Gragson & Gafforini Split Vegas Features


LAS VEGAS – Noah Gragson had good reason to climb the fence again at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday night.

Gragson overcame a strong field and showed no signs of fatigue after returning from a trip to Pocono Raceway to run in Friday night’s ARCA race, winning the second NASCAR Super Late Models 35-lap feature at the Chris Trickle Classic. It was Gragson’s third victory in the division this season and the 13th of his career at the three-eighths-mile paved oval.

“It’s awesome coming back here, and this win is for Chris Trickle and the Trickle family,” said Gragson, who climbed the front stretch fence to celebrate. “They had a hard loss years back, so this one’s for them. Thanks to everyone for coming out, and thank you to everyone for all of their support.”

The Chris Trickle Classic is named in honor of the former Las Vegas-area star who died in 1998 after being shot in a still unsolved crime the previous year. Trickle’s father, Chuck, won the 2003 NASCAR Super Late Models track title, and his nephew, Chris, is a 24-time Bullring race winner who currently competes in the division.

Six-time track champion Scott Gafforini held off 2013 NASCAR Super Late Models track champion Jay Beasley by .537 of a second in the first 35-lapper, pushing his track record win total to 64. A caution with six laps remaining erased a big lead that Gafforini had built, but the veteran driver was able to return to the Winner’s Circle for the third time in 2016.

Don Sargent repeated a feat he achieved on April 30 by winning both NASCAR Super Stocks features. He edged birthday boy Matt Larsen each time, finishing .398 of a second ahead of the Utah-based driver in the first feature and .654 of a second ahead in the night cap.

“This car loves double main nights,” Sargent said. “It’s 800 degrees in that car, my right foot is on fire and my shoe’s melting, but you’ve just got to put it out of your mind.”

Another former track champion, Martin Sullins, also made his way to the Winner’s Circle on Saturday night. Sullins, the 2014 NASCAR Bombers Bullring champ, won for the third time at the short track in the race of the night, edging Sam Jacks by just .112 of a second.

Nick Nuccitelli was a close third, .530 of a second behind, and Sullins felt lucky to hold on for the victory.

“Any time you’re racing the Jacks (brothers) or Nick, it’s always hard and is always fun,” Sullins said. “You never know who’s going to come out on top, and I was the lucky one tonight.”

For the second time in the last three USLCI Legends races, Tyler Fabozzi crossed the line first, 2.219 seconds ahead of points leader Cameron Morga. The budding star was quick to give thanks for his win.

“I saw Cameron Morga coming up in my rear-view mirror, so I tried my best to not overdrive the car,” he said. “I wanted to keep something for the end in case I needed it, and T.J. Clark keeps building perfect cars.”

Peyton Saxton earned his 16th career Bullring win after taking the checkered flag in the 25-lap NASCAR Grand American Modified feature. Saxton was happy to survive the day’s triple-digit heat and earn his third divisional victory of the season.

“It was super hot in practice, and the track really wasn’t what it was in the main (event), so it’s hard to get the car dialed in to what you want,” Saxton said. “The 911 car, Vinny Raucci, was coming, and if it had been a little longer race, I think he would have gotten us.”

R.J. Smotherman and Kayla Eshleman continued to add to their USLCI Bandolero legacies, with Smotherman picking up Bullring career win No. 18 in the Bandits division and Eshleman crossing the line first in the Outlaws class for the sixth time this season.

In the USLCI Thunder Cars’ 20-lap feature, Chris Bosley finished 5.635 seconds ahead of Travis Boyle to seemingly earn his fifth win of 2016, but he was disqualified after skipping post-race tech inspection. Boyle was awarded the victory, his third of the season.