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Sam Mayer Wwl Track 072819
The entire K&N Pro Series was chasing Sam Mayer on Friday night in Iowa. (Russell LaBounty, NKP/NASCAR)

K&N Catch-Up: What We Learned In Iowa

NEWTON, Iowa — Multiple grooves, side-by-side racing and drama on a short-track Friday night in Iowa. What more could you ask for?

One driver has begun to separate themselves from the pack by a large margin, another saw the opportunity for dual championships briefly go down the drain and a third just can’t seem to finish anywhere other than second.

Here is everything we learned from the Casey’s General Store 150 at Iowa Speedway.

Caseys’ General Store 150: Race Results | Race Recap | Video | Photo Gallery

Mayer’s Magic

The third time visiting Iowa Speedway was the charm for Sam Mayer.

In two prior starts, he had finishes of 17th (2018, K&N) and 10th (2018, ARCA) previously at “The Fastest Short Track On The Planet.” But the 16-year-old paired with GMS Racing made for one dominant race car on Friday night.

“This was one of the ones I liked the most when I raced here last year,” Mayer said of Iowa. “We didn’t really finish well, but this year was definitely quite the opposite. The car was really consistent throughout the run, really getting this win right here is the start of what me and everyone at GMS can do. I feel like were going to have a lot more this year and hopefully we can go five in a row.”

Winning the remaining four races on the schedule seems pretty bold. But Mayer is one of the only drivers that can realistically make that happen. He and GMS have proven he has what it takes to reach Victory Lane. And with his Achilles’ heel now being mended, he can focus on improving elsewhere.

“My restarts this year have been really bad,” he admitted. “I’ve been really bad at them this year, but I managed to clutch up and get some good ones. Been working really hard this week, especially after how bad my restarts were last week (at New Hampshire). Watching a lot of video and seeing what I can do better and what difference I can make. Luckily, it worked out. Those restarts were really nerve-racking because I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself. Towards the end, I was confident that I could do it and it paid off.”

The Franklin, Wisconsin, is not lacking in the confidence department. For his money, the points lead isn’t going to be relinquished for the rest of the season. They’re championship or bust.

“Getting that points lead is just the start of what we can do,” he said. “Me and my crew chief (Mardy Lindley) are just going to keep working even harder than we are right now to get a bigger points lead so that if anything unfortunate does happen, it won’t affect us at all.”

Kraus’ Comeback

For a brief moment, it seemed as if Derek Kraus’ pursuit of NASCAR history, winning both the K&N East and West championships in the same season, went up into the wall.

After extensive repairs, being in the free pass position and sending it up high on the final restart, Kraus wound up rebounding miraculously for a top five finish, crossing the line in fourth.

He admitted that one the back end of his Bill McAnally Racing No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Records Toyota went into the Turn 4 wall, the road to history had just gotten a lot tougher.

“I was thinking our night was done,” Kraus told NASCAR.com. “I don’t know what he did on the bottom of us. But he got into us, cut our left rear and I guess that was that. Got into the wall a little bit. I thought we hit it hard enough to affect it, and I think we did right away. We were pretty good. I thought we were a second-place car. Chase and that No. 21 car—I don’t know what they’ve got going on but it’s fast—it’s going to be tough to compete with that all year. But we’ll keep digging and go to WGI.”

Ty The Bridesmaid

Three consecutive runner-up finishes to begin your K&N Pro Series career isn’t too shabby. But not for Ty Gibbs, who is tired of running second week after week.

“I feel like we had a really good car at the end,” he said after starting in the rear. “Maybe a shot at the win if we would’ve (restarted) second there. It was very fun, I guess you can’t call second good enough now, this is the (seventh) time I’ve finished second this year. We gotta figure out what we’re doing here, but we found our changes too late in the race, got too loose in the middle of that run.”

Gibbs has finished second four times in ARCA Menards Series competition this season (Pensacola, Nashville, Toledo and Elko), in addition to his three K&N runner-up finishes (New Smyrna, Memphis, Iowa).

It’s only a matter of time before Gibbs visits Victory Lane for DGR-Crosley. In his limited 2019 slate, he’s shown speed throughout each race weekend and has been on the precipice of earning his first career K&N Pro checkered flag. He already broke through on the ARCA Menards side with his last-lap pass on Mayer in Gateway last month.

K&N East Standings | K&N West Standings

Notes

  • Rev Racing teammates Ruben Garcia Jr. and Chase Cabre finished third and fifth, respectively. The result was Garcia’s best of the season and Cabre’s third top five in a row (he won the previous two races).
  • Making his first Iowa start, Tanner Gray finished sixth after starting in the rear in a back-up car. His DGR-Crosley teammate Drew Dollar, also making his first Iowa start, finished seventh.
  • Spencer Davis came home ninth after getting shuffled back on a late restart. He ran inside the top five for most of the evening.
  • Sunrise Ford teammates Jagger Jones and Trevor Huddleston made contact, sending Jones spinning late in the event. Huddleston finished ninth with Jones finishing 11th.
  • Hailie Deegan was black-flagged for an uncontrolled tire before the final restart and wound up finishing 12th. Her Bill McAnally Racing teammate Brittney Zamora finished 2oth, 28 laps down due to a radiator issue.
Sam Mayer Victory Lane Wwl 072819
GMS Racing has proven themselves as the organization to beat in 2019. (Matt T. Thacker, NKP/NASCAR)