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Race 10 - The Roval @ Charlotte
10. 11. 12. 13.
Pole: Pacey Wigent ( 1:18.698 )
Stage 1 Winner: Pacey Wigent
Stage 2 Winner: Ryan Lewis
Race Winner: Aaron Dukes ( 34:37.416 )
Fastest Lap: Pacey Wigent ( 1:18.429 )
Number of Cautions: 0
Biggest Movers - Aaron Dukes ( 3rd - 1st )
Zach Gandee ( 5th - 3rd )
Biggest Losers - Mike Montgomery ( 2nd - 6th )
Richard McGinnis ( 6th - 7th )
Laps Lead - Pacey Wigent - 15
Outlaw Racing News
Dukes Avoids Mistakes for Roval Win, Steals Second Victory on the Year
Concord, NC - Once again back to Charlotte for the final time this season, looking to master the 17 turn behemoth that is the Roval. Encompassing this place is the Roval Reaper, feeding off the mistakes drivers make, leaving those who look to conquer this place soulless. By night end, many a driver was bit by the entities overpowering reach. Whether master or novice of the road course like, the reaper shows no prejudice, no bias, no mercy. Even for those who seemingly have a grasp over the entire field. Pacey Wigent looked poised to celebrate his first win of the season after being dominate all night. Seemingly the only driver beyond the grasp of the reaper, until of course he strikes. A single mistake, a single misjudgment would cause Wigent to succumb to the effects of the reaper, opening the door for Aaron Dukes who had hung around the entire final stage to swipe the win away from a hungry Wigent, becoming a winner for just the second time this season.
From the onset, Wigent showed his speed, topping the leader-boards in qualifying by four tenths to take his second pole on the season. Then shot out of a cannon to start the race, quickly amassing a 3 second lead over Dukes in second. As Wigent set sail, Ryan Lewis quickly emerged as a potential threat, making quick work of Dukes and sailing off after Wigent. Though Lewis would close the gap some by stage end, Wigent had enough cushion to easily secure his first stage win of the season.
Setting an unfortunate tone for the night, Wigents' pit crew would let their driver down as Lewis would take the lead via pit stops. A lead Lewis would be hard nosed in defending. Wigent would never let Lewis get more than a second or two away, keeping the pressure on the entire stage. All the while, the duo had easily pulled from the rest of the field. Championship leader Zach Gandee found himself in a tough battle for 3rd between him, Dukes, and Richard McGinnis before the reaper claimed the 48 as his victim, relegating Gandee from the top 5. Lewis would hold Wigent at bay, taking his 6th stage win of the year.
To begin the final stage, again Wigents' crew put thier driver behind the 8 ball, falling all the way to 4th for the restart as Dukes moved up to second alongside stage winner Ryan Lewis. Lewis didn't waste time, inserting himself a second up hastily off the restart. Dukes settled in second with what seemed to be a new found speed, staying well within Lewis' mirror. Wigent made quick work of McGinnis to retake 3rd. Now setting his sights onto to Dukes in 2nd, Wigent would use the first few laps to reel the 99 in, and as he closed down on Dukes he would let the faster Wigent through with little fight through infield section. Now Wigent scoped in on Lewis, quickly closing on the number 9 Chevy after a few mistakes from Lewis in the opening laps. Wigent would run down the 9 and make easy work of Lewis whose consistency seemed shook. Not long after falling from the lead, Lewis feel victim to the reaper, after hitting the final chicane wrong and going nose first into the outside wall. Now stood just two in contention, Wigent with Dukes surprisingly close in tow. Though Wigent had been a dominant car all night, the fuel saving needed to no stop the final stage had forced Wigent to give up some time on track. Allowing Dukes to stay big in Wigents' mirror for much of the run, and Dukes wouldn't waste this opportunity. Keeping the pressure on Wigent, staying right on his bumper, even going for the lead numerous times going into the backstretch chicane. It would all be enough to stay well in Wigents' mind, until one fatal mistake. Coming to 5 to go, Wigent would miss the final chicane just enough to incur a penalty dropping the 0 Chevy nearly back into third now 7 seconds behind Dukes. The Roval Reaper had claimed its final victim. From there it was smooth sailing though Dukes would nearly throw the race away just narrowly avoiding a penalty in the same place as Wigent coming to the white flag. Wigent would close up nearly 2 and a half seconds by the time the checkers flew, but for Dukes it didn't matter as the checkers were flying for him. Though he didn't have the car to beat, a mistake free final stage was enough for Dukes to claim his second win of the season in dramatic fashion. Wigent will have to wait for his turn to victory lane yet again with his 3rd runner up finish of the year. Zach Gandee somehow managed a third on a turbulent night for the 48 team, taking advantage of others mistakes in the final stage to comeback for a podium finish. Ryan Lewis had a penalty on the final lap drop the 9 from a podium finish as Sam Wade kept his nose clean to round out the top 5.
Two races remain and barring any serious hiccups over the final two weeks, Zach Gandee very much has his championship in hand. Sitting a pretty 46 points over second place Mike Montgomery, Gandee has all but sured up his championship run. Mike Montgomery got plenty of visits from the Roval Reaper in tonight's races, struggling to get a handle on these devastating rumble strips, finding himself on the fringe of the top 5 most of the night at a time he needed a good points day. Though he would lose significant ground to the championship leader, the absence of Shad Swatsworth saw the 14 team move up into 2nd in the standings with 2 weeks to go. A provisional on the night for Swatsworth would relegate the 46 team back into 3rd but with 2 races to go, plenty of time to reclaim his second place status. Aaron Dukes did make considerable ground on the top of the standings and although Gandee is out of reach, Montgomery and Swatsworth are not. A couple of good finishes and Dukes could claw his way into the top 3. Lewis has seen his luck all but dry up over the past few weeks since his provisional. Even though a top 5 tonight is his first in 4 races, it feels it should've been so much more with a car more than capable of winning. Alas he finds himself even further back in 5th, now 12 points behind Dukes in 4th. Next week is a visit to the First State and the concrete jungle of the Monster Mile.