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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.”



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


Sam Mayer Dominates Dover To Close Championship Season

DOVER, Del. — Friday was his day, and 2019 was his season.

All Sam Mayer had to do to clinch the 2019 K&N Pro Series East championship was take the green flag. But after being quickest in practice and qualifying on the pole, he led all but two laps to close the season with a win and celebrate in style.

“I can’t thank everyone at GMS enough for all they do for me,” Mayer said. “I mean, they had a rocket ship for me, I can’t thank them enough for that. Drivers Edge Development, Chevrolet, Chevrolet Accessories for being on the car and bringing me out here in the first place, and giving me this opportunity to go win a K&N East championship.It means so much and I’m going to celebrate even more, for sure.”

Mayer is the youngest NASCAR champion at 16 years, 3 months and 8 days, eclipsing mark set in 2016 by current Todd Gilliland (16 years, 5 months). Mayer also bettered the East record that was set in 2017 Harrison Burton (16 years, 11 months, 20 days).

In total, Mayer won four races and finished outside the top 10 only once in 12 races (South Boston Twin No. 2, where he left early due to a prior commitment). His average finish for 2019 wound up being an impressive 3.2.

The championship is also GMS Racing’s first in the series, coming in their first full-time season of competition in the K&N Pro Series.

The DGR-Crosley trio of Tanner Gray, who led two laps, Todd Gilliland and Drew Dollar finished second, third and fourth, respectively, with Chase Cabre rounding out the top five.

Max McLaughlin, Spencer Davis, Ruben Garcia Jr., Brandon McReynolds and Justin S. Carroll completed the top 10.

Cabre finished a career-best second in the standings, 38 points behind Mayer. Davis (-42) finished third, with Tanner Gray (-48) and Max McLaughlin (-61) completing the top five.

The General Tire 125 is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Friday, October 11 at 6 p.m.

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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.



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


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.


Sam Mayer Dominates Iowa, Earns Second Career K&N Victory

NEWTON, Iowa. — The kid just keeps on impressing.

Sam Mayer earned his second victory of the 2019 season on Friday night at Iowa Speedway, leading all but eight laps from the pole en route to the victory.

“The race before the first break especially was just trying to keep the tires on the car,” he said. “I was really just trying to hit my marks the whole time. The car was rolling and I was starting to get a little bit free, but making those adjustments at Lap 100 really helped the car stay under me and helped me all the way through until the end.”

The win was also the second for GMS Racing (first coming at Bristol) who made their first full-time foray into the K&N Pro Series this year. In both events, the No. 21 car was in its own zip code.

Being a combination event, Mayer was able to earn more points than a typical K&N East event due to the higher car count. With the win, the 16-year-old Franklin, Wisconsin native now leads the East standings by six markers for the first time since May 4 (first South Boston Twin 100).

One of his main competitors for the title, Derek Kraus, encountered what could have been a monumental issue in the first 50-lap stretch. After contact from Max McLaughlin, Kraus was sent spinning in Turn 4, sustaining rear damage.


After starting in the rear (failed post-qualifying inspection), Ty Gibbs finished second for the third straight race. Ruben Garcia Jr. earned his best finish of the season in third, with Kraus and New Hampshire winner Chase Cabre rounding out the top five finishers.

Tanner Gray, Drew Dollar, Trevor Huddleston, Spencer Davis and Max McLaughlin completed the top 10. Jagger Jones finished 11th after late race contact from Huddleston and Hailie Deegan finished 12th after being penalized for an uncontrolled tire with under 20 laps remaining.

In the battle of the coasts, the East won. Handily. K&N East regulars (including Kraus) took nine of the top 10 spots when the checkered flag flew.

The Casey’s General Store 150 is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Wednesday, July 31 at 7 p.m.

The next K&N Pro Series East event will take place next weekend on Friday, August 2 at Watkins Glen International, with the next West race taking place at Evergreen Speedway on Saturday, August 17.

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OBSERVATIONS: Twin 100s Race 1 at South Boston

As the fans continue to preach for more short tracks on the NASCAR National touring schedules moving forward, the NASCAR Home Tracks divisions are continuing to showcase why this needs to happen.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series has proven to be a great division for young stars to showcase why they should compete against the stars in the national tours. As they’re pushing those envelopes, they are continuing to put together stellar finishes.

A late caution set-up a green-white-checkered finish to the Twin 100 Race 1 for the K&N Pro Series East at South Boston Speedway, and it impressed every fan watching the free stream on

After giving up the lead to Sam 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. 

Gray’s transition into stock cars has been interesting to watch thus far as Saturday’s event only marked his third career series in the start. He also does not have an asphalt oval background like many of his competitors, coming from the drag racing world into NASCAR. His quick ability to adapt to stock cars could prove critical moving forward.

If the caution does not fly, Mayer easily had the event in hand as he had been able to put a couple car lengths on Gray after taking the lead with a stronger car on the long run. Meyer has been equally as impressive as his counterpart, as evident by his dominating performance at Bristol Motor Speedway a couple weeks ago. 

Although everyone looked forward to seeing both of these young drivers go head-to-head once again in the second event starting up front, they also showed why they still have things to learn. Gray jumped the initial start, while Meyer made contact with the outside wall. With both being in the title fight, being able to gain ground when the race does go back green on Sunday could be a pivotal part of the season.

Certainly the youth and needing to learn showed through with other drivers, as well.

Drew Dollar gave up a top-five run in the first 100-lapper following contact with Chase Cabre as they both fought for the same piece of real estate.

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 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 using that feature for other previous incidents. 

Garrett is not totally done for the weekend, as the rain will see him jump behind the wheel of Ruben Garcia‘s entry when the field goes back green as Garcia travels to Mexico to race in the NASCAR Mexico Series. With some time to think over what happened and running for a different team than his own, does revenge happen?



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

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OBSERVATIONS: Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 at Salem Speedway

Although there were certainly some people enjoying the rain at Salem Speedway on Sunday, it wasn’t a sight that the majority could smile about.

Just past the halfway mark, the ARCA Menards Racing Series Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 was called as a result of weather, handing Michael Self his second straight victory. The Venturini Motorsports driver didn’t just luck into the win, though, as he was dominant through the first 100 laps. Taking the lead from Carson Hocevar on Lap 27, he didn’t look back en route to extending his gap over the field. The speed of his Toyota shined through when he was able to lap up to third-place before the caution came out.

It could be argued through the past couple seasons that Self has been lost in the Venturini shuffle. While many focused on the likes of Harrison Burton, Christian Eckes, Natalie Decker, the driver of the No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota has been a constant solid fixture. Prior to this season, he had won three races with 10 top-five’s in 16 series starts. Though running a partial schedule with connection to a development program lacked the focus.

This year, the story is different as Self will run the full schedule for Venturini Motorsports and contend for the championship. With back-to-back victories, he has moved himself up to fourth in the standings despite wrecking out of the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. With Venturini’s success in the series, don’t expect for him to slow down, either.

The championship fight this year has been debatable, given questions surrounding how many drivers are truly going to run the full schedule and how the teams will stack up. Unfortunately, Eckes is going to be out of the equation after missing Sunday’s race due to fighting flu-like symptoms – and that’s a big blow as he entered Salem as the points leader and was able to win three races last year. Hopefully he can get feeling better as soon as possible.

Perhaps the officials could’ve waited longer before calling the race, but there was more rain expected to fall and the grounds were wet given the amount of participation before the event. 

It would have been interesting to see Sunday’s race play out without the weather, given the level of talent at the front of the field. Pole sitter and eventual third-place finisher Hocevar stated post-race that he was focused on saving tires for the second half of the race, while NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Bristol race winner Sam Mayer was in the runner-up spot intrigued to see if the adjustments would’ve been enough. 

Instead, we are forced to focus forward as big drama lies ahead with Talladega Superspeedway next on the schedule.


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

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OBSERVATIONS: Zombie Auto 150 at Bristol Motor Speedway

If you did not know who Sam Mayer was before today’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event, then you certainly got your eyes wide open after watching him at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The Driver’s Edge Development member was perfect across the Zombie Auto 150 weekend, as he paced both practices, before winning the pole and leading flag-to-flag en route to victory. Despite a couple different restarts, Mayer was unchallenged throughout the entire event as he easily pulled away from the field, slicing his way through the lap traffic while maintaining a healthy advantage over the field.

For the rest of the field, it was mostly a calm event though, too. The race started off with a bang in the form of a multi-car crash on the opening lap, but then saw the field string out through the course of each stage, with a couple small battles between drivers at times to keep you occupied.

The biggest disappointment of the weekend probably would be the luck endured by Hailie Deegan. She was fast in practice, but blew an engine late in the session which caused her to miss qualifying. She would start from the tail of the field, and patiently worked her way up to eighth by Lap 40.

However, contact during the second half of the event resulted in an unscheduled trip down pit road for overheating issues, and a finish outside of the top-10. While she’s been the star of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West tour, she has yet to score a top-10 in the east division in eight starts.

The real talking point following the event wasn’t Mayer’s domination, though, but rather an interview fail.

Hannah Newhouse was pegged to speak with Riley Herbst following his crash for the at-track public address system, and’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. 


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


Sam Mayer Dominates Bristol For First K&N Pro Series Victory

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Round No. 2 of the K&N Pro Series East season belonged to Sam Mayer in every sense of the word.

The 15-year-old was quickest in both practice sessions, set the new track record by qualifying on the pole and won the Zombie Auto 150, leading all 150 laps en route to his first career K&N Pro Series victory.

“The race played out completely different than the way I thought,” Mayer said. “I thought it was going to be pretty solid on the top. But the top wasn’t there at all, it was pretty much all on the bottom. It was really good on the bottom, but once you got out of the groove to pass lapped cars you really had to feather the throttle and be easy into the corner.”

K&N Pro Series East regulars Chase Cabre and Brandon McReynolds came home second and third. Cabre finished 3.634 seconds behind Mayer’s No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet and McReynolds scored his second straight third-place finish.

Drew Dollar and Spencer Davis rounded out the top five finishers with Colin Garrett, Mason Diaz, Raphael Lessard (first series start) and Tanner Gray completing the top 10.

On the first lap, multiple drivers were involved in a crash on the frontstretch including Ruben Garcia Jr., Natalie Decker, Riley Herbst and Gray. Garcia, Herbst and Decker were forced behind the wall and finished 17th, 18th and 19th, respectively.

It was the eighth career start for the 15-year-old from Franklin, Wisc. He’s collected four top fives, with his previous best finish of fourth coming in the season finale last year at Dover International Speedway and then matched in this year’s opener at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway.

Mayer leads Kraus by three points and McReynolds by six in the driver standings. The first K&N Pro Series East regular after Mayer is Garrett in fourth, 11 points back.

The Zombie Auto 150 is scheduled to be broadcasted on NBCSN Thursday, April 11 at 4 p.m.

The next K&N Pro Series East events will take place on Saturday, May 4, at South Boston Speedway with twin 100-lap championship points races.

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As one of the first members of the new Driver’s Edge Development program put together by JR Motorsports and GMS Racing, Sam Mayer‘s schedule is filled with diversity for the 2019 in an effort to get him experience.

After kicking off the year with a solid fourth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at New Smyrna Speedway, he will be running the ARCA Menards Racing Series event at 5 Flags Speedway this weekend.

As he prepared for the weekend ahead, Mayer shared his thoughts entering the ARCA Pennscola 200 and more.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts heading into this weekend’s ARCA race?

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

SAM MAYER: I’m really excited. I think the team has a really good car put together. We went out and tested last week, and I feel like we were really strong. I mean, we feel like we have a little bit to work on, like little stuff like the track bar, but overall I feel like we have a really good car and can contend for probably a good top-five finish.

PS: What’s the biggest challenge of 5 Flags Speedway compared to other short tracks?

SAM: Definitely the tire wear is a big thing. I mean, obviously the Snowball Derby is just one of those races that are really grueling and you have to be on your toes, and save your stuff. I think the ARCA race will be the same way. You have to just save your stuff until the break and you’re able to get new tires, because you only get six tires. So it’s going to be about saving your tires and your stuff, but having the track position to pounce when the race is over.

PS: You were able to run a pair of ARCA races last season. What’s the biggest thing you learned during those that you feel will benefit you heading into this weekend?

SAM: I think overall this season is more competitive than last season, not to say last year was competitive at all. It was a really intense season last year, but this year this is so many big names coming into the sport and I feel like last year being in the series having that experience will help a lot. But the competition is going to be really high here, so we just have to do everything we can to get a good finish.

PS: New Smyrna was a mix of ups and downs for you, with the K&N Pro Series and the late model. What are your thoughts as you look back on that?

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

SAM: The K&N Race was very good. I feel like we could’ve finished a little bit better if we would’ve made a bigger adjustment on the first break when we pitted, but honestly that’s my fault in just trying to learn and figuring out what happens to the car over a long run.

But the Super Late Model – I don’t really know what to say about that. It’s really unfortunate we didn’t get the finishes we wanted. We were going down there to win, just wasn’t able to make it happen. We were chasing the track all week. It’s just one of those deals where you just got to move on.

PS: Your schedule is pretty diverse this season. How much of a challenge is it going from one vehicle to the other?

SAM: The K&N and ARCA car are really similar, so going back and forth between those two isn’t too drastic; it’s really just horsepower. But when we go super late model racing and TransAm Racing, that’s completely different and that’s just more or less for experience. So I don’t really take those for competitive, but rather just for learning, like road courses and stuff like that in the bigger cars. The Super Late Model is more so for the competitiveness of the series.

PS: Looking at your schedule, what track and series are you most excited for?

SAM: I’m really excited for the K&N Series this year, just because the competition is really high and I feel like we have a shot to win a lot of races and the championship. The Truck race – I’m really excited for that with Bristol and Martinsville and those short tracks over in the south. I’m just really excited for the experience I am going to get this year.

PS: I was just going to ask actually, but what does it mean for you to get that chance to move up in your racing career to the Gander Outdoor Truck Series?

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

SAM: It’s just getting experience this year. We’re going for a K&N Championship, but everything else we’re doing this year is just for pure experience and I’m just really excited due to having a great GMS Racing team behind me with Marty Lindley as a crew chief. He’s a big name in racing and he just knows how to win, so we’re going out here and going for that.

PS: As a young driver, how beneficial is it to be surrounded by the veterans at both GMS and JRM for advice with the Drivers Edge Development program?

SAM: It’s huge just have to everyone else like that’s older and more knowledgeable than I am. Like I said, I am young and still learning, so it’s just a big thing to hear the little things that they’re saying, whether it’s sway-bar inside the car or on-track stuff.

It’s really great to have a lot of mentors in the sport as there’s so many people that are helping me that have been in the sport for a long time, like Lorin Ranier. He’s a huge mentor for me because he knows so much about the sport.


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