Sunday, December 4, 2022

David Schildhouse Utilizes Strategy and Teamwork to Snag Monday Night Racing Playoff Opening Win

David Schildhouse Monday Night Racing
David Schildhouse scored the race win in the Monday Night Racing event at the virtual Daytona International Speedway road course, after a push from Garrett Smithley. Photo Credit: David Schildhouse.

David Schildhouse, one of the best in the business, had yet to win an Interstate Batteries Monday Night Racing Pro Series event this season heading into Monday’s event at the virtual Daytona International Speedway Road Course. He could not have picked a better time to win his first, because with just two races in each round of the playoffs, winning in MNR is as critical of a part of the game as it’s ever been.

After showing his road course racing prowess earlier in the year in the Supertrucks at Watkins Glen, Schildhouse would utilize a perfect strategy and incredible teamwork with real-world NASCAR drivers Garrett Smithley and Anthony Alfredo to win in the Mazda Miatas at the Daytona Road Course.

Monday’s race started off chaotically for some of the playoff drivers, as James Bickford made contact with fellow contender George Balfanz Jr. on Lap 1, sending Bickford into the fence, and forcing him to use his tow and fast repair.

Balfanz would be involved in another incident with Corey Hiem later in the lap, in what was an extremely tough start for one of MNR’s most consistent drivers.

At the start of Lap 2, another playoff driver, Matt Stallknecht, would also spin and hit the wall.

Meanwhile, at the front of the field, the lead would change hands multiple times between Adam Cabot, Anthony Alfredo, Presley Sorah, and Stefan Wilson.

By the end of Lap 4, there was about a 14 car breakaway separating themselves from the rest of the pack, with Schildhouse just inside the top-10.

Two drivers running inside the top five, Bayley Currey and Ryan Vargas would wreck in the bus stop. Currey was the highest running non-playoff driver in the field at the time.

While all of that was going on, Will Rodgers and Collin Fern would power their way around Alfredo for the race lead.

With just under 55 minutes to go in the timed race, Rodgers would get spun in turn one fighting at the front and drop all the way to the back of the pack. David Schildhouse and Presley Sorah were also involved, but the wreck hurt Schildhouse’s car more.

By the 50 minute mark, there were just six cars in the front pack: Sorah, Alfredo, Fern, Wilson, Cabot, and DJ cummings.

Shortly thereafter, pit stops would begin, and this is where Schildhouse made up some ground by making a gutsy fuel only call. Pit road would only remain open until the 45 minute remaining mark in the race, with everyone making it down in time.

The cycle put Garrett Smithley and Alfredo, who had used strategy, way out in front by about six seconds over Schildhouse, with another seven back to the pre-pit leaders.

With a scheduled caution at the halfway mark however, no one was really sure how the no tire strategy would work out.

Everything was fairly calm until the scheduled caution. All of the drivers would bring their cars down pit road and a number of drivers took fuel only for track position, while drivers like Schildhouse and Alfredo found themselves in 18th and 15th respectively.

On the restart, Presley Sorah and DJ Cummings would lead us to green and they would engage in a great battle at the front, with Max Kennon also throwing his name in the ring.

At around the 30 minutes to go mark, it was announced that none of the drivers who had started the race had made it to that point without an incident point.

Just a couple of laps into the stint, Sorah and Cummings had actually jumped out to about a second lead. Adam Cabot was the highest of the four tire takers, as he worked his way up inside the top five.

With 23 minutes left in the race, Cabot powered his way to the lead without any real contention. At the same time, the final round of pit stops began, with Schildhouse, Alfredo, and Smithley all heading to pit road for fuel only.

With about 10 minutes to go, the pit cycle finally finished up. One huge issue for another playoff contender was Nick Olsen, who sped on pit road. That doomed any hope Olsen had for a good finish, and his Playoffs hopes will now rest on a win at Texas next week.

After the cycle, Cabot, Schildhouse, Alfredo, Smithley, and Justin Melillo all found themselves in a pack of their own out front.

With about seven minutes to go, Vargas and Sorah would again be involved in incidents, as both spun and lost some major track position.

Steven Ellis, who had short pit, also found himself in the lead pack with only five minutes to go, while Melillo had fallen out of this top pack.

With less than four minutes to go, Currey would get into the back of Kennon, who made contact with Bickford. This sent both Kennon and Bickford spinning in the chicane, as the brutal day for a lot of the playoff drivers continued.

Meanwhile, at the front of the field, Adam Cabot would turn Steven Ellis fighting for the lead in Turn 2. Ellis would fall all the way back to 18th. Cabot would later say he thought Ellis was a lap down at the time, and didn’t realize he was battling for the lead.

With two laps to go, the running order was Cabot, Schildhouse, Alfredo and Smithley, all of whom were within seven tenths of a second of one another.

Schildhouse would go for the lead in Turn 1, and made the move stick, bringing Alfredo with him. Schildhouse wouldn’t hold it for long, as Alfredo and Cabot made a three wide move into the chicane that gave Cabot the lead back and sent Schildhouse back to third. At the same time, in a shocking turn of events, this lap, which was believed to be two laps to go based on time remaining in the race, actually turned out to be the white flag.

Schildhouse fell five car lengths back, but used a huge push from Smithley to generate a massive run on Cabot and Alfredo, who had gotten side by side, to steal the lead back coming to the checkered in what was a fantastic finish to pick up his first win of Season 5.

After the race, Podium eSports asked Schildhouse — the Season 4 championship runner-up — about whether he should be considered the favorite for the Season 5 championship now, and Schildhouse shot back with, “You are damn right I am a favorite to win this!”

Smithley, who provided the race-winning shove, would end up second, with Alfredo third and Cabot fourth. Will Rodgers, who rebounded spectacularly from his early spin, would finish fifth.

After this race, George Balfanz Jr., Matt Stallknecht, and Nick Olsen, all of whom had significant issues in the race, find themselves below the cut line heading in to Texas.

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