Tyler Roahrig didn’t just shake a monkey off his back Wednesday night in Kalamazoo, Michigan; he shook off something a whole lot bigger. Roahrig scored the most meaningful win of his racing career by holding off a hard-charging Kyle Busch to win his first career Kalamazoo Klash.
Roahrig’s win in the 25th Annual Kalamazoo Klash comes after three straight runner-up finishes in the most prestigious Outlaw Super Late Model race.
“I don’t even know what to say. That’s the most competitive race I’ve ever raced in my life,” Roahrig said after the race. “I can’t believe we just won the Klash.”
Busch, who set fast time in qualifying earlier in the day, started 14th after rolling the invert. After spinning on lap 8, he rallied through the field and found himself lined up next to early leader Jeff Ganus on a lap 85 restart.
Throughout the race, restarts seemed to be Busch’s kryptonite as he struggled to get up to speed. Roahrig took advantage of that by diving under Busch and making a bold three-wide move to put himself in the runner-up spot.
Just a few laps later, Roahrig drove to the inside of Ganus on lap 90 to take over the lead. But it wasn’t over there.
Busch eventually found his way into the second positon and began challenging Roahrig for the race lead. Despite a valiant effort by Busch, Roahrig fended off the charge and pulled away late as Busch appeared to fight a very loose race car.
“To race with Kyle Busch, you know he’s a legend. Just him being here does so much for our sport and we all need to appreciate that,” Roahrig said. “I know that restart was kind of risky, but man I had to go at that point. It was either win or lose I thought.”
Busch hung on to finish second, his best career finish in the Outlaw SLM portion of the Kalamazoo Klash, but was disappointed to come up one spot short. Despite being disappointed with a second-place finish, Busch made his way to victory lane to congratulate Roahrig on his big win after the race.
“Car was really good there early on, in the beginning of the race, and with about 50 to go I felt the right rear going away a little bit on me,” Busch told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “When we had that last restart there, every restart it wouldn’t fire. They made it three wide on me and apparently, you’re allowed that and it knocked me right out of the way and took the win. I tried everything I could there at the end to catch him; I just didn’t have enough tire. Congratulations to Tyler.
“I guess I need to learn the rules more in order to have a better opportunity to win these things and not throw them away. Overall it was good. I had fun. Can’t say enough about Terry (Senneker) and all the guys that worked on this car; they worked their butts off all week. I thought it was really good in the race. I think I just used a little bit too much tire too early.”
Ganus finished third after leading the majority of the race, while Andy Bozell and Brian Bergakker completed the top five.
At the end of the night, all eyes were on the black No. 24 and Tyler Roahrig as he celebrated in victory lane. When asked to sum up his first Kalamazoo Klash victory, he mustered up just one word: “Unbelievable.”
Race fans can find on-demand Trackside Now coverage of Wednesday’s Kalamazoo Klash by clicking here.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Kalamazoo Klash XXV Unofficial Results
Kalamazoo Speedway (MI) – August 9, 2017
|23||71||Harold Fair Jr|