By Anddy Veltman
(Richmond, VA.) The STH Graphics Richmond 125 would mark the only race scheduled for the ASRS Sam Maxwell Customs Truck Series in the month of April. Following a 2-week break, drivers would return for short track racing at the 0.75-mile Richmond Raceway for 125 laps of Tuesday night action under the lights.
Of the 34 drivers scheduled to take the green flag, Evan Black (99) would lay down the fastest lap in main event qualifying, at 21.237s. It would be Black’s first pole in just his 2nd SMCTS start of the season. Brian Yaczik (55) would qualify runner-up, just 0.062s off Black’s pace.
At the green, Black would be quick to the accelerator, leading Yaczik by 3 car lengths entering Turn 1. Tom Giannini (44), Mitch Brown (18), Nick Kerling (91), and Pete Baskins (3) would follow single file through 6th, as most of the 2-wide battles would open up behind them.
Jarred Haggerty (6) would be the first casualty to America’s Premier Short Track, losing the rear of the car on Turn 3 entry and correcting hard into the outside wall before skidding back across the track into the path of Jordan Miller (76) for the first caution of the race on Lap 5. The leaders would elect to pit, with Yaczik slipping out of the pits ahead of Giannini to pick-up the race lead.
Yaczik would get the jump over Giannini on the Lap 13 restart, securing the lead into Turn 1, however, a missed shift would cause much of the field to scramble, resulting in a pile-up involving the Zack Calloway (2) and David Howard Jr. (14) trucks on the backstretch among a few other drivers. With minimal wear on their tires, the leaders would remain on the track.
With the track cleared, Yaczik would again pull Giannini for the restart on Lap 19. Giannini would fall into 2nd, with Evan Black in tow. There would be minimal changes before the 3rd caution of the night would wave, this time for Evan Osborne (144) as his truck would get loose after catching the apron and spin off of the Turn 2 exit. No other drivers would be involved.
Lap 28; leader Yaczik would bring the field up to speed, as Black would immediately challenge Giannini for 2nd. Powering ahead, Giannini would clear Black momentarily, but Black would return to task on Lap 30 to take the position.
Behind the Giannini-Black battle, Jordan Harnish (54) would battle side-by-side with Blake Near (167) for 4th, both feeling pressure from Mitch Brown. After 5 laps, Near would clear Harnish, with Brown looking to follow through on the outside line. Slight contact to the outside wall would slow Brown, however, opening the door for Ryan Haartz (59). Haartz would make the pass on Brown, the continue around Harnish and Near.
Shortly after on Lap 41, Near would get sideways in front of the flag stand. Sliding through the grass, Near would settle his vehicle enough to exit the racing surface and keep the race green.
Lap 44; Brad Cross (30) would get loose in almost the same spot as Near, spinning into the grass. Unlike Near, Cross would find himself close enough to the on-track action to prompt ASRS officials to display the caution flag. The lead trucks would pit, with Brian Yaczik and Evan Black holding the top spots. Troy Haydt (28) would exit pit road in 3rd after utilizing pit strategy for 2 tires.
Yaczik would clear Black on the Lap 50 restart to settle back into the lead. For 3rd, Ryan Haartz would pass Haydt, with Haydt then looking to fend off the advance of Jordan Harnish. Haartz would continue on to make a move under Black into Turn 1 for 2nd.
Moments later, the yellow lights would come on as Tom Giannini and Devin Serra (20) would get together on the transition to the backstretch. Serra would spin, collecting Mitch Brown with multiple drivers stacking up behind.
Lap 60; Brian Yaczik would restart at the lead with Ryan Haartz in 2nd. Yaczik would get the jump without much pressure, though one lap later, Steve Ritter (16) would spin after contact with Kevin Mingus (4) on Turn 1 entry. Mingus would save his truck, but Ritter would pick up additional damage from drivers unable to check-up in time.
The field would be back to green by way of Yaczik on Lap 67. Haartz would fall into 2nd, with Jordan Harnish taking a look to the outside of Evan Black for 3rd. With high-side momentum, Harnish would nearly clear, but would lose a little ground by way of scraping the wall. Side-by-side racing would continue for a handful of laps before Black would finally clear Harnish.
Up front, Haartz would close the interval to Yaczik, making way to his bumper by Lap 70. Looking high and low, Haartz would look for a lane to get around the leader. After 3 laps, the battle would be put on hold for the Brandon Boyd (60) truck; Boyd would appear to get loose on Turn 1 entry, sliding momentarily before making a sharp turn into the outside wall to freeze the field. The leaders would again pit, this time with Evan Black leaving the pits P1.
Black would get the jump on Yazcik, clearing the 55 by Turn 1. Tom Giannini, restarting 3rd, would see the challenge from Ryan Haartz, with Haartz clearing Giannini on the next lap to move into the 3rd position.
While battling Nick Kerling, Brad Cross would get sideways and spin in Turn 3. Unable to avoid Cross, Jason Stewart (11) would catch light contact, with the caution waving at Lap 82.
Back to green on Lap 87, Evan Black would open the gap to Brian Yaczik, as Yaczik would then lose 2nd to Ryan Haartz. Yaczik would be unable to immediately challenge, with Jay Graves Jr. (8) appearing to lose his truck on Turn 1 entry, sliding down into Jason Stewart before shooting out to the wall in a hard impact. Multiple drivers would receive damage, with ASRS officials waving the yellow once more.
Black would try and succeed again at Lap 94 to clear Haartz via the restart. Yaczik would challenge for P2 as Steve Buhala (43) would hold 4th over Jim Foose (42), with Foose then defending the high line push by Jordan Harnish to remain in 5th.
Lap 96; Haartz would take a look to the inside of race leader Evan Black. Caution would fly to interrupt Haartz’s bid for the lead on Lap 97, however, as Kevin Mingus would get loose on Turn 1 entry, going fully around after light contact from Clarence Bonner (13). Yaczik would be the highest running truck to pit, with all but 7 of the lead cars detouring to pit lane for service. Black would remain on track as the leader.
On the restart at Lap 103, Black would take off to the lead with Haartz following. Steve Buhala would find himself defending the the 3rd spot from Tom Giannini, looking to his outside, though both drivers would find themselves at the mercy of Yaczik and fresher tires, as he would move past Giannini and then Buhala to chase down the Top-2.
With 19 laps to go, the caution be displayed again as Jordan Harnish and Nick Kerling would get together on the exit of Turn 3, as both appeared to be seeking the same piece of real estate, collecting a few other drivers in the incident. Evan Black and Ryan Haartz would now look to contend with the fresher tires of Brian Yaczik on the upcoming restart.
Down to 13 laps remaining, Black would get a great restart, clearing Haartz. Haartz would be left to fight Yaczik for 2nd. The battle would be quick, with Yaczik moving past Haartz to quickly glue himself to the tailgate of Black’s 99 truck.
Yaczik would take a look to the inside of Black with 11 laps to go, getting just enough of his nose below the quarter panel of Black to hold the inside line. Black would fight back, holding the lead for one more lap, but with older tires would lose the lead to Yaczik coming to the line with 9 laps to go. Haartz would then follow Yaczik, moving around Black for 2nd position.
9 laps to go; Brad Cross would spin and collect Jason Stewart after contact with Andrew Garrells (19) as Garrells attempted to merge onto the track in Turn 3 after leaving the pits. With limited laps left, drivers would find themselves set-up for a green-white-checker scenario.
On the green, it would be Brian Yaczik clearing Ryan Haartz for the lead. Evan Black would look to battle Haartz for the 2nd spot. Haartz would hold on, but it would not be enough as Yaczik would hold on for the checkered flag and victory.
Yaczik would lead a race-high 77 laps en route to his 1st 2018 win in the SMCTS, 2nd overall [New Hampshire, Fall 2015]. Haartz would come home as the runner-up, with pole-sitter Black leading the remaining 48 laps to round out the podium in 3rd.
Points after 6 events find Tom Giannini in the lead after a 4th place finish. Yaczik climbs to 2nd with his victory, 5 points off of the lead. Jared Mogard (00) falls to 3rd after missing the event in Richmond, with Randy McCanney (17) sliding to 4th and John Kennedy (89) bumping up to 5th. Runner-up and pole-sitter Evan Black makes the biggest jump, up 13 to 27th, with Andrew Garrells falling 14 spots to 30th.
Next week, the Sam Maxwell Customs Truck Series will again take the week off, returning in May, as ASRS will host the Twitchy Race Reports Premier Cup Series at Talladega for the Sam Maxwell Customs Cup Talladega 200 this Tuesday. Coverage by league partner Prime Time Racing TV will begin at 9:00PM EST.
Race feed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENwH389y_WI