Stop me if you’ve heard this before, Gerald Campbell started on the pole. Yeah we’ve heard it too. For the fourth straight week Campbell put down the fastest lap in qualifying, earning him two extra bonus points. Campbell has added 8 extra points to his lead in the standings by grabbing the top starting spot the last four weeks. Campbell went on to win the race as well, but it was anything but a coast to victory.
As expected, there were early fireworks on cool tires for the G-Force Grand National Series powered by The JuiceBox Pod. Kyle Johnson had to make a huge save while running second on Lap 1 after contact from Caden Thure, bottling up the back half of the top 10. Campbell instantly went into tire saving mode dropping all the way back to 17th before being turned on Lap 15 by Randy Koching. A handful of drivers took the first caution opportunity to get some fuel and tires. With only two extra sets of tires this split the pit strategy early in the race from the rest of the field.
After the restart on Lap 19 it only took Johnson 10 laps to make use of the fresh tires and take the lead over from Blaine Akin. Bo Brady followed suit right behind him, bodying cars out of the way to fall in second. The race continued green for 44 laps after the first caution, forcing the cars that stayed out on Lap 15 to pit under green. With 2/3 of the field cycling through pit stops, the caution flag flew for the second time, trapping 16 cars down a lap. The strategy played perfectly into Johnson and Brady’s hands keeping them out front. The caution killed drivers like Chris Morse Jr who was running down the two leaders before being forced to pit just laps before the caution.
Turn 1 on the ensuing restart was a death sentence for a number of top 10 cars as Campbell got into Seth Harrelson, turning him in front of the field. Jake Hounshell, Hank Steinmiller, Anthony Guarnieri, and Tom Bourne were all collected. Hounshell took the brunt of the damage and a tough hit in the points, entering the night 4th in points. When the smoke cleared, Johnson and Brady still held control of the race with fresh tires behind them.
A series of 10 lap runs followed the fourth caution of the night as Johnson and Brady were able to hold off Morse, Jackson McLerran, and Jason Hounshell to this point. On Lap 89, Joseph Causey and Blaine Akin made contact collecting a handful of other top 10 cars including McLerran, John Weitendorf, and Jonathan Leach setting up single file restarts for the final 10 laps. To this point, Johnson and Brady hadn’t put too much wear on their older tires than Morse, Campbell, and Jason Hounshell and looked poised to hold off the faster cars.
Johnson then made a colossal mistake with 5 laps remaining. Blaine Akin took a huge run off of the first set of corners to make a run to the inside of Johnson, who inexplicably drove himself and Akin under the white line and destroyed both cars. Ultimately this setup a green, white, checkered finish and put Brady as a sitting duck with Morse, Campbell, and Hounshell all on fresher tires behind him. Campbell took the second spot from Morse on the final restart and passed Brady on the high side in Turn 1 on the final lap to secure the victory.
This was Campbell’s second victory this season, making him the first repeat winner. Brady, Morse, Jason Hounshell, and Steinmiller rounded out the top 5. Kyle Johnson led a race high 48 laps, Brady led 26, and race winner Campbell led 4 circuits. Tough nights for Jake Hounshell, Dallas Myhand, and John Weitendorf shook up the top 5 in points a bit, while Campbell extended his points lead.
Next week the series visits Legacy Phoenix Raceway for 125 laps of action from another desert. This will mark the halfway point of the season with Campbell looking to extend his points lead even further and put this championship race to rest heading into the final leg of the season. You can catch all the action on Flatout Racing Network on YouTube with qualifying starting at 9 pm Tuesday. Check out @GForceSim2020 on Twitter and @gforceiracing on Instagram for news and highlights.