Ward Takes Second Cup Victory of 2018 at Chicagoland
Published On: February 2nd, 2018
Anddy Diablo (JOLIET, IL) With Jeff Ward (90) at the helm of the series point standings, drivers of the Twitchy Race Reports ASRS Premier Cup Series ventured to the Midwest for Tuesday’s Fanatec Chicagoland 200. The scheduled race length for the 36-car field was 134 laps planned around the 1.5-mile tri-oval. Characterized by multiple grooves on a rough surface, league directors looked forward to delivering hard racing for fans of the top ASRS series.
From the initial entry list of 48, 18 drivers would advance from the Open Qualifier to fill the 36-car field. Jeff Ward would clinch the pole in main event qualifying for the third consecutive week, clocking a time of 30.199s. Scott Eckrich (88) would record a close 30.122s to roll off the grid in 2nd.
On green, Ward would get a great start, with Eckrich and Drew Carroll (85) giving chase. Within a couple of laps, the field would settle into single file with a few pop-up side-by-side battles shaping up through the field.
The first caution would fly early as Alex Giese would lose control of his vehicle while transitioning across the front stretch apron on lap 5, sliding up into Brad Cross in Turn 1 and triggering a multi-car accident. Troy Haydt (28) would take advantage of the situation, gaining the lead as Ward and company had ducked onto pit road.
Haydt would restart strong, opening a gap into Turn 1. His surge would not last, however, as Ward would return to pass Haydt in the tri-oval by the next pass of the starter stand.
Once ahead, Ward began to open up the distance from Haydt. Drew Carroll and Evan Black (99) would pressure Haydt for 2nd, leading a multitude of side-by-side battles. Scott Eckrich would make contact with Black, with both drivers checking up and forcing the lead group to fall back into single-file. That would allow Carroll and Eckrich the space they needed to make their way past Haydt and give chase to the leader Ward.
As laps tallied, Eckrich would earn his way past Carroll just before a debris caution on Lap 19 would regroup the field. Most of the lead lap cars would decide to pit again. Positions would remain the same.
Back to racing, Ward would continue his dominance, pulling away from 2nd-place Eckrich on the start. With continued green conditions, the field would begin to spread out. Attributing tire wear over the long run, drivers started seeking higher lines on the track as they searched for grip through the corners.
Lap 58, the 2nd place car of Eckrich would lose control entering the tri-oval, picking up damage. He was able to get reoriented quickly, allowing him to remain on the track as the lead lap cars pitted and earn a bonus point for leading.
With pit stops complete, Ward would again find the top spot on the next restart. Hard racing mid-pack would see a couple of cars catch the wall off of Turn 4, with the John Kennedy (89) machine skewing through the front stretch lawn. Kennedy would regain control, avoiding the need for a full course caution.
Racing would continue green with Jeff Ward on-point. Short of enough fuel to complete the race, drivers would begin to pit with about 40 laps remaining. Leader Ward would duck onto pit road at lap 100, with Eckrich again picking up the top spot in the process. Eventually, Ward would cycle back to 1st once all teams had cycled through pit road.
In the end, it would be Jeff Ward scoring the win in a dominating performance with 128 laps led. Brian Yaczik would hold on for 2nd after starting 32nd. Drew Carroll would round out the podium finishers in 3rd. Notably, Scott Eckrich and Troy Haydt would score additional bonus points for leading laps in the event.
Following the race, Jeff Ward and Brian Yaczik would hold the 1st and 2nd positions in points, respectively, separated by 15 points. Scott Eckrich would gain a position, moving up to 3rd just 21 points off of the lead. The biggest gain of the week belonged to Nicholas Kerling (62), jumping 18 spots in first start of the season. Adversely, Ryan Kuhn (65) would fall 8 spots after missing the event.
Next week, the TRRPCS will make camp on the east coast for the Sam Maxwell Customs Cup Daytona 200. Restrictor plates will be in effect and fans should expect hard, close racing on the high-banked superspeedway. Live coverage for the event will be carried by series partner Prime Time Racing TV.