There were battles to be fought and wars to be settled during the 10th and final round of the Bojangles Summer Shootout on the quarter-mile oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday night. At the end of the night, some won the battle, some won the war, some won both and others went home empty.
In the Legends Pro division, Michael Torres entered the final round of action as the point leader. Torres seemed to be in control of his own destiny as the leader of the race until a late-race caution bunched the field back up and put second-place points man Jordan Black on his back bumper for the restart.
After receiving a push from behind, Black made contact with Torres’ No. 15 sending him up the race track. Black took over the lead, while Torres suffered severe damage after contact with Austin Hill. Black would cruise to the checkered flag, while Torres rebounded to finish ninth. But that ninth-place finish wasn’t enough for Torres, and Black was unofficially crowned the 2015 Legends Pro champion.
“It’s really bittersweet,” Black said on the live PRN pay-per-view broadcast. “I feel bad for what happened to the 15 (Torres) on that restart. I just got into him and hit him a little bit too hard and he got up into the 48 (Hill).
“It’s a good day. We worked our butts off all year for this. We ran nine races, not 10. It really set us back so this feels good.”
Torres, visibly upset, approached Black in victory lane to voice his frustrations.
“He’s just upset. Obviously if I was in his position I would be upset, too,” Black stated. “I got a little bump from the 54 and like I said, I didn’t mean to get into him that hard. I was trying to stay off him. I didn’t mean to wreck him. We talked about it earlier in the week about what was going to happen if it came down to it and it’s probably not going to sit well with him for a while. I can understand that, but I did what I had to do.”
After the race, Torres told Speed51.com that he expected to get a push from behind at some point but that he didn’t expect it to be as big of a push as it was.
“I don’t know what to say,” Torres said. “It’s hurtful, really to be honest. I don’t know what word to use. It really sucks. Five laps to go, I’m the points leader and there’s a target on your back when you’re the points leader.
“He only had one mindset in his head and that was how many cars can hit me when he spins me out. That’s what happened and he won the points now.”
Despite Black saying that the championship was “bittersweet” after the incident occurred, Torres wasn’t buying that the contact was incidental.
“Anybody can say that, but you have a wheel in your hands. You don’t hit somebody that hard and say it was an accident. You can flip it and put a little kick in it, but no matter what way you put it he meant to do what he did.”
Tom Pistone was one of those drivers able to win both the battle and the war on Tuesday night. Pistone, driving the No. 54 owned by the Craig family after crashing his car on Monday night, held off division rival Robbie Faggart in the closing stages to win the Masters feature and the season championship.
“I’ve literally run 30 laps in this car,” Pistone told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Five during qualifying and five during the race. That’s just a testament to my brother Chase’s setup. He calls me Harry Gant because I run the stiffer front springs. All these young guys are running the softer right front. I just think my car lasts longer with the stiffer, more conventional springs in the front.”
By winning in the No. 54 Legends car, Pistone joins a list of well-respected racers that have taken the car to victory lane.
“It’s just really cool. It’s cool to win in the 54,” said Pistone. “Clay Rogers, Jeff Fultz, who else has won in that thing? My brother Chase and now me in the Summer Shootout.”
On the race’s final restart, Faggart was lined up next to Pistone on the front row. The two drivers made contact on the restart before it was waved off. As they made their way down the backstretch the next time by, the two drivers exchanged words from the driver’s seat.
“Honestly I’m at a point where I’ve been giving a little bit too much this summer and it might have cost me some money but I would have flipped this thing before I would have given an inch tonight,” Pistone said after the race. “Did he do anything wrong tonight? No, not really. It was just tight racing. The season is over and we move on.”
Carson Kvapil (Bandits), Ashton Higgins (Outlaws), Jacob Gantz (Beginner Bandoleros), Chase Purdy (Young Lions) and Sheldon Crouse (Semi-Pro) also scored feature wins on Tuesday night.
In addition to scoring wins, Higgins, Purdy and Crouse were also crowned champions in their respective divisions. Daniel Wilk, who finished second in the Bandits division, had already clinched the championship prior to Tuesday’s event.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com