SALISBURY, NC – In one of the most hotly-contested Open division features of the season so far, Max McLaughlin led all 20 laps to win Wednesday night’s Prelude to the Open at Millbridge Speedway.
Matt Francis (Intermediate), Ryan Zima (Box Stock) and Jaxon Merrifield (Beginner Box Stock) also picked up victories in their respective classes during the sixth week of racing at the sixth-mile dirt oval.
McLaughlin held off Carson Kvapil through the initial start and early laps, then fended off his Phantom Racing Chassis teammate Nick Hoffman late to notch his second win of the season at Millbridge.
The Toyota Racing Development driver was all smiles after the race, carrying some much-needed momentum into next week’s sixth annual $5,151-to-win QRC Speed51 Open presented by HMS Motorsport.
“That was badass,” said McLaughlin in victory lane. “That’s two of the best young racers in the country right there, in Nick Hoffman and Carson Kvapil, and to hold them off is pretty fun. You see how my teammate drove me, too … as clean as could be. That’s how racing should be. It stinks that he broke.
“I really believe Nick and I would have had a great battle; I’d race him all day in anything.”
The elder Kvapil’s hopes faded with nine laps left, when he tagged the cushion and lost the engine in his No. 35 CorvetteParts.net machine, while Hoffman’s quest for victory ended inside of five to go after the motor mount broke on his silver and blue No. 2h entry.
“It was shaping up to be a really good battle between those two boys before Nick’s issue,” noted PRC team owner Harold Wiggins. “I’m not sure which one would have won it, but they always race each other really hard. It was a show, for sure.”
“Man, when we break things we seem to break them pretty big,” added Hoffman. “It was a lot of fun racing Max, though. He’s one of the best out here and pushes us hard every time we hit the race track.”
McLaughlin pulled away in the final laps to beat Tom Hubert by 2.7 seconds. Brent Crews completed the podium, followed by Andrew Wehrli and Dillon Latour.
Francis snookered Caden Kvapil on the initial start of the 20-lap Intermediate division feature and never looked back en route to his first-career Wednesday night win in the division.
Francis got the jump on the start from the outside pole and pulled away, beating the younger Kvapil by five car lengths in the end as they raced in and out of slower traffic in a caution-free event.
“I just swung wide on the start, exactly like my dad (Kenny Francis) told me to, and it worked out perfectly,” said Francis. “This is special. I haven’t won a Wednesday race in two years, so it feels good.”
Behind runner-up Caden Kvapil, Sam Corry, Laci Ferno and Kennedy Elledge completed the top five.
Zima won a frenetic 20-lap Box Stock main for his second victory of the season, putting memories of his dead-heat photo finish in week three out of mind by passing Colt Currie with nine laps remaining.
Zima then beat Cassidy Keitt, Aiden Price, Landon Sartain and Landon Totherow to the finish line.
Merrifield topped a caution-laden 12-lap Beginner Box Stock A-Feature, passing Carson Allen on lap seven, while Katie Yonchuk went wire-to-wire to win the 12-lap Beginner Box Stock B-Feature.
RESULTS: Millbridge Speedway; Wednesday Series Week Six; May 15, 2019
Beginner Box Stock Heat #1 (8 laps, four transfer): 1. Grayson Price, 2. Tyler Buzze, 3. Landon Trent, 4. Brody Snyder / 5. Brody Measmer, 6. Davin Roberts, 7. Zoey Smith.
Beginner Box Stock Heat #2 (8 laps, four transfer): 1. Jaxon Merrifield, 2. Carson Allen, 3. Shane Contarino, 4. Sam Overmyer / 5. Landon Davis, 6. Max Reaves.
Beginner Box Stock Heat #3 (8 laps, four transfer): 1. Kolson Nelson, 2. Chase Johnston, 3. Caleb Scarborough, 4. Brayden Montieth / 5. Cole Thomas, 6. Colt Johnson.
Box Stock Heat #1 (8 laps, four transfer): 1. Cassidy Keitt, 2. Aiden McDaniel, 3. Coen McDaniel, 4. Tyler Johnson / 5. Talon Pelfrey, 6. Cole Burkhart, 7. Aiden Garcia.
Box Stock Heat #2 (8 laps, four transfer): 1. Ryan Zima, 2. Landon Totherow, 3. Nathan Meendering, 4. Aidan Turner / 5. Katie Yonchuk, 6. John Kidwell.
Box Stock Heat #3 (8 laps, four transfer): 1. Landon Sartain, 2. Colt Currie, 3. Kynzer Flynn, 4. Dallas Griggs / 5. Lucas Sandifer, 6. Brianna Lawson.
Box Stock B-Main (12 laps, four transfer): 1. Katie Yonchuk, 2. Cole Burkhart, 3. John Kidwell, 4. Aiden Garcia / 5. Lucas Sandifer, 6. Talon Pelfrey, 7. Brianna Lawson.
Intermediate Heat #1 (8 laps, all transfer): 1. Caden Kvapil, 2. Sam Corry, 3. Trevor Cline, 4. Gavan Boschele, 5. Kennedy Elledge, 6. C.J. Sweatt (DNS).
Intermediate Heat #2 (8 laps, all transfer): 1. Matt Francis, 2. Laci Ferno, 3. Brett Norman, 4. Landon Rapp, 5. Will Boprey, 6. Aidan Turner.
Open Class Heat #1 (8 laps, all transfer): 1. Caden Kvapil, 2. Carson Kvapil, 3. Tom Hubert, 4. Alex Bodine, 5. Mark Pollardi, 6. Lucas Sipka, 7. Clark Houston, 8. Maria Cofer.
Open Class Heat #2 (8 laps, all transfer): 1. Nick Hoffman, 2. Max McLaughlin, 3. Andrew Wehrli, 4. Dillon Latour, 5. Brent Crews, 6. Gray Leadbetter, 7. Renee Angel, 8. Joey Robinson.
Beginner Box Stock B-Feature (12 laps): 1. Max Reaves, 2. Colt Johnson, 3. Zoey Smith, 4. Brody Measmer, 5. Cole Thomas, 6. Karter Beattie, 7. Davin Roberts.
Beginner Box Stock A-Feature (12 laps, shortened due to time limit): 1. Jaxon Merrifield, 2. Carson Allen, 3. Brody Snyder, 4. Landon Trent, 5. Caleb Scarborough, 6. Kolson Nelson, 7. Shane Contarino, 8. Sam Overmyer, 9. Landon Davis, 10. Tyler Buzze, 11. Brayden Montieth, 12. Grayson Price, 13. Chase Johnston (DNS).
Box Stock A-Feature (20 laps): 1. Ryan Zima, 2. Cassidy Keitt, 3. Aiden Price, 4. Landon Sartain, 5. Landon Totherow, 6. John Kidwell, 7. Nathan Meendering, 8. Aiden Garcia, 9. Aidan Turner, 10. Katie Yonchuk, 11. Colt Currie, 12. Coen McDaniel, 13. Kynzer Flynn, 14. Dallas Griggs, 15. Tyler Johnson, 16. Cole Burkhart (DNS).
Intermediate A-Feature (20 laps): 1. Matt Francis, 2. Caden Kvapil, 3. Sam Corry, 4. Laci Ferno, 5. Kennedy Elledge, 6. Trevor Cline, 7. Will Boprey, 8. Gavan Boschele, 9. Landon Rapp, 10. Aidan Turner, 11. Brett Norman, 12. C.J. Sweatt (DNS).
Open Class A-Feature (20 laps): 1. Max McLaughlin, 2. Tom Hubert, 3. Brent Crews, 4. Andrew Wehrli, 5. Dillon Latour, 6. Caden Kvapil, 7. Gray Leadbetter, 8. Joey Robinson, 9. Maria Cofer, 10. Renee Angel, 11. Mark Pollardi, 13. Carson Kvapil, 14. Lucas Sipka, 15. Alex Bodine, 16. Clark Houston.
-Millbridge Speedway Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo