MADISON, Ill. — The second K&N Pro Series combination event and round 10 of the K&N East and K&N West season in St. Louis saw one driver leave happy and 18 others dissatisfied.
A series veteran earned his first win in over three years, the two championship leaders extended their points leads while their main challengers for the title saw possible winning results go out the window.
Here is everything we learned from the Monaco Cocktails 125 at Worldwide technology Raceway.
Long Time Coming
It had been over 1,110 days since Spencer Davis wound up in Victory Lane at a K&N Pro Series race. But thanks to a perfect green/white/checkered restart, he earned his first checkered flag since May of 2016.
“I’ve never celebrated so hard for a win in my life,” Davis said in the media center. “I’m not going to lie, I started taking it for granted. It seemed like I was going to get one or two every one or two years, regardless because our pro late model program was really good.”
“It’s been bittersweet the last two years. I know we’ve had a bunch of good runs, been trying to keep everyone up I’ve been racing with, been trying to keep their morale up, keep my own up. Because it starts to wear on you after two years and three years in the K&N Series. You don’t necessarily start doubting yourself, you just wonder if you’re going to catch that next break because you feel them slipping away.”
It?s been over THEEE YEARS since he went home with a ? and ?
Tonight, he earned both of ?em. ??
— #MyTrackMyRoots (@NASCARHomeTrack) August 25, 2019
Coming off a career performance at Bristol (led 137 laps), Davis was among the hottest drivers in the series. Running inside the top three for most of the race, he wasn’t going to let this chance slip away.
“It hit deep,” Davis admitted of last week in Thunder Valley. “We were the dominant car. Whoever leads the most laps at Bristol usually wins, wire-to-wire, and I figured it was going to be one of those classic cases; to give Mark Rette and Terry Jones their first victory is something you can’t take back.”
With the win, Davis is now tied for career highs in top five and top 10 results in a K&N season and is in line for his best ever points finish (currently sits third, 13 points behind second place).
Good Points Days for Title Leaders
Sam Mayer emerged from his hauler filled with emotion following a lengthy post-race debrief with crew chief Mardy Lindley. It was a fourth-place finish for the 16-year-old, but a day that saw him extend his championship lead to 30 points with two races remaining.
“We’re looking really good, but today we didn’t earn anything,” Mayer told NASCAR.com. “Everything was given to me on a silver platter, and I only took half of it. I feel like I definitely got work to do on my end, and when I say some, I mean I have a lot of work to do on my end, get everything together so I can hopefully go win a championship.”
Mayer was exceptionally hard on himself following the final restart. Lindley came over the radio to coach his driver through it, as he spun his tires on the restart prior.
“Don’t mess up, pretty much, is what they were telling me,” Mayer said. “That’s what I was telling myself too. I didn’t really mess up at all. We had a really good restart. Just the No. 16 (Derek Kraus) gave the No. 30 (Davis) a heck of a push and the 30 was actually able to clear me going off into Turn 1.”
He gave it one last ditch effort in Turn 3 coming to the checkered flag, but lost control of his No. 21 and lost two spots coming to the checkered flag.
“I don’t know why David (Gilliland) didn’t get a better restart,” Mayer said. “He’s usually really good at those, he was good on them all day. Going off into (Turn) 3 I just missed it, not going to lie.”
Derek Kraus earned his second consecutive runner-up finish and extended his championship points lead to 29 points over his Bill McAnally Racing teammate Hailie Deegan with four races left. He was told repeatedly by his team to think big picture and not risk anything major.
“I got reminded probably 50 times going down the backstretch, going into (Turn) 1, going into (Turns) 3 and 4, big picture, big picture, big picture,” Kraus said. “And I guess I thought about it. I gave the No. 30 (Davis) a really good push, which I feel like is what he needed (to win).”
Besides his mechanical issues and being spun on the final lap at Sonoma, where he finished 19th, Kraus’ worst finish in the K&N Pro Series West this season is eighth, coming at Colorado (where he was spun out on the final lap).
He knows that if he continues his performance, it’s his championship to lose.
“You always gotta stay on your toes,” he said. “You can’t lose focus, you gotta keep your mind sharp, you gotta be there at the end of these races, you can’t finish 10th, 11th, 12th. You’ve gotta be there at the end and try to win as many as you can, too.”
Cabre, Deegan See Promising Runs Fall Short
Leading the entire first segment from the pole, Chase Cabre was well on his way to a statement victory with two races to go in his bleak championship hunt.
But under the halfway break caution flag, electrical issues struck the Rev Racing team and forced them to pit road to diagnose the issue. He wound up coming home 13th, seven laps down.
— #MyTrackMyRoots (@NASCARHomeTrack) August 24, 2019
“They seemed to fix it, I don’t know what it was,” Cabre said post-race. “It just sucks. Very disheartening. These guys put way too much time into our car. Josh and Glynn spent 40 hours in a matter of three days working on this thing to try and get it ready to come here and to be as fast as it was is awesome, but to have a little bit of bad luck, I guess when it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be. I guess we’ll get ready to go to Loudon, we were fast there last year and we’ve had speed there this year, all year really. It just is tough to swallow.”
Hailie Deegan has had her fair share of bad luck and bad results on the East coast. After having yet another quick car for Bill McAnally Racing, a cut tire following contact with her teammate Kraus sent her spinning and outside the top five (where she ran all day).
— #MyTrackMyRoots (@NASCARHomeTrack) August 24, 2019
“It was probably one of the best runs we’ve had on the east coast,” she said following her 11th-place result. “I think we learned so much this weekend, had some new help on our team. The whole vibe, it was a winning vibe. Not necessarily that we were going to win, we had a top three car, I think we could have had a shot at it in the end if things panned out.”
Despite the finish not reflecting how she ran, Deegan was able to take the positives out of the day, especially passing four-time K&N Pro West winner and NASCAR Cup veteran David Gilliland, whom she drove for last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“I was battling with David Gilliland. How many times can you say in your career, especially at the point where I’m at in K&N, can you say you raced against and passed David Gilliland?” she said with a smile. “Probably one of the coolest things I’ll ever get to say.”
- David Gilliland finished third in his first ever K&N East start, subbing for the sick Ty Gibbs.
- Parker Retzlaff earned his first career top five finish for Visconti Motorsports in his second career series start.
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We felt good during open test on Friday then struggled during practice on Saturday then qualified 11th and there was a wreck on lap one we gained 2 positions and then worked our way to P5 and that?s where we stayed. Thank you to everyone who helps us @visconti_motorsports_74
- Ruben Garcia Jr. finished sixth after being triggering a Lap 1 crash which involved Tanner Gray (finished 15th, 27 laps down) and Max McLaughlin (finished last).
- Sunrise Ford’s Trevor Huddleston blew an engine on Lap 10 and finished 18th, while his teammate Jagger Jones limped home to a seventh-place result with limited horsepower.
- Brittney Zamora blew her second engine of the day on Lap 29 and finished 16th, 71 laps down.
Welp. 2 blown motors in one day. Started to smell gas going into turn 3 on lap 27, came out of turn 4 and it immediately gave. This sport is truly one of the most challenging in many ways. pic.twitter.com/YFsXv3OVwG
— Brittney Zamora (@Brittneyz52) August 24, 2019