Things were chaotic, controversial, and wreck-filled at virtual Texas Motor Speedway for the fourth race of the Interstate Batteries Monday Night Racing Pro Series season. Presley Sorah, though, survived all of it.
After winning earlier this year in the Miatas at Martinsville, Sorah would take home the victory in the exact opposite car and track combination at Texas in the Radicals.
On Monday night, the draft was critical, and similar to the real-world NASCAR all-star race just a day prior, passing was extremely difficult.
Pole-sitter DJ Cummings would get the lead early, however, MNR Daytona race winner Anthony Alfredo would head to the point on lap 4.
Just a lap later, we would have our first caution of the evening as Ryan Vargas got into a rapidly falling Gary Sexton. Vargas would keep his car off the wall in what was a phenomenal save.
A handful of cars would take the opportunity to pit under caution, which advanced Parker Kligerman up to second.
The race would return to green on lap 9, but would face an immediate caution as Kligerman spun in turn 1.
A number of cars, including Landon Huffman were involved due to the accordion effect. Huffman would be the first of many drivers within striking distance of the playoffs to have an issue, as a vast majority of those around the cutline faced serious problems.
By lap 14, with Alfredo still showing the way, George Balfanz Jr. would find his way up to second. Right behind Balfanz there was a comical moment for third and fourth position, as Xfinity series driver Brandon Brown was pushing the other Brandon Brown.
The top five remained consistent for another ten laps or so. However, over that time, Ford Martin, who started last, and Colin Fern, who started in the pits, had worked their way up to sixth and seventh respectively.
The caution would fly on lap 27 as Brett Baldeck and Parker Kligerman would make contact.
Under this caution, about half the field would pit, with most drivers in the bottom half hitting pit road. Garrett Smithley was the only car from the top10 to pit.
Anthony Alfredo’s good day turned sour quickly on lap 31, as Alfredo and Charli Brown would be charged with a restart violation and received an end of line penalty during the caution period following a huge lap 33 crash. Smithley, Seth Eggert, Vargas, Huffman, Kligerman, and more would all be involved in the huge pileup.
Following the penalty to Alfredo, Xfinity Brandon Brown would find himself at the point. In the chaos of the restart, Sorah would work his way into the top five along with Justin Melillo.
By lap 44, Boris Cook found his way to the outside of Brown for the lead, with help from Rajah Caruth.
Caruth was able to use aggressive pushing to give some serious momentum to the outside line. The momentum didn’t last long, as on lap 46 Ford Martin would get turned, taking not Xfinity Brandon Brown with him. Steve Auffant would ramp Martin and fly through the air.
It was a tough break for Martin who was the first driver out of the playoff cutline heading into this race.
At the halfway point, despite all the chaos, Kligerman was the only driver out of the race, which earned Kligerman the DoorDash Last Place Driver Award.
On the lap 51 restart, Caruth would lead the top line with help from Sorah not far behind. After six laps of awesome side by side racing, Caruth would clear Brown and drop to the bottom. Brown would pull a great move back on Caruth just three laps later to bring it back to side by side.
On lap 62, we had our next big incident. Melillo, Preston Pardus, Ruben Garcia, Nick Olsen, Steven Ellis, and others all wrecked after a three wide collision.
Pardus was inside the playoff cutline on points by just seven markers heading into the week. After this huge wreck though, one of the most dominant cars of the day in Alfredo finally found himself back inside the top10, a whopping 30 laps after his end of line penalty.
On lap 67, during the restart, Caruth would pull an aggressive move to the inside of brown to take the lead. Brown however got loose, and caused a huge stack-up in the outside lane.
Balfanz (who was a having another great super speedway race), Nick Olsen, and DJ Cummings were each collected.
The following return to green was short lived as Pardus wrecked on the ensuing restart to bring out caution with just 24 to go.
Then, with just 19 to go, Anthony Alfredo would turn Robby Lyons while running inside the top five. The track would stay green as everyone kept their machines going. However, just a lap later, one of the most dominant cars of the day in Brandon Brown would be turned.
Caruth would hold onto the lead, and now, Season 4 rival Anthony Alfredo sat right in his mirror with Sorah third.
On lap 84, Ford Martin and Steven Ellis would both wreck to be involved in their second incidents of the night and bring out another caution.
The race would return to green with just 12 laps to go with Caruth, Sorah and Alfredo as our top three.
Sorah made a great move to the inside to try and take the lead but instead ended up three wide in the middle. He would fall in line behind Caruth. The very next lap, Sorah would jump in front of Alfredo on the outside to try and steal the lead, and Alfredo and Sorah both cleared Caruth
Just eight laps later, Will Rodgers went to the apron and came back up to take out the field.
Adam Cabot, the most recent champion, received heavy damage in the crash. Cabot would not finish the race and ended up in 37th. Xfinity Brandon Brown would also DNF as a result of the crash and finish 35th.
The green would come back out with just four laps to go, and all three of the MNR season 5 winners found themselves in the top four with Caruth being the only one without a win.
On the restart, David Schildhouse, a TobyChristie.com Driver, went for a wild flipping ride after contact from behind and his car was absolutely obliterated. He would end up needing a tow back to the pits and would subsequently be knocked out of contention.
This incident would bring the race to overtime, where Collin Fern found himself running third. Meanwhile, Sorah still held onto the lead.
Unsurprisingly, on the restart, Rajah Caruth bolted to the outside to try and maneuver his way the front. All it did however, was put Caruth in a four wide position on the last lap heading into turn three. A majority of the top ten would then be involved in an incident that included Alfredo, Cook, Caruth and others.
Alfredo, Caruth, and Cook would end up finishing 21st, 22nd, 23rd respectively: the last three cars on the lead lap.
Sorah would hold on for his second win of the year, and now stands alone atop the playoff standings with two wins. Colin Fern would use attrition to bring his 86 machine to second place. Meanwhile, coming to the stripe, Max Kennon tried to use the grass to take the win, but could not, finishing third.
Matt Stallknecht, who had a great points day considering many of his other playoff contenders had issue, would finish fourth. Nick Olsen would round out the top five.
Here are the full race results from a wild Tufco Radicals 100 at virtual Texas Motor Speedway:
|36||7||94||George Balfanz Jr.||-9L|