Friday, June 9, 2023

Matt Stallknecht Survives Wreck-Filled Truck Race at Talladega for Monday Night Racing Victory

Screenshot taken from Podium eSports YouTube broadcast.

Any time a racing series heads to Talladega Superspeedway, you expect to see chaos. Monday’s Sim Seats 215 presented by Rowdy Energy for the Monday Night Racing League was no exception, as Matt Stallknecht battled through some early troubles to take the checkered flag.

After leading the race’s first lap, Stallknecht was involved in an early-race accident with country music singer Tim Dugger, a wreck that would take out a number of contenders early in the event. From there, Stallknecht would have to work his way back through the field, after being relegated to the back of the pack.

Stallknecht’s triumph at the 2.66-mile superspeedway is a much-needed one for Crypto Autosport, who failed to put one of their drivers into the Monday Night Racing Playoffs, as the culmination of a season-long struggle.

However. the team showed some significant speed at Talladega Superspeedway, with a pair of top-five results from Stallknecht and Mark Reilas – a photographer from USA Today — and teammates TJ Majors, DJ Cummings, and Ford Martin all running up front at different points throughout the event.

“We came in here with a chip on our shoulder,” Stallknecht said in a post-race interview. “We were determined to come out here and show that we are a top-flight team in this league and a force to be reckoned with, and I felt like we made a huge statement tonight.”

The race featured a total of six caution flags, with the majority of the field finding trouble at some point throughout the event. Multi-car accidents at laps 12, 18, and 43 each caused major shuffles in the running order.

David Schildhouse and Collin Fern – two Monday Night Racing Playoff contenders — elected to drop to the back of the lead draft, in order to avoid any major accidents at the conclusion of the event, a strategy that resulted in both drivers collecting top-10s.

Schildhouse brought his sponsored entry home in eighth, while Fern recorded a solid 10th-place finish. Josh Bilicki, Adam Cabot, and Kyle Busch would all see their playoff hopes take a hit, after using fast repairs in early accidents and ended up 23rd, 32nd, and 37th, respectively.

Rajah Caruth was able to make a more aggressive driving style work at Talladega, making moves and giving pushes throughout the entire event, which left him at the center of many incidents. Caruth was turned from the race lead on lap 24 but rebounded to be second in the outside lane on the final restart.

Said final restart came as a result of a spin by Tim Dugger with six laps left in the event. Stallknecht and Justin Melillo lined up on the front row and stayed side-by-side for the majority of the two-lap run before their tandem partners made contact and triggered a huge accident.

Dodging the accident, Steven Ellis recorded a third-place finish, with Garrett Smithley finishing in fourth. However, Caruth and Brown earned 20th and 24th-place finishes, respectively.

Monday Night Racing Sim Seats 225 Final Results:

  1. No. 41 – Matt Stallknecht
  2. No. 53 – Justin Melillo
  3. No. 46 – Steven Ellis
  4. No. 52 – Garrett Smithley
  5. No. 99 – Mark Rebilas
  6. No. 19 – Robby Lyons
  7. No. 23 – Anthony Alfredo
  8. No. 20 – David Schildhouse
  9. No. 21 – Max Kennon
  10. No. 86 – Colin Fern
  11. No. 6 – Ryan Vargas
  12. No. 50 – Gabe Wood
  13. No. 14 – Dillon Welch
  14. No. 42 – Preston Pardus
  15. No. 4 – Brett Baldeck
  16. No. 22 – TJ Majors
  17. No. 24 – Will Rodgers
  18. No. 13 – Gary Sexton
  19. No. 57 – Seth Eggert
  20. No. 44 – Rajah Caruth
  21. No. 07 – Ford Martin
  22. No. 11 – Steve Auffant
  23. No. 53 – Josh Bilicki
  24. No. 12 – Brandon Brown
  25. No. 60 – Brad Perez
  26. No. 26 – Chris Wilner
  27. No. 84 – Kase Kallenbach
  28. No. 91 – Cole Irvan
  29. No. 29 – James Bickford
  30. No. 33 – Tim Dugger
  31. No. 27 – Michael Massie
  32. No. 17 – Adam Cabot
  33. No. 64 – Drew Welker
  34. No. 10 – DJ Cummings
  35. No. 1 – Josh Slate
  36. No. 77 – Devon Henry
  37. No. 51 – Kyle Busch
  38. No. 25 – Stefan Wilson
  39. No. 93 – Garrett Miller
  40. No. 63 – Bryan Boris Cook

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