CONCORD, MASS. – When Austin Boelke ran out of fuel coming to the white flag in Friday’s JI’s Music/Flirting With Disaster 120, Brent Roy found himself at the head of the draft without a teammate.
Fortunately, Roy had a friend.
The Canadian racer, with Wyatt Alexander defending his lead, held on to claim his first career NEP win at iRacing Superspeedway in the penultimate race of the six-event NEP SuperTruck Series season.
“I owe a lot to Wyatt there,” Roy said from his victory celebration on the frontstretch of the three-mile high-banked oval. “He stuck on the bumper of the #26 ReCar Chevrolet. It’s kind of weird to say Chevrolet!”
With two of their Team BBY teammates out of action for the evening, Roy and Boelke hovered just beyond the lead pack most of the night, working with Alexander’s 4 Wide Weaponry teammates to keep from losing the draft.
Meanwhile, a pack of Fords diced for the lead out front, with the Blue Oval contingent combining to lead 35 laps on the night.
WAP Motorsports teammates Evan Beaulieu and Matt Kentfield were the first to fall from contention, when contact between Beaulieu and Dylan Kopec while battling for the lead resulted in a multi-truck crash. Charles Lewandoski and Zane Ferrell took over for the marque, with Beaulieu racing among the leaders trying to get a lap back.
Ferrell lost touch briefly with Lewandoski, but the pair reunited with four laps to go as Kyle Casagrande and Jason Ricker made contact back in the field. As Casagrande and Ricker skidded to the infield, Brandon Yuhouse spun battling for the lead, bringing out the yellow for another multi-truck incident.
With the race headed into overtime and confident on his fuel strategy, Ferrell lined up alongside Lewandoski for the restart. As John Peters pushed Lewandoski out to the lead, Ferrell was caught in traffic on the high banks, first brushing Anthony Aiello and then getting turned into the infield, ending his night and bringing out another caution to extend the race.
Lewandoski and Peters, running on fumes with another restart looming, peeled off for pit road, bringing Boelke and Roy into the top five for the first time all night, but raising the question of how much fuel remained in the leading Chevrolets.
Boelke wasted no time in taking off for the restart, merging in line with Roy and Alexander to take control for the final sprint. But as the pack exited turn four for the white flag, Boelke pulled down to the apron, just short on fuel for the finish. With Alexander planted on his bumper, Roy assumed the point.
“Austin there, on the restart, did pretty good to get us lined up,” said Roy of Boelke’s late-race efforts. “Unfortunately, he was a little shy on fuel, so, you know, couldn’t get a one-two for the team. But it’s pretty cool to get a win at one of these NEP races. These guys are tough, man. It’s hard to get one of these.”
Roy was quick to credit not only his teammate, but the friends who kept him in the hunt. “Big thanks to Austin, and big thanks to 4 Wide Weaponry,” he said. “They helped us out a little bit there, little bit of a connection from the Grand National side with Wyatt and the boys from Maine. You can’t do it by yourself at a superspeedway…we’ve got to thank those guys.”
Facing pressure from a charging Lewandoski, Alexander made his own move for the win with the checkered flag in sight. Alexander drew alongside Roy down the straightaway, but he came up short by .019 seconds.
“I was pretty committed to pushing Brent,” Alexander said of his last-lap move. “I didn’t have any intentions of hanging him out to dry. Once I knew the other guys didn’t have a run coming, I figured I’d at least put it out there and make it exciting, and see what could happen.”
Like Roy, Alexander played it safe for most of the race. “We were looking at only having one quick repair, and that was kind of the driving factor,” he said. “We hung out pretty far out back, and we pretty much knew there was going to be a yellow within the last handful.”
Lewandoski restarted on the edge of the top ten, but a tow from Kenny Kibbey vaulted the Connecticut native into third at the finish, only inches from the lead. “We had good team strategy, worked well together, which didn’t really play out,” he said. “We pitted late. You know, the fuel mileage game, we were ahead of it at one point, and we were behind at the end and had to pit. But we finished top three. We’re not thrilled with that, we wanted a win, but it’s a good night for us.”
Kibbey rebounded from the overtime wreck to finish fourth, with Mike Hopkins hanging on in a damaged truck for a team-best fifth-place run.
John Peters was sixth for FPY Motorsport, with Jason Ricker crossing the line seventh. Anthony Aiello was eighth, and fellow FPY teammate Scott MacDonald was ninth despite being turned onto the apron while clinging to a top-five position. Polesitter Jeff Brown restarted sixth at the end, but could not keep pace with the pack and finished tenth, a team-best effort for FieldFillers Motorsports.
The NEP SuperTruck Series wraps its season on Friday, February 19 with a final event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where the team champion will be crowned. Vidane TV will have live streaming coverage beginning at 9:00pm EST.