Outlaw Racing News
Swatsworth Rebounds with Come From Behind Victory, Claims Kansas
Kansas City, KN - Last week was not what Shad Swatsworth expected. Auto Club saw the 46 team struggle after early contact forced them well behind everyone else. They fought hard for what they could, but alas had to settle for a dismal 11th place finish. At times tonight it looked as if the same luck would befall the Swatsworth team. Looking good after stage 1, the 46 caught the wall early in stage 2 again sending him to the back, and again to start the final stage saw himself behind the main pack. Using the races single caution Swatsworths' hard work would finally pay off, knifing through the field to present one of the few challenges to Zach Gandee. In fact Swatsworth would prove to be the bigger challenge, marching past the 48 Chevy en route to a 2 second victory, finally arriving at the peak after so many valleys over the past season and a half.
Though Swatsworth wasn't the early favorite, and in order to comeback there must that hill to climb. From the drop of the green, that hill looked to be Ryan Lewis. Back to back poles for the number 9 Chevy, saw Lewis back out front looking very strong early on. Lewis would lead much of opening stage, while also utilizing a sweet two tire strategy to outlast a hard charging Swatsworth to claim the opening stage, Lewis' second of the season.
Strong out of the gate for the second stage, Lewis continued to lead with little challenge. lewis was seemingly picking up where he left off in California, where Lewis was also a strong competitor. However the feeling wouldn't last long. Whilst leading, Lewis' engine would expire, retiring the number 9 team prematurely. With Lewis gone, the mantle was passed to the 33 of Tyler Starcher who would resume the race lead before the field delved into pit stops, shuffling the running order heavily as multiple strategies came to fruition. When the cycle came to its end, Aaron Dukes found himself leading with Richard McGinnis close in tow as the two looked to stretch the stage its full 19 laps on fuel. A gamble that would pay off as Dukes would go on to take the stage for his first stage win of the season.
With Lewis out, the dominant car looked to fall to Gandee as the races final stage begun. Starcher, Mike Montgomery and Pacey Wigent stayed close in tow as the 4 began to pull away from the field. Then came the lead up to the races lone caution. Sam Wade would lose control of his 00 Chevy, collecting McGinnis all while Dennis Boggess would do the same out of turn 2, collecting Shad Swatsworth just a lap later. Much of the field would elect to pit except for McGinnis who eyed a gamble of some sort, and inheriting the lead. Once the race restarted his lead wouldn't last long with his old tires giving way to fresh rubber rather quickly. Gandee would resume the top spot through much of the next run as the restart left 39 to go. The next pit cycle would hit with around 28 to go, leaving much of the field spread out. Though Gandee wouldn't cycle out with the lead. Dukes would take over the top spot, having undercut the previous pit stops with a two tire strategy. However with the aged rubber, Dukes would soon see his 3 second lead evaporate as the fresh tires of Gandee quickly tracked down the 99 Ford. Though as Gandee was hunting the 99, a new challenger appeared for the 48 Chevy. Shad Swatsworth, who had overcome several incidents, was too on the prowl. As he and Gandee dispatched the 99 of Dukes, Swatsworth quickly went on the attack putting pressure on Gandee before wrestling the lead away with 20 to go. However one more stop stood between everyone and the checkers. Montgomery and Dukes opened the bidding with 16 to go, setting off the final pit cycle of the night. Gandee would come a few laps later before Swatsworth would peel off a lap after. The slight undercut from Gandee did secure the 48 team the lead if only for a moment. Once back up to speed Swatsworth would catch and dispatch of the 48 hastily, as he looked to extend his lead over the final 11 laps. Untouchable over the final run, Swatsworth cruised out to nearly a 2 second lead by the time the 46 Valvoline Ford would see the checkers. After a season of trying, a season of top 5 after top 5, Shad Swatsworth finally found himself back in victory lane for just the 2nd time in his ORS stint. Gandee would have to settle for runner up as he could do nothing but watch another win slip through his fingers for the second week in a row. Montgomery continued to show his early season strength, finishing off the night with a third. Pacey Wigent fought back after an early spin to bring home a 4th as Dukes would see his strategy bring the 99 home for a top 5.
Zach Gandee has flexed his muscle early this season, for the second week in a row coming just one last run short of a victory. Yet two straight podium finishes in nothing to sneeze at as Gandee climbs atop the point standings by a slim 8 point margin. A tie for second brings up the likes of Mike Montgomery and Aaron Dukes, both getting there in thier own way. Montgomery has shown much speed early on while Dukes has had to rely more on strategy to poach his pair of top 5's. Either way the duo find themselves just an arms reach from the top of the standings, in a momentary stalemate for 2nd. Sam Wade would fall to fourth after being unable to capitalize on the win the week before, but still sits in solid position just 14 points in back of Gandee. From one race winner to the next, Shad Swatsworth rocketed through the standings following his big win. Jumping from 11th to 5th, he'll look to keep this momentum and pounce on the 16 point difference between himself and the top. First things first though, surviving the desolate desert as the crew heads to ISM Raceway for week 3 of this 13 week season.
Outlaw Racing News
Gandee Holds Fast, Keeps Field at Bay in Tightly Contested ISM Win
Avalon, AZ - Finally, that sigh of relief. It had been over 10 races and a season, numerous runner up finishes, dominant car just to have it stolen in the end. Nearly every twist and turn going against him in just the wrong way at just the wrong time. At times, it almost seemed as if victory lane was eluding just him, doing everything right to have it all taken away. Yet here we land, at finally. He staved off every late challenge and charge, running down the 14 machine when it looked as if strategy might just spoil another dominant performance. Rerunning down the 63 after contact put Gandee behind. Then watching as the 99, as he'd done many times before looked to do the impossible. This one however was different. No one was stealing this one, no one was surprising him with speed. This time everything he worked for would come to fruition. Victory on this day at ISM belongs to Zach Gandee.
Besides Gandee there's another who seems to find that black and white checkered flag equally as elusive of late. For three weeks, Lewis has set his number 9 Chevy on the pole position. For three weeks Lewis has had one of the strongest cars, and for three weeks Lewis has found himself with a stage win in hand. Tonight would be no different. Lewis quickly from his number one spot on the grid opened up his lead over the field. putting a second advantage up by the time they were 5 laps in. The big worry early in the stage was rubber. Would the tires be able to last the full 22 lap stage. For some, this was the end goal. As laps wound down, drivers would be put to the test to be conservatively aggressive. Closer and closer the stage end drew, and several cars gave in pitting in the closing laps. Though a good many would risk blowing a tire, for a taste of stage points. Lewis would just make it to the line before his rubber gave way, as we would see 3 of the top 5 have flats on the final lap with two of them spinning in turns 3 & 4. Stage winner went to Lewis for his third straight race with a stage victory.
Stage 2 would put a little more emphasis on speed being 3 laps shorter than the one before it. This would be where Gandee would first flex his muscle. Even with Kurtis Swatsworth leading the field to green, Lewis would be the man to find himself back in the top spot by the time the field made its first pass of the line. Though Lewis would not so easy pull a gap this time around. Gandee stuck himself to the rear bumper of Lewis, wasting no time going after the number 9 Chevy. Much of the top 5 was under a blanket with a bunch of side by side racing early in the stage. The top 2 would tangle for a number of laps before Gandee would eventually emerge ahead, as Lewis would falter. Before long however Gandee would have company. Shades of just a week ago, Shad Swatsworth sliced through the field after restarting 9th following his blown tire in stage 1. Now the 46 Ford was back hunting the 48 with 13 to go. This time however there seemed to be an air of determination emanating from the 48 team this go round. With Swatsworth keeping the pressure on, Gandee would keep the 46 in his rear view over the final 13 laps en route to his first stage win of the season.
Keeping in mind the taste of leading, Gandee was resilient in his defense of the top spot as the race rumbled into its final stage. Leading all the way up to the first round of pit stops, Gandee would resume his stranglehold on the lead once the first cycle concluded. Though Gandee never held an insurmountable advantage, he maintained the lead he did have, never really getting challenged through much of stage though Boggess and Lewis were within arms reach. The excitement didn't pick up again until after the second round of pits stops had cycled through. Multiple strategies came to light as Mike Montgomery on two tires emerged ahead of Gandee and Boggess, who came to pit road just behind the 48. Setting up for the final stint, Gandee wasted no time closing the gap to Montgomery but as Gandee looked to pass the 14, Boggess took this moment to take the two three wide. Contact ensued, sending Montgomery and Gandee into the outside wall giving Boggess the lead with Lewis sneaking through for 2nd. There it was, again. Once more a win seemingly slipping through his fingers. As noted before though, that air of determination once again shone through. Gandee after falling to 5th, quickly picked off Montgomery after using the 14 up. Caught and passed the 9 of Lewis clearing himself off of 4. Now it was onto Boggess, and Gandee wasted no time dispatching the 63, paying forward the contact from earlier and sending Boggess hard into the outside wall. While all of his was happening, one thing was forgotten about. All the batting was for 2nd on the track. Dukes was once again up to his old ways, as the 99 sat upon a rapidly evaporating 8 second lead. Tonight however was not one of those nights and in one of the few times the 99 has come up short, Dukes would have to give up the top spot to pit with 3 laps to go. Inheriting the lead, Gandee only had to hold off a hard charging Ryan Lewis over the final few laps. Maintaining a lead of just a few car lengths, Gandee would seal the deal on this night, finally getting back to victory lane for his 11th series win. Lewis would come home in 2nd to rebound nicely from his DNF a week ago. Boggess would have to settle for 3rd as Swatsworth finished the night in 4th. Montgomery would hold on for 5th as his 2 tires slowly slipped in the final laps.
Capping off the night with a win was a huge way for Gandee to capitalize on taking the points lead last week. Gandee would see his point lead stretch out to a solid 23 point advantage after just 3 weeks, with Dukes falling short on strategy tonight being now the only driver left with a top 5 in every race through the first three. Lewis rebounded nicely after a disastrous race week in Kansas. Another stage win, another pole, in fact sweeping the first 3 races this season while also garnering the most bonus points to work the 9 team into the number 2 spot in the standings. Keeping up appearances of a solid car every week thus far. Mike Montgomery does drop to third after being tied for 2nd last week but continues to be a figurehead in these finishes week in and week out. Holding steady in 4th is Shad Swatsworth picking up a Top 5 after last weeks victory. Dukes falls into a tie for 5th with Sam Wade the week 1 winner. Strategy failed Dukes tonight coming up just short of snookering yet another win, by instead falling to 11th by nights end, now sitting 39 points in back of Gandee. The Finger Lakes region of New York welcomes the ORS gang as the years first road course will present its own challenges at the Watkins Glen International.
Outlaw Racing News
Last Lap Pass Sees Lewis Overcome Late GWC for Watkins Glen Glory
Watkins Glen, NY - After being a pace setter through much of the season, Ryan Lewis swept the stages and the win to claim his first victory of the season to set right on the heels of Zach Gandee in the championship standings. It had been pole after pole, contender week in and week out, yet after every week he seemed to settle just short of putting the entire race together. Tonight a late caution nearly saw another potential win wither away. Having to fight back and defend against an intense Mike Montgomery, Lewis was able to put the final staple in the final corners to keep the 14 at bay to win here at The Glen.
For the first time all season, Lewis was unseated from leading the field to green. Riding high off his momentum from ISM, Zach Gandee laid down the best lap with a speed of 127.539 for his fifth ORS pole. The top spot would be the hot spot in the early going with a number of drivers taking their swing. Shad Swatsworth and Mike Montgomery would trade the position with Gandee until Lewis, working up from his 5th starting poisition would take the lead with 7 to go and never look back. Lewis would go virtually unchallenged though the rest of the stage securing his 4th stage win of the season.
Stage 2 wouldn't be quite as clear cut with Swatsworths' crew getting it done on pit road to allow the 46 Chevy to lead the field to green. From the jump Swatsworth was a stalwart out front, fending off multiple challengers as the laps quickly ticked off the board. As it looked as if Swatswoth would hold off Lewis to take the stage, a single slip up in turn 7 allowed the 9 to go on the offensive, finishing the pass down the front straight and leading the final lap of the stage as Lewis claimed his 5th stage win of the season.
The races final stage would truly test the consistency of the top drivers. As the race commenced, the mistakes started early. Swatsworth would lose control first, relegating the 46 team to the back of the field. Then it was Gandee catching too much of the rumble strip off of turn 1, joining Swatsworth behind the 8 ball. Next was Montgomery spinning into the tire barriers between the final corners, collecting Aaron Dukes in the incident. Pacey Wigent who through all the errors, running runner up, nixed his pit strategy by pitting just a lap too soon, forcing the 0 Chevy into a 2 stop strategy. Even the pit wall claimed its share of drivers on exit, as Gandee and Dukes would both clip the wall on pit exit spinning them across the racing surface. The only front runner seemingly above all the troubles was Lewis, whose lead had grown exponentially over the course of the run. Though Lewis had outrun all those issues and errors that had befallen his peers. He just couldn't overrun them. Lee McQuain who was on the verge of going another lap down after early issues had put the 24 team several laps down, lost control of his Chevy in front of the leader, unfortunately collecting the 9 of Lewis to bring out the races only caution to set up a green-white-checkered to end the evening. Through Lewis' incident, Montgomery had inherited the lead even though Lewis remained in 2nd. As the GWC commenced, Montgomery got a massive start as Lewis jumped a bit, having to lay off to make sure the 14 got to the line first. Lewis however would fight back getting back to the 14's corner panel before falling in line ahead of Swatsworth in 3rd up through the esses. Montgomery would have a fantastic bus stop and carousel combo, opening up a half second lead on the 9 heading down into turn 7. Lewis would counter with a clean 7 and 8, closing back to with 2 car lengths as they took the white flag. With Lewis breathing again down his back, Montgomery would over shoot turn 1 just enough to open the door for Lewis as the two would barrel off toward the esses door to door. Contact in turn 2 would push the 14 a little wide and popping his left sides into the grass as they shifted to turn 3, but Montgomery never lifted, carrying momentum back into turn 4 just a half car length off the bumper of Lewis. Now though it would briefly be a three car race as Swatsworth was now on the bumper of the 14 as the trio rumbled down the backstraight towards the bus stop. As the three were under the virtual blanket, Swatsworth would blink last, getting hard into the back of Montgomery getting into the bus stop. While it would cost the 46 over a second to the leader, Montgomery was able to stay right with Lewis through the bus stop and into the carousel. However Lewis would catch too much of the rumble strip on exit, dragging his right sides into the grass and giving the momentum off the carousel to Montgomery as once again the two were door to door down the short shoot to turn 7. Though Montgomery would clear Lewis, he would take a rather defensive line into turn 7 giving the better turn to Lewis who was a half lane higher on entry. The two would touch sending the 14 wide off of 7 but the two were still essentially door to door approaching the final corner. Montgomery however would catch a bit too much of the rumble strip as Lewis would hold his momentum on the high side, fending off the determined Montgomery to secure his first win of the season. Montgomery would have to settle for his best finish of the season thus far with a 2nd. Swatsworth continues his string of success with a third, as Tyler Starcher and Anthony Benda, in his first ORS race, come home 4th and 5th respectively for their first top 5's of the season.
Gandees' night ended on a bit of a sour note, after having a top 5 car all night, would lose it for the second time off the turn 1 rumble strip on the final lap to fall back into 6th. Though his two 4th place finishes in the stages would stave off losing the championship lead, for now Gandee clings to a 2 point advantage heading into next week. Lewis' strong 45 point night marched him right up to the doorstep of the top of the standings as he'll look to carry this momentum into next week and finally cross the threshold. Another strong showing from Mike Montgomery sees the 14 team right in the thick of a championship pursuit. Posting his best finish of the season thus far, the 14 sits just 13 points back of Gandee. Speaking of strong showings, Shad Swatsworth notches yet another podium this season, his 2nd in 3 races while not only pulling to just 20 points off of 1st, but building up a decent cushion back to 5th, leading Dukes by 27 points. Dukes so far this season hasn't been the Dukes of old, but ever consistent nonetheless even on the heels of an unfortunate night. 5th in the standings and still spitting distance from the championship battle, a few good races could make this a 5 man hunt at the top, or a few bad races could prop the four horsemen atop the standings into their own zip code. A trip to the midwest is in order as action under the lights kicks off in a week at the Iowa Speedway.
Outlaw Racing News
Gandee Lambastes Field in Dominate Iowa Victory
Newton, IA - The restarts may have been wild and crazy, a hectic rumble for position. Once the racing cooled off, and the single file action took over. One man proved to be unbeatable. Zach Gandee led over 80 laps en route to becoming the first multiple win driver of the season after a completely dominating performance at the Iowa Speedway. Ever extending his points lead after nearly losing it post The Glen when late race catastrophe dropped the 48 to a sub par finish. Tonight its the last thing on his mind, opening up a nearly 30 point advantage heading into Pocono.
Gandee achieved pole number 2 in back to back races and from the jump Gandee looked strong. Opening up a half second lead early over Mike Montgomery and Aaron Dukes. It would slowly stretch out to nearly a second before Dukes would open the bidding, hitting pit road first. Dukes would in fact set off a series of reaction stops as most of the field followed suit within the next several laps. Ryan Lewis would hold out the longest, while strategy took its place in the fight for second with pit stops cycling through. Dukes and Shad Swatsworth gambled on the two tire stop, Montgomery another second back also took two tires. Then came Gandee and Pacey Wigent an extra 7 seconds back on 4 tires. However it was apparent Dukes was having trouble with the handle of his car as the run went on. Swatsworth would run down the 99 from a second back to set up taking the lead once Lewis hit pit road. Next would be Montgomery moving into the number 2 spot as Lewis would make his stop with 8 to go. Dukes would nearly fall into the clutches of Gandee but would hold on as the stage came to a close. Shad Swatsworth would nab his first stage win of the season.
Stage 2 Swatsworth came out swinging. Out of the gate the 46 looked strong keep the likes of Montgomery and Gandee at bay for the opening 10 laps of the stage, building up just over a one second lead. Before long pit stops would come calling again. Gandee would pit a lap before Swatsworth but it would turn out to be a big momentum swing in favor of the 48. As pit stops cycled out, Gandee found himself passing the 46 down the backstretch inheriting a solid one second advantage with 11 to go. The pass on track however was only for 3rd, as two drivers looked to stretch things out to the end. Montgomery joined the fight way late, as he held onto as ever shrinking lead. Dukes, though he was in save mode throughout the entire run, closed down on this gap quickly eventually taking the lead with 5 to go. From there it was a matter of managing the gap back to Gandee who was over 12 seconds back, and once again Dukes would steal a stage via the saving game for his second stage win of the season.
To begin the final stage Dukes found himself in trouble early, as adjustments put him well behind the 8 ball from the drop of the green. The 99 would quickly drop from the top 5 as Gandee retook the top spot and from there he would't look back. Over the next 63 laps Gandee would prove why he would be the guy to beat this season. Pacey Wigent never let the 48 feel completely comfortable, but would never truly able to get up and challenge Gandee as the run went on, but did keep the 48 team honest through the entirety of the runs. While Gandee was being kept honest by Wigent the same could be said for Swatsworth to the 0 Chevy. Outside of that, the top 3 had checked out. Even through a pair of pit cycles, and a caution-less race. Wigent during the final run would close the gap to under 2 seconds. However Gandee would maintain his lead the entire stage and claim his 2nd victory of the season. Wigent could do little but watch, but after several tough races this season, a runner up finish could be just what this 0 team needed. Swatsworth has continued his string of consistency with yet another podium finish, his third of the season. Sam Wade found success to back up his season opening win, with a 4th place finish while Mike Montgomery fought hard for his 4th top 5 to keep pace with Swatsworth and Gandee.
Surging ahead in the standings is Gandee, taking full advantage of a rough night for Ryan Lewis, to open up a solid 28 point advantage heading into week 6. Shad Swatsworth finds himself sitting 2nd in points after another solid night. Just a single point separates him from Ryan Lewis who falls to third this week. Lewis had a rough night in the 9 Chevy. Found himself behind the 8 ball early in the final stage, was working hard to rebound to 7th battling Dukes in the final laps for the position until a cut RF tire put the final staple in his night. Now Lewis sits 3rd in points 29 back of Gandee. Though Mike Montgomery falls to 4th in points, he sits right in the thick of the championship fight. 32 points in back of Gandee but only 3 points out of Swatsworth in 2nd. Then there's Dukes whose luck continues to fight against him, a lowly 7th place finish sees the 99 team give up even more points to the top. Its quickly becoming do or die time for the 99, sitting now 65 points in back of the top. The tricky triangle leads us nearly into the half way point of the season, and with the fight at the top remaining thick, who blinks first? Pocono, week 6, Wednesday night, who knows whats in store.
Outlaw Racing News
Gandee Scary Good on Hollows Eve, Goes Back to Back for Win Number 3
Long Pond, PA - Class was back in session on this Halloween eve to close out October. For the second week in a row, Zach Gandee was the professor as all the pupils could only sit back and watch. His pace went unmatched through most of the night, his 48 Chevy was scary good even when muddled back in traffic as he was on several occasions tonight. Many tried to unseat the 48 from the top spot, but by the end of the night Gandee gave a tip of the hat and cruised off into the night. Pulling out a 3 and a half second lead en route to his third win in 4 races.
Not only had Gandee been dominate during the race, qualifying has been his alone the past 3 weeks as Gandee and Ryan Lewis both now sit with 3 poles each on the season. Gandee wasted no time early on, as he, Lewis and Aaron Dukes used the first lap to break away by over a second to 4th. In this first stage however, Lewis was ill content to ride runner up, going on the attack early and often as the two would swap the lead over the opening handful of laps. While the battle for the lead intensified, a new challenger appeared. Covering over a second and a half difference, Mike Montgomery was hot on the tire tracks of Aaron Dukes, and after Gandee scuffed the wall out of turn 2, Dukes was forced behind the slower 48, allowing the 14 of Montgomery to go two for one heading into turn 3. Though Gandee would hold off this challenge, he would eventually fall to the 14 a couple laps later. While all this took place behind Lewis, He wasn't able to capitalize on building an advantage, and was soon under pressure from Montgomery in the closing laps. Lewis would fight hard, but much like the rest of the top 5 would succumb to Montgomery in this opening stage. Montgomery notched his 2nd stage win of the season just ahead of both Lewis and Gandee.
Drama began the races second stage as the caution would immediately welcome the field. Dennis Boggess with the brilliantly risky strategy call to not pit on the conclusion of stage 1 saw the 63 take the green on fumes and 3 inflated tires. As anyone could have forseen, the field would pile into the 63 as he spun immediately upon the drop of the green flag and as quickly as the stage resumed, it was again halted. Now it would only be a 7 lap shootout to decide stage 2, and no one was prepared for the speed Gandee showed up with to begin the stage as the only driver to not pit under the caution. Untouched for the final 7 laps, Gandee secured his second stage win of the season.
Much like the start of stage 2, a caution welcomed the field in the beginning of the final stage when Gandee blasted the turn 2 wall on the opening lap. Dukes would inherit the lead but even a masterful restart would not prevent the inevitable. Sam Wade, who had the short run speed all night quickly closed on Dukes in the proceeding laps, taking the lead 3 laps after the restart. Dukes would fight back in turn 2 but as Dukes got under Wade, Montgomery took a huge run under Dukes as it was three wide for the lead out of the tunnel turn. Wade would fade, as the 99 and 14 remained door to door down to turn 3. Montgomery would emerge ahead to take the top spot as it was a flurry of action behind him. Two and Three wide erupted numerous times throughout the top 10. While the storm raged, casualties would be produced. The first would be Montgomery, after contact with the 0 of Wigent, the 14 would careen off the turn 2 wall before spinning back across the track sending much of the pack scrambling the avoid the Chevy. Next would be Wigent, after a slight nudge from the 48 of Gandee, the already loose 0 Chevy would go full out of control exiting turn 3 spinning toward the inside wall. As the field finally started spreading out, Gandee who had restarted 9th was back in the lead with Lewis and Anthony Benda close in tow, and Shad Swatsworth and Dukes a few seconds back. Yet as the pit cycle commenced, the chaos of the final stage claimed its final victims as Benda and Swatsworth would get together on pit entry, collected the unsuspecting 99 of Dukes essentially pushing the trio out of contention barring a late caution. With the cycle concluded, and racing back underway Lewis quickly went on the attack on fresh rubber. Gandee however never let the pressure consume him, letting the car do the talking for him. As Lewis used up his stuff, Gandee slowly began to exponentially stretch his lead. As he took the white flag, what was a hard nosed battle for the top spot was now a 3 second lead over the number 9 Chevy. Cruising for the final 2 miles, Gandee would conquer the Tricky Triangle to become the first back to back winner this season, and winner of 3 of the last 4. Lewis would rebound after a rough Iowa showing for 2nd. Shad Swatsworth continues his run of consistency with yet another podium finish. Anthony Benda in his 2nd ORS appearance nothces his 2nd top 5 with a 4th place effort as Aaron Dukes rounded out the top 5.
Behind another great points night Gandee firmly holds the championship lead in his grasp as we head into the halfway mark of the season. A solid 41 point advantage going to week 7. Lewis retakes 2nd in the championship behind a 2nd place run at Pocono. Though not out of the fight for first, overcoming a 41 point deficit will prove challenging if Gandee keeps up this momentum. Shad Swatsworth falls once again back to third, but still proving top be a potent opponent. Notching yet another podium, Swatsworths' consistency has kept the 46 team in championship contention throughout the season, the question becomes can he take that next step and turn these podiums into wins and eat into Gandees' mounting lead. Mike Montgomery maintains his standing sitting comfortably in 4th after showing grit, coming back to a 7th place finish to salvage what he could from a disappointing Pocono run after showing front runner pace. Though he loses some ground to those around him, he still sits on a comfortable 34 point advantage over Dukes in 5th. Like everyone tonight, Dukes lost quite a bit of points to the top of the standings, now sitting 85 in back of Gandee. Unless Dukes and company can turn their season around at the halfway point in season, a championship top 5 may be all that's in the cards for the 99 team. Gateway could be a place drivers could either shine in the spotlight, or let the rain wash their tears away. There's nothing quite like a short track to stir the pot even further as the seasons halfway mark sits just a week away.