By: Anddy Veltman
(CONCORD, NC) Following-up to last week’s truck series event, the Twitchy Race Reports ASRS Premier Cup Series returned to Charlotte Motor Speedway for Tuesday night’s event. The Fred’s 200 would be slated for 134 laps and scheduled to run under the lights.
Main event qualifying was held to determine the line-up for 36 of the 39 teams in attendance. Of those drivers, the fast lap had been set by Scott Eckrich (70). At 28.760s, it would be Eckrich’s 3rd perch’n Pole Award of the season. Nick Kohan (57) registered as the 2nd-fastest qualifier, with a 28.799s lap to start him alongside the leader.
First to the accelerator was Eckrich, leading the field to green and clearing Kohan by Turn 1. Evan Black (99) would fall in line for 3rd, while Ryan Haartz (59) challenged Mark Emerson (22) for the 4th position. After 5 laps of side-by-side battling, Haartz briefly cleared Emerson, though Emerson would battle back to retake the position.
Lap 7; Haartz pushed up into the wall exiting Turn 2, resulting in a spin on the backstretch for the first yellow flag of the evening. Matters would only get worse for Haartz, receiving further damage from post-incident contact as he tried to right the direction of his vehicle. The leaders would use the opportunity to pit, with Eckrich keeping the lead.
Once again, Eckrich would get away from 2nd-place Nick Kohan to grab the lead, but could not distance himself completely as the caution flew again on Lap 15, this time for Tim Knott (41) and Jim Foose (42) locking together on the backstretch and washing up the track in Turn 3, triggering a multi-car incident. The leaders elected to pit for the 2nd time.
Out front via 2 tires, Emerson controlled the restart, clearing Eckrich for the top spot. Eckrich would regroup make the pass on Emerson on the next lap to continue his strong run. Out front in fresh air, Eckrich continued building his lead over Emerson and eventually Kohan, as Emerson’s 2-tires began to fall back.
As the green flag run continued, series points-leader Jeff Ward (90) powered his way through the field. By Lap 50, Ward would pass Jared Mogard (00) to pick-up the 3rd position, only moments prior to the 3rd caution flag of the race; this time for Jeff Gross (79) getting loose in on the front stretch and making contact with Evan Black. In and out of the pits first, Eckrich resumed the lead.
On the next restart, Eckrich shot the advantage over Ward, leaving Ward to defend 2nd position from Mogard. Ward would eventually shake off the challenge from Mogard and set his sights on Eckrich. With no position change by Lap 95, Ward elected to pit under green flag conditions. Eckrich followed suit 2 laps later, turning the lead over to Troy Haydt (28) in the interim.
Haydt would continue to lead as green flag stops cycled through, eventually pitting on Lap 109. Inheriting the lead would be Ward, with the advantage gained by pitting earlier than the dominant Eckrich. Ward would lead under green until 11 to go, when the Ty Hester (36) vehicle losing control on the Turn 2 exit would trigger another caution. The leaders would pit, with Ward holding the position over Eckrich at pit exit.
6 laps to go; Ward would pull Eckrich on the restart, clearing into Turn 1, but Eckrich would battle back, pulling alongside of Ward into Turn 3. Ward would hang on to the position, edging Eckrich and pulling away. Time would run out for Eckrich as he would be unable to catch Ward in the closing laps.
At the checkered, it would be Jeff Ward leading 26 laps and coming to the line in 1st place to clinch the trophy for the Fred’s 200. The victory registered as Ward’s 5th victory of the season, 6th overall. Runner-up would be Scott Eckrich, after starting from the pole and leading a race-high 92 laps. Jared Mogard battled to the end to edge Nick Kohan and finish 3rd. Troy Haydt, Mark Emerson, and Steve Ritter (16) were also credited with leading laps.
With Charlotte festivities under wraps, Jeff Ward remained atop the point standings by 26 points over Jared Mogard. Behind Mogard, Brian Yaczik (55), Jordan Ashelin (27), and Jason Stewart (7) held their positions to round out the Top-5. Jordan Harnish (54) walked away with the biggest gain, up 7 spots to 46th, while Ryan Tupper (37) fell 6.
Next week, the ASRS Sam Maxwell Customs Truck Series returns to finish up the May schedule. Dubbed the Sam Maxwell Customs 125, drivers will look to revive racing at Rockingham Speedway once again as double-duty driver Brian Yaczik aims to extend his newly acquired points lead. Coverage will be provided by series partner LSRTV [livesimracing.com], starting at 9:00PM EST on Tuesday night.
Race feed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrKFv5GMPdw