Friday, March 24, 2023

Presley Sorah Wins Monday Night Racing Championship in Unbelievable Fashion, Schildhouse Wins Race.

Presley Sorah took the Season 5 Monday Night Racing Championship in dramatic fashion after crashing with Anthony Alfredo on the final lap. Photo Credit: Podium eSports

They say racing is a game of skill, but it also involves a lot of luck. Presley Sorah needed both on Monday night in order to win the Interstate Batteries Monday Night Racing Pro Series season five championship.

In unbelievable fashion, Sorah and fellow championship contender Anthony Alfredo wrecked one another out of Turn 4 on the last lap of the race. As both hit the outside wall hard, the championship was determined by who got hit hard enough by uncoming traffic in order to cross the start finish line.

But that was the chaotic finish, let’s go back to how we got there.

At the beginning of the race, Alfredo got a great start, while fellow championship competitor Collin Fern did not as he fell to fifth on the initial start. Brad Perez moved himself up to second.

By lap six, Alfredo was out front by half a second but Perez was rapidly gaining on him. Meanwhile, Fern had fallen under pressure from Adam Cabot and Sorah for sixth.

On lap nine, eventual race-winner David Schildhouse wrecked on the backstretch in what would be the only caution of the day after side-by-side racing with Bailey Turner. Real-world NASCAR Cup Series race-winner Jerry Nadeau, who was welcomed with a raucous applause on stage at the in-person season finale live event, was involved and had to tow his car to pit road.

A lot of the field would pit under this caution, but most of the top-10 and all of the Championship 4 contenders stayed out.

Right after the restart, Perez took the lead from Alfredo. Within the next three laps, real-world NASCAR Truck Series competitor Corey Heim and MNR Season 4 Champion Adam Cabot also went by Alfredo’s No. 23 car.

Alfredo found himself fourth, and under fire from Fern.

By lap 20, Fern and Alfredo were side by side for championship lead. Colin Fern took the position, and Alfredo fell into the grasps of Sorah. However, Fern and Alfredo shortly re-engaged for the championship lead.

Heim had worked himself up to second at this point of the event and was only two tenths of a second back of Perez for the lead. Incredibly, Schildhouse had already worked himself back up to seventh despite the early incident.

Fern would then get side-by-side with Alfredo, lose momentum, and fall two spots, moving Sorah into the second slot in the championship.

By lap 32, Schildhouse was the fastest driver on the racetrack and it was at this moment that the fight for the race lead expanded to four cars as Perez, Heim, Alfredo, and Schildhouse all were bunched up.

On lap 35, Alfredo and Schildhouse got in front of Heim and Perez and began to run away. Conversely, Sorah and Fern continued to fade through the field, leading to Fern pitting a few laps later, which opened the door for green flag pit stops.

By lap 41, all of the championship contenders had pitted, but Schildhouse, along with a few others, had not, as they had banked extra fuel in their tanks by pitting during the last caution.

Nine laps later, Schildhouse finally pitted from the lead. When the green flag pit sequence cycled through, the top five runners were: Heim, Perez, Alfredo, Cabot, and Bickford. The other two Championship 4 contenders, Sorah and Fern, were sixth and seventh.

It only took Alfredo a few laps to drive up to the lead as he rocketed in front of Heim. Meanwhile, Bickford passed Perez for fourth.

On lap 62, Hiem pitted, attempting a short pit strategy. A bunch of drivers started to pit again as a results.

By lap 70, Alfredo held a 1.1 second lead over Cabot. Bickford was not far behind in third, but was facing pressure from the hard charging Schildhouse. Sorah ran fifth, with Fern three seconds back of this pack in eighth-place.

At this juncture of the race, Schildhouse was almost a half second a lap faster than the leader. He would catch and pass Alfredo on lap 73. As that occurred, Fern became the first of the Championship 4 to pit again.

On lap 78, Bickford followed suit, with Sorah pitting three laps later. Alfredo pitted the next lap to round out the final of the Championship 4 drivers’ pit cycles.

It would be another 10 laps before Schildhouse would finally hit pit road to complete the cycle, which handed the lead off to Hiem, who now had Perez behind him in second and Bickford, the championship contender, in third.

On lap 92, Bickford and Cabot would engage in a fight for third, with Cabot snagging the spot.

With just 23 laps to go, the entire Championship 4 sat in positions 4-7.

Two laps later, Alfredo would pass Sorah for sixth. On the same lap, Heim would pit from the lead, dragging Fern and Perez down as well.

Bickford would eventually take the lead of the race on lap 102, with Schildhouse, who had the freshest tires of those who hadn’t yet pit again, just three seconds back.

Then, Bickford would make a costly mistake: he attempted, but missed pit road entrance, which cost him valuable seconds as he had to come back around and attempt pit entry for a second time. Bickford wouldn’t know at the time, but that mistake likely cost him the championship.

With just 15 laps to go, Schildhouse held a massive 4.3 second lead over alfredo, who was just under three seconds up on Sorah for the lead in the Championship battle.

It looked like the fight for both the lead and the championship were almost sealed, but over the next 10 laps, Sorah put together a gorgeous run, and by lap 120, the gap to Alfredo was below a second.

With less than three laps to go, Sorah actually took third spot from Alfredo and the Championship lead with it. But Alfredo wasn’t ready to quit just yet.

Alfredo hung onto the back bumper of Sorah, and on the final lap he made a charge into the final corner, moving Presley up the racetrack. Alfredo slid underneath Sorah, who turned down on an out of control Alfredo, causing the two to collide again.

While Schildhouse had already won the race, chaos had erupted behind him.

“I didn’t have to worry about winning the championship, so everything was wide open, even after I crashed,” Schildhouse joked.

Right behind Schildhouse, the two Championship contenders slammed into the wall, terminally damaging both of their trucks well short of the start finish stripe. However, as traffic sped through, the stationary vehicles were hit, sending them flying in different directions. Alfredo’s truck landed onto pit road, while Sorah’s spun and slowly slid across the finish line; just in front of all three of the other contenders.

Here is the insane finish to the race from the Podium eSports broadcast:

While it was wild on the race stream, it was even crazier at the in-live Monday Night Racing season finale event, where the drivers actually battled it out on rigs at the Carolina eSports Hub. Here was the scene when things got nuts:

“He moved me out of the way so I had to move him back” Sorah said of cutting down onto Alfredo after the initial bump from Alfredo sent him up the track. “My family took a nine hour drive to come see me race in person, so to win this championship in front of them is incredible”.

Anthony Alfredo wasn’t pleased with the way he was raced, and elected to protest the finish; but in the end it was determined that it was simply a racing incident and Sorah’s championship stood.

After the virtual sparks and cloud of dust settled, none of the Championship 4 contenders would finish inside the top-five. DJ Cummings, Cabot, Heim, and Perez would make up the top five behind race-winner, and driver, Schildhouse. The Championship contenders would finish 8th, 11th, 12th, and 13th, with mere seconds separating them in the chaotic finish.

Bickford would get second in the championship, with Fern third, and Alfredo rolling down pit road would be recorded as the last championship four driver to finish the race.

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