ABBOTTSTOWN, Pa. – David Gravel sensed Wednesday night’s racing surface at Lincoln Speedway would eventually diminish in maneuverability, and that meant he had to act quickly on the outside of the front row.
It took Gravel one corner to control what he aimed for, and after that, all he had to do was hit his marks as his prediction unfolded on the way to paydirt. In a race where he lapped only one car, Gravel hunkered down the bottom and led all 40 laps on his way to win the Drydene 40 at Lincoln on Wednesday.
He scored a .483 second victory over Brent Marks and Logan Schuchart, bagging the $10,000 paycheck.
“I figured the track was going to get like that and just kind of clean up and rubber up on the bottom,” Gravel said. “I was just able to maintain [the bottom]. We came here to win the race and luckily we got it done.”
It’s Gravel’s fourth overall win of the season and second victory in five days. On Saturday night, he won the World of Outlaws Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway.
Like his win just a handful days ago, Gravel didn’t need to mow down lapped cars on a race track that usually poses a maze-like challenge for the leaders in traffic. Instead, Gravel just needed to maintain a steady pace on the bottom and hold down the shortest way around the track, shutting down any space for Marks or Schuchart to slip by.
“When it’s like that, it’s [focusing on] not missing the bottom,” Gravel said. “The bottom is the best groove. If you miss it you’re going to be a sitting duck. Even though the lapped cars are right there you just have to focus on you and hit your marks, make sure you get a good exit off the corner.”
Adam Wilt and Billy Dietrich brought out the race’s only cautions on laps two and three, and once they were helped back to the pits, the feature ended with a 37-lap green-flag run. Brian Montieth, who started on the pole before eventually slipping to finish seventh, lost the top spot to Gravel as the two rounded the backstretch on the opening lap and by lap three Schuchart overtook him for third.
Marks then moved around Schuchart for second on lap 13, but by lap 15 practically everyone on the track had migrated to the bottom. Gravel rode behind Jason Solwold for eight laps before he tucked underneath him on lap 20 to pick off his first and only lapped car of the race.
Shortly after, Gravel closed in on the would-be lapped car of Dylan Cisney, and tried moving around him several times in the trickling laps. But after nearly throwing the win away with seven laps left by trying the middle of the track in turns three and four, Gravel figured to stay put.
“I just had to protect and hang on,” Gravel said.
On lap 27, though, Marks generated a head of steam coming off the top of turn four while Gravel held on to the bottom and nearly beat him to the bottom coming across the track. Marks showed his nose, but Gravel shut the door.
“It was just the nature of the track tonight,” Marks said. “There were a lot of laps on it with all the heats and it took rubber midway through the race. When it’s like that it’s just so hard to get by cars. I felt like if I drove it in any harder we would have wrecked.”
From there, Marks did what he could, staying steady on the coattail of Gravel, but the opportunity to scoot by never came.
“We were just banking on him to make a mistake, and he did make one, but he shut the door on me,” said Marks, who now has eight podiums in 24 central Pennsylvania features. “It was a good race. We just weren’t able to get by him.”
1. 41-David Gravel; 2. 5-Brent Marks; 3. 1s-Logan Schuchart; 4. 24-Lucas Wolfe; 5. 87-Alan Krimes; 6. 88-Brandon Rahmer; 7. 21-Brian Montieth; 8. 75-Chase Dietz; 9. 5E-Tim Wagaman; 10. 59-Jim Siegel; 11. 1a-Jacob Allen; 12. 69K-Lance Dewease; 13. 8-Billy Dietrich; 14. 72-Ryan Smith; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich; 16. 3z-Brock Zearfoss; 17. 39m-Anthony Macri; 18. 19-Troy Wagaman Jr.; 20. 14-Parker Price-Miller; 21. 5-Dylan Cisney; 22. 39-Jason Solwold; 23. 51-Freddie Rahmer (DNF); 24. 15-Adam Wilt (DNF)