In what is a new era for the ARCA Menards Series, the first race under the ARCA Menards Series East took place Monday night at New Symrna Speedway and it did not disappoint. GMS Racing’s Sam Mayer was the first driver to take the checkered flag under the new organization. Mayer led 27 of the scheduled 175 laps after taking the lead on Lap 163, just 13 laps before the checkered flag.
“He (Gibbs) drove me up the race track pretty good there, so I was like ‘I’m not gonna take that,’ so I gave it a little bit back off Turn 2, was able to get to the inside and drive away from there. I think he used his stuff up a little too early which gave us the lead.”
As the race began, there was a long green-flag run that consisted of 64 laps from the beginning. However, the first caution slowed the pace on Lap 65 when the No. 43 of Daniel Dye came to a stop in Turn 4. Once the yellow was over, there was a short green flag stint of 17 laps before the second caution. On Lap 88, the No. 20 of Corey Heim for the new Venturini Motorsports entry went spinning in Turn 3.
After a few cautions, the Skip’s Western Outfitters 175 finally settled in for a long green flag. It wasn’t as long as the first green flag run, but it was a nice change of pace to see some green flag laps. Though the No. 43 of Dye continued to have troubles once more by bringing out the third caution on Lap 143 when he got caught up in an accident in Turn 3. As you would expect, short-track racing gets really intense, especially late in the race. With 21 to go, a big incident occurred on the frontstretch. Coming off of Turn 4, three cars got into a tight battle, three of those including the No. 17 of Tanner Gray and the No. 25 of Mason Diaz, as well as the race winner.
The No. 25 of Diaz’s car would not turn and got tight off of Turn 4 and collided with Gray. Gray’s No. 17 immediately went on the guard rail forcing the car to go on its left side driver’s door. However, Gray’s car came back on four-wheels. Both cars would sustain major damage and wound up in 17th and 18th place, respectively.
Finally, there was a 17-lap dash to the finish. The hard-charging newcomer, Derek Griffith, was running second and challenged Mayer for his first career win in the ARCA Menards Series East. Despite the effort, Griffith fell .309 seconds short of GMS Racing’s Mayer for the victory after leading majority of the race.
“We started with a blistering pace and I really didn’t even have to use that car up one bit,” he said. “We really, really had an excellent car tonight. That Chad Bryant Racing team worked their butts off these last few days. They got that thing dialed in perfect. I’ve learned so much the past two days, definitely hurts a little,” he said. “We’re gonna definitely look forward, hopefully, get another shot in this car, get to race a little more. I hope someone sees it and thinks I deserve it, we definitely need the help. Just such a cool weekend.”
Mayer led 27 of 175 laps en route to his fifth career win, but his first under the ARCA Menards banner.
There were four cautions for 25 laps and five lead changes among six leaders.
- Sam Mayer, led 27 laps
- Derek Griffith, led 148 laps
- Ty Gibbs, led four laps
- Nick Sanchez
- Giovanni Bromante
- Stephen Nasse
- Corey Heim
- Parker Retzlaff
- Chase Cabre
- Max McLaughlin
- Tristan Van Wieringen
- Jesse Love
- Gio Scelzi
- Brian Finney
- Holley Hollan
- Gracie Trotter
- Mason Diaz, OUT, Steering
- Tanner Gray, OUT, Accident
- Daniel Dye, OUT, Accident
- Willie Mullins, 51 laps down
- Justin S. Carroll, OUT, Oil Pan
- Chuck Hiers, OUT, Handling
- Robert Pawlowski, OUT, Fuel Pump
Up Next: The ARCA Menards East Series next race will be on Saturday, March 14 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.