The NEO Racing News Legends League rolled into the Charlotte Motor Speedway tonight to take on their 2nd double header event of the season. The Charlotte Cup would see a 75 lap event on the Legends Oval where 24 cars took the green flag, followed by an 18 lap event on the Infield Road Course where 18 drivers started.
First up it was the oval event on the night, and things got under way when Parker Traves put his car on the pole position for the race as he tried to rebound from a race last week where the win slipped from him in the late stages of that event. He put down a lap time of 17.415 seconds, ahead of points leader entering the night, Travis Warling in 2nd.
Traves led the field to the green, but he would slip up in turn 2, allowing Dale Owen who had started third, to slip by and grab the lead on lap 1. Traves fell into the 2nd spot, while Mike Rhyno and Bill Martin moved into 3rd and 4th, while Warling was shuffled back to 5th in the early laps. After the first restart however, Traves put the pressure back on the leader and took the lead one lap later, regaining the top spot. The rest of the top 5 remained unchanged, while others behind them battled among the top 10 including Patrick Hahe, Matt Rolfe, TJ Graves, Kyle Wood and Mike Testa.
The field did a good job on sorting out during restarts, which led to some intense racing during those times. The front of the field battled hard as everyone looked towards the bottom groove. Despite a couple cautions throughout the first portion of the race, no big shake ups occurred up front until a lap 52 caution. Traves continued to lead, but it was Martin to his outside on this restart, but when the field took the green, Martin would spin his tries and ended up in the outside wall, which also collected other front runners as well including Graves and Warling. With Warling’s damage, he would retire from the event early with just a 20th place finish.
Up front, it was Traves and Rhyno on the front row for the final restart on lap 67, and Traves would jump into the lead, and he would power on to take the victory as the caution came out with a lap to go. The victory would make up for the win he lost last week, and becomes his 2nd career SARA win. Rhyno slipped back on the restart but got back up to a 2nd place finish. Owen would finish in the 3rd spot, while Rolfe would finish 4th, and Mike Belanger worked his way up from 13th to a 5th place finish.
Race #1 – Top 10:
1. Parker Traves
2. Mike Rhyno
3. Dale Owen
4. Matt Rolfe
5. Mike Belanger
6. Stan Bragg
7. Clay Snider
8. Bill Martin
9. Huston Hamer
10. Ray Farlow
The second race of the evening would see the drivers head to the Infield Road Course. This time out, it was David Krikorian who would make an appearance and grab the top starting spot during open qualifying. His time of 47.881 seconds would put him on the pole, with Rhyno starting beside him.
The field would take off from a standing start, and as they headed into the first turn, Krikorian led them through and he began his strong run in front of the pack. The drivers behind him would carefully navigate the tricky couple of turns throughout the first lap, but when they hit the backstretch, cars were getting up to speed when the first incident of the race happened. Huston Hamer was in the 5th spot when his car would get loose up over the hill and as he tried to save it, Rolfe would make contact with him and they both went around. As that happened, other cars would miss those two, but would get together heading into the next corner with a couple of others getting collected as well.
It was the top 4 who were clear of the early incident, and Krikorian, Rhyno, Warling and Traves took off out front, but the lead was already 1.5 seconds for Krikorian when they hit the line on lap 1. Rhyno ran in the 2nd spot for the first two laps, before both Traves and Warling were able to work into the top 3. And not long after that, Warling took over the 2nd spot, but by that time, the leader was already gone by nearly 5 seconds out front by the half-way point of the race.
Jacob Beauchesne was the beneficiary from the early incident as he gained the 5th spot and held it for the first half of the race, before Patrick Hahe was able to get by him for that spot. Beauchesne wouldn’t give up though as he regained the position later in the race. As the race began to wind down, up front, Warling began to real in the leader by a little bit each lap, but there wouldn’t be enough time.
Krikorian would come around the final turn, and took the checkered flag ahead of 2nd place by 3.5 seconds, as he led every lap en route to his 5th career SARA win, and his 3rd in the Legends division. Warling would come home in the 2nd spot after a hard charge, while Rhyno was able to get back up into the 3rd spot. Traves would finish 4th, and Beauchesne would move back up into the top 5 for a 5th place finish.
Race #2 – Top 10:
1. David Krikorian
2. Travis Warling
3. Mike Rhyno
4. Parker Traves
5. Jacob Beauchesne
6. Patrick Hahe
7. Bill Martin
8. Mike Testa
9. Matt Rolfe
10. Dale Owen
Next week the series will head to Irwindale to run the Inner configuration for the 6th race of their season.
With two solid top 3 finishes, Mike Rhyno now takes a commanding lead by 25 points over Warling in 2nd. For full results of both races, and standings, click HERE.