The Callaway Investments Sportsman Street Stock Series visited the New Hampshire Motor Speedway Road Course for the first time since April of 2014 on Tuesday Night for a 30 lap feature event.
Travis Warling won the pole for the event, becoming the 12th driver to pick up their 10th career SARA pole with a time of 72.265 seconds, nearly a half of a second quicker than 2nd place Tommy Burns. Warling, would not lead the field to the green however as there was a 10-car invert for the race. This placed Michael German and Ian Layne on the front row after an end-of-line penalty taken by one of the front row starters.
After an unusually chaotic pace lap, German finally led the field to the green, and the contact from the pace lap continued over into turn one of the first lap. The field was mixing it up behind the leaders, running three or four wide as they sorted things out through the first couple of turns, but it was German who would lead Layne through the 14-turn, 1.53 mile road course to lead the first lap. The contact continued up front as on lap 2 as Ian Layne got loose running in 2nd, and Jeff Bye Jr. had no where to go, resulting with Layne spinning into the grass into the uphill portion of the track. This moved Bye Jr. to 2nd, but not for long as he overtook Michael German on lap 4 for the race lead. Bye Jr. would lead the next few circuits but could not get away from new 2nd place car James Wenzel. To continue the theme of the race, the two made contact for the race lead while battling side-by-side on lap 10, which allowed Travis Warling to sneak by for the race lead after being inverted to the 10th starting position.
With fuel being limited to 8 gallons, a pit stop was required. An extra set of tires being available also shook up pit strategies. A variety of agendas were taken as some pitted as soon as the window opened about lap 10 and ran the race backwards on fuel. While others would cut the race in half, or run it as far as possible and then try to take as little as fuel as possible to make it. Warling would lead until halfway until he came to pit road for the mandatory stop.
His pit stop handed the lead to Windell Stratton, who was the latest of the leaders to pit and would lead the race for 7 laps. When Stratton pitted at lap 22, this handed the race lead back to Travis Warling. Warling, however, was being heavily challenged by James Wenzel who stayed within just a few car lengths of Warling since their pit stops. Wenzel made every attempt he could at taking the lead and the win, as he made his move with five laps to go. The two leaders rans side-by-side through the first couple turns before Warling regained the advantage. Wenzel stayed within a couple tenths for the lead, and made one final attempt on the last lap, but got loose off the final corner as Warling took the checkers for his first win of the season. This is Travis Warling’s 14th career SARA victory, the first since January of 2015 and his first in a non-Legends car.
Behind him, James Wenzel did everything he could to try to beat Warling but came up one spot short to finish in 2nd. Matt Rolfe was quiet but kept his car clean all race, he started just outside the top 5 and outside of the pit cycle, ran in the top 5 all race to finish 3rd. Tommy Burns qualified 2nd on speed, and was a solid car in the top 5 all night, but never ran higher than 4th which is where he finished. Windell Stratton attempted to take the least amount of fuel of anyone but ran out on the final lap, but coasted home to a 5th place run.
The final car on the lead lap was Michael German, who recovered from a spin and also ran out of fuel on the final lap but managed to finish in 6th. Dale Owen was slated to start on the front row but took an end of line, survived a mid-race incident and then moved his way through the field in the final stages of the race to get 7th. Hunter Combs had some issues with early race contact, but ran a fairly clean race otherwise, having the least amount of incidents as any driver to come home 8th. Much like Combs, Mike Belanger hovered around the top 10 all race, and had a low number of incidents to finish 9th. Ian Layne recovered from an early spin and then a multi-car incident into the tire barrier and recovered to round out the top 10.
At the end of the race, the points battle remained atop the standings as Hunter Combs maintains his lead with an 8th place finish, but leads by just 6 points over Burns as they lead the field into next week’s race at Stafford.