MADERA, Calif. — Carlos Vieira scored his first Pacific Challenge Series presented by PenneyLawyers.com victory Saturday night at Madera Speedway.
Vieira led the final 56 laps of competition but not without late company from fast qualifier Jason Romero.
“It feels awesome,” Vieira said. “The car was solid man. The outside line – I felt pretty confident with it. That first restart I chose the bottom and that was a big mistake.”
“Man I was doing everything this car had,” Romero said. “I needed another maybe 25 more laps. My front brakes were gone. I was putting rear into it, making it cut.”
Romero opened the afternoon with a 14.428-second lap to lead qualifying but it was Granite Bay’s Cole Moore, the 2015 Rookie of the Year, winning the American Racer Tire Dash for the pole and a set of tires.
Fifteen PCS Super Late Models roared to the green flag on the one-third mile speedway with outside polesitter Vieira using the outside line to take the early lead. Side by side racing was the name of game during an intense lead battle between Vieira and Moore. The first caution came on lap six when Chris Scribner stopped on the front stretch with fuel pump issues.
Vieira chose the inside for the following restart, which proved to be to Moore’s favor as he led lap seven by a nose before Vieira edged back to lead lap eight. Moore finally cleared Vieira on lap nine. The next caution flag proved crucial as Romero spun down the backstretch after a mix up with defending series champion Jeremy Doss.
Moore selected the outside on the restart and that decision not only propelled him to the lead but allowed his father John to roll into third and Ryan Philpott to roll the top into fifth. Philpott’s strong performance expired on lap 14 with mechanical problems.
Vieira crawled back onto Moore and the duo went side-by-side again on lap 15. The caution flew on lap 16 when rookie Jack Wood spun on the front stretch. Moore again picked the outside but Vieira showed he had the right stuff as he took over the lead on lap 19.
Travis Milburn fended off Doss in an entertaining battle for fourth before Doss surrendered to the pits with problems on lap 35. Romero found himself mired in traffic battling Tracy Bolin and 2016 Rookie of the Year Matt Wendt just outside the top five.
Wood and Danny Malfatti had a collision in turn four for the next caution on lap 34. Romero jumped forward on the following restart to pass John Moore for fourth. Milburn too fell out of the race on lap 43 with mechanical woes and that set the stage for Romero to take third and move towards the leaders.
Romero and Moore staged a thrilling side-by-side affair that gave Vieira the chance to pull his cushion to nearly three seconds. By the time Romero got away on lap 61, he ran both of his fastest laps of the race in open traffic to claw at Vieira. Vieira stayed tough in late lapped traffic for a .487 second victory – three car lengths – in the satisfying victory.
Cole Moore crossed the stripe third but was penalized for an RPM infraction in post race inspection. John Moore assumes third ahead of 2014 champion Mike Beeler and Bolin. Rookie Alexander Mead drove from 14th to seventh to earn the Penney Racing Supply Hard Charger in his series debut.