By Justin Prince
In what turned into a stop-and-start race, Tony Showen has beaten Alexis Newsome in a four-lap dash to win the ButtKicker Phoenix 175 Presented by Karnox.
Showen took the checkered flag in the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel’s event at iRacing’s Phoenix Raceway by 0.147 seconds.
Mike Rigney, Trevor Malone and Alexander van de Sandt rounded out the top five.
Showen had been able to win the race after getting a great restart behind Newsome. Coming to three laps to go, the Adrenaline Motorsports driver then dove to the bottom down the front straightaway, running side-by-side with Newsome for a lap before completing the pass.
It is Showen’s first win in the series this season.
“I’ve been waiting for that one for a few races and everything fell into my hands,” said Showen from HyperX Victory Lane. “It was just the matter of the cautions and the timing of the strategies too … I didn’t think I’d get the win. I thought she’d be able to hold the bottom and she was easy on me and gave me the bottom one time and that’s all she wrote.”
Newsome said she was not as good on the inside as some other cars.
“I tried to make the outside work and he stuck it (on the inside),” said Newsome.
Attrition was a big part of the racing action at Phoenix. Overall, seven competitors finished on the lead lap in a 13-caution race.
The cautions started flying on Lap 7 when Ken Hacker collided with Charles Teed in Turn 3, sending both cars at full speed into the outside wall. Trevor Malone and Emerson Santos were also collected in the aftermath as both drivers slammed into the stopped cars.
Then, on Lap 16, Dean Moll was spun into the outside wall after Craig Forsythe grazed his left rear tire, sending his car sliding in Turn 2. The slide sheared both wings and an engine cover off the car.
One of the biggest crashes of the race struck on Lap 23 when Paul Jenkins and Jason Galvin collided in the dogleg. The two drivers had been three-wide with Barrett Rolph for a split second before Galvin attempted to back off. It was still not enough as Jenkins clipped the front wing of Galvin, sending the pack into chaos.
Ron Hacker and Vern Hawkins III collided on the top line, destroying both of their cars in the process. Jorge Analzdo then got hit by Luis Gonzalez Nuñez from behind while checking up for Hacker and Hawkins, sending Anazldo into the wall.
Jenkins and Galvin both crashed in back-to-back cautions following the prior big incident.
By Lap 30, seven cars were out of the race. The number of cars out had expanded to half of the field by the midway portion of the event.
The cautions created a stop-and-start pattern which mixed up the strategies for drivers throughout the field.
“Strategy was basically trying to stay out as long as possible and stay out at the end so you could be up front,” said Showen.
One of the drivers who benefitted the most from the pattern of the race was Matt Taylor. With under 60 laps to go, Taylor decided to pit early, hoping to gain track position by staying out in case of other cautions, stretching his fuel tank to the end. Drivers could make it on approximately 49 laps on a run.
Taylor went on to lead 75 laps in the race after starting in 30th place.
The gamble did not pay off however when several drivers, including Newsome, Showen and Alex Guyon, decided to pit for tires after a caution on Lap 157. Taylor and three other cars stayed out during the caution.
Newsome and the others on 30-lap fresher tires sliced their way through the pack, catching up to Taylor by Lap 166.
Newsome passed by Taylor quickly into Turn 1.
“Alexis and I taking tires there definitely was the right decision with those other guys,” said Showen. “They were slow as molasses with those older tires.”
Then, Taylor attempted to dive hard to the inside line in Turn 3, taking a tighter line on corner exit while doing so. That sent Taylor spinning into the inside wall, collecting Rolph and sending him flying into the flagstand. Taylor flipped over for several seconds before coming to rest upside down.
Next, the Lionheart Speedway Series Presented by The DMLC Racing Channel will be going to World Wide Technology Raceway for the GRAAFix Esports 200 Presented by SimSnap Photography. It can be seen live on RaceSpot TV and ESTV on May 17th at 10:35 p.m. EST.