Jay Beasley enjoyed a happy homecoming at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday night.
The Las Vegas native drove his No. 27 NASCAR Super Late Model car to victory in the 60-lap feature race on O'Hanley Memorial Opening Night while on a break from his full-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series East ride. The nine-race night kicked off the 3/8-mile track's 2015 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series that will extend into October and honored the memory of long-time Bandoleros team owner Jim O'Hanley, who passed away in the offseason.
Beasley, the Super Late Model 2013 season champion, was all smiles after climbing out of his car at victory lane.
"It just feels great to come back home and have some fun with the crew, family and friends," he said. "I love The Bullring, and I love Vegas. I couldn't thank everyone enough for coming out to support me."
The race was slowed by a smattering of cautions, but the restarts did not faze Beasley.
"Actually, I really enjoy restarts," he said. "I like controlling the pace, and there's just something about not spinning your tires while trying to get the car to hook up and get a good start. I really enjoy that. My thoughts and prayers go out to the O'Hanley family. Jim was a big part of my life."
Chris Trickle, the nephew of former NASCAR great Dick Trickle, led early, but blew the engine in his No. 70 car on the ninth lap while rounding turn four. Five-time and defending champion Scott Gafforini battled back after losing part of his hood in the same wreck to finish second in his new No. 38 car.
Defending NASCAR Grand American Modifieds champion Jason Irwin got into a groove early and picked up win No. 1 of the 2015 season in his class' 35-lap feature with a new car. Vinny Raucci Jr., led early, but settled for second place.
"Chris Bray and the boys built me a brand new car this year, and it's a rocket ship," said Irwin, who travels from Albuquerque, N.M., to race at The Bullring. "I thought we'd be strong with a new car and thought we'd have more shakedown, but it was good."
In one of the most competitive races of the night, Phil Goodwin of Henderson held off NASCAR Super Stocks defending champion Jason Kiser of Las Vegas in one of the division's closest races in recent memory. Goodwin finished .644 seconds ahead of Kiser in the 25-lap race.
Court Connell took the lead in the NASCAR Bombers' 25-lap feature, then held off Aaron McMorran for the second half of the race to cross the line first. McMorran tail-grabbed Connell's bumper down the stretch, but could not make the pass and finished .315 seconds behind.
"He had me worried, and I'm sure he put some dents in my bumper," Connell said of McMorran. "I was sitting in the lineup and got a little hungry, and the game plan became to go and get some food. I saw my brother over there eating all the food, and so I wanted to get the race over with so I could go get some food."
Peyton Saxton qualified sixth for the USLCI Legend Cars' 20-lap feature, but the 16-year-old quickly moved to the front in his No. 10 red, white and blue car before holding off Nick Halen at the end. Saxton won the Legend division's Pro class last season and has started 2015 off on the right foot.
"We didn't qualify too well, but the car ran great and was really fast," Saxton said. "I was able to get through and run to the front real quick. That race was really fun, and it's always great to have lots of cars out there."
Dylan Nobile claimed the 30-lap USAC HPD Midget feature ahead of Cody Jessop in a race that included a red flag after Jeff Kelley came to rest on his roof after a frontstretch wreck with Jesse Love.
"I just tried to make my move early and stay out in the lead and try to get a rhythm going," Nobile said.
Ian Anderson of Las Vegas was dominant in the 20-lap USLCI Thunder Cars feature, finishing .269 seconds ahead of 2014 class champion Chris Bosley. Anderson navigated his No. 21 car from the back of the seven-driver field to claim yet another victory at The Bullring.
R.J. Smotherman of Pahrump, Nev., kicked things off by leading the night's first race from start to finish and claiming the 12-lap USLCI O'Hanley's Bandolero Bandits feature in his No. 24 car, 2.8 seconds clear of defending Bandolero Bandits season champion Dezel West. Las Vegas' Kyle Jacks followed with a victory in the 12-lap USLCI O'Hanley's Bandolero Outlaws feature in his black No. 4 car after holding off a challenge from Mason Sargent.
NEXT RACE: Saturday, April 4 - NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Mobil 1 Racing Oil Night with twin 35-lap NASCAR Super Late Model features. The Bullring's concession stand offers $2 hot dogs, $2 Coca-Cola products and $3 Budweiser beer on each NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race night.
Saturday night's NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature-event results from O'Hanley Memorial Opening Night at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
60-lap NASCAR Super Late Models
Jay Beasley, Scott Gafforini, David Anderson, Stan Mullis, Steve Anderson, Branden Underwood, Kayli Barker, Dennis Rock Jr., Barry Karr, Jason Kenzevich, Warren Knipper, Michael Todd Glazier, Wayne Jacks, David Brandon, Andre Prescott, Chris Trickle, Noah Gragson.
35-lap NASCAR Grand American Modifieds
30-lap USAC HPD Midgets
25-lap NASCAR Bombers
25-lap NASCAR Super Stocks
25-lap USLCI Legend Cars
20-lap USLCI Thunder Cars
12-lap USLCI O'Hanley's Bandolero Outlaws
12-lap USLCI O'Hanley's Bandolero Bandits