In the first ever “All-Star” event in CARS history, pitting former winners and pole sitters plus a slew of other qualifiers against each other in a 40 lap dash for cash, it was a rookie who snuck into the race who would best them all to take home the loot!
In the Can-Am Open, the qualifying race for non-winners and non-pole sitters that would see the top 8 move on to the main event, Jami Russell and Scott Pregont would show the way for the majority. Right off the bat, Steve Bammer and Jared Ziegler would tangle, putting Bammer in the wall and Ziegler scrambling to stay on the racing surface. Action would pick up but as the laps wound down with the action heavy, it appeared the field was solid up front. Joey Gattina and Trevor Edwards were making moves to ensure they’d make the field, along with Joey Mathiewicz and Nate Bowers trying to get that last transfer spot. Steve Bevacqua was even making moves up front to put himself in a position to not only transfer but win the Open. It was all coming down to the last lap, though.
Scott Pregont was riding the middle lane with Bevacqua underneath behind leader Jami Russell heading into turn 2 of the final lap, when contact would be made. Bevacqua recovered but Pregont would go headlong into the wall. He unfortunately would drag many, many cars with him. Joey Gattina, Nate Bowers, Trevor Edwards, Andrew Ellingsworth, Ronnie Potts, and a slew of others in the 13-car lead pack would end up mangled. Almost half a track behind them, Aaron Daeffler would lead a smaller pack of damaged cars through the wreckage, and as they crossed the line, by some miracle, Jared Ziegler would get that 8th and final transfer spot. Russell would win, with Bevacqua 2nd, Derick Kriner 3rd, R. Chase Barry, Kris Hohn, Matt Hoffman, and Daeffler would transfer along with Ziegler.
Moving on to the Clash itself, Josh Kotten would take the pole with Nick Silver to his outside. Right off the bat on lap 1, half the field would dive to pit road to get their 1 required pit stop out of the way while the other half would hold off hoping for luck to be on their side. As Justin Wilson was making a play for the lead, after the others had pitted and were in danger of going a lap down, a yellow would fly as Craig Kenny would get sent around. This put the field together, but with half the field yet to pit, it would quickly change. Right off the drop of the green, 10 other cars dive to pit road for their stop. Justin Wilson would lead the charge off pit road with Greg Netherwood, Josh Kotten, Brian Green and Patrick Hahe desperately hoping to hold on to their lead lap positions.
Luck would be their friend as the lapped car of Chase Barry would collide with Open winner Jami Russell, bringing out the yellow and putting everyone back on even terms.
With all the uncertainty of this, however, 20th place starter and 8th place Open finisher Jared Ziegler would find himself leading, Defending series champion Brenden Queen and his teammate Colby Vance would be sitting pretty up front behind him, and former champion Mike King hoping to make a challenge along with Wilson jumping to the far outside making things 3 wide for the lead late in the race. Ziegler was holding fast, though, with Matt Hoffman providing support on his bumper.
Coming to 5 to go, though, Vance would cross up Mike Kings front bumper and send both cars sliding down into Hoffman and Brenden Queen. They would richochet back up the track into Netherwood and the rest of the field would pile in. Ziegler still led, with Hoffman and Wilson with Queen in tow behind.
Damaged cars would line up expecting the race to be over, but they would be wrong. A 1 lap dash would end it all. Ziegler would get a good start at the drop of the green. However, Wilson was determined to make a show of it. He’d jump to the outside down the back stretch all but begging late comer Rodney Haack to push him. Hoffman would give Wilson a little bit of a side swipe in turn 3, trading a little bit of paint but everyone was able to continue. What this did, though, was slow Wilsons momentum. Haack would push as hard as he could, and Wilson was coming up top, but it was for naught as Ziegler would hold on crossing the line to collect the victory in the 2018 AMG Technologies Can-Am Clash!!!