Concord Speedway (NC) saw a new face in victory lane for the Pro All Star Series portion of its North South Shootout event. Super Late Model driver Matt Craig added the emotional “first” to his racing resume while simultaneously scoring his 6th PASS South win.
“I’ve been wanting to win at Concord for a long time,” Craig told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “This is my home track. I’ve got a couple wins back there on the quarter-mile, so to win at the big track, it means a lot to me. It’s really special.”
Craig’s success came down to the 125 lapper’s second-to-last restart, where leader Ty Majeski lagged back as the green flag was re-thrown. Craig had positioned himself alongside the Wisconsin native after working his way up to second from his 5th place starting position.
“We had to start fifth and easily worked our way up to around second,” Craig said. “Ty had an issue and we were able to get the lead on the restart. I hit my marks, it felt like, and the car was so good right after restarts. It had so much grip and I could really dig.”
While Craig’s long-sought Concord victory inches him closer to a championship, Majeski’s introduction to the Southeastern tri-oval left him a second-place finisher.
“It’s cool to come here and see how close iRacing actually is to this racetrack,” Makeski said. “It’s a place I’ve gotten a lot of laps on through the [virtual reality software], but I’ve never actually been here. It’s a fun little place but if I come back, I know I’ve learned a few things.”
One takeaway Majeski leaves with involves the very restart mishap that allowed Craig to steal away the 23-year-old’s dominating lead.
“Every series that I’ve ever raced in- NASCAR, ARCA, local racetracks- the leader starts the race,” Majeski said. “I guess I wasn’t aware of their rule that the flagman starts all starts and restarts. I was planning to go later in the box to set [the field] up for the end of the race just in case we had another restart but Craig went when the flagman threw the green.”
Majeski conceded that the misunderstanding in all likelihood didn’t cost him the win, rather the No. 54 machine was slightly superior where it counted.
“[The restart] probably wasn’t the difference; he was probably going to get us anyway,” Majeski said. “He was a little bit better than what we were, especially on the long run, and we were just a little bit too free.”
Third-place finisher Spencer Davis was involved in the causation of the restart that resulted in Craig’s triumph over Majeski. Davis came into contact with Christian Eckes in a heated top-five battle.
“We were just racing hard,” Davis explained. “I knew we needed to be third there for that final restart if we were going to get a win. I was a little bit close, but I felt like Eckes overcorrected a little bit getting through the bump going into the tri-oval and I was just there.”
The contact between the two drivers caused Eckes to hit the outside wall between turns one and two, effectively ending his night. Eckes expressed his feelings to an unscathed Davis with a thumbs-up, given from inside his wrecked machine as it was cradled away by tow trucks.
“Me and Christian are teammates over at Venturini, so that’s the last person I want to touch on the track,” Davis said. “I find it to be a racing deal, I’ve had it happen to me. I’m sure he doesn’t feel the same way. I know he’s like me- he works on his cars every week. It’s a bummer to wreck a kid’s racecar, but at the end of the day we still rallied back for a p3 finish.”
As Davis assumed, Eckes offered a different perspective on the incident. Moments after the wreck, Eckes told Speed51.com that he was turned into the fence. Later after the race was complete, Eckes elaborated.
“He just kind of picked me up into one and two and I unfortunately got in the wall,” Eckes said. “It kind of sucks, going into a couple busy weeks. It’s just been a bad luck deal the past few times we’ve crashed. We’ve had good racecars, unfortunately we haven’t had the best of luck.”
Eckes said that the extensive damage to his No. 15 machine may have altered his schedule for the near future, including an appearance at New Smyrna Speedway (FL).
“We were thinking about going to the Governor’s Cup, but we’re not really sure now, Eckes said. “This was the car we were planning on taking but it needs a front clip now. We’ve got a bit of work to do but hopefully we’ll still be able to race there.”
-By Melissa Strahley, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
1 54 Matt Craig
2 16 Ty Majeski
3 55 Spencer Davis
4 01 Jake Crum
5 16M Chad McCumbee
6 45 Kodie Conner
7 15J Colt James
8 15 Roy Hayes, III
9 7 Erik Darnell
10 28 Jared Irvan
11 8F Tate Fogleman
12 24J JP Josiasse
13 4M Kyle McCallum
14 15X Christian Eckes
15 64 Garrett Evans
16 13 Wes Burton
17 7F Dave Farrington, Jr.
18 11 Jordan McCallum