DOVER, Del. — Miles the Monster was tamed, and it was an appropriate end to the 2019 season dominated by one driver and one team.
The champion was officially crowned, he celebrated in a bit of an unorthodox way and one team closed out an up and down season on a high note.
Here is everything we learned from the General Tire 125 at Dover International Speedway.
A Fitting Way To End
The season belonged to Sam Mayer and GMS Racing. And in the finale of 2019, the driver and team stole the show once again, leading 123 of 125 laps en route to an exclamation point in what was a championship campaign.
“What a way to end the season, put a stamp on this last race,” crew chief Mardy Lindley said. “Everybody works so hard on this deal, and Sam has improved each and every race all year long. It just worked out for us.”
Mayer’s results all season have been impressive, with only one finish outside the top 10 (in a race that he didn’t compete in the majority of at South Boston). But Lindley said the 16-year-old improved on a multitude of things throughout the 12-race slate.
“We’re just working on his race craft a little bit,” he said. “His restarts, and his qualifying was really off at the beginning of the year. He’s stepped it up. He’s doing everything better, restarted fairly well today and drove an amazing race.
Mayer’s father, Scott, who competed in IndyCar and Sports Cars in his racing career, tried to reflect upon what was a dream season for his son.
“It’s really hard to put into words,” he said. “It’s just amazing—to dominate Dover like he did and to win the championship. To think he won one out of every three races this year is absolutely amazing.”
The championship for GMS comes in their first full-time season competing in the K&N Pro Series East. To think a championship — and dominant one at that — would occur so quickly may seem ludicrous, but not to Lindley.
“You never know. That’s the strength of GMS Racing,” he said. “In the past, I’ve had a lot of experience with other drivers and it all came together.”
Mayer, who became the youngest champion in NASCAR national or regional series history with the title, deflected credit to the team. But a dominant performance such as the one he put on should be lauded.
“I can’t thank everyone at GMS enough for all they do for me,” Mayer said. “I mean, they had a rocket ship for me, I can’t thank them enough for that. Drivers Edge Development, Chevrolet, Chevrolet Accessories for being on the car and bringing me out here in the first place, and giving me this opportunity to go win a K&N East championship.It means so much and I’m going to celebrate even more, for sure.”
Celebrating … As A Teenager
The patented tradition of champagne drinking and spraying that champions are accustomed to typically takes a twist in the K&N Pro Series, especially as of late.
Since Mayer (16) isn’t of age, the GMS Racing group celebrated with sparkling cider.
— #MyTrackMyRoots (@NASCARHomeTrack) October 4, 2019
“I wish it would’ve been regular champagne to get the full experience, but what’s the difference, right?” Mayer joked. “To win at Dover and get the golden Monster trophy and beat Miles The Monster — I tweeted about it earlier — oh man I finally did it and I’m so excited about it.”
Friday can’t come soon enough! I WANNA BEAT MILES! #TheMonsterMile
— Sam Mayer (@sam_mayer_) September 30, 2019
Age is just a number for Mayer. His father, Scott, was beaming with pride at the newly minted youngest NASCAR series champion.
“He’s so mature for his age. To be 16 years, 3 months and 8 days to be doing what he’s doing, absolutely amazes me,” he said. “I raced professionally for a number of years and he’s in a different zip code than I ever was.”
Mayer’s crew chief, Mardy Lindley, came over the radio once the cool down lap concluded and told Mayer not to do a burnout. The team is planning on bringing this engine to ISM Raceway next month for the K&N Pro West finale, and Lindley wants to take care of it.
“I’m definitely doing a burnout there. I don’t care what he says,” Mayer said with a laugh. “I really wanted to do one this weekend but I’ll give it to him, we have to run the motor at Phoenix, so it’s all good.”
DGR Closes Season On A Roll
DGR-Crosley finished second, third and fourth to close out their second full-time season of competition in the K&N Pro Series East. Coming off the heels of a 1-2 finish at New Hampshire, it was a confidence-boosting end to what was a successful season.
Tanner Gray came home as the runner-up, and finished the season with six top five finishes and fourth in the standings.
— DGR-Crosley (@DGR_Crosley) October 4, 2019
Two-time K&N Pro West champion Todd Gilliland finished third in his second and final start of the season.
Drew Dollar, who competed in the first seven races of the season, came home with a top five finish in the season finale in what was his rookie campaign racing full-bodied stock cars.
— Drew Dollar (@DrewDollar00) October 5, 2019
- Chase Cabre closed out his 2019 season with a fifth place finish, coming home second in the standings (his best career finish).
- Ruben Garcia Jr. finished eighth in the race and sixth in the standings, a disappointment considering his high hopes and expectations coming into his fourth full-time season.
- Spencer Davis’ seventh-place run earned him a career-best third place position in the standings.
- Max McLaughlin’s sixth-place finish puts him fifth in the 2019 standings in his rookie season.