By: Tom Giannini
(LAS VEGAS, NV) With the Sam Maxwell Customs Truck Series and ASRS Xfinity Series seasons already in swing, it was time for the boys of fall to hit the short track circuit for the first ASRS Short Track Pro-Series race of the 2017 season.
One of the biggest questions going into the 125 lap event at the Bullring in Las Vegas was if Jared Mogard could defend his 2016 Championship against the likes of newcomers and short track aces. One short track ace entered in the event was Justin Blackdeer who dominated the field in the previous season of Super Late Model competition. There was a shock when Jared Mogard did not show up on the entry sheet of the season’s first event. A race behind already, it will be hard for the driver of the #01 to defend the crown but far from impossible.
Turning the spotlight to the drivers in attendance, the night got off to a good start for Jonathan Mawhinney who paced practice with blistering speeds. Travis Wright, Ty Hester, Allan Young and Jim Foose all posted top 5 times throughout the half hour long practice session. That speed would transfer into qualifying as the top 3 in practice all started in the top 3 for the race. The newcomer Mawhinney claimed the pole by almost a full tenth over the rest of the field. Travis Wright lined up next to him in second. Third went to Travis Wright followed by Mat Mitchell and Rex Hoyle. The race was not short of excitement in the caution and drama departments as the race was slowed by a walloping 16 cautions.
There were only three cars at the end of the event without a scratch or dent of some sort. Jonathan Mawhinney led the entire 125 laps of the event. Smooth sailing for him considering 66% of the race was run at pace speeds. Following Mawhinney to the checkered was Michael Atkins Jr who impressively came back from an earlier spin. Dominic Lee would finish 3rd but not after fireworks when he and his team mate Ty Hester were involved in an incident with only a few laps remaining. Jim Foose was a staple in the top 5 all night as he turned his 7th place start into a 4th place finish. Short track ace Rex Hoyle would finish 5th on the night.
Early season favorites Justin Blackdeer and Jonathan Holstein were involved in wrecks and were relegated to DNFs. Ty Hester would rebound from his wreck to finish 11th. The series will continue on at South Boston Speedway in Virginia next Wednesday as the drivers either hope to continue their good runs or try to right the ship early.