Not even an hour-long rain delay - yes, rain delay - could ruin a great evening of racing at The Bullring during the Chuck Trickle Classic on Saturday night.
Five-time track champion Scott Gafforini claimed the 70-lap NASCAR Super Late Models race and Jason Kiser won the NASCAR Super Stocks 25-lap feature after a rare thunderstorm made its way through the Las Vegas Motor Speedway property and sent fans scrambling for shelter underneath the grandstands. The storm interrupted the night's eight-race schedule and turned the 3/8-mile paved oval into a slick mess that required dozens of laps of drying efforts by the track's fire and safety team.
Gafforini held off a late-charging Chris Trickle to win the hotly contested feature and push his record win total for Saturday night races to 61. The 14-year-old Trickle was attempting to win on the night that honors his late uncle, who passed away in 1998 at the age of 25 due to injuries suffered in a still unsolved drive-by shooting.
Gafforini used stellar re-starts and veteran knowledge to hold off the young star down the stretch.
"You can't give these guys an inch, and they're trying to guess and you're trying to guess, and you just can't give up your cookies," Gafforini said about the importance of great starts. "When the track first opened in 2000, I think we had a storm and had to run the next day, but that's about it (for rain delays). Thank you guys for sticking around, and I hope we put on a good show for you."
After temperatures hovered above 100 most of the afternoon and evening, the heavens opened late in the USLCI Legends feature. Peyton Saxton earned a 23-lap win after the race was called two laps early due to the downpour.
"This is the first interview I've ever done in the rain," Saxton said. "We put a lot of work in the shop into these cars, and obviously it paid off for us. I stayed up until 4 o'clock in the morning setting up this mug, so it paid off."
Kiser used the rain delay as an opportunity to cool down, then earned his 17th career victory at the track.
"I got out (of the car), took my suit off and cooled off," Kiser said. "I'm not a big fan of starting on the pole, but all in all, the car ran good. It ran cool because the cool air came through, and it all ran great."
Pre-delay action was dominated by multiple winners from the 2015 season.
Ian Anderson of Las Vegas remained perfect in the USLCI Thunder Cars division, picking up career victory No. 23 at The Bullring after finishing 6.507 seconds ahead of his father, Mark. Anderson performed his customary victory dance in the winner's circle after his fifth win of 2015.
"The track was slick because it was so hot today, so I got a lot more tired (than usual)," Anderson said.
Aaron McMorran continued his dominance in the NASCAR Bombers class, winning his fifth consecutive race at the 3/8-mile paved oval. McMorran, of Henderson, Nev., now has 11 career Saturday night wins at The Bullring after holding off Court Connell by just more than one second.
"The last few laps were pretty nerve-racking," McMorran said. "It's another good win, and tonight is a very special night. I know the Trickles well, and I know it's a special night for them.
"Rest in peace Chris."
Jason Irwin used a great re-start to drive to the checkered flag in the NASCAR Grand American Modifieds 30-lap feature, finishing 3.737 seconds clear of Doug Hamm for his fourth win of the season in that division. The 18-year-old from Albuquerque, N.M., now has 32 career victories at The Bullring, which is seventh all-time at the short track.
"It was pretty tough tonight," said Irwin, who also finished third in the USLCI Legends feature. "From the time we unloaded (the car), we were having a distributor problem, and we just made it out for qualifying and didn't get to run many practice laps."
The USLCI O'Hanley's Bandolero cars kicked off the nights features with a pair of 12-lap races. R.J. Smotherman of Pahrump, Nev., won for the sixth time in seven races in the Bandits class, while Las Vegas' Mason Sargent erased bad memories from a trio of races this season by crossing the line first in the Outlaws division race for his first win of 2015.
NEXT RACE - Saturday, July 3 - The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series continues with the highly popular Night of Fire. In addition to a full slate of racing, fans can enjoy waterless boat races, experience the introduction of skid plate racing and bask in the glow of post-race fireworks at the end of the night.
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. For more information on all events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, please visit www.LVMS.com and follow LVMS on Facebook and Twitter.
Complete results from the Chris Trickle Classic
USLCI O'Hanley's Bandolero Bandits 12-lap feature
USLCI O'Hanley's Bandolero Outlaws 12-lap feature
USLCI Thunder Car 20-lap feature
NASCAR Bomber 25-lap feature
NASCAR Grand American Modified 30-lap feature
USLCI Legends 25-lap feature
NASCAR Super Stock 25-lap feature
NASCAR Super Late Model 70-lap feature