Seven times he’d been forced to endure the bitter taste of finishing second. Seven times he’d missed out on victory by a single spot. But on Saturday night at the Wisconsin 3/8-mile, Gravel brought the runner-up narrative to a close.
The Watertown, CT native started fourth and rolled the bottom masterfully – patiently working his way forward and taking the top spot from Spencer Bayston with only nine laps remaining. From there, Gravel drove away to a comfortable margin and the win in the Independence Day Spectacular finale.
The victory puts Gravel at eight for the season with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars – already one more than last season. The 31-year-old is the 22nd different driver to top a race at the New Richmond, WI facility. Gravel’s career win total with The Greatest Show on Dirt elevated to 84 – enough to tie him with Stevie Smith for 11th on the all-time list.
Gravel credited his veteran savvy with leading him to Victory Lane.
“It feels good to finally win one here,” Gravel said. “Man, I love this track. This track is a lot of fun. It just shows you how much this track changes. The top was the fastest groove, and those young bucks can’t slow down like I can. You’ve just got to be real patient there on the bottom, and it really worked out. I got the wing back, and I know I was being way easier on my tires than those guys ripping the top for all of those laps.”
Some early incidents plagued the beginning of the race, and Macedo maintained the top spot throughout the restarts. Finally, the green lights stayed on long enough for the leaders to reach lapped traffic. As Macedo worked through slower cars, Bayston found an opportunity to swipe the lead. The CJB Motorsports driver threw a successful slider on Macedo to secure the spot. Bayston quickly pulled away after taking the lead.
Behind Bayston, Gravel began to make his way forward as he found his footing on the bottom. He moved the Big Motorsports #2 underneath Gio Scelzi for third. Then he began the pursuit of second-running Macedo. Gravel continued to inch his way forward. A few laps later Gravel showed Macedo a nose. The next lap, he rolled by the Jason Johnson Racing #41.
But then the yellow flag flew before the lap was completed, giving Macedo the second spot back. On the restart, Macedo attempted to switch his line after seeing Gravel move by on the bottom. But after a couple laps, Macedo returned to the top and opened the bottom again for Gravel, who quickly capitalized to take over second.
Then only a few short laps later, Gravel closed on the tail tank of Bayston for the lead. Once he caught him, it didn’t take long and he was rolling by on the bottom for the top spot with only nine laps remaining.
Once he had the lead, Gravel pulled away and took the checkered flag with a nearly two second advantage. Second no more. Gravel finally bagged a Cedar Lake victory.
“Seven second place finishes sucks here,” Gravel said. “It’s definitely good to get a win. We’ve been awesome all year long, and, man, I just hope we keep this rolling.”
Bayston brought the CJB machine home second after leading 18 laps to notch his best finish of the season. The Lebanon, IN native is beginning to build some momentum with nine consecutive top 10s including top fives in three of the last four races. While the continued consistency is encouraging, Bayston found himself reflecting on the race wishing he might’ve been able to try something different to potentially lock up his first win of the season.
“We started off really, really strong,” Bayston explained. “We got to running there in second. Carson got the lead away from me, and sometimes it’s almost better to be second there, amd we were able to pounce on him and then control the middle part of the race and felt really good with what I was doing. As many restarts and cautions as we had, I felt really strong on all of those. I felt like I was able to get back going, but I just knew that as soon as it started getting dusty and that top started getting thinner and thinner that it was going to get really tricky. There’s a couple things I’m thinking back on I could’ve maybe done a little bit differently there.”
Completing the podium was a fast-closing Jacob Allen in the Shark Racing #1A. The Hanover, PA native put together a run from 13th to third as he followed in Gravel’s footsteps on the bottom. The result marked his first podium since Devil’s Bowl in early April and gave him the night’s KSE Racing Hard Charger honors.
“You pretty much have to go where you need to, so if somebody is on the inside and you’re faster, you’ve got to go to the outside,” Allen said. “That just seems like the name of the game. I had a great race car. Once I got closer toward the front, David did show me a little bit of a better line in (Turns) 3 and 4 than I was running. It’s pretty wild how just a small, little change to my line picked up a lot more speed.”
Carson Macedo and Gio Scelzi rounded out the top five.
Macedo claimed his 11th Simpson Performance Products QuickTime of the season in Low-E Insulation Qualifying – already equaling his total from last year.
Rico Abreu topped the Micro-Lite Last Chance Showdown.
CASE No.1 Engine Oil Heat One went to Carson Macedo (104th Heat Race win of career). NOS Energy Drink Heats Two through Four were claimed by Buddy Kofoid (11th of career), Spencer Bayston (17th of career), and David Gravel (229th of career).
The Smith Titanium Brake Systems “Break of the Race” went to Josh Schneiderman. After making a strong run to transfer to the Feature from the Last Chance Showdown, Schneiderman was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got collected in a nasty wreck that ended his night early.
UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars roll on to an Iowa, Wisconsin doubleheader with trips to 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA) on Friday, July 7 and Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI) on Saturday, July 8. For tickets, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, catch all of the action on DIRTVision.
NOS Energy Drink Feature (35 Laps): 1. 2-David Gravel; 2. 5-Spencer Bayston; 3. 1A-Jacob Allen; 4. 41-Carson Macedo; 5. 18-Giovanni Scelzi; 6. 49-Brad Sweet; 7. 1S-Logan Schuchart; 8. 15-Donny Schatz; 9. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild; 10. 83-James McFadden; 11. 24-Rico Abreu; 12. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss; 13. 6C-Carson McCarl; 14. 34DD-Kraig Kinser; 15. 17B-Bill Balog; 16. 22-Riley Goodno; 17. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr; 18. 5T-Ryan Timms; 19. (DNF) 83JR-Michael Kofoid; 20. (DNF) 88-Austin McCarl; 21. (DNF) 49J-Josh Schneiderman; 22. (DNF) 20G-Noah Gass; 23. (DNF) 24T-Christopher Thram; 24. (DNF) 7-Brooke Tatnell; 25. (DNF) 6-Bill Rose