May 30, 2016 at Dominion Raceway.

The ultimate winning move was set up by a caution for Josh Fanopoulos blowing an engine off Turn 4. When Davis realized he’d get another shot at the win, he thanked his lucky stars.

“I saw that car blowing up and I’m like ‘someone’s shining down on us trying to get us that win.’,” Davis said following his Worldwide Technology Raceway win. “And when we lined up, I just zoned out, didn’t listen to the spotter or nothing. Like I said in Victory Lane, tried to channel my inner Dale (Earnhardt).”

And that’s exactly what he did.

“Tried to intimidate (Mayer) a little bit coming to the line,” he said. “The only way you can beat him–the only way I think you can beat this car this year is to make the kid make a mistake. Being a veteran of this series, I feel like I’m exceptional at restarts […] you couldn’t have asked for a better performance right there.”

“I hit my gears better than him and got into (Turn) 1 better,” Davis said. “I know he didn’t give it to me, but it felt like it because I drove that thing in there until I saw Jesus, man. It stuck, and I came out the other end leading.”

Derek Kraus earned his second consecutive runner-up finish, with David Gilliland, Mayer and Parker Retzlaff, making his second career series start, rounding out the top five.

Ruben Garcia Jr., Jagger Jones, Colin Garrett, Hailie Deegan and Todd Souza completed the top 10.

Deegan ran inside the top five for most of the night before spinning after contact with Kraus, which subsequently cut her tire and forced her to spin out.

After leading the first 60+ lap from the pole, Chase Cabre was relegated to a 13th-place finish, seven laps down, after he encountered electrical issues during the halfway break.

On Lap 1, Max McLaughlin, Garcia Jr. and Tanner Gray were involved in an accident in Turn 3. The crash ended McLaughlin’s day and gave the other two drivers damage. Gray wound up slamming the wall with a flat tire and finished the race 52 laps down.

Trevor Huddleston and Brittney Zamora both lost engines during the first half of the race and finished 18th and 19th, respectively.

With his fourth-place result and Cabre’s misfortune, Mayer extends his K&N East championship lead over the Rev Racing driver to 30 points with two races remaining.

With his second-place result, Kraus extends his K&N West championship lead over his teammate, Deegan, to 29 points with four races remaining.

K&N East Standings | K&N West Standings

The Monaco Cocktails 125 is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Thursday, August 29 at 6 p.m.

The next K&N Pro Series East event will take place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 21. The next K&N Pro Series West event will take place at Meridian Speedway on Saturday, September 28.

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Trevor Huddleston Dominates Evergreen For Second Career Victory

MONROE, Wash. — Nobody had anything for Trevor Huddleston.

The Agoura Hills, California native cruised to his second K&N Pro Series West win of this season and his career at Evergreen Speedway in the NAPA Auto Parts 150 on Saturday night, leading the most laps (85) en route to the victory.

“The car unloaded pretty quick, the guys at the shop were on top of it, and the guys at the track were on top of it even more because we just kept making the thing better and it showed out there,” Huddleston said.

The win is also Sunrise Ford’s second of the season. Thus far, only two events in the series (Sonoma, JPR and Iowa, GMS) have been won by teams other than Bill McAnally Racing (5) and Sunrise (2).

Derek Kraus led 20 laps, but struggled with a tight condition and wound up coming home second, his sixth top five and first runner-up finish this season. His BMR teammate and polesitter Brittney Zamora led 45 laps from the pole and wound up third, tying her career-best finish.

Monroe native, 2017 track and Washington state champion Trenton Moriarity, making his K&N Pro Series debut for newly formed JP Racing, finished fourth, with Jagger Jones rounding out the top five.

Todd Souza, Hailie Deegan, Devin Dodson, Jack Wood and Travis Milburn completed the top 10.

With his second-place effort, Kraus extends his championship points lead to 18 over Huddleston, who jumped Deegan and now sits second.

The NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by ENEOS is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Thursday, August 22 at 6 p.m.

The next K&N Pro Series West event will take place next weekend at Worldwide Technology Raceway at Gateway, the second of two combination events with the K&N Pro Series East.

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OBSERVATIONS: Bush’s Beans 150 at Bristol Motor Speedway

A little bump and banging, drivers making their way up and down the field, and a bump and run for the win – it sounds like the perfect short track event. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East was able to check each of those boxes on Thursday evening.

Despite having a small field with just 16 entries, the top-five were close throughout the event, with battles for position from the drop of the green flag to the checkered. With everybody fighting for the bottom, passes became tough at times and it showed with contact throughout. 

Throughout the Bush’s Beans 150, certain drivers showed their ability behind the wheel. Spencer Davis dominated a good chunk of the race, while Hailie Deegan displayed her ability to make passes and move forward. The young talent of Ty Gibbs and Tanner Gray was shown with them being able to run solidly in the top-five.

Though just like he was able to in the spring, Sam Mayer was a step above the rest.

After having to go back to the field at the beginning of the race, he methodically made his way forward, making passes as he went to continue gaining ground. He was then able to catch Davis in the closing laps, perfecting the bump and run to get the lead and cruise to the win.

Not only as he proven to be a master at one of NASCAR’s toughest short tracks, his ability behind the wheel has shined at other speedway. He won at Iowa, and now holds a 22-point advantage in the standings.

Driving for GMS Racing and under the Driver’s Edge Development program, the potential for him to move forward in his racing career there as he ran top-10 until contact with the wall in his NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series debut at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Though it’s not all sunshine for the driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet as his day was not all clean at Bristol. He got put to the back on the first lap due to spinning fellow competitor Chase Cabre right off the drop of the green flag. 

While these two haven’t had the smoothest season racing each other in 2019 with contact throughout, it’s not a good appearance to be causing trouble right away. It also looks worse when you show no remorse about the contact. Mayer would admit he “didn’t mean it at all,” but went on to add that Cabre “kind of deserves it.” 

It’s a tough balance because as a young driver, creating enemies with dirty racing as some would call what happen is not the approach you want in attracting sponsors to back your dream. However, rivalries are always great for the sport as they create conversation. Perhaps that can help get the series back to the star power it used to be.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Sam Mayer Wins Second In A Row At Bristol In Comeback Effort

BRISTOL, Tenn. — The end result was the same, but the race itself couldn’t have been more different.

Sam Mayer wound up in Victory Lane in Thursday’s Bush’s Beans 150 at Bristol Motor Speedway, sweeping the season at “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile” and earning his third win of his career.

The race began with a bang, as Mayer made contact after starting on the outside of polesitter Chase Cabre in Turn 3 on the opening lap, sending Cabre into the wall.

NASCAR sent Mayer to the rear of the field following the incident, and he quickly made his way back through the field. By the Lap 50 scheduled break, he was already back inside the top five.

For the next 80-plus laps, Mayer followed Spencer Davis and company around Thunder Valley, waiting to pounce when the time was right.

With 13 laps to go, Mayer used the bump-and-run on Davis, who led the most laps for Rette Jones Racing, and didn’t look back, cruising to the victory by almost two seconds.

“There’s always that little bit in your mind that has doubt, but I felt pretty confident in the race car,” Mayer said of coming from the rear. “(Crew chief) Mardy (Lindley) put together a really good one, everyone at GMS […] with the aero and and all that, I couldn’t get by the No. 30 (Spencer Davis) to save my life until he made a mistake. It did pay off that we were there to get an opportunity to pass him. There was a little doubt in my mind, but I was pretty confident as well that we’d get it done.”

Ty Gibbs came home second for the fourth time this season, leading the DGR-Crosley brigade, with Ruben Garcia Jr. third, Mason Diaz fourth and Davis fifth.

Max McLaughlin, Cabre, Hailie Deegan and Joe Graf Jr. rounded out the top 10.

Following the Lap 1 accident, Cabre began experiencing lower back pain. He was assisted climbing out of his car post-race and has been transferred to a local hospital for further evaluation.

When asked about the Lap 1 contact, Mayer said Cabre “kind of deserves it” due to the way he’d been racing Cabre all season long.

“I did flat out dump him,” he said. “I didn’t mean it at all, but I did get in there way too hard and get into him.”

With the win, Mayer extends his championship points lead over Cabre to 22, the biggest margin of the season. McLaughlin and Gray now sit third and fourth with Derek Kraus’ absence at Bristol.

The Bush’s Beans 150 is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Wednesday, August 21 at 7 p.m.

The next K&N Pro Series East event will take place next weekend at Worldwide Technology Raceway at Gateway, the second of two combination events with the K&N Pro Series West.

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Max McLaughlin Claims First Career Victory at Watkins Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Not bad for a first timer.

After setting quick time in practice and earning his second career pole, Max McLaughlin led every lap before Mother Nature forced the premature ending of the Great Outdoors RV Superstore 100 at Watkins Glen International, declaring the driver of the No. 1 the winner.

“It’s awesome. I can’t believe it–I’ve never even raced on a road course before,” he said in disbelief. “We come here, fastest in practice–sweep the weekend. It’s beyond words, man. My dad won here, it’s always been my favorite track as a kid. To get my first NASCAR win here. This is priceless. Coming to 10 to go or whatever, I had tears in my eyes, ‘oh my god, this ain’t really happening, is it?’ […] I love this place, really looking forward to getting back here soon.”

With weather in the area, what would be the final restart was a bit hairy for McLaughlin. He briefly lost the lead to Tanner Gray, but quickly regained it before a lightning strike delayed the event.

Then, the rain began to fall. After about 30 minutes, NASCAR deployed the track drying team in an attempt to go back racing. But shortly thereafter, the rain picked back up, forcing NASCAR to call the event six laps before it’s full distance.

The win was Hattori Racing Enterprises’ second consecutive in the event, as Brett Moffitt earned the checkered flag last season in this very car. The year prior, Ryan Truex led 26 laps from the pole before being sidelined due to an accident.

Two-time winner in 2019 Chase Cabre, championship points leader Sam Mayer, Ty Gibbs and Ruben Garcia Jr. rounded out the top five, with Dylan Murry, Spencer Davis, Dale Quarterley, Derek Kraus and Colin Garrett completing the top 10.

The Great Outdoors RV Superstore 100 is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Wednesday, August 7 at 6 p.m.

The next K&N Pro Series East event, the Bush’s Beans 150, will take place in two weeks on Thursday, August 15 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Mayer won earlier this season at “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”