SOUTH BOSTON, Va. — The K&N Pro Series East’s third and fourth races of the 2019 season took place over the weekend in South Boston, Virginia. Mother Nature tried to spoil the party, but that just meant another day of racing at the short-track.
Two drivers showed what they’re made of, feelings were hurt and some familiar faces were seen (and drove) in unfamiliar places.
Here is everything we learned from the WhosYourDriver.org Twin 100s at South Boston Speedway.
Gray, Kraus Flex Their Muscle
In race No. 1, Tanner Gray was the dominant driver, leading 79 laps. But Sam Mayer wasn’t going to let him have it easy, as the No. 21 car drove by the No. 15 with about 20 laps to go.
When given another chance, Gray capitalized, bumping Mayer out of the way on a restart in overtime to claim his first career K&N Pro Series victory, one that he said had been wanting for awhile.
“I’m a really competitive person and I’ve been wanting to win,” he said. “It feels good to finally be able to do that. It wouldn’t be possible without all the guys’ hard work at the shop. They work their butts off for us back there and bring great cars to the race track. It’s all thanks to them.”
Got my first win today at @sobospeedway57 ! I can’t thank everyone @dgr_crosley enough, they did an amazing job! The second 100 lap race was pushed back to tomorrow due to weather @ South… https://t.co/SqfiAZHrgl
— Tanner Gray (@tannergray5) May 5, 2019
Gray’s speed has been evident this season and was highlighted at Irwindale Speedway a few weeks back, when he finished second by inches. But in only his fourth series start, did this win come sooner than honestly anticipated?
“I wasn’t sure,” Gray said. “But that’s funny that it’s my fourth K&N race. I won my fourth pro stock race ever, so that’s kind of funny. I hate losing and feeling like I let the guys down. It’s on my shoulders to make it happen. I want to win every race we show up to, just so happens we get a win here.”
In race No. 2, Derek Kraus played the slow and methodical game. He stalked his prey and pounced when the opportunity presented itself, not relinquishing the top spot for the remainder of the event.
“We stayed patient on the first few laps after the green flag,” he said. “After that, we just waited for Max to get tight and his handling kind of went away. Right then I knew we had to get inside of him and that’s what we did and we led the last 50 laps.”
— Derek Kraus (@derek9kraus) May 5, 2019
Kraus now leads the K&N Pro Series East championship standings by four over Mayer. Gray sits third, 13 behind the BMR driver.
Short Track = Hurt Feelings
As is usually the case on short tracks, some left happy and some left a bit perturbed.
In the first race, Sam Mayer was heated at Gray following his second-place finish as he attempted to go two-in-a-row dating back to Bristol.
“I mean, I outdrove the crap out of him,” Mayer said of the No. 15. “We were so fast, GMS brought a great car out here for us. We’re fast, I know we can go out and win. It’s just that we have some things in our way.”
We've got another 100 laps to race at @SoBoSpeedway57
— FansChoiceTV™ (@FansChoiceTV) May 4, 2019
“Seeing that I got rear ended twice, once in Turn 1, saved it, kept the lead, and once in Turn 3 and almost hit the fence—that’s how hard he hit me — bringing it home second is kind of insane.”
In the second race Spencer Davis was happy with his fifth-place result, but annoyed with Drew Dollar, who he raced tough for the last five laps of the event.
“I don’t know. These kids that bring in all this money think they can run all over you,” Davis said. “His teammate (Tanner Gray) can run real good and clean, but then he got to us and we were running clean for two laps. We took the white flag and he he just decided he was going to pinch me into the wall. Well, unlike him I got to work on this thing Monday. I just let him lean over my left front a little bit and shot him up the track. He thought he was going to play bumper tag after the race. These kids will learn one of these days when their parents run out of money or something. Maybe they shouldn’t wreck so many race cars.”
Familiar Faces In Unfamiliar Places
As the rains came in on Saturday night, a couple drivers were caught in a pickle.
Second-place finisher in Twin No. 1 Sam Mayer (prior commitment) was forced to fly home, meaning a replacement driver filled in for the last 80 or so laps.
That ended up being Kyle Benjamin, who drove the No. 21 for GMS Racing to an 11th-place finish, eight laps down. It was his first time racing in the series since last season at Iowa.
Happy to do it!
— Kyle Benjamin (@KyleBenjamin_) May 5, 2019
Ruben Garcia Jr. participated in the PEAK Mexico Series race Sunday, meaning his No. 6 Rev Racing seat was vacant … until his buddy Colin Garrett, who crashed out of Twin No. 2 right before the postponement happened, came to the rescue.
“It was weird to start a race in my own car and finish the race in somebody else’s car,” Garrett said. “It was pretty cool. Those Rev Racing guys put together a good piece. Did the best I could with it, ran my own race and just tried to bring it home in one piece for those guys.”
Garcia, the two-time and defending champion of the series, wound up coming home second in the race to Santiago Tovar.
Thanks a lot bud!! Same to you! Don’t pee my seat 😂😂 https://t.co/0J2hjJ0734
— Rubén García Jr. (@rubengarcia4) May 5, 2019
“I was glad to come out here and kind of give Ruben some points,” Garrett joked. “Tried to not do too well, still gotta race him the rest of the year […] funny story, I was sitting in the hauler about 30 seconds before he came in and they were talking about how me may need a relief driver. And I was like ‘nah, I’m not doing that.’ Then he walked in and was like ‘will you do it?’ And I was like ‘yeah, I’ll do it.’ I was happy to do it for him.
- Chase Cabre’s quest for redemption came up just short, as he finished second in twin No. 2 for the second time in the last three races. While running third on the final lap in twin No. 1, he spun out and finished eighth.
- Max McLaughlin just played his “flu game.” Back-to-back podiums for the No. 1 at South Boston without issues for the first time this season provided a shot in the arm. McLaughlin was ill Saturday night, but was in good spirits Sunday morning before the race as well as after.
— Hattori Racing (@Hattori_Racing) May 5, 2019
- Hailie Deegan (family reasons) was also forced to head home early and did not finish Twin No. 2. She officially finished 12th, 80 laps down.