(Fontana, CA) Following a 4-week break, the ASRS Twitchy Race Reports Premier Cup Series would arrive in Southern California last Tuesday for the Auto Club 200. Hosted by Auto Club Speedway, the event would be billed for 100 laps at the 2.0-mile D-shaped oval. Teams would expect high speeds and limited corner exit grip to be a factor.
From the Open Qualifier, 20 drivers would advance to fill the 36-car field. Of those 36 cars, Jeff Ward (90) would record a fast lap of 39.576s to score his 4th perch’n® Pole Award of the season. Jared Mogard (00) would clock a 39.789s to start on the outside.
Side-by-side, Jeff Ward and Jared Mogard would lead the field to green, remaining door-to-door into Turn 1. Mogard would edge ahead, with Ward unable to answer, as a quick throw of the caution for an incident involving Nick Kerling (62) would slow the field.
For the second attempt, Mogard would beat Ward to Turn 1, but once again, a caution would fly; this time for the Steven Trombly (78) car getting loose off of Turn 2, collecting Scott Eckrich (70) after overcorrecting into the outside wall.
Back to green, Mogard would get a good restart for Lap 11, clearing Ward into Turn 1. Evan Black (99) would make the challenge for 2nd against Jeff Ward, with Ward able to shake Black and return to chasing Mogard. Within the next lap, Ward would catch, pass, and clear Mogard and return to the top spot.
Officials noted a close call on Lap 20 as Ty Hester (36) would make a detour through the front stretch grass, getting loose at the exit of Turn 4 while defending his position from Allan Young. Hester would make the save, losing a handful of positions, but remaining in contention and allowing the green flag to stay out.
By Lap 30, Jeff Ward had driven away to a sizeable lead over Jared Mogard. Jordan Ashelin (27), Evan Black, and Brian Yaczik (55) would fill the remaining top-5 positions, as green flag pit stops would begin.
Caution would fly on Lap 32 for Woody Mahan (40). Mahan would recover from a spin through the grass after getting loose on the exit of Turn 4. The yellow would restack the field, catching multiple drivers either on or just off of pit road. Those drivers would utilize the wave-around, returning Jeff Ward to the lead for the upcoming restart.
Ward would take the green at Lap 37, with Mogard following in 2nd. Evan Black and Michael Chrobok (72) would put immediate pressure on Mogard for the position, but it would be short-lived. Mogard would clear Black and give chase to Ward, leaving Black to defend against Chrobok. Chrobok would clear Black for 3rd, with Allan Young (24) beginning to work on Black for the 4th position.
Lap 43; Kenneth Robbins (64) would drift up into Jim Foose (42), as Foose was attempting to pass, pinching him and making contact. Foose’s car would end up airborne, clearing the SAFER Barrier, and ending-up with wheels against the catch fence through Turn 3, while Robbins would spin and collect Ty Hester.
Lap 48; Jared Mogard would clear the field by Turn 1 as Jeff Ward would feel pressure from Chrobok, getting loose and losing ground in the battle. This would open the door to 3-wide racing for the 2nd position. Chrobok would earn 2nd and bring Allan Young and Evan Black past Ward to momentarily battle for 3rd. Getting back up to speed, Ward would work around both drivers and give chase to Chrobok.
Jarred Haggerty (6) would find himself end-over-end on the backstretch after contact on Lap 51, bringing the caution flag back out. The leaders would use the opportunity to pit, topping off fuel for the rest of the event. Michael Chrobok would come out on top with Allan Young in 2nd. Previous leader, Jared Mogard would be caught for speeding, subject to a penalty, and top-5 contender Jeff Ward would lose positions after missing his pit stall.
Chrobok would restart the field on Lap 57, getting the jump on Young and pulling Jordan Ashelin up into the 2nd position. Young would fight back to the inside of Ashelin to re-take the 2nd spot as Evan Black and Troy Haydt (28) would battle behind them for 4th, all eventually settling in line for the time being.
Lap 71; caution would fly again for Raymond Casteel (84) and his solo spin off of Turn 4. With an expected restart leaving 24 laps in the race, all drivers would pit to secure fuel mileage and take fresh tires. Jordan Ashelin would leave pit lane first, followed by Jeff Ward; Ward had just passed Evan Black for 4th previous to Casteel’s spin, driving up through the field from his previous restart position of 18th on that last green flag span.
With 24 laps to go, Ashelin would restart the race, clearing the field by Turn 1. Ward would shake off a challenge from Evan Black to catch Ashelin at the start line. Ward would look inside, racing Ashelin side-by-side, taking the lead on Lap 78. It would be short-lived, however, as Ashelin fight back, crossing-over to the inside of Ward to retake the position on Lap 80.
Jeff Ward would begin working on Ashelin once again, pulling to the inside and getting his nose out just in front of Ashelin to lock in the lead as the caution would wave with 19 laps to go for a solo spin by John Kennedy (89) on the frontstretch.
The leaders would pit once again, with Jeff Ward exiting in 1st. Ward would restart the race with 14 to go, getting ahead of 2nd-place Ashelin. Jared Mogard, back to the Top-5 following a speeding penalty earlier in the event, would work around Ashelin to slip into the 2nd spot.
4 laps to go; Raymond Casteel would catch right rear quarter panel of Tom Giannini (44), turning him into the wall and collecting Anddy Veltman (97) and Jim Foose. With minimal laps remaining, the caution would seal the race results for any cars on-track.
Under pace speed, Jeff Ward would cross the line first, scoring his 3rd victory of the season after leading 53 laps. Jared Mogard would finish 2nd with 21 laps lead. Jordan Ashelin would lead 6 en route to a 3rd-place finish. Michael Chrobok and Josh Gallagher (96) would also earn bonus points for leading laps.
With 6 races down, 3-time winner Jeff Ward is the Twitchy Race Reports Premier Cup Series points-leader. Jared Mogard trails by 6 points in 2nd and Jordan Ashelin is up 2 positions to 3rd, just 16 points off of the lead. Brian Yaczik holds steady in 4th and Drew Carroll (85) falls to 5th from the lead as a result of missing the event. Steven Trombly makes the largest gain, up 16 positions in his first start of the season, while Scott Smith (21) falls 8 to 21st.
ASRS Twitchy Race Reports Premier Cup Series teams are scheduled off the remainder of March to facilitate the ASRS Sam Maxwell Customs Truck Series, but will return April 3rd for the Last Car Loaded Motorsports 200, hosted by Texas Motor Speedway. Coverage will be provided by series broadcast partner Prime Time Racing TV and will begin that night at 9:00 PM EST.