In comparison to last week’s elimination race at Nashville Superspeedway, Monday night’s event seemed like a Sunday drive.
Alpha Prime Racing’s Rajah Caruth dominated at the virtual Auto Club Speedway, taking home his second checkered flag in the season finale of Monday Night Racing’s fourth season. However, Caruth was not a part of the Championship Four, after a late-race accident at Nashville.
The part-time NASCAR Xfinity Series competitor battled with DJ Cummings and championship contenders Adam Cabot and David Schildhouse early in the race, before taking the lead on lap 18, facing little challenge from that point on, even throughout the race’s two green-flag pit stop cycles.
However, the race’s main focus, the fight for the Bob Jenkins Memorial Trophy, came down to Schildouse, Cabot, Ryan Vargas, and Colin Fern, with a winner-take-all format similar to that of NASCAR’s top-three series.
Fern’s championship hopes took a huge hit on the very first lap of the race when Shane Van Gisburgen got loose and slid up the track in turn one, washing up into the No. 86 Chevrolet. The Brandonbilt Motorsports employee was forced to use a fast repair.
Surprisingly, the first-lap incident between Fern and Van Gisburgen would be the only caution flag in the event, which made it nearly impossible for Fern to recover, despite an attempt at a last-ditch strategy call.
On the first round of green-flag stops, Caruth, Schildhouse, and Vargas all pitted early, earning them the top-three spots when things had completely cycled. Cabot on the other hand, extended his first green-flag run, being one of the last cars to pit, cycling him back to eighth.
It wouldn’t take long for Cabot to work his way through the field, receiving help from Brad Perez, who fought fiercely with Schildhouse for second-place. Eventually, with 33 laps to go, Cabot would catch the No. 20 TobyChristie.com Chevrolet for the championship lead.
However, it was at that same time, that the final cycle of green-flag pit stops would begin, with Ryan Vargas bringing his No. 6 Chevrolet down pit lane, much earlier than his other title contenders.
Following the event, Vargas says that he had a glitch on his pit stop, that didn’t get all of the fuel into the car, forcing him to pit early.
Got a glitch where the car only took 6 Gal of fuel on the first stop, had to short pit and without any yellows it took away any chances.
What an event though, we had the speed to contend! Thanks @GetWetSports, @CLTPhoenixGG and @JDMotorsports01 for all the support!#eNASCAR https://t.co/ac3kmuDSEu
— Ryan Vargas (@RyanVargas_23) February 8, 2022
Similar to the way that he got his victory at Iowa, Fern tried to extend his second-to-last run to catch a caution, but was unsuccessful this time, bringing his car to pit road with 13 to go.
At this point in the race, Cummings had briefly taken the lead away from Caruth, with Schildhouse, Cabot, and Vargas making up the remainder of the top-five. However, Vargas began to fade, due to having old tires, allowing the battle for the championship to come down to Schildhouse and Cabot.
With about 10 laps to go, Schildhouse would move around DJ Cummings for second, bringing championship rival Adam Cabot with him. Eventually, Cabot was able to use the advantage in his newer tires to get around the No. 20, eventually extending his lead to the point where a caution – or major issue — would be required to change the complexion of the championship fight.
While Caruth went to victory lane, Cabot finished in second place, capturing his first Monday Night Racing championship ahead of David Schildhouse, who finished third. DJ Cummings and Brad Perez rounded out the top-five finishers.Ryan Vargas would ultimately come home in seventh-place, with Colin Fern finishing 14th.
- Rajah Caruth
- Adam Cabot
- David Schildhouse
- DJ Cummings
- Brad Perez
- Gabe Wood
- Ryan Vargas
- James Bickford
- Matt Stallknecht
- Shane Van Gisburgen
- Brandon Brown
- Josh Bilicki
- Will Rodgers
- Colin Fern
- Devon Henry
- Seth Eggert
- Steve Auffant
- Mark Rebilas
- Landon Huffman
- Justin Melillo
- Kase Kallenbach
- Steven Ellis
- Anthony Alfredo
- Chris Wilner
- Garrett Millner
- Brett Baldeck
- Ford Martin
- Max Kennon
- Michael Massie
- Preston Pardus
- Ron Capps
- Cole Irvan
- Dillon Welch