Houston, TX – It looked like Pro Late Model drivers Chris Davidson and Jake Kruger were going to battle to the wire during Houston Motorsports Park’s $5,000-to-win “Patriot Motors 75” Saturday night, but an incident with seven laps to go ended Davidson’s chances for a big payday at the NASCAR-sanctioned, 3/8-mile oval.
“We were racing Chris Davidson for the win up until he crashed late in the race,” said Kruger, who wound up in victory circle and $5,000 richer after the checkered flag waved. “We hated to see him get crashed. It was going to be a fun and exciting finish.”
Indeed, Davidson and Kruger raced within inches of each other for most of the 75-lap event until Davidson wound up on the business end of the wrecker after an unfortunate incident involving youngster Clayton Green and veteran Thad Felton on lap 68.
While there is some discussion as to the actual chain of events, Green was judged to have jumped a lap-54 restart that followed an incident involving young Jared Fryar and Davidson who were battling for the second spot behind Kruger at the time. Apparently there was a delay in displaying the black flag to Green after the restart, and when it was in fact displayed Green continued to run in the lead for several laps. Finally, Green slowed on the front straight momentarily and dropped back to the fourth spot behind Felton, but in front of Davidson who was in the process of working his way back to the front after the lap-54 incident.
Shortly thereafter, Green made solid contact with Felton going into turn one with both cars spinning, leaving Davidson no place to go except into the wall. Davidson’s night was over. Green and Felton also retired for the night at that point.
That left Kruger to fend off Zach Knowles, Michael Umscheid, Kristen Bumbera and Chris Freeland – the only cars still left on the track – for the last seven laps to secure the big payday.
In spite of the departure of his chief rival with only seven laps to go, Kruger felt the race was actually won on the first lap.
“I’d say the turning point in the race came real early when I got around Chris (Davidson) on the initial start,” Kruger explained. “That gave me the lane choice at the first caution which helped me out a lot.”
HMP offers the lane choice to the leader with everyone else selecting their lane as they pass inside or outside a cone placed in the middle of the track a lap or two before restarts.
Davidson pretty much agreed with Kruger’s assessment.
“There were five or six of us who could have won this,” Davidson said. “But Jake and started up front due to the draw and we put on a show right up until the end. He kept choosing the outside line on the restarts, so he had the better line and was able to pull me a little coming off the turns.”
Davidson was disappointed that he got caught up in someone else’s wreck at the end, but took it in stride.
“It would have been a real exciting finish, but things happen in racing and this time I was on the wrong end of an incident,” he said. “I’ve watched Clayton Green run for quite some time and he’s a very talented, clean driver. I don’t know exactly what happened between him and Thad (Felton), but I just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Kruger has been on a roll so far this season at the meticulously maintained, park-like facility. In addition to this Pro Late Model win, Kruger has won three NASCAR Modified events in-a-row on the asphalt/concrete Houston oval.
“I’m not real sure what’s making us so dominant,” Kruger said. “Our whole crew has just been working so hard and we all want to win real bad. Maybe that’s it.”
When asked about what he planned on doing with the $5,000 paycheck, Kruger replied, “All the money is going to my awesome car owner, Rick Pollaro. He gave me the best of the best in that new Late Model. You just can’t ask for a better car owner.”
-Houston Motorsports Park Press Release. Photo credit; Steve Steinle
Results of the Pro Late Model “Patriot Motors 75”
Finish, Car #, Name, Laps, Purse
1. 96 Jake Kruger, 75, $5,000
2. 51 Zach Knowles, 75, $3,000
3. 54M Michael Umscheid, 75, $2,000
4. 00 Kristen Bumbera, 75, $1,000
5. 91 Chris Freeland, 75, $750
6. 29 Thad Felton, 68, $750
7. 14D Chris Davidson, 68, $750
8. 47G Jared Fryar, 54, $750
9. 14 Ryan Luza, 54, $750
10. 51M Mason Mitchell, 36, $750
11. 115 Ryan Humphrey, 33, $750
12. 54 Clayton Green, DQ