Mayer Ascends to Bojangles' Summer Shootout Throne
The silver anniversary season of the Bojangles' Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway came to a thrilling conclusion with Tuesday's Champions Night presented by Cook Out. In addition to a fireworks show presented by NGK Spark Plugs and a slam-bang Faster Pastor school bus race presented by Farm Bureau, Sam Mayer celebrated his first Legend Car Pro division championship after an action-packed night of grassroots racing on Charlotte's frontstretch quarter-mile.
Mayer only needed to take the green flag to clinch the Legend Car Pro crown. By doing so, the 15-year-old JR Motorsports development driver became the first driver other than Jordan Black to win a Pro title since 2014.
Starting from the pole in the final Pro race of the season, Mayer took a bump from Hudson Halder and dropped to fourth behind early leader Garrett Manes - who lost the lead when Halder tagged him and assumed the point on lap 10.
From there, Halder set sail and pulled away for his third win of the season.
"Passing's just the toughest part in the rain," Halder said. "I didn't mean to move Manes as hard as I did there. It's good to get a last win this year."
Mayer finished fourth behind Halder, Manes and Dawson Cram. His title, however, was assured after four wins in the first eight races.
The Faster Pastor school bus slobberknocker saw sliding buses, cheering fans and Venture Church youth pastor Ian Montalto prevail in an all-out battle between good and good. Montalto said the "Jesus, take the wheel" approach worked to perfection.
"That's all it ever is, who else is gonna do it?" Montalto added. "I'd like to give a shout-out to My Honest Mechanic and to my wife for letting me do this tonight. It was great. It was fun."
The Cabarrus Brewing Company Masters division title fight between Robby Faggart and Carl Cormier came down to the final lap of the final round. Faggart entered the season finale with a scant three-point lead over Cormier - who won Monday's race - and appeared to face an uphill battle before the green flag. Starting behind Cormier, Faggart made his way up to second before Cormier overdrove a wet Turn 1 and slid off track on lap 2.
Faggart pushed his lead to more than eight seconds before a caution flag with less than 10 laps to go bunched up the field. Cormier received the second chance of a lifetime after a multi-car accident away from the racing groove brought out a caution with seven laps to go - and put Cormier restarting beside Faggart. Their battle for the lead stretched for five laps, before "The Dragon" slid sideways rounding turn 4 on the penultimate lap - giving Faggart the space he needed to grab his second Masters title in the last three years.
"It's great, winning the 25th season of the Bojangles' Summer Shootout is a great thing for me," said Faggart, a former Charlotte Motor Speedway employee who also won the championship in 2016. "Carl's a great driver, but it's nice to beat a dragon every once in a while."
While Cormier fell just short in the points battle, he left the speedway on Tuesday having won the coveted Spirit of a Legend Tom van Wingerden Award.
Like the Masters feature, the final round of the VP Racing Fuels Semi-Pro season came down to the last two laps. Gracie Trotter's bid for a historic championship nearly came to fruition, but she needed to pass Connor Mosack in the closing laps to finish the job. Trotter got to Mosack's bumper but could get no further, settling for third place in the race and second in the standings by just two points.
Harrison Halder was out of title contention but well within range of his second win, which he collected after a mistake-free performance.
"My spotter just kept saying 'one back, one back' and I kept digging up top," Halder said.
K1 Speed Young Lions champion Isaak Love roared to his fifth victory of the Bojangles' Summer Shootout on Tuesday, as the driver of the black No. 6 machine pulled away from early leader Tommy Good to put the perfect stamp on one of the most dominant Young Lions seasons in Shootout history.
"Today we had a bad day, we never qualify out the top five and we did," Love said after the race. "I was mad and disappointed. I said a prayer before the race and luckily we got it in and won. It wasn't easy tonight. Somehow, we made it stick."
With the Charter Schools USA Bandolero Outlaw title in hand prior to the green flag, Justin Gareis jumped out to a commanding lead three laps into the feature. Following a pair of cautions, Gareis stretched out his advantage once again and roared to his seventh victory of the Shootout in a performance befitting his championship-winning season.
"That car's a rocket ship week in and week out," Gareis said after the race. "I know I say it a lot, but it couldn't be truer."
Landon Rapp and Zack Miracle were the class of the field throughout the Bandolero Bandit season, so the final-lap title showdown between the two championship contenders was only fitting. Following a five-lap start to the race which was delayed until the Legend Cars completed action and the track was dried, Miracle and Rapp ran one-two for the final 12 circuits.
Rapp's best shot at a win - and the title - came with two laps left when Miracle slipped while attempting to pass a lapped car. Miracle kept his foot in it and held Rapp off to register his fourth victory of the season and the division title.
"My dad, he kept me calm throughout the whole race," Miracle said. "I had to avoid even the tiniest mistakes and I did. It feels amazing. We came into this race knowing we had to win the feature (to win the title) and we did it."
Skyler Chaney paced the field in a caution-filled Beginner Bandit feature, rocketing to his second consecutive victory in what served as the season finale for the Bojangles' Summer Shootout.
Chaney said he didn't keep track of what was behind him as the laps wound down in the abbreviated race.
"It's just focusing on your own race," Chaney said. "You can't focus on the people behind you."
Beginner Bandolero Bandit results were unavailable at press time.
Legend Car Pro (25 laps): 1. Hudson Halder; 2. Garrett Manes; 3. Dawson Cram; 4. Sam Mayer; 5. Noah Korner; 6. Tyler Lester; 7. Daniel Wilk; 8. Nick Sanchez; 9. Gus Dean; 10. Joey Padgett
Cabarrus Brewing Company Masters (25 laps): 1. Robby Faggart; 2. Carl Cormier; 3. Craig Bruce; 4. Rodney Tharp; 5. Chip Ferguson; 6. Jan Ingram; 7. Brian McElearney; 8. Dwayne Holder
K1 Speed Young Lions (25 laps): 1. Isaak Love; 2. Tyler Chapman; 3. Jason Alder; 4. Steven Chapman; 5. William Robusto; 6. Bryson Ruff; 7. Austin MacDonald; 8. Ryan Rackley; 9. Justice Calabro; 10. Isabella Robusto; 11. Holt Halder; 12. Tommy Good; 13. Trent Dockery; 14. Tyler Letarte; 15. Molly Lindner
VP Racing Fuels Semi-Pro (25 laps): 1. Harrison Halder; 2. Connor Mosack; 3. Gracie Trotter; 4. Dustin Rumley; 5. Sammy Smith; 6. Drew Dollar; 7. Tristian Love; 8. Cole Dockery; 9. Brandon McKenzie; 10. Ryan Heim; 11. Faron Laney; 12. Joshua Plummer; 13. Dj Canipe; 14. Dacin Roberson; 15. Craig Biryla; 16. Ryan Demartini; 17. Kaylee Bryson; 18. Daniel Knight; 19. Ryo Ogato; 20. Carson Poindexter; 21. Cole Brown; 22. Caleb Day; 23. Hayden Swank
Bandolero Bandits (20 laps): 1. Zack Miracle; 2. Landon Rapp; 3. Parker Eatmon; 4. Kade Brown; 5. Stanley Hayes; 6. Lucas Vera; 7. Truett Miranda; 8. Wyatt Philyaw; 9. Alex Meggs; 10. Luke Morey; 11. Sean Abell; 12. Jacob Bradley; 13. Kaleb Bradley; 14. Bobby Elder
Charter Schools USA Bandolero Outlaw (20 laps): 1. Justin Gareis; 2. Jadyn Daniels; 3. Cameron Murray; 4. Zac Fowler; 5. Santiago Hill; 6. Trevor Wester; 7. Ethan Norfleet; 8. Carson Ramsey; 9. Jacob Gantz; 10. Luke Akers; 11. Whitney Meggs; 12. Josh Speas; 13. Emily Hedstrom; 14. Garin Mash; 15. Jordan Plummer