MADERA, Calif. — Logan Zampa cashed in the biggest win of his career, scoring the sixth annual $10,000 to win Nut Up Industries Short Track Shootout on Saturday night at Madera Speedway.
Zampa’s unlikely victory was his first in nearly 18 months and came from 11th starting position. More than 40 RPM Mortgage Pro Late Models from across the Western United States competed at the one-third mile asphalt oval.
Erickson led qualifying but it was Bakersfield’s Racin Vernon who drew the pole position for the start of the 150-lap contest. Second in points Austin Herzog dove inside Randy Hedrick for fourth in turn three on lap six before Herzog spun, sending them both around.
Vernon picked the outside on the restart against Shepherd and they ran side-by-side while Erickson and Zampa closed down for a four-car lead pack. Shepherd tucked in on the high line behind Zampa, allowing Erickson to take second. Erickson then applied pressure on Vernon for the lead.
Lapped traffic bottled up the leaders a bit and the caution flew when lapped car Rick Thompson and fifth place running Ross Strmiska crashed hard in turn one. When racing resumed, Zampa used the outside to charge past Erickson for second on lap 42. Nick Grossi had a blown transmission for a spectacular red flag on the following lap, with the fluid sending both Adam Lemke and Jagger Jones around.
A lap 50 caution allowed Buddy Shepherd to take the lead away from Vernon on lap 51.
Dillon Tucker drove from 23rd up to eighth as he avoided all the melees. Meanwhile, three-time Short Track Shootout champion Eric Holmes started to make his presence felt after starting eighth. Holmes went past Zampa for third and then challenged Vernon for second. Vernon had a slide coming into turn three that dropped him back to fifth. A top four lead pack emerged in lapped traffic of Shepherd, Holmes, Zampa, and 13-year-old Jesse Love all running nose to tail on the high side.
Holmes went for it, going three wide in and out of traffic to take the lead from Shepherd on lap 96 in a thrilling move. Holmes led the field into the lap-100 break ahead of Shepherd, Zampa, Love, and Herzog who had recovered from the earlier spin to fifth.
Coming out of the break, Shepherd challenged Holmes before tucking up behind him on lap 108. Carlos Vieira had a mechanical failure that sparked a serious crash in turn one that ended Cole Moore’s race as well.
Zampa went outside of Holmes on lap 114 and took over the lead on lap 115. Shepherd tried to go inside of Holmes into turn three and they made some contact for second as well. Herzog hopped into the fray as he looked outside Shepherd not long after. The furious battling at the front got a break when Christian Roche hit the turn three wall on lap 129.
The following restart was the maddest scramble of them all with Holmes eventually spinning down the backstretch. He lost a lap in the infield, but was saved when Jarrett Gilmer hit the turn three wall for a caution that gave Holmes the free pass and his lap back.
Zampa restarted outside Shepherd but drove away easily while Herzog fell out with a rear end issue to end his possible championship hopes. Shepherd slid into turn two on lap 136 and fell back to fourth as a result. Erickson emerged in second but had to watch Zampa drive away to a five-car-length advantage.
Erickson ended up having a great duel with Love but it was for a distant second place. Zampa went on for a 1.5-second victory over Erickson, Love, Shepherd, and 26th starting Blaine Rocha.
Love’s third place finish in the RPM Mortgage Pro Late Model Series was just one part of his night, as he added his ninth 51FIFTY Energy Drink Jr. Late Model win and second consecutive series championship.