A familiar last name returned to New Paris Speedway (IN) victory lane in the 17th Annual Summer Sizzler Thursday night. JR Roahrig beat his son Tyler, a four-time Summer Sizzler winner, to score his second career victory in the $10,000-to-win race. In doing so, the elder Roahrig became just the third driver in the history of the race to win multiple times.
After starting ninth, JR Roahrig used a slew of early cautions to get himself to the front. Roahrig took the lead from two-time defending Kalamazoo Speedway track champion Mark Shook on a restart 20 laps in and never looked back.
Following another restart on lap 21, he checked out over the long run to the finish, winning by four seconds over his son.
“Everything worked good for me,” Roahrig told Speed51.com. “We were on the bottom on all the restarts. When I got to second, we had another restart and I was on the outside and I’m like, nobody has been good on the outside so I really didn’t know, but the car was flawless. We got the lead. In the middle stages of the race it was really, really good.”
Roahrig spent the majority of the middle stages mired in heavy lapped traffic. At one point, a full straightaway lead he had on then-second place Bud Perry was cut to a car length.
“It was like I got to make it go now,” Roahrig said. “We just had to do it. The only close call I really had was another lapped car got really out of shape and I went down under him. He started coming down and I had to hit the brakes hard. I was pretty sure I had a pretty good lead at the time, but with no radios I really couldn’t tell. It’s hard to see hand signals while you’re racing at speed. You’re trying to look up and spot someone. But I thought I had a little bit of a gap, so I didn’t really have to press it the last ten or fifteen laps.”
Four-time Summer Sizzler winner Tyler Roahrig set fast time in qualifying and was working his way to the front until he got stuck behind a slower car on a restart and fell to the back. In the final run to the checkered, he worked through the field and made a last-lap pass on defending Sizzler winner Bud Perry to finish second.
“We made up a lot of ground there at the start,” the younger Roahrig stated. “I thought we were looking good but then I got behind the slowest car out here I think, and he took me all the way to the tail. It’s just frustrating to have to go all the way to the back like that just because you get stuck behind somebody on a double-file restart. You’re basically at the mercy of the lineup at that point. That pretty much ruined my race. I had to pick them off one by one after that. I hate to sound mad about second, but it’s still a good night. My dad won. Good field of cars and good crowd. I just like to be one better.
“I wanted to win, but if I can’t win I obviously want my dad to win. All in all, it’s a good night. The car handled pretty well. I’d say we passed the most cars by far. We’ll move on to the Klash next week.”
For JR, it was sweet redemption after he felt like he let one slip away one year ago after a late crash while fighting for the lead. It also meant joining an exclusive club of multi-time Summer Sizzler winners.
“It feels really good. I’m still mad about (last year), but this feels really good. There’s only three of us that’s done it: my son, Jeff Ganus, and myself, so it feels really good.”
Perry, 2003 Summer Sizzler winner Andy Bozell, and Steve Stacy rounded out the top five.
Race fans can find on-demand Trackside Now coverage of Thursday’s Summer Sizzler by clicking here.
-Story by Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com