By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Crypto Autosport rookie Presley Sorah scored his first Monday Night Racing Interstate Batteries Pro Series victory in a wreck-filled race at Martinsville Speedway.
Just shy of half the race was spent under caution as multi-car accidents marred the Tufco Flooring Challenge. Sorah took the lead from Season 4 champion Adam Cabot just before a caution waved with 35 laps to go in the scheduled distance. The virtual No. 98 I Love Jerky / clubjerky.com / Maconi Setup Shop Mazda Miata was barely ahead of Cabot when the caution waved.
Repeated cautions kept Sorah in the lead throughout the remainder of the race. However, for Cabot, he slotted back in line between his teammate, Bailey Turner, and race leader Sorah. The first five cars quickly created a single-file train on each restart. The constant blocking and ensuing chain reactions eventually caused several crashes further back in the pack.
In overtime, a quick restart allowed Sorah to get the jump on Cabot, Turner and others. Though the Season 4 champion was on his bumper, the Crypto Autosport driver took the checkered flag with 0.165 seconds to spare over Cabot. Turner, NASCAR’s Rajah Caruth, and Max Kennon completed the top-five.
The combination of Mazdas at Martinsville is a common one on iRacing. Sorah, David Schildhouse, Gabe Wood, and others often run in MOONCAR, hosted by Travis ‘Moonhead’ Brown. Those races vary wildly. One week ago, it was Mazdas at Martinsville.
“Travis Brown, Moonhead, he runs these things every couple weeks, including last week, and I always run them,” explained Sorah. “I’ve got to give the biggest thanks in the world to him because that’s what prepared me for it. If I wouldn’t have run those, I wouldn’t have known what to do. I probably have more laps with this combo except maybe Landon (Huffman) and David.
“That was great. It was touch and go for a little while there. I know Shane (van Gisbergen) and I had a good battle. He crossed me over a few times. Then he got that penalty. On that last restart, it was way closer that I thought it was going to be. I thought I was going to get a better jump than that. I thought (Cabot) was going to move me in three, but I held on.”
Schildhouse, Landon Huffman, Nick Olsen, Wood, and Will Rodgers completed the top-10. Polesitter Shane van Gisbergen finished 24th after two spins and a penalty. Brad Perez, 23rd, ran the fastest lap of the race on the 11th lap.
The start of the race appeared to be a duel between Repco Supercars driver Gisbergen and Sorah. The real-life driver qualified on the pole, won his heat, and dominated much of the first third of the race. However, a restart violation for Gisbergen took the two-time Supercars champion out of contention. Trying to climb back through the field the New Zealander spun on his own once and was spun by another driver once.
The second qualifying Heat for the race also featured three attempts at overtime, nearly doubling the race distance. On the final lap Huffman was spun from inside the top-five. While rejoining the race, the Late Model racer drove into the racing line, wiping out Olsen and George Balfanz Jr. Olsen limped across the line for the final transfer spot while Balfanz was relegated to the Last Chance Qualifier’s race.
Huffman received an end of line penalty to start the feature. Caruth received the same penalty in the season opening Sunrise 500 after a wreck on the final lap of his Dual race.
1 98-Presley Sorah , 2. 17-Adam Cabot , 3. 5-Bailey Turner , 4. 13-Rajah Caruth , 5. 21-Max Kennon , 6. 20-David Schildhouse , 7. 075-Landon Huffman , 8. 24-Nick Olsen , 9. 50-Gabe Wood , 10. 55-Will Rodgers , 11. 1-Gary Sexton , 12. 29-James Bickford , 13. 94-George Balfanz Jr. , 14. 07-Ford Martin , 15. 86-Collin Fern , 16. 53-Justin Melillo , 17. 46-Steven Ellis , 18. 33-Ruben Garcia , 19. 077-Devon Henry , 20. 42-Preston Pardus , 21. 41-Matt Stallknecht , 22. 2-Robby Lyons , 23. 60-Brad Perez , 24. 97-Shane van Gisbergen , 25. 58-Charli Brown , 26. 10-DJ Cummings , 27. 12-Brandon Brown , 28. 63-Bryan Boris Cook , 29. 23-Anthony Alfredo , 30. 15-Garrett Smithley .
Lead Changes: Six among three drivers.
Lap Leader(s): Shane van Gisbergen 1-12, Presley Sorah 13-15, Shane van Gisbergen 16, Presley Sorah 16, Shane van Gisbergen 18-26, Adam Cabot 27-28, Presley Sorah 29-69.
Laps Led: Presley Sorah 45, Shane van Gisbergen 22, Adam Cabot 2.
Hard Charger(s): 24-Nick Olsen (+16).
Rookie of the Race: 98-Presley Sorah, First, Crypto Autosport.
Caution Flags: Nine for 30 Laps.
Margin of Victory: 0.165 seconds.
Time of Race: 34 minutes, 47.458 seconds.
Average Speed: 62.592 MPH.
Pole Winner: 97-Shane van Gisbergen, 22.290 seconds (84.593 MPH).
Fastest Lap: 60-Brad Perez, Lap 11, 22.260 seconds (85.067 MPH).
Race extended to 69 Laps due to Overtime.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by Seth Eggert / Kickin’ the Tires.