HomeRace Track NewsIllinoisMaverick of Macon! Moles Rolls to Photo Finish USAC Sprint Car Victory

Maverick of Macon! Moles Rolls to Photo Finish USAC Sprint Car Victory

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By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Macon, Illinois (July 7, 2023)………On this very same weekend a full year earlier, Mitchel Moles got to experience the elation of winning a first career USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature.
One year later, on this same early July weekend, the Raisin City, Calif. racer felt both the relief and the thrill of victory 34 races after his most recent series win.
This one, in Friday night’s series debut at Illinois’ Macon Speedway, was certainly among the most dramatic scenarios in which he could break through for his first series triumph of the 2023 season.
Moles raced around the outside of Carson Garrett and into the lead on the first lap of a green-white-checkered finish, then fended off Garrett on the bottom and a (literally) high-flying Kyle Cummins on the outside to win by a half-car length.
Yeah, about Cummins. Right behind the front two was the hard-charging, rim-rider who flipped the length of the front straightway while making a bid for the win on the top side, crossing the line third as he was airborne following contact with the outside wall.
The event, billed as Top Gun weekend at the 1/5-mile dirt oval, certainly delivered the drama and captivating theater that would’ve made Goose, Maverick and the Iceman proud of their starring roles in this particular production.
In doing so, Moles ended the merry-go-round of six different multi-time series winners who had traded victories back-and-forth throughout the initial 17 events of the year. Moles carved his way through the glut to put one on the board in his Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports/AME Electrical – Mesilla Valley Transportation/Spike/Stanton Chevy.
Moles’ victory margin of 0.093 sec. was the closest in the series since Jake Swanson’s photo finish over Kevin Thomas Jr. on the opening night of the Oval Nationals at California’s Perris Auto Speedway in November of 2021.
Rolling off fourth for the 40-lap feature, Moles initially tucked in behind pole sitter/race leader Jake Swanson as well as Cummins and Garrett during the early stages before things became a little “off the rails” in several aspects early on.
Trouble on lap three involved Justin Grant (8th), Emerson Axsom (13th), Mitchell Davis (14th) and Brandon Mattox (18th), all of whom stopped in turn two. Grant’s car received the worst punishment of the four. With his front end knocked out, Grant veered into the infield and struck a Cadillac Escalade push truck, wedging the nose of his car under the rear bumper of the passenger vehicle. All drivers were okay, but Grant’s ride and the push truck had most certainly seen better days.
The mayhem continued on the first attempt at a lap three restart when race leader Swanson spun following contact from Cummins, sending Swanson into a 180-degree whip around at the entry to turn one. Swanson did not continue onward in the event while Cummins assumed the race lead.
After another two-car spin involving Mitchell Davis and Brandon Mattox on the next try at a lap three restart, more chaos ensued and involved sixth-running Brady Bacon who smacked his right rear tire off the outside wall in turn two, sending him upside down.  The trailing Chase Stockon got into the flipping Bacon while Mario Clouser rode over Stockon’s left rear tire and got a bit of airtime before landing on all fours.  However, both Stockon and Clouser kept going while Bacon walked away uninjured, but out of the race.
Things finally settled into a racy groove thereafter with Cummins constructing a full-straight lead by lap eight while Moles was ripping the high side to much delight, charging around the outside of Garrett for the second spot on lap nine. It didn’t take long for Moles to track down Cummins whose lead shrunk to a car length in lapped traffic. Moles managed to briefly squeeze by for the lead on lap 16 on the back straightaway, but Cummins narrowly split the middle off turn four between Moles and the lapped car of Davis to reassume the lead.
With traffic high, low, here, there and everywhere on the tight confines, Moles capitalized to take over the lead when Cummins found himself mired behind 14th running Robert Ballou on lap 21. Cummins fought back to reclaim the top spot by a car length at the line, but Moles stayed with it and rocketed around the high side of turn one to move back to the front.
The order among the top-three remained unchanged throughout the latter half of the contest until second-running Cummins drifted sideways at the top of turn two. Garrett pounced, driving under Cummins to take over the runner-up spot from Cummins yet remaining more than a half second behind Cummins with just four laps remaining.
However, time is merely a social construct, and Garrett ate up the ground in short order, surging on the bottom of turns three and four to race by Moles for the lead on lap 38. A mere moments later, sixth-place Logan Seavey slowed to a stop to bring out the caution. The 38th lap counted and was officially in the books, putting Garrett in the captain’s chair headed for the restart with two laps to go and his first career USAC victory on the line.
When Jake Croxton’s green flag was displayed for the lap 39 restart, Garrett stuck to the bottom while Moles and Cummins went topside into turn one. Going three-wide through turns three and four with Cummins slotting into the middle, Moles edged ahead of Garrett by a whisker at the stripe to lead lap 39.
Navigating the back straightaway for one final time, Moles opted to swap lines from the top to the bottom entering turn three, swinging down across the nose of Garrett. As the front two putted around the bottom, Cummins took an absolute flier through turns three and four up against the wall and appeared to have the momentum to make it a three-wide photo finish.
Simultaneously, as Moles took the checkered flag by a half car length over Garrett, Cummins flipped end-over-end against the outside wall down the front straightaway, all while still scoring a third-place result. Meanwhile, Max Adams grabbed his best career USAC finish of fourth while Kevin Thomas Jr. returned from a heat race flip to round out the top-five.
With the hectic and frenetic pace of a sprint car race at a place like Macon Speedway, it’s hard to imagine “taking it easy” would have any role in the nomenclature of a race-winning driver. However, Moles acknowledged that he was doing exactly that while leading late in the going.
“I felt like I handled the situation pretty well,” Moles stated. “I was taking it really easy because I didn’t want to knock the right rear wheel off this thing like I almost did a few times. (Garrett) just snuck up on me. I saw how one and two was really bad on the bottom, but three and four was so good, he’d just make up all that ground right there.”
Although he lost the lead late, it was his late push that elevated him into a triumphant celebration once again – one that was a long time coming.
“Once I hammered it in there on the restart and got by him, I went through three and four and ripped the top,” Moles explained. “He came back, and we were about even, and I was like, ‘man, I’ve got to try and clear him and cut to the bottom,’ and that’s what I did. I knew Kyle would be coming around the outside so I just tried to get it to the finish line as fast as I could, and it all worked out.”
Through the trials and tribulations of an absence from victory lane for the duration of the first half of the year, Moles and the Reinbold-Underwood team put it all together on this night from start to finish, with Moles becoming the first Californian to win a USAC feature at Macon since three-time National Midget champion Jimmy Davies did so in 1960.
“I just feel like everybody’s stuff is getting so much better,” Moles acknowledges. “We’ve been working so hard. I’ve been destroying stuff and (the crew) has been busting their asses. (Car owner) Andy (Reinbold) hasn’t given up on me, neither has (Andy’s wife) Tammy.”
Missed it by that much. Littleton Colorado’s Carson Garrett came within a few feet of scoring his first USAC National Sprint Car win. Still, the runner-up result was his best career USAC finish, surpassing his sixth place run at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway in May of this year in his BGE Dougherty Motorsports/Altoz – Hornbeck Concrete – Leary Shock Technology/DRC/1-Way Chevy.
“Honestly, I don’t have very many laps up front,” admitted Garrett, who led his first lap in USAC competition on this night at Macon. “I feel like we nailed the setup tonight. I was just trying to stick the line that I had run the majority of the race. I tried kind of everywhere. (Turns) three and four were really good, and I figured on that restart if (Moles or Cummins) got in front, whoever was there was just going to have to protect.”
Kyle Cummins took the “Top Gun” theme quite literally on the final lap. His bid for the win ended dramatically with him enduring a wild ride down Macon’s front straightaway. The Princeton, Ind. driver flipped, and in mid-air, mind you, crossed the line in third place, albeit upside down in his Rock Steady Racing/Avanti Windows & Doors – Tim Mason ReMax/Mach-1/Stanton Chevy.
“First of all, to Jake Swanson, I feel terrible about that. We just got in there, and I was all over the brakes. I just clipped him, and he was just enough sideways. I take full responsibility for that. I hate to do that to him. At least it wasn’t a full points race for him. I would’ve felt gutted if that was the case. I probably didn’t deserve to win after that,” Cummins apologized following the event, which paid 50 appearance points to all licensed competitors toward the season-long championship standings regardless of finishing position.
“I made some shock adjustments there and I was worse,” Cummins continued. “Then we had that yellow and I set a different approach to it. That’s when my car came to life. Mitchel messed up and he went down, and I was like, if I hold it to the floor, I might win. But I kind of jumped the wall there a little bit. But it was close. Coming off four, I thought I had him and I thought I had enough momentum. We’ve got a lot of torn up parts. That was a brand new rearend, and there were a lot of brand-new components on that car.”
On Monday at Putnamville, Indiana’s Lincoln Park Speedway, the 2B Racing number 2B picked up its first Honest Abe Roofing Fast Qualifying award in 13 years in USAC National Sprint Car competition. It took just four more nights to pick up the next as Logan Seavey took top time trial honors at Macon with a 10.230 second lap. In fact, no qualifying lap has ever had a shorter duration than Seavey’s lap, breaking the record of 10.406 seconds set by Kyle Cummins just less than three weeks earlier at another 1/5-mile – Action Track USA in Kutztown, Pa.
=====================
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: July 7, 2023 – Macon Speedway – Macon, Illinois – 1/5-Mile Dirt Track – Top Gun Weekend
HONEST ABE ROOFING QUALIFYING: 1. Logan Seavey, 2B, 2B Racing-10.230 (New Track Record); 2. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-10.323; 3. Zach Daum, 5d, Daum-10.335; 4. Kevin Thomas Jr., 42, Cheney-10.423; 5. Mitchel Moles, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-10.455; 6. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-10.480; 7. Carson Garrett, 15, BGE Dougherty-10.493; 8. Jake Swanson, 21AZ, Team AZ-10.496; 9. C.J. Leary, 15x, BGE Dougherty-10.509; 10. Daison Pursley, 5p, KO-10.647; 11. Emerson Axsom, 47BC, Clauson Marshall-10.706; 12. Chase Stockon, 5s, KO-10.709; 13. Shane Cottle, 77K, Leer-10.721; 14. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-10.737; 15. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-10.779; 16. Mitchell Davis, 56, Davis-10.852; 17. Mario Clouser, 6, Clouser-10.857; 18. Mitch Wissmiller, 29, RNB-10.969; 19. Max Adams, 17GP, Dutcher-11.051; 20. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-11.089; 21. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-11.178; 22. Logan Faucon, 52F, Faucon-11.229; 23. Steve Thomas, 20, Thomas-11.235; 24. Daylan Chambers, 8D, KCBJ-11.295; 25. James Lyerla, 11, JL-11.412; 26. Chase Howard, 13, Howard-11.466; 27. Eric Shelton, 70, Shelton-11.541; 28. Troy Carey, 45N, Carey-11.713; 29. Patrick Budde, 90, Budde-11.786; 30. Cory Bruns, 8, Smith/Robertson-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. C.J. Leary, 2. Logan Seavey, 3. Mario Clouser, 4. Mitchel Moles, 5. Brandon Mattox, 6. Shane Cottle, 7. James Lyerla, 8. Patrick Budde. 1:46.58 (New Track Record)
ROD END SUPPLY SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. Kyle Cummins, 4. Daison Pursley, 5. Chase Howard, 6. Logan Faucon, 7. Mitch Wissmiller. NT
T.J. FORGED THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Max Adams, 2. Emerson Axsom, 3. Carson Garrett, 4. Robert Ballou, 5. Zach Daum, 6. Steve Thomas, 7. Eric Shelton. 1:47.42
CAR IQ FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Chase Stockon, 2. Matt Westfall, 3. Jake Swanson, 4. Mitchell Davis, 5. Kevin Thomas Jr., 6. Troy Carey, 7. Daylan Chambers. NT
ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Brandon Mattox, 2. Kevin Thomas Jr., 3. Logan Faucon, 4. James Lyerla, 5. Chase Howard, 6. Troy Carey, 7. Patrick Budde, 8. Steve Thomas, 9. Eric Shelton, 10. Zach Daum, 11. Daylan Chambers, 12. Shane Cottle. NT
FEATURE: (40 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Mitchel Moles (4), 2. Carson Garrett (2), 3. Kyle Cummins (3), 4. Max Adams (10), 5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (11), 6. Matt Westfall (17), 7. Emerson Axsom (13), 8. Daison Pursley (12), 9. Chase Stockon (8), 10. C.J. Leary (7), 11. James Lyerla (20), 12. Mario Clouser (16), 13. Logan Faucon (19), 14. Logan Seavey (6), 15. Robert Ballou (14), 16. Mitchell Davis (15), 17. Brandon Mattox (18), 18. Jake Swanson (1), 19. Brady Bacon (5), 20. Justin Grant (9). NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 Jake Swanson, Laps 3-21 Kyle Cummins, Laps 22-37 Mitchel Moles, Lap 38 Carson Garrett, Laps 39-40 Mitchel Moles.
**Daylan Chambers flipped during the fourth heat. Kevin Thomas Jr. flipped during the fourth heat. Brady Bacon flipped on lap 3 of the feature. Kyle Cummins flipped on lap 40 of the feature.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Jake Swanson-1146, 2-Emerson Axsom-1143, 3-Brady Bacon-1114, 4-Justin Grant-1099, 5-Kyle Cummins-1086, 6-C.J. Leary-1048, 7-Mitchel Moles-987, 8-Chase Stockon-944, 9-Daison Pursley-939, 10-Robert Ballou-904.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Daison Pursley-103, 2-Matt Westfall-65, 3-Chase Stockon-60, 4-Logan Seavey-58, 5-Justin Grant-53, 6-Brady Bacon-48, 7-Robert Ballou-43, 8-Emerson Axsom-40, 9-Carson Garrett-38, 10-Thomas Meseraull-37.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: July 8, 2023 – Macon Speedway – Macon, Illinois – 1/5-Mile Dirt Track – Top Gun Weekend
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Dirt Draft Fastest Hot Laps Driver: Chase Stockon (10.542)
Honest Abe Roofing Fast Qualifier: Logan Seavey (10.230)
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: C.J. Leary
Rod End Supply Second Heat Winner: Justin Grant
T.J. Forged Third Heat Winner: Max Adams
Car IQ Fourth Heat Winner: Chase Stockon
Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Semi Winner: Brandon Mattox
Hard Charger: Matt Westfall (17th to 6th)
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