Just like in the real-life 2018 edition of the Rattler 250, the final lap of Saturday night’s eRattler 250 presented by PFC Brakes stole the show and had the short track racing world buzzing.
A late-race clash between Devon Morgan and Max Cookson set up a photo-finish between Morgan and ARCA Menards Series competitor Parker Retzlaff in the first event of the Speed51 Super Select Series.
Morgan drove deep into turns three and four, sending Cookson up the track and out of contention for the win. The contact allowed Retzlaff to get one final push on the inside. Morgan and Retzlaff then made contact and slid across the finish line, with Morgan beating the Wisconsin teenager by just .002 seconds to score the win.
While it wasn’t the way he wanted to get the job done, Morgan said he did what he had to do on the final lap with a marquee sim Super Late Model win on the line against some of the top drivers from the real world.
“I knew I really didn’t have anything for him if he ever got clear of me," said Morgan on the Speed51 broadcast. "That’s exactly what he did, he got a good restart. Luckily Parker (Retzlaff) spun the tires a little bit and I was able to get in there and move him up the racetrack.
"I did what I had to do, I hate it to be like that but Cookson would’ve done the same thing. I know he’s not happy right now but he can’t deny he wouldn’t have done it and probably would have done it worse than what I did. That was a show, that’s something you’d see at your local Saturday night short track, I hope all the fans enjoyed it.”
Cookson took the lead with 55 to go and appeared to be on his way to the win with Morgan holding on with old tires. A late yellow led to a green-white-checkered finish, with Cookson getting moved in the final corners with the checkered flag in sight.
Cookson let his displeasure with Morgan be known, hitting Morgan’s car on the frontstretch post-race.
“We were the car to beat tonight, without a doubt. It was a rocket ship. The 42 car (Retzlaff) spun the tires so Morgan got in there and he doesn’t have enough respect to race it out clean,” Cookson stated. “He drove right through us there and doored us out of the way to win.”
Morgan dominated the majority of the race, but tire wear and fuel mileage looked to be his downfall late after losing the lead. With a G-W-C finish giving him a new lease on life in the eRattler, he made his move.
“I didn’t want to see a yellow, I was hoping we’d go to the end even if we would’ve been close on fuel. I tried making a pit once strategy and I made a bad call. This was (Cookson’s) race to win and I just changed it.”
While the winner of the Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway normally gets a picture taken with the rattlesnake in victory lane, there was no snake on hand in the virtual world. Morgan gave a resolution on how to stay true to the tradition.
“The virtual snake, I guess we could photoshop that across the car or something.”
Through all the calamity, Parker Retzlaff came up inches short of the eRattler 250 win. The Western Super Series points leader had a front-row view of the action late, having believed he had won the race after crossing the line.
“I thought I had won the race, to be honest. Everybody started screaming like I had won the race and I just lost it to Devon by a little bit,” Retzlaff said. “I knew there was something that was going to happen between those two, they race too hard for there to not be contact racing for the win. They want to win so bad I knew something was going to happen.”
Polesitter Thomas Axsom and Kulwicki Driver Development Program semifinalist Riley Stenjem rounded out the top five.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
eRattler 250 Official Results