First-time winners abound on Opening Night at The Bullring
It was a night of firsts at Opening Night at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday.
Four of the nine race champions at the short track's first racing night of 2017 were first-time winners at the 3/8-mile paved oval, creating a heightened level of excitement in the Winner's Circle. Robert Negrete (NASCAR Super Stocks), Michael Todd Glazier (USLCI Legends), Ron Reed (USLCI Thunder Cars) and Cody Kiemele (USLCI Bandolero Bandits) tasted victory for the first time on Opening Night.
Negrete took the checkered flag .646 of a second ahead of Court Connell in the 25-lap NASCAR Super Stocks feature to book his first trip to the Winner's Circle.
"Just being out front â€¦ wooh!" Negrete said when asked about the best part of the win. "It's my very first win. Last week, I came out of practice and bent a valve five laps in, so we had a lot of work to do this week, but it paid off."
Glazier held off a charging Tyler Fabozzi by just .076 of a second in the middle of lapped traffic and was more than ecstatic following the big win.
"I'm 47, I started racing when I was 40, and I never thought I'd get to win," said Glazier, who has won the last four Legends-Masters divisional titles at The Bullring. "If you ever get the chance to do this, do it. I love life, and I'm just so happy."
Reed edged Ed Hohman by .667 of a second in the 15-lap USLCI Thunder Cars race to earn his first Bullring win.
"It's a wonderful thing," Reed said. "I just remembered what I did a couple years ago. I'd like to thank my son for helping set up the car and my spotter, who did great. It's a family thing, and I'm happy for everybody."
Four-time track champion Peyton Saxton won a battle of heavyweights in the night's 50-lap NASCAR Super Late Models feature in his very first race in the division. He passed 2013 Super Late Models Bullring Champion Jay Beasley with four laps to go and held on for his 18th career win at the short track.
"That was probably one of my best races," said Saxton, who was driving the car that carried Justin Johnson to the division's track championship last year. "My expectations tonight were to come home in one piece and learn a lot. This is something I've never really tamed before, and it was a lot of laps and a lot of car.
"This car is no stranger to Victory Lane, so it's right back where it needs to be."
Veteran driver Doug Hamm is far from a first-time winner, and the track's fifth-winningest driver added to his tally with the NASCAR Grand American Modifieds' 35-lap feature victory. It was Hamm's 45th career Bullring victory and first since April 18, 2015.
"I didn't think I'd ever be able to find this place again," Hamm said of the Winner's Circle. "It's been a long time since I got a win, so everybody have a beer for me."
Hamm finished nearly four seconds ahead of 2015 NASCAR Bombers track champion Aaron McMorran on a cool and windy night.
"It was nice out there, and I wish we could race in this weather all year long."
In his second race of the night, McMorran passed reigning NASCAR Bombers track champion Sam Jacks on the second-to-last lap of the evening's 25-lap Bombers feature. McMorran finished .295 of a second clear of Jacks for his 16th career Bullring Saturday night victory.
"It's always fun racing Sam (Jacks), he's a good driver," said McMorran, who survived an early race spin en route to the win. "Honestly, I didn't think we'd get there, but those cautions kept helping us. Whatever people want to put me in, I'll drive, because I love racing.
"I'll drive anything - a go-cart, bar stool, anything you want."
Reigning skid plate cars track champion Robert Smotherman easily won a wild and wacky 15-lap feature, three laps ahead of James Brazzeal, with Matthew Paddack Jr. taking third and Jeff Bargerhuff finishing fourth. It was Smotherman's ninth career skid plate car triumph at The Bullring.
Kiemele earned his first career Bullring victory by taking the 12-lap USLCI Bandolero Bandits feature, finishing 1.775 seconds ahead of Braden Connor. Dezel West crossed the line first in the USLCI Bandolero Outlaws 15-lap feature, .450 of a second ahead of Camden Larsen.
NEXT RACE: Racing returns to The Bullring on Saturday, April 8, for Hometown Heroes Night. All area police, firefighters and first responders and their families will gain free admission on the special evening, which will include static displays, multi-jurisdictional appearances and special guests.
2017 Opening Night at The Bullring
USLCI Bandolero Bandits 12-lap feature
- Cody Kiemele; 2. Braden Connor (-1.775 seconds); 3. Landon Gresser (-1 lap); 4. Tuscan Nuccitelli (-2 laps); 5. Sabastian Lafia (-4 laps); 6. Amilleo Thomson (DQ).
USLCI Bandolero Outlaws 15-lap feature
- Dezel West; 2. Camden Larsen (-.450 of a second); 3. R.J. Smotherman (-1.704); 4. Kyle Keller (-3.283); 5. Tia Guy (-5.227); 6. Kaden Crouch (-10.297); 7. Cameron Guy (-10.474).
USLCI Thunder Cars 15-lap feature
- Ron Reed; 2. Ed Hohman (-.667 of a second); 3. Doug Germano (-3.355); 4. Darin Callaway (-1 lap).
NASCAR Super Stocks 25-lap feature
- Robert Negrete; 2. Court Connell (-.646 of a second); 3. Steve Smith (-.886); 4. Dylin Smotherman (-1.890); 5. Johnny Spilotro (-1.891); 6. Donnie Larson (-2.203); 7. Vince Bianchi (-3.802); 8. Mason Sargent (-5 laps).
USLCI Legends 25-lap feature
- Michael Todd Glazier; 2. Tyler Fabozzi (-.076 of a second); 3. T.J. Clark (-.263); 4. Robert Gayton (-.819); 5. Cody Dempster (-1.738); 6. Payton Garofalo (-8.471); 7. Brian Williams (-17.119); 8. Gary Wegener (-1 lap); 9. Terry Sykes (-1 lap); 10. Michael Anderson (-1 lap); 11. Matthew Cunningham (-1 lap); 12. Dylan Fabozzi (-1 lap).
Skid plate cars 15-lap feature
- Robert Smotherman; 2. James Brazzeal (-3 laps); 3. Matthew Paddack Jr. (-3 laps); 4. Jeff Bargerhuff (-3 laps); 5. Travis Wood (-5 laps); 6. Ben Williams (-6 laps); 7. Billy Paddack Jr. (-14 laps); 8. Nick Nuccitelli (-15 laps).
NASCAR Grand American Modifieds 35-lap feature
- Doug Hamm; 2. Aaron McMorran (-3.616 seconds); 3. Scott Osborne (-3.973); 4. Cameron Morga (-4.705); 5. Brian Reed (-14.321); 6. Pat Petrie (-1 lap); 7. Tom Pfundstein (-2 laps).
NASCAR Bombers 25-lap feature
- Aaron McMorran; 2. Sam Jacks (-.295 of a second); 3. Jim Merlino (-4.022); 4. Anthony Mann (-6.548); 5. Nick Nuccitelli (-6.920); 6. Bradley Thompson (-9.039); 7. Kirk Hance (-9.900); 8. J.J. Nunn (-11.108); 9. Mark Skinner (-11.374); 10. Kyle Jacks (-1 lap); 11. Zachery Nicholls (-2 laps); 12. Gary Griffiths Jr. (-10 laps); 13. Cody Maserang (-11 laps); 14. Bob Rynda (-11 laps); 15. Billy Hern (-11 laps); 16. Carl Duryee (-11 laps); 17. Scott Bradbury (-11 laps); 18. Jason Merlino (-18 laps); 19. Robert Schumacher (DQ).
NASCAR Super Late Models 50-lap feature
- Peyton Saxton; 2. Jay Beasley (-.396 of a second); 3. Scott Gafforini (-1.504); 4. Warren Knipper (-2.275); 5. Stan Mullis (-.2.452); 6. Justin Johnson (-2.791); 7. Tyler Fabozzi (-5.334); 8. Kayli Barker (-5.481); 9. Noah Gragson (-12 laps); 10. Gary Clift (-30 laps); 11. Chris Trickle (-37 laps).