Jeremy Doss' love affair with The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NV) showed little sign of slowing down Saturday night in Sin City. Doss used a winning strategy to score the victory in the $10,000-to-win Retro Custom Metals 150 for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series.
Patience was the main ingredient to Doss’ winning strategy as he scored his lucky number seventh career SRL victory, putting him right back in the thick of the championship chase. The win was his fourth victory in his last five starts at the 3/8-mile, D-shaped oval.
“We just tried to save our stuff and I just tried to bide my time and stay up front as long as I could without burning my stuff up,” Doss told Speed51.com. “They added another 25 laps to this race and I needed to save (tires) a little bit longer. The car really came to life at the end. It was really like a chess match the out there the whole race, in terms of who was saving the most. I knew he (Eric Schmidt) had something, but I thought maybe Cole (Moore) and some other guys may have gone too soon, but Cole really managed to be really fast there at the end.”
The day began with 2017 SRL Rookie of the Year Ricky Schlick scoring his first career “PFC Brakes Zero Drag Fast Time Award”. The 30-car field was extremely competitive, with only two drivers qualifying outside of five-tenths off the quick time.
The SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series uses a redraw for the top eight qualifiers and Doss picked the number-one pill for the start. Schlick pulled a two, followed by Eric Schmidt, Tyler Fabozzi, Randy Hedrick, Jacob Gomes, Thane Alderman and the now twice-in-a-row unlucky Buddy Shepherd.
Doss took a brief early lead, but 2006 SRL Champion Eric Schmidt rocketed to the front before six laps were completed. The race became a battle of comers and goers, as drivers strategized how to best manage their tires for the extended 150-lap battle.
One of those comers was 2015 Pacific Challenge Series Rookie of the Year Cole Moore. Moore qualified 21st, but stormed to the lead just before a Lap 36 yellow.
“Right off the bat, the car was turning really well and we marched right through the field,” Moore stated. “By Lap 35, we were leading it. Honestly, we weren’t really going hard. We were just cruising, and I thought we had it won.”
Moore would lead to the caution on Lap 62, which became an early mid-race stop for the teams to make adjustments and add fuel. Colorado's Jace Hansen followed Moore to the break with Randy Hedrick, Eric Schmidt and Doss rounding out the top five.
On the restart, Hansen fell back in the tough outside groove, having made adjustments that didn't agree with the handling of the car. Moore continued to lead though several cautions, but Schmidt began to turn up the wick, reclaiming the lead before a caution on Lap 98. By that time Doss, who had fallen outside the top five, reappeared in fifth.
The ensuing restart resulted in the longest green flag run of the evening. Doss, who had saved his tires, dispatched of Craig Raudman, Hedrick and Moore to pressure Schmidt for the lead. On Lap 121 Doss made the winning move, getting under Schmidt for the final lead change of the event. Moore also got by on the long green flag run, seemingly giving himself a chance for the win when the final caution appeared on Lap 140. The caution however, was a hindrance for Moore.
“Doss got a little lead on us, but we made a charge and I think we probably would have got him if that caution didn’t come out with 10 to go,” Moore speculated. “We were rolling the center a little better than him, but he could get off just a tick better. The tires cooled off after the caution, and we had a better long-run car. Overall, however, I’m really happy with the finish. Our best finish besides this one was a tenth. We have just been struggling with the new car.”
The single-file restart proved to be uneventful as Doss was able to fend of all challengers over the final 10 laps to secure the rich $10,000 win, thanks to David Mulcahy and Retro Custom Metals.
“I can’t thank these JD Motorsports crew guys enough for all their hard work,” Doss expressed. “Also I’d like to thank Senneker Performance, Earnest Performance, PFC Brakes, Swift Springs, and the LaFell family who came onboard for this race. In addition, thank you to Speedy Signs and also Peters Racing Engines for the bullet they built for this event. We really had a lot of power tonight and a really good car. I can’t neglect to extend a special thanks to Homie (David Mulcahy) with Retro Custom Metals for putting up the big money for this race, as well an awesome trophy to go along with it.”
Eric Schmidt was strong the entire race, leading early and late in the event before finishing third. His strategy for the race looked very similar to Doss’ strategy, and for good reason.
“We were basing ourselves off of what Jeremy in the 75 was doing,” Schmidt began. “He is really good here and he kind of did the same thing in the last race here. We were just pacing ourselves and doing the same thing. But it was kind of awkward in the beginning because we felt like we were restrictor plate racing. I was looking in the mirror, holding the gas and then finally we decided to go. It went; it just didn’t go long enough.
“We ended up burning the front tires off of the car, but all in all it was a good weekend. We didn’t tear anything up and the car was fast all weekend, and now we have something to build off of.”
Rookie of the Year front runner and current championship leader Buddy Shepherd finished a strong fourth. 2017 SRL Rookie of the Year Ricky Schlick finished fifth, with 2001 NASCAR Southwest Tour Series Champion Craig Raudman getting his season’s first top 10 in sixth. 2015 SRL Champion Jacob Gomes also scored a good finish in seventh, followed by two-time 2018 Bullring Super Late Model winner Tyler Fabozzi. Eric Schmidt’s teammate Randy Hedrick came home ninth, with Cole Moore’s father John Moore rounding out the top 10.
Cole Moore took home the “Coleman Power Sports Hard Charger Award” for improving 19 positions over the evening. Craig Raudman was the recipient of the “Fluidyne Cool Move of the Race” for his daring three-wide pass between the machines of Jeremy Doss and Jace Hansen following the half-time break.
The next event for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series will be at Irwindale Speedway on June 9 for the “SPEARS Manufacturing 100 presented by Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse San Dimas.” Another large field of SRL Super Late Models is expected, with roughly a half dozen drivers planning on making their first SRL starts of the season.
A-Main Results: 1. Jeremy Doss, 2. Cole Moore, 3. Eric Schmidt, 4. Buddy Shepherd, 5. Ricky Schlick, 6. Craig Raudman, 7. Jacob Gomes, 8. Tyler Fabozzi, 9. Randy Hedrick, 10. John Moore, 11. Carlos Vieira, 12. Bob Lyon, 13. Jace Hansen, 14. Keith Spangler, 15. Scott Sanchez, 16. Jack Wood, 17. Thane Alderman, 18. John Dillon, 19. Kayla Eshleman, 20. Jeff Bischofberger, 21. Bobby Hodges, 22. Logan Bearden, 23. Linny White, 24. Cale Kanke, 25. Kayli Barker, 26. Blaine Rocha.
B-Main Results: 1. Keith Spangler, 2. Kayla Eshleman, 3. John Dillon, 4. Dan Holtz, 5. Dennis Rock, 6. Luke Hall, 7. Kyle Neveau. (Top 3 to the A-Main)
-By Kevin Peters, Speed51.com Southwest Editor
-Photo credit: Speed51.com