By Justin Prince
After Alexis Newsome and Dakota DeMaegd crashed into the inside wall down the backstretch, Robert Maleczka III was able to win the Fisch Motors Kansas 200 Presented by Espo Designs.
Maleczka III won his sixth race of the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel campaign on Nov. 15 after having to recover from a rough start to the night.
The Factory Backed driver had started at the back of the grid and suffered wing damage before the green flag.
Jeff Hysong, Matt Wagner, Joe Branch and A.J. Musselman completed the top five.
The race’s wild finish was set up by two mid-race cautions.
On Lap 77, Matt Taylor and Chris Fowler were fighting side-by-side down the backstretch. Fowler decided to use a car coming out of the pit lane - Adrenaline Motorsports driver Tony Showen - as a pick entering Turn 3. Taylor was forced to check up hard entering the corner, forcing him to take the outside line down out of Turn 4. At the end of the trioval, Taylor stayed half a lane away from the wall while Showen started to come up. The two drivers then hooked together, slamming both of them into the SAFER barrier to bring out the first caution of the 133-lap race.
Joe Branch, who had not yet pitted during that cycle, decided to stay out in hopes of getting a quick caution.
Unfortunately for Branch, he became a part of it.
After restarting in sixth place on Lap 84, Branch was struggling for grip and speed compared to the others behind him. Paul Jenkins quickly passed him entering Turn 1 on Lap 86. Fowler, who was boxed in behind Branch’s car, proceeded to ram into him in the middle of the corner, sending him spinning into Barrett Rolph. As Rolph’s car went off the ground, Fowler spun into the path of Trevor Malone. Rolph then spun back up the back into Fowler, Malone and Matt Huston, launching all of them into the outside wall. Then, Malone bounced off the catchfence, flipping several times before ricocheting into the pavement exiting Turn 2. Malone flipped more than 10 more times before coming to a rest on the apron.
The two cautions turned the rest of the event into a fuel-milage race. Maleczka had also cycled inside of the top 10 after avoiding the incidents.
“(After the damage) I got the wing changed and just kept clicking off qualifying laps,” said Maleczka III from HyperX Victory Lane. “I definitely got a good break with the cautions.”
Most of the field attempted to stay behind other cars to be able to make it to the end of the race. Others, such as Maleczka III, Newsome and Caleb Benci, had decided to top off on fuel prior to the Lap 91 restart. Alex Guyon had also attempted to stay out for track position.
While Benci immediately attempted to race his way to the front of the pack, the Factory Backed teammates decided to remain patient.
Meanwhile, Jorge Anzaldo was not making many friends.
After also deciding to stay out, the Synergy Motorsports Blue driver fought hard to unlap himself. Several drivers used this to their advantage to take the lead, such as Charles Teed. He continued to fight the leaders until he needed to come into the pits for fuel on Lap 111.
As the race winded down, some of the drivers who felt comfortable on fuel made their moves. Maleczka III went from being in 10th place on Lap 120 to fourth on Lap 123. Then, after dropping back towards Newsome the next lap, Maleczka III started opening up opportunities for the both of them. By this point, DeMaegd had reeled in and passed Teed from five car lengths back.
“It all really starts … with seven to go. I knew I was good (on fuel), Alexis (Newsome) was really close and I was out of the championship, so it was all about getting as many points as a team as possible,” said Maleczka III.
By the end of Lap 130, Maleczka III was right at the back wing of DeMaegd’s car. After DeMaegd stayed at the top of the track down the frontstretch, Maleczka III attempted to make a pass for the lead through Turns 1 and 2. DeMaegd kept his left front tire alongside Maleczka III’s car by mere inches by the exit of the corner.
Then, down the backstretch, Newsome tried to pass both of them. Newsome attacked the bottom of the racetrack into Turn 3. DeMaegd got the stronger run out of Turn 4 to hold onto the lead coming to two laps to go. However, Maleczka III said that was part of Factory Backed’s plan.
“I told Alexis to go three-wide to get the lead or at least position her for a good run down the front straightaway,” said Maleczka III. “It worked out well.”
Down the back straightaway, Newsome attempted to pass DeMaegd’s orange car again into Turn 3. She was able to complete the move by corner apex, but had to lift to avoid making contact with the wall. Newsome then blocked the white line along the front stretch as they took the white flag.
Then, chaos struck.
DeMaegd attempted to use the banking as a ramp off Turn 2 to get alongside Newsome when he nudged her left rear tire. The two drivers started slamming side-pods down the backstretch while Maleczka III moved to the top of the track. As Maleczka III made the pass, Newsome bobbled into DeMaegd, sending both of their cars into the inside SAFER barrier.
DeMaegd immediately took responsibility for the incident over the in-sim radio.
Newsome and DeMaegd went on to finish ninth and 10th respectively.
As a result of the wild finish, Newsome has a 23-point lead in the drivers standings over Rolph entering the final race of the season, the Thumbs Up Cancer Down 300 Presented by Minus 273. Taylor, Showen, Alexander van de Sandt, Branch and Maleczka III are also mathematically eligible for the title entering iRacing’s virtual Auto Club Speedway.
The race takes place on Nov. 29.
Coverage of the 150-lap race will begin at 10:35 p.m. ET on RaceSpot TV. It can also be watched on tape delay on ESTV.