Taylor Gray put up an impressive fight to the ARCA Menards Series East championship favorite, but in the end it was the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota of Sammy Smith getting the victory at New Smyrna Speedway.
Although he won the pole and led the majority of the race, the race win didn’t come easy for Smith as Gray kept his No. 17 David Gilliland Racing Ford in the mix for the lead all night, but in the closing laps it was all Smith.
“Just gotta work towards getting better. We’re a lot closer than we were last year to him, just gotta keep improving our race car, and we’re not gonna win races if I keep restarting how I did that last caution.” Gray explained to TobyChristie.com post-race.
For a driver who had been able to get even with or win the battles against Smith on restarts all race long, it was devastating that the one restart that mattered the most — the final one — went wrong.
While Gray didn’t snag the trophy, like he had hoped for, there’s still a lot to take from how well the team performed and improved from last year, which allows them to shift gears and carry some motivation and momentum into the rest of the season.
“It’s definitely a good feeling when you’ve caught up that much, just gotta keep on getting better and keep on finding speed,” Gray said.
The ARCA Menards Series East returns to action on March 19th at Five Flags Speedway.