Peterson, Keller take twin Pro Late Model 35-lappers Saturday; Reif returns for Legends victory & Suell scores 1st Bandos win
Great weather and a good crowd greeted the racers at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Saturday evening in the popular and annual “Military and Veterans Appreciation Night” at the fast 3/8-mile paved oval near the northside of the famed Las Vegas Boulevard Strip.
With the temperatures heating up at the Bullring, so was the on-track action with twin 35-lap Sigma Performance Services Pro Late Model features highlighting the night’s competition. And the wheel-to-wheel, bumper-to-bumper combat didn’t disappoint.
Veteran Jeff Peterson and teenager Kyle Keller recorded repeat wins for the 2023 Star Nursery Series, but it took some assistance on and off the track which led to their second wins of the year at the Bullring.
For Peterson, the Grand Terrace, CA, driver, he played a patient game as early leader Jaron Giannini paced the field for the first 28 circuits in the night’s opening main event. When Utah’s Kylie Ith brought out a yellow flag, the field bunched up and Peterson made his move. On the restart, Jeff slid inside of Giannini in turn one and then held off a charging Keller to the checkered flag.
Peterson took his second 2023 SPS Pro Late Model win by 0.269 seconds over the Las Vegas driver with third going to Giannini followed by Justin Johnson, last week’s feature winner, and young stars Amilleo Thomson and Monty Tipton.
“We stole that one,” said a smiling Peterson in victory lane. “The yellow flag helped us for that restart because I’m not sure I could catch Giannini under green. But the car was better later in the race, and I got inside on the restart. We’ll need to make a few adjustments for the second feature. It’s great to race for the crowd here tonight. Thanks for coming out.”
In the second 35-lap SPS Pro Late Model finale, Keller, the 18-year-old racer also competes this year in the 2023 ARCA Menards West tour, took the advantage from another teenager, Monty Tipton of Mill Valley, CA, and never looked back. Keller stretched his margin to ten car lengths and easily took the win with a 3.168-second triumph over Tipton, who made his first Bullring Pro Late Model podium appearance. Third went to Peterson followed by Johnson, Giannini, Thomson and Aaron McMorran.
“Our car wasn’t bad in the first race tonight, but the KKR crew did a great job getting the car prepared for the second main,” said Keller. “I knew even on the warmup laps that the car turned in much better. So, in the race, the car was handling so well, and I was able to get to the front pretty early. Then I just set my pace. It’s always fun to win at the Bullring. It’s one of the best short tracks on the West Coast. Unfortunately, I can’t race here all season due to some conflicts on the ARCA Menards West series, but I’ll be here as much as possible. It’s great to race at the home track.”
Another ARCA Menards West regular, 15-year-old Tyler Reif, and his brother, 17-year-old Tanner, returned to the Bullring for the first time in 2023 and the recent Phoenix 150 winner showed his skills against some of the best the M&H Building Specialists/JBM Underground Legends Cars in the country Saturday night in his No. 9 machine.
Starting fourth in the 19-car Legends field, Reif quickly moved to second behind the U.S. Legends Pro national champion and defending Bullring track titleholder Jordan Holloway in the 30-lap event. On lap eight, Reif pulled alongside Holloway on the back straight and dove into the lead in turn three. With Reif and Holloway nose to tail, a third contender, U.S. Legends national race winner Branden Giannini, joined the fray and the three Henderson, NV drivers put on a wild battle for the crowd.
Reif slowly opened up his advantage with five laps remaining, while Giannini slid inside Holloway for second. At the checkered, it was Reif by 0.426 seconds over Giannini followed by Holloway, Brendan Tracy, T.J. Roberts, Gavin Ray and Tanner Reif.
“Yes, we are extremely busy this season with running the ACRA Menards West and East series and a few other events too,” said Reif. “But it feels great to come back home and race at the Bullring. It’s my home track, and it’s fun to race with these guys. They are tough. I hope to run a few more of these races this year here.”
While Peterson, Keller and Reif returned to a familiar spot in the winner’s circle, a young lady – 10 years old – from Las Vegas made her first appearance in victory lane Saturday when fifth grader Amelia Suell dominated the 12-lap the M&H Building Specialists/JBM Underground Bandoleros main event in her No. 16 car.
Suell, who made the podium (top three) previously at the Bullring, was not to be denied this time around when she grabbed the lead immediately and used the high groove to lead all 12 laps and take a 2.-392-second win over Logan Gresser with former track champion Ashton Leonard third followed by Keaton Harbison, Siena Nuccitelli and James Trimmer.
“Wow, this is my first Bandoleros main event win and I’m so excited,” said Suell. “I like running that high line and keeping me speed up through the corners. This is the best day of my life. I have finished second and third before. But now I have won the main event.”
Another first-time winner Saturday night came in the wild and whacky 12-lap Skid Plate finale with Jeff Dailey, who just started racing last year, collecting his first win. Dailey, with a lighted antenna on top of his No. 83 car, took the lead on the third lap from Greg Matta and never looked back.
Dailey was consistent with no spins and a steady pace to win by 7.500 seconds for policewoman Berenice Hernandez and Greg Lee, who made his first podium appearance in just his third race in Hernandez’ old Skid Plate car. Rounding out the top-five Saturday in the popular Skid Plate main was Ken Coombs and Jeff Bargerhuff.
In the 20-lap NASCAR 602 Modifieds feature, Kyle Jacks scored his fourth 2023 win with his potent No. 41 machine with an easy win over young Brenden Ruzbarsky, won a Modified main last week at the Bullring, and Jacks’ brother, Sam, taking third. Fourth went to Jacob Bishop with fifth to Kayli Peterson.
“I love driving this car,” said Kyle Jacks in victory lane. “Since the car was crashed last year with the stuck throttle, the crew worked hard to get the car in good shape, and it has been fast and smooth since the start of the year. I always race hard and clean with my brother. He led early and I was able to slide underneath in turn one. Then our car was on rails.”
Jacks nearly had two feature wins Saturday, but a determined Jason Kiser held Kyle off in the 20-lap Super Stock final with his second win of the year. Polesitter Kirk Hance led the race early but slowed on lap 13. Kiser took over the lead and helped back a charging Jacks at the checkered flag. Arizona’s Don Geary made the podium in third followed by Bill Paddock Jr. and Mike McKearn.
In the wildest finish of the night, fireman John McBreen captured the four-lap “Battle of the Badges” which pits two firemen against two policemen in Skid Plate cars. McBreen, who couldn’t practice on Saturday before the final, held his margin for much of the race distance but spin on the front straightaway coming down to the checkered flag. McBreen crossed the finish line sliding backwards but defeated policeman Taylor Johnson by half a car length. It marked the first win for the fireman contingent this year in the 2023 nine-race “Badges” series.
Third in the “Battle of the Badges” was policeman Jim Dunlapr followed by fireman Ralph King.
In Friday’s 20-lap Legends Master feature, it was Holloway with a dominating win by 2.175 seconds over Tyler and Tanner Reif with fourth to Cody Brown and fifth to B. Giannini. Ray took Friday 20-lap Young Lions Legends main with a close 0.131-second victory over T.J. Roberts followed by Alex Rose Keller Meechudhone and Tessa Marine. Leonard defeated Amelia Suell in Friday’s Bandoleros main with third to Gresser and with fourth to Josepth Montoya and fifth to Harbison.
In Saturday’s heat race action at the Bullring, Holloway, Roberts and Roe took the eight-lap Legends races with Jacks taking the Super Stock heats and Gresser and A. Suell won the Bandoleros five-lappers. In the two Modifieds eight-lap heat races were won by Sam Jacks and Peterson.
NEXT RACE: The 2023 Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway presented by Star Nursery race schedule continues on Saturday, April 22, with “Hometown Heroes Night,” the sixth round of the 10-race Star Nursery Series. Theme nights like Military and Veterans Appreciation Night, Hometown Heroes Night and the wildly popular Fourth of July celebration, the Night of Fire, add extra allure to the popular racetrack throughout the year. Adult general admission for the majority of the Star Nursery Series events is $8.00 with children 12 & under free at all Bullring events. For more information, please contact the LVMS ticket office at 800-644-4444 or online at LVMS.com. For stockyard passes, please call 800-644-4444, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. PST.
Bullring Racing Season, Round 5 for the Star Nursery Series
Saturday, April 8, 2023
M&H Building Specialists/JBM Underground USLCI Bandoleros 12-lap feature
1.Amelia Suell; 2.Logan Gresser (-2.392 seconds); 3.Ashton Leonard (-2.614); 4.Keaton Harbison (-2.745) 5.Siena Nuccitelli (-3.274); 6.James Trimmer (-9.329); 7.Leila Trimmer (-10.947); 8.Piper Suell (-22.050); 9.Aspen Leonard (-2 laps); 10.Joseph Montoya (-12 laps).
NASCAR Sigma Performance Services Pro Late Models 35-lap feature Race 1
1.Jeff Peterson; 2.Kyle Keller (-0.269 seconds); 3. Jaron Giannini (-0.1.345); 4.Justin Johnson (-1.889); 5.Amilleo Thomson (-2.241); 6.Monty Tipton (-2.593); 7.Scott Gafforini (-3.470); 8.Enzo Lalama (-3.846); 9.Aaron McMorran (-4.705); 10.Kylie Ith (-5.307); 11.T.J. Roberts (-5.742); 12.Alex Eskandari (-6.792); 13.David Anderson (-7.640); 14.Ricky Gutierrez (--7 laps); 15. Johnny Spilotro (-31 laps); 16. Chloe Lynch (DNS).
NASCAR Sigma Performance Services Pro Late Models 35-lap feature Race 2
1.Kyle Keller; 2.Monty Tipton (-3.168 seconds); 3.Jeff Peterson (-3.573) 4.Justin Johnson (-5.037); 5.Jaron Giannini (-7.079); 6.Amilleo Thomson (-8.105); 7.Aaron McMorran (-8.569); 8.Enzo Lalama (-9,550); 9.Scott Gafforini (-11.483); 10. T.J. Roberts (-14.795); 11.Kylie Ith (-15.790); 12.Alex Eskandari (-1 lap); 13.David Anderson (-1 lap); 14.Johnny Spilotro (-32 laps).
NASCAR Super Stocks 20-lap feature
1.Jason Kiser; 2.Kyle Jacks (-0.774 seconds); 3. Don Geary (-3,840); 4.Bill Paddock Jr. (-9.050); 5.Mike McKearn (-9.486); 6.Robert Clutts (-1 lap); 7.Kirk Hance (-7 laps); 8.Anthony Mann (-11 laps).
USLCI M&H Building Specialists/JBM Underground Legends 20-lap feature
1.Tyler Reif; 2.Branden Giannini (-0.426 seconds); 3.Jordan Holloway (-1.082); 4.Brendan Tracy (-8.321); 5.T.J. Roberts (-8.633); 6.Gavin Ray (-8.907); 7.Tanner Reif (-8.985); 8.Alex Roe (-11.578); 9.Lonnie Hochstetler (-12.784); 10.Keller Meechudhone (-15.543); 11.Bruce Silver (-1 lap); 12.Jeff Regier (-1 lap); 13.Scott Harbison (-1 lap); 14.Tess Marine (-1 lap); 15.Colton Ray (-1 lap); 16.Rick Chelberg (- 2 laps); 17.Tanner Ash (-3 laps); 18.Sarah Chelberg (-3 laps).
Skid Plate Cars 12-lap feature
1.Jeff Dailey; 2.Berenice Hernandez (-7.500 seconds); 3.Greg Lee (-20.475); 4.Ken Coombs (-21.301); 5. Jeff Bargerhuff (-23.271); 6.Nick Mancari (-24.695); 7.Greg Matta (-31.644). 8.Ben Williams (-333.505); 9.Christina Harper (-2 laps); 10.Jim Dunlap (-4 laps); 11.Chris Birdsong (-6 laps).
NASCAR 602 Modifieds 20-lap feature Race
1.Kyle Jacks; 2. Brenden Ruzbarsky; 3.Sam Jacks; 4.Jacob Bishop; 5.Kayli Peterson; 6.Brian Williams; 7.Jimmy Petrie; 8.Billy Mitchell; 9.Ben Williams.
Battle of the Badges (Police vs. Fire) 4-lap feature
1.John McBreen (Fire); 2.Taylor Johnson (Police) (-0.290 seconds); 3.Jim Dunlap (Police) (-39.629); 4.Ralph King (Fire) (-1 lap).