(Hampton, GA.) Known as one of the fastest tracks on the circuit, Atlanta Motor Speedway would play host to the ASRS Sam Maxwell Customs Truck Series for Week 2 of the 2018 season. Designated the Sam Maxwell Customs Atlanta 125, the event would incorporate 82 laps around the 1.5 mile D-shaped oval.
52 drivers would attempt to qualify for the event, with 19 drivers advancing from the Open Qualifier to join those locked-in to the field. Overcast skies would serve as unexpected wild card, adding grip to a track characterized by slick surfaces, as drivers made their qualifying laps. Alex Bates (45) would lay down a 31.136s lap to secure his first pole of the season, with Sam Maxwell’s (98) 31.142s time being quick enough to start on the outside front row.
Taking the green flag, Alex Bates would lead into Turn 1 with Maxwell and Jordan Ashelin (27) quickly falling in line. Peeking under Ashelin for the 3rd position on Lap 2, Ty Hester (36) would be forced to check-up in front of Mark Emerson (22), with Emerson getting into Hester and turning him sideways and triggering the caution flag. Multiple drivers behind the initial incident would also pick up damage.
With many of the leaders remaining on the track, Bates would again lead the field to green with Sam Maxwell chasing. Devin Serra (20) would put immediate pressure on Jordan Ashelin, with both trucks racing side-by-side for the 3rd position. Attempting to hold the inside line with his Chevrolet Silverado, Serra would make be unable to pass, eventually tucking in behind Ashelin.
Lap 10, Ty Hester would drift across the front bumper of Robby Baskins’ (46) and receive a bump, resulting in Hester spinning into the backstretch wall. The Clarence Bonner (94) truck would also get turned as Baskins moved low to avoid Hester and made contact. Shawn Musick (18) would inherit the race lead as he would remain on the track while the leaders made yellow-flag pit stops.
Going back to green, Alex Bates would lead the charge of fresh tires from 3rd position, quickly working past the top-2 cars and returning to the top spot. Bates would pull away from Mark Emerson, Devin Serra, and Sam Maxwell as they engaged in a 3-way battle for the 2nd position. Serra would earn the spot for the moment, but persistent driving by Emerson, Maxwell, and Danny Rodgers (02) would pull Serra back in for side-by-side racing.
Caution would fly for the 3rd time as Mitch Brown (81) lost control of his truck coming off of Turn 2, getting into the inside retaining wall after nearly saving the spin for the majority of the backstretch. The single car incident would allow drivers to pit after 26 green flag laps; Devin Serra would emerge in the top spot, followed by Danny Rodgers and Alex Bates.
Lap 46, Serra would restart the field, getting a large jump on Danny Rodgers. Behind the leaders, multiple battles would take shape as the race began entering the final act; Lap 48 would see a close call as 11th place Jim Foose (42) would get caught on the wall in Turn 2 after contact with Tim Knott (41), forcing multiple cars to check up as Foose worked to regain control of his vehicle on the backstretch, but the race would remain green. Lap 58, there would be another near yellow as Jordan Harnish (54) would get loose after catching the Turn 2 exit wall, but Harnish would hang on to keep the action alive.
With 12 to go, caution would be displayed for the 4th time as Jim Foose would get sideways entering Turn 3 after catching the safer barrier. Serra would lead the field to the pits, but it would be Danny Rodgers exiting in first place.
Danny Rodgers would restart the field with 7 laps remaining, attempting to hold off a hard-charging Devin Serra. Headed into Turn 1, Serra would tuck in behind Rodgers and make slight contact, turning Rodgers slightly and sending his own vehicle onto the backstretch apron. Regaining control, Serra would edge Rodgers in a side-by-side battle that would end as a final caution flew for the spinning truck of Jay Graves Jr (8).
Checkered and yellow flags waving, Devin Serra would cross the line first and claim his first victory of the season. Defending race winner Danny Rodgers would settle for the runner-up position, with Troy Haydt (28) finishing 3rd. Pole-sitter Alex Bates would record a race-high 37 laps lead, but end up scoring a 25th place finish after getting into the front stretch wall and picking up damage. Devin Serra, Danny Rodgers, Anddy Veltman (97), and Shawn Musick would also be credited bonus points for laps lead.
With 2 races completed, Randy McCanney (17) continues to hold the points by 9 points over Tom Giannini (44). Danny Rodgers jumps 14 positions to the 3rd spot, just 14 points off of the lead. Mitch Brown remains in 4th, while Devin Serra gains 18 with this week’s win to slide into the 5th position. Troy Haydt makes the largest climb of the week, up 35 to 15th, while Nicholas Kerling (62), Raymond Casteel (84), and Kris Titus (25) lose 14 positions respectively.
Next week, the SMCTS heads to the Loudon, NH for the Fanatec 100. Formerly the first racetrack of the Round of 8 Chase series, New Hampshire will serve as Race 3 of the 2018 season. Coverage provided by ASRS partner Prime Time Racing TV will begin at 9:00PM on February 27th.