MILLINGTON, Tenn. – Memphis is known for its delicious food, scorching weather and all-around good vibes. It was a short drive to Millington, home of Memphis International Raceway, and fans were treated to racing for 150 laps, which resulted in a plethora of storylines.
A series veteran broke through for his first career win, ruffled some feathers along the way, and a pair of quick drivers left unsatisfied with podium results.
Here is everything we learned from the Memphis 150 at Memphis International Raceway.
Cabre Breaks Through
After almost three seasons, Chase Cabre parked it in Victory Lane.
The driver of the No. 4 Honda Generators/E3 Spark Plugs Toyota for Rev Racing made a daring move into Turn 1 on a restart and was able to hold off a hard-charging Ty Gibbs for his first career win, the 20th for the program.
"It feels so damn good," he said post-race. "My crew-they’ve worked their (butt) off. They really have. We don’t have the budget some of these teams have, so to come out on top is badass. They really work hard and I can’t thank them enough."
Cabre pointed to patience as the deciding factor in the 150-lap event. After rolling off in 10th, Cabre was unapologetically pessimistic about his chances of contending. As crew chief Doug Howe adjusted on the car, a 2015 model compared to some teams running 2019 models, throughout the race, Cabre gained more comfort behind the wheel, allowing him to make the winning move.
— NASCAR Home Tracks (@NASCARHomeTrack) June 2, 2019
"I saw an opportunity there in (Turn) 1 and went for it, stuck my nose in there," he said. "You don’t have time to back out of situations. You don’t have 36 races, who knows if I get another car as good as I had today the rest of the season? Saw an opportunity to win a race, been dying to win a race. I saw it, I took it. We came out on top and I’m pumped up. We’ll live with the consequences later. Right now we’re going to live with a win."
The Tampa, Florida, native became the eighth different driver from the NASCAR Drive For Diversity Driver Development Program to win a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race. He joined his teammate, Ruben Garcia Jr. (who greeted him in Victory Lane with a hug), in winning his first career race at Memphis.
#KNEAST YOU get a hug. And YOU get a hug. And YOU get a hug. EVERYBODY AT @RevRacin GETS A HUG!@CabreChase?s emotions are high following his first career victory. ?#Memphis150 | @RaceMIR pic.twitter.com/mtFF5arip4
— NASCAR Home Tracks (@NASCARHomeTrack) June 2, 2019
Tempers Boiling Over?
For every winner, there are a handful of losers. Some drivers in particular weren’t fans of Cabre’s move on the restart following the second break.
Sam Mayer, who bore the brunt of the contact from Cabre’s No. 4 going into Turn 1, was able to rebound for a fourth-place finish after running outside the top 10 for a couple laps. The GMS Racing driver wasn’t mincing words post-race.
"(Our day) went downhill when we got dumped," he said. "That’s the second time it’s happened. Two little wrecks equals one big wreck for someone else, I guess we’ll find out. I’d rather just outdrive them, but if they’re going to keep doing this, I’m going to do it back. I hope they (see) this so they know. I don’t want to do it, but if they keep doing it, I will."
When asked whether or not Mayer, 15-years-old, would need to change his driving style in order to not be involved in incidents like these (also was involved in South Boston Twin No. 1), he smiled.
"I’m not going to think of them as people or car numbers," he said. "I’m just going to think of them as just cars. Just go out there, beat them all, win the race. And if anybody gets in my way, it’s their problem."
Hate the way our awesome run ended yesterday, but still managed a P4 finish. Don?t worry… we?ll be back! ?
— Sam Mayer (@sam_mayer_) June 2, 2019
Max McLaughlin seemed to have a career day on his hands. After winning his first career pole award and leading a race-high 86 laps, the No. 1 fell back after Mayer’s No. 21 shot up into him on the outside.
When asked what happened from his perspective in Turn 1, Mad Max was straight and to the point.
"Got dumped by Chase Cabre," he said. "It’s just a shame people have to race like that to win races. Sam and I were going to have a really good race, I feel like we were definitely the best two cars. Sam and I raced really clean all day. We’ve seen it all year, the No. 4 car dumps a lot of people and drives really aggressive when it’s not really near the end of the race. You don’t get many friends like that. It sucks to see that, but he won the race so he did what he needed to do."
McLaughlin and Cabre have been good friends off the track, as both have extensive backgrounds in dirt track racing. The Hattori Racing Enterprises driver and Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender was adamant that he had no plans to speak with Cabre about the incident, clearly upset.
"I definitely feel like we had the best car and had a great shot at winning that race," he said after a sixth-place finish. "Sam got me around lap 80-something on that green flag run. I used my stuff up a little early […] was going to try and clear him off of Turn 2 and try and run away with it, but the No. 4 car had other plans for us."
Qualified on the pole, lead a ton of laps, and got dumped late in the race on a restart. Felt like we had the car to win. But that?s racing. Thanks to @Hattori_Racing and @ToyotaRacing for the opportunity. #TeamToyota #Mohawk pic.twitter.com/wVIW6qr3kC
— Max McLaughlin (@MaxMcLaughlin_) June 2, 2019
Double Dose of Disappointment for DGR
Ty Gibbs and Tanner Gray crossed the finish line second and third, respectively, to cap off a solid afternoon for DGR-Crosley.
It was Gibbs’ second runner-up result in only his second career series start. But he was far from happy with it.
"Not really a solid run. I guess I just want to finish second – that’s all I’m out here for, I don’t want to win anymore," he said sarcastically frustrated. "My car was pretty good, just not good enough to run on long runs and that’s where I got beat at the end. I guess we’ll just go back to the shop, go work on this thing."
Had a great time today racing at Memphis! Chased the car all day, just never found the right setup. The @DGR_Crosley guys did a great job on not giving up! I guess were just the bridesmaid this year???? pic.twitter.com/J8OV5hS3AC
— Ty Gibbs (@TyGibbs_) June 2, 2019
Gray’s third-place result moves him into a tie for third in the championship standings with Cabre and is his third straight top-five finish in his rookie campaign.
"It was definitely an up and down day," he admitted. "We struggled with the car early in the race. I struggled with restarts. Really didn’t get any good restarts until the end, which really hurt us at a place like this – losing track position. I gotta clean up that. Not the exact weekend that we wanted but we came out with a good points day and brought it home in one piece."
- Derek Kraus was able to maintain his championship points lead by two over Mayer. Before the race, Kraus told NASCAR.com that if they left Memphis in the top three in points, they’d more than likely commit to running the full K&N East season.
- Parker Retzlaff came home 10th in his K&N East debut for Visconti Motorsports. The 15-year-old has Gateway and Watkins Glen on his schedule in the No. 74 for the rest of 2019.
- Two-time K&N West champion Todd Gilliland struggled from the get-go in his return to Bill McAnally Racing, finishing eighth.
- Spencer Davis, who led the most laps at Memphis last season, finished a disappointing 14th, 40 laps down after a mechanical issue forced him behind the wall for lengthy repairs.