In a night that involved long green flag runs and provided a split strategy, it ultimately finished with a classic short track finish. Jeff Yenisch solidified his championship hopes with a dominating win in the first race of the playoffs. Leading 117 of the 175 laps, Jeff took the lead from Todd Cray on lap 35 and never looked back.
It was a night filled with clean, tight racing with the first non-stage caution being thrown on Lap 162 for a single-car spin by Johnny Avila. Playoff drivers were competing heavily at the front of the pack throughout the race, with Justin Gann finishing second and Hunter Waters third finishing close across the line. Johnny Avila and Adam Matz round out your top five.
Race One of the Playoffs had some fireworks, join us next Sunday at Sonoma @ 8:30 pm Eastern!
Hunter Waters benefited from the loyality of his AW Motorsports teammates, winning at Atlanta Motor Speedway’s recently reconfigured track. It was Waters’ third career Elite Series victory, and first of the season.
Waters was helped by Johnny Avila and Tyler Saville, who finished second and third, respectively. Todd Cray and Thomas McBride rounded out the top five, and earned the final two playoff spots as a result of their strong runs.
It was a heartbreaking evening for Ray Polking, who entered the night in good position to make the playoffs, but his inability to secure any stage points, and a fourteenth place finish doomed his chances in the end.
Polesitter Adam Matz looked poised to steal the regular season championship by winning the first stage, and was in position to do so until a wreck with Mark Jenkins and Jason Keffer with 36 laps remaining caused him to retire from the race with a blown engine. Yenisch managed to finish seventh and edged Matz for the regular season championship by two points.
The Elite Series playoffs start next week at Richmond. Catch the race live on Trackside Racing Network on Sunday at 8:30 pm Eastern!
Heading into Sunday’s regular season finale at Atlanta, nine playoff spots are currently secured. Steve Yenisch currently leads the points standings over Adam Matz by five points, with valuable playoff points on the line. Duane Hunt, Tyler Saville, Jeff Yenisch and Hunter Waters haven’t yet won this season, but have mathematically clinched their spot. Justin Gann, Bentley Glaser and Jesse Bunnell complete the list of eight clinched drivers, each with one win this season to earn their spot.
As things stand, only three other drivers are currently in, but need to avoid calamity at Atlanta in order to secure their chance to fight for a championship.
Other drivers are in the mix with a win at Atlanta. Those include Derek Pemberton, Mark Jenkins, Patrick Desaulnier, Gary May, Jerry Cochran III, Levi Poland, Rafael Rodrigues, Jason Mullis, Jeff Hollingsworth, Jason Keffer and Kyle Bromir.
Catch the exciting action live on Trackside Racing Network on Sunday at 8:30 pm Eastern as the playoffs will be set!