MILLVILLE, N.J. – In what ended up becoming a drama filled JUSTDRIVE.com 125, Will Rodgers dominated en route to the checkered flag and his second consecutive win at New Jersey Raceway Park on Saturday night.
Ernie Francis Jr. would lead the field to green with Rodgers to his outside. After staying in the tire tracks of Francis through the first six laps, Rodgers made his move to the lead in his No. 7 Kelly and Associates Insurance Group Ford and set sail from there.
Rodgers went on to lead the final 49 laps and cross the finish 6.078 seconds ahead of Francis.
“It means a ton to be back here in Victory Lane and to double down” said Rodgers. “Especially with this Jefferson Pitts Racing team, these guys worked so hard at the shop in Washington, and they trucked all the way out here to the East coast, and we gave them a victory — which is exactly why we do this.”
The win marks the third of Rodgers’ NASCAR K&N Pro Series East career. The 23-year-old Murrieta, California native went to Victory Lane twice in 2017, both at series’ road courses: New Jersey and Watkins Glen International.
The field stayed spread out for the majority of the running, however, a late race restart on lap 51 would tighten the field up and brought the excitement. Contact through the first three turns sent Ruben Garcia Jr. spinning off the track and out of the third position.
The door opened for DGR-Crosley teammates Tyler Ankrum and Tyler Dippel who jumped to second and third, respectively. The two would battle for the second spot before making contact on the final lap, sending both spinning through the grass and out of contention.
Through all of it, the 20-year-old Francis would find his way through and into a second-place finish in his series’ debut. The four-time Trans-Am champion won the pole in his debut and did not fall outside of the top five all day.
“I learned a lot about how these cars drive” said Francis. They definitely fall off a lot as the tires wear off on these cars but I think this was a great learning experience for me and will help out a lot at the next one (road course) at Watkins Glen.”
Ronnie Bassett Jr., Grant Quinlan and Anthony Alfredo rounded out the top five.
Ankrum, the championship points leader, finished ninth while Dippel ended in 11th after their last lap accident. Ankrum maintained his 16-point lead over Dippel after seven of 14 events.
Extended highlights of the JUSTDRIVE.com 125 will air on NASCAR America on Monday, June 18, on NBCSN.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will take a month off before returning to track for the Throwback 100 at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on July 14.
-NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications Press Release
-Photo credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography