On a night when area students were granted free admission in celebration of the new school year, a quartet of students raced their way to victory on Back to School Night at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday.
Centennial High School junior Sam Jacks notched NASCAR Bombers win No. 4 on the season in a photo finish to widen his points lead in the division. Jacks edged 2014 Bombers champion Martin Sullins by just .020 of a second in the night's 30-lap Break out feature for his first win since May 14.
"On that last corner, Martin's car was going away at the end, and he really couldn't hang with us on the last lap," said Jacks, of Las Vegas. "It was really challenging."
Cameron Morga, a junior at La Cueva High School in Albuquerque, N.M., won for the seventh time on Saturday night this season to extend his points lead in the USLCI Legends-Pro division. Morga is looking to follow his USLCI Legends-Young Lions divisional title from a year ago.
"I definitely didn't want to see that (late) caution, and I knew I was going to get driven hard there on the re-start," Morga said. "Fortunately, we were able to get a good start and drive away from them."
Sage Karam, who has raced in the last three Indianapolis 500s, finished eighth in the 25-lap Legends race in his second appearance at The Bullring.
R.J. Smotherman, a sixth grader at Rosemary Clark Middle School in Pahrump, Nev., earned his 20th career Saturday night Bullring victory by taking the 12-lap USLCI Bandolero Bandits feature. Dezel West, an eighth grader at Mannion Middle School in Henderson, Nev., won his second USLCI Bandolero Outlaws race of the year in that 12-lap sprint.
NASCAR Super Late Models points leader Justin Johnson and veteran Stan Mullis split the class' pair of 40-lap features on the special evening. It was Johnson's 49th career victory and Mullis' first win since Sept. 5, 2015.
"I thought we had them covered in the first race, but I guess they thought different," said Mullis, who finished sixth in the first 40-lapper. "We had to put the car back together, and it was better in the second race than it was in the first. So, great job to my guys at Racing Innovations, they're awesome."
Peyton Saxton secured his fourth NASCAR Grand American Modifieds feature win of 2016 after finishing nearly five seconds ahead of points leader Vinny Raucci Jr. Saxton was second in the points standings heading into Back to School Night and will have one more chance to close the gap on Raucci Jr. on Championship Night on Sept. 24.
"I guess you could say we're gunning for the championship," said Saxton, a three-time Bullring track champion. "I don't know what the points race is going to be, but I've known Vinny for a while and he's a good guy and a good driver. It's going to be a good battle between the both of us."
Patience paid off for St. George, Utah, racer Matt Larsen, who won for the third time this season after points leader Don Sargent and race leader Joe DeGuevara each had car trouble that forced them out of the NASCAR Super Stocks 25-lap feature. Second in the points, Larsen closed the gap on Sargent heading into the season's final event.
"It gives me a ton of confidence," Larsen said of the win. "I don't know what happened to those guys. I let them go, and they beat themselves out of that one. It was awesome, and I've never done two in a row."
Mark Anderson, the father of two-time Bullring USLCI Thunder Cars track champion Ian Anderson, took the lead on the closing laps in that class' 20-lap feature to claim his first career victory at the short track. He got a big hug from his son in the Winner's Circle after the race.
"This is great, and this is the greatest car ever made," said Mark Anderson, who drove the same car his son piloted to the track titles. "Thank you to my wife, who's always very supportive, and to my son - the best Thunder Roadster coach in the nation."
NEXT RACE: The 2016 regular season concludes with Championship Night on Saturday, Sept. 24. All nine of The Bullring's divisions will run, along with the USAC HPD Midgets, on the special night.
NASCAR Super Late Models 35-lap feature No. 1
1. Justin Johnson; 2. Dustin Ash (-.340 of a second); 3. Jay Beasley (-3.558); 4. Kayli Barker (-3.969); 5. Scott Gafforini (-4.372); 6. Stan Mullis (-5.598); 7. David Anderson (-9.046); 8. Steve Anderson (-1 lap); 9. Gary Clift (-1 lap); 10. Dennis Rock Jr. (-23 laps); 11. Chris Trickle (-25 laps); 12. Chris Clyne (-31 laps); 13. Warren Knipper (-31 laps); 14. Donna Gunther (-31 laps).
USLCI Bandolero Bandits 12-lap feature
1. R.J. Smotherman; 2. Jaron Giannini (-.387 of a second); 3. Amilleo Thomson (-2.212); 4. Cody Brown (-28.394); 5. Sabastian Lafia (-28.925); 6. Tuscan Nuccitelli (-1 lap).
USLCI Bandolero Outlaws 12-lap feature
1. Dezel West; 2. Camden Larsen (-.327 of a second); 3. Kayla Eshleman (-.705 of a second); 4. Ethan DeGuevara (-2.121); 5. Matthew Cunningham (-3.643); 6. Cameron Guy (-15.986); 7. Tia Guy (-11 laps).
NASCAR Grand American Modifieds 25-lap feature
1. Peyton Saxton; 2. Vinny Raucci Jr. (-4.578 seconds); 3. Doug Hamm (-5.180); 4. Jeff Connors (-8.274); 5. Pat Petrie (-9.225); 6. Tom Pfundstein (-1 lap).
USLCI Thunder Cars 20-lap feature
1. Mark Anderson; 2. Chris Bosley (-1.237 seconds); 3. Travis Boyle (-2.517); 4. Darren Callaway (-3.450); 5. Doug Germano (-4 laps).
NASCAR Super Stocks 25-lap feature
1. Matt Larsen; 2. Justin Kiser (-6.396 seconds); 3. Tom Pfundstein (-8.168); 4. Johnny Spilotro (-9.030); 5. Dylin Smotherman (-13.555); 6. Joe DeGuevara (-9 laps); 7. Don Sargent (-14 laps).
NASCAR Bombers 30-lap breakout feature
1. Sam Jacks; 2. Martin Sullins (-.020 of a second); 3. Michael Riefler (-.270); 4. Kyle Jacks (-2.140); 5. Kirk Hance (-2.273); 6. Mark Skinner (-2.383); 7. Billy Hern (-2.975); 8. Michael Greve (-3.652); 9. Matt Frady (-5.138); 10. Gary Wyatt (-5.535); 11. Justin Griffiths (-5.903); 12. Jim Merlino (-8.438); 13. Robert Schumacher (-1 lap); 14. Scott Crane (-1 lap); 15. Dennis Feldman (-2 laps); 16. Scott Bradbury (-12 laps); 17. Arlie Daniel (-14 laps); 18. Cody Maserang (-15 laps); 19. Gary Griffiths (-15 laps); 20. Anthony Mann (-16 laps); 21. Nick Nuccitelli (-21 laps).
USLCI Legends 25-lap feature
1. Cameron Morga; 2. Tyler Fabozzi (-1.888 seconds); 3. Ian Anderson (-3.659); 4. T.J. Clark (-3.730); 5. Jagger Jones (-4.742); 6. Michael Todd Glazier (-4.789); 7. Ryan Schartau (-5.101); 8. Sage Karam (-5.948); 9. Devin Lane (-6.032); 10. Dezel West (-9.107); 11. Brian Williams (-10.542); 12. Brian Lane (-13.621); 13. Jeff King (-13.817); 14. Terry Sykes (-22.517); 15. Peyton Saxton (-6 laps); 16. Donny St. Ours (-22 laps).
NASCAR Super Late Models 35-lap feature No. 2
1. Stan Mullis; 2. Justin Johnson (-.861 of a second); 3. Jay Beasley (-2.072); 4. Kayli Barker (-2.589); 5. Scott Gafforini (-2.890); 6. David Anderson (-3.819); 7. Gary Clift (-12.097); 8. Dennis Rock Jr. (-1 lap); 9. Jeff Connors (-5 laps); 10. Dustin Ash (-12 laps).