The Pinty’s U.S. Short Track Nationals produced short tempers in the 100-lap Pro Late Model feature, with Josh Brock surviving the chaotic event to win a coveted gladiator’s sword.
Several front runners saw their hopes of victory dashed during the attrition filled JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour event. First, Travis Braden charged from the rear of the field to the lead before suffering a power steering issue.
Braden soldiered on, hoping to salvage a strong finish even as his lead evaporated. Then, he collided with the inside wall on the frontstretch after contact with Mason Keller.
The incident left Braden peeved, feeling Keller lacked patience and had a car fast enough to pass him without contact.
“It wasn’t much of a battle,” Braden told Speed51. “He was one and a half back and then I’m in the fence. He was way quicker at the time. I was trying to hang on with the power steering. He came from a second or so back. I don’t know what else to say.
“We started last, passed every car. We were leading the race, of course. We never touched anybody. The very first time, we still had 30 laps to go, and he picks the rear tires off the ground. I feel like he could have at least tried once or twice to go one way or the other and leave a little breathing room. It was very visible I was sliding all around.
Keller was penalized for his role in the incident, sent to the rear of the field by CRA officials, and took blame for the accident. Keller had rallied back to the third position before a race-ending crash of his own from contact with Dakota Stroup.
“Our feelings are hurt, but we had a really good car. First off, I’ve got to apologize to the 26 team and Travis Braden. I just ran up on him a lot quicker than I thought I was going to and got into the back of him.
“I did the same thing that the 43 did to me. I feel like the 43’s situation was a little more preventable.”
When the dust settled, it was Josh Brock scoring the victory, with only six cars taking the checkered flag. Brock acknowledged he wasn’t the fastest on this night in Bristol, but a never-say-die attitude was what it took to score the victory.
“You just can never give up. You have to keep digging. We did not have the best car. There were a lot of faster cars, but you have to keep digging and never give up.”
On the chaotic final restart, Brock battled through a tire rub from contact with the wall to secure the win.
“We fought to the very end. We hit the wall and started smoking. It felt like Daytona blocking down the straightaways.
“This is what we dreamed about, being at Bristol. I’ve broken my hand here at Bristol. I really wanted this win at Bristol. I just held it wide open and hoped for the best. He said ‘clear’ and I came down. I knew I had a really bad tire rub, it was filling the cockpit with smoke. I took a chance of it blowing out, but we’re here to race.”
Rookie Charlie Keeven finished second in his Bristol debut, while Cole Williams finished third. Stroup and Mandy Chick rounded out the top five.
Fans who missed the Pinty’s U.S. Short Track Nationals can click here to watch an on-demand replay of the event.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo