Short Track Action Kickoffs 38th Season at The Bullring With Veterans and Newcomers Scoring Feature Wins in Saturday Afternoon Show
While snow blanketed the majority of the Midwest and East Coast, the Bullring at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway kicked off its 38th season of short track competition Saturday afternoon at the fast 3/8-mile paved oval north of the famed Las Vegas Strip.
Beautiful sunshine (65 degrees) greeted the racing teams and drivers in a rare afternoon program which saw veteran racers and young newcomers start off the 2022 Bullring campaign in victory lane before an enthusiastic crowd which included a popular “School Day” pre-race events and an autograph session. In addition, popular Channel 8 weatherman Nate Tannenbaum opened the racing activities with strong rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” with his flute and local DJs from the KOMP-FM 92.3 Rock station provided outstanding music throughout the day.
On the track, eight-time NASCAR Modified track champion Doug Hamm of North Las Vegas decided to halt his retirement plans and easily captured the 25-lap NASCAR Power Grade Inc. Modified feature under the sunny skies by defeating another Bullring regular Justin Johnson of Las Vegas by 1.911 seconds. Hamm and Johnson battled for the top spot for the first ten laps before Hamm, who set a new Modified track record of 15.432 seconds in qualifying, opened a good margin in his popular 4X car.
Rounding out the top-five in the Modified main event were brothers Brian and Ben Williams and Brian Latawiec. Hamm actually ran a quicker race lap of 15.422 in the feature, better than his new qualifying mark.
“I didn’t know if I wanted to come back to drive again this year,” said Hamm. “But my wife (Melissa) kinda pushed me out the door and said ‘go have fun today.’ Have to thank her for let me go run today and we got back in the winner’s circle. I also want to thank all of our sponsors and crew who have helped us over the years to achieve our success. Thanks to the fans to coming back to the Bullring too.”
While Hamm returned to a familiar spot in the center of the Bullring oval, a newcomer to the Las Vegas oval, high schooler Sean Hingorani of Newport Coast, CA, made his NASCAR Sigma Performance Services Pro Late Models debut in sensational fashion by drive the No. 13 SPS stock car from the back of the field to capture the 30-lap SPS Pro Late Model feature.
Starting fourth on the grid, the teenager fought his way towards the front early in the 30-lapper, but, on lap 11 as Hingorani attempted to slide under Matt Frady Jr. for second, Sean got too aggressive and both he and Frady spun in turn three. Hingorani had to go to the back of the field for his 3rd turn move but again fought his way to the front of the field and close on leader Scott Gafforini, one of the Bullring’s winningest racers in the track’s 38 years of racing.
Hingorani pressured Gafforini for several laps before making the pass for the lead on lap 27 and he pulled away to the checkered flag by a 1.236-second margin. Frady Jr. came back from the incident to take third place followed by Johnny Spilotro and David Anderson.
“Yes, this was my first Pro Late Model race and we won,” said Hingorani in victory lane. “I started racing Legends last August and I thought I was ready to move into the Pro Late Models now. This is a great feeling. The Pro Late Model car is much different from the Legends car, but I will continue to race the Legends cars this year. I plan to run the whole season at the Bullring and today was a great start to the year. I want to thank Sigma Performance and Fidelity Capitol. They gave me a great car this week.”
In the best feature race of the day, multi-time Bullring champion Jason Irwin of Albuquerque, NM, held off a strong field in the 25-lap Legend Cars main event to take the checkered flag by just 0.135 seconds over youngster Cody Brown of Las Vegas with teenager Jordan Holloway of Henderson, NV, a close third followed by fastest qualifier and early leader Branden Giannini also Henderson and Hingorani, who gave from last starting position.
Things looked under control for veteran Giannini in the 14 laps before a caution period slowed the field for a restart. On the green start, Irwin pressured Giannini with Hingorani, Brown, Holloway, Ricky Gutierrez and Amileo Thomson all in wheel-to-wheel battles.
Irwin took the lead on lap 18 but Giannini fought back for the front spot as the first seven cars could be covered by a blanket. Irwin was able to slide to the front on lap 23 and held off a cluster of cars at the checkered flag as the first five finishers were a second apart.
“It was a lot of fun racing these guys at the Bullring,” said Irwin. “We made it tough throughout the race. We had a very good car on the short runs, and it paid off at the end. It came down to a four-lap shootout. I’ll be back to the Bullring as a crew chief, not sure about the number of drives I will have. Irwin Racing is busy supply cars to many customers right now. We’ll have three cars racing in two weeks here at the Bullring.”
Defending track champion Michael Miller of Las Vegas returned Saturday in dramatic fashion by driving his No. 21 car to a double victory in both the 25-lap opening NASCAR Nostalgia Street Rods Outlaw Factory Stocks feature and the 30-lap finale at the 3/8-mile oval. Miller jumped to the lead in the first race and had to fight off his team owner Pete Meyer also of Las Vegas to take a 0.731-second win after 25 circuits.
In the 30-lapper which closed out the Bullring racing Saturday, Miller took the advantage from Carl Duryee of North Las Vegas on the second lap and pulled away with a dominating run, winning over Meyer by 8.161 seconds. 2021 Nostalgia Street Rods Outlaw Factory Stocks Bullring Rookie of the Year Rob Pfaffly recorded third in the 25-lap Bomber opener, while Duryee took third in the 30-lap Bomber finale.
“After the first race today, we made some changes with the car in the rear end and the spring rubbers and it definitely worked,” said Miller, a longtime Bullring crew member and racer. “Pete gave me a good run in the first race, but the car ran much better in the second one and we could pull away. We want to thank the fans for coming out to the opening race. We’ll have more Bombers in the field in two weeks. It should be good racing.”
Justin Johnson debuted a new machine in the Super Stock class Saturday and promptly put the car in the winner’s circle with a 1.530-second victory over Kirk Hance, Eric Martin and Gary Griffiths in the 20-lap Super Stock main. Johnson had to fight off early leader Martin for the top spot, but Justin got the lead by lap five and then kept a strong pace to capture his first Super Stock feature at the Bullring. Johnson’s win was his 55th career triumph at the LVMS 3/8-mile oval.
“This is my first Super Stock win and all thanks to Al Budd,” said Johnson. “I was a little worried during the race. The engine was sputtering and spitting for most of the race. It was smoking on the inside too. The car weighs 3,000 pounds and it goes good on the straights, but you have to lift off the throttle early in the corners to slow it down. You have to be careful with the brakes. We are going to try for the all-time wins at the Bullring with Super Stocks, Modifieds and other classes.”
Another teenager R.J. Smotherman of Pahrump, NV, joined the victory lane celebration after taking the popular 15-lap Skid Plate class in his No. 24 machine. Actually, the dastardly unknown Racer X took the checkered flag first Saturday but, as usual, refused the winner’s circle interview and disqualified. So, Smotherman was awarded the win followed by Larry Dowell, Robert Leany, Dylin Smotherman and newcomer Berenice Hernandez.
“Started out on a good note this year,” said Smotherman. “These cars are fun to drive. We would love to have more racers in the Skid Plate class and it’s easy to get into it. They are on Craig’s List, Facebook and Marketplace and it’s four-cylinder car, front-wheel-drive car. Make a few adjustments and you can race with us.”
In the USLCI Bandoleros for the young drivers, Logan Gresser, who didn’t qualify on Friday, held off Ryan Schank by just 0.300 seconds with Amelia Suell placing third in the 10-lap feature. Schank and Alexis Bjork looked to be the class of the field early until they both spun in turn three. Bjork was forced to the pits after the incident and Schank came from the rear of the field to take second.
“I don’t know how I won today,” said Gresser. “I didn’t get to practice or qualify. My car was just messed up yesterday. But we were able to come back today and win. I want to thank all of my sponsors and my mom and dad for all of their help.”
NEXT RACE: The upcoming Bullring short track racing will be under the lights as it is set for Saturday evening, February 19, as part of President’s Day weekend celebration. Eight separate divisions will compete at 3/8-mile oval including the fast NASCAR Power Grade Inc. Modifieds, NASCAR Sigma Performance Series Pro Late Models, Jr. Late Models, NASCAR Super Stocks and another double main events with the popular NASCAR Outlaw Factory Stocks. Gates will open at 5 p.m. with pening ceremonies will take place at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults. Children 12 and under will be admitted free with a ticketed adult through the 2022 Bullring season. Tickets may be purchased in advance by visiting or calling the LVMS ticket office at 800-644-4444 or online at LVMS.com.
38th Short Track Season Opener at The Bullring at LVMS
Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022
USCLI Bandoleros 10-lap feature
1.Logan Gresser; 2. Ryan Schank (-0.300 seconds); 3. Amelia Suell (-0.718); 4. Piper Suell (-2 laps); 5. Alexis Bjork (-5 laps).
NASCAR Super Stocks 20-lap feature
1.Justin Johnson; 2.Kirk Hance (-1.530 seconds); 3.Eric Martin (-2.744); 4.Gary Griffiths (-10.416); 5.Anthony Mann (-14.221); 6. Bill Paddock Jr. (-17 laps).
Skid Plate 15-lap feature
1.R.J. Smotherman; 2.Larry Dowell (-1 lap); 3. Robert Leany (-1 lap); 4.Dylin Smotherman (-4 laps); 5.Berenice Hernandez (-13 laps); 6.Ben Williams (-15 laps); 7. Racer X (DNQ).
USCLI Legends 25-lap feature
1.Jason Irwin; 2.Cody Brown (-0.135 seconds); 3.Jordon Holloway (-0.486); 4.Branden Giannini (-0.550); 5.Sean Hingorani (-1.000); 6.Ricky Gutierrez (-2.300); 7.Amileo Thomson (-2.480); 8.Gary Wegener (-2.700); 9.Jeff Regier (-3.048); 10.Bryson Brown (-3.235); 11.Bruce Silver (-3.566); 12.Ashton Leonard (-4.415); 13.Chloe Lynch (-1 lap); 14.Keller Meechudhome (-2 laps); 15.Brendan Tracy (-2 laps); 16.Landon Gresser (-3 laps); Enzo Lalama (-4 laps); 18.Don Leonard (-21 laps).
NASCAR Nostalgia Street Rods Outlaw Factory Stocks 25-lap feature
1.Michael Miller; 2.Pete Meyer (-0.731 seconds); 3.Rob Pfaffly (-4.778); 4.Carl Duryee (-8.244); 5. Arizona Shea (-1 lap).
NASCAR Nostalgia Street Rods Outlaw Factory Stocks 30-lap feature
1.Michael Miller; 2.Pete Meyer (-8.161 seconds); 3.Carl Duryee (-13.740); 4.Rob Pfaffly (-17.649)5. Arizona Shea (-2 lap); Steven Durbin (-12 laps).
NASCAR Sigma Performance Services Pro Late Models 30-lap feature
1.Sean Hingorani; 2.Scott Gafforini (-1.236 seconds); 3.Matt Frady Jr. (-4.301); 4.Johnny Spilotro (-8.806);5.David Anderson (-8.845).
NASCAR Power Grand Inc. Modified 25-lap feature
1.Doug Hamm; 2.Justin Johnson (-1.911); 3.Brian Williams (-11.857); 4.Ben Williams (-1 lap); 5.Brian Latawiec (-4 laps); 6.Scott Osborne (-20 laps).