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March 1, 2023


PGRL S4 R2 Recap

by Ryan Senneker

28 February 2023
Pretty Good Racing League | Season 4 | Round 2
Premier Series | Auto Club Speedway

Cosmin Ioanesiu with Nexxus eSports took the checkered flag tonight in the Alex’s “Totally Legal” Race Engines 200 presented by Julesburg Farms with the Pretty Good Racing League at Auto Club Speedway ahead of Colton Salek and Thomas George. Talking about having to come from the back of the field after being caught up in an incident early in the 1st half of the night, Ioanesiu commented, “We got back on cycle with everybody and just methodically worked the car through the field and somehow got into a position to win it. Runs were made, blocks were thrown, wrecks were had, and somehow, we got a win. I’d say that sums up pretty good.”

Alex Graetz was in command of the 41-car field as the green flag came out with Tim Winecoff to his outside going into the first corner. Saif Faries was making an early charge for the lead diving low as he tried to find the speed to Challenge Graetz. Through the opening laps several drivers struggled to get into a groove and were sent sliding across the infield after misjudging corner exit bringing out early cautions with Graetz under pressure from Norm Pelletier.

Graetz continued to control the field until Cody Dempster took the lead away 22 laps into the night as the top 8 drivers pulled away from the rest of the field. Jeff Ward was making an aggressive move up to the front battling side by side with Faires for several laps as he tried to position himself to take advantage of the halfway point bonus points moving up to challenge Dempster. Ward kept the pressure up around several laps and were quickly approaching the fuel window as another caution came out from contact between Scott Eckrich and Ryan Rose battling over 10th place.

After cycling through pit road, racing resumed going into lap 36 with Dempster still in the lead. Chris Stofer and Colton Salek battled over 2nd as Ward started climbing back up to the leader from 6th place. Vincent Crow was finding a lot of speed along the highline and was quickly pushing up to 4th. Stofer secured 2nd place and immediately cleared around Dempster for the lead as Ward moved up to 3rd being pushed by Crow. The racing up front became intense approaching lap 50 as the drivers fought to get as many bonus points as possible with Ward sacrificing tire wear to jump out front crossing the line into the 2nd half before immediately falling back through the field.

Dempster reclaimed the lead as Ward continued to drop back with Stofer and Salek again battling for 2nd. Thomas George, last season’s points champion, was running in 5th making calculated moves as he quietly moved up toward the front of the field. Salek closed in on Dempster and made several attempts for the lead but wasn’t able to make anything stick with Crow moving up into 3rd and reeling the leaders in. The caution came out on lap 62 when Stofer got loose going down the backstretch giving the drivers an opportune chance to come down pit road within reach of the end in regard to the fuel window.

Salek won the race off pit road and took the lead from Dempster for the restart with 35 laps remaining. Dempster and Crow were able to take advantage as Salek dropped off the pace and started battling over the lead as the laps quickly counted down. Jake Silvia caught the battle and started pressuring Crow as Dempster cleared out front. Graetz rejoined the lead pack and was making aggressive low dives trying to make up any positions he could running in 5th behind Doug Roth.

Salek again started pushing for the lead as the front pack grew larger with time running out. Dempster had a strong hold of the lead with Silvia and Salek running single file tight on his bumper waiting for a mistake out of him going into the closing laps. Cosmin Ioanesiu was quickly climbing up through the lead pack and was up to 4th and quickly reeled Salek as Crow fell back to 5th and was under pressure from Michael Chrobok. Another caution came out with 19 laps to go restacking the field.

The drivers all came down pit road for tires with Dempster leading the field for the restart ahead of Silvia, Ioanesiu, and Salek. With 15 laps remaining in the night, racing resumed with Silvia stayed alongside Dempster for the lead. Salek tried to get under Ioanesiu for 3rd but couldn’t get clear running side by side for several laps until another caution halted the action again.

The green flag came back out going into the final 10 laps with dempster still in control of the field. Off the jump, Dempster was instantly under pressure as he went 3-wide with Silvia and Ioanesiu for the lead. The top 9 hard broke away from the rest of the field with the leading pack pushing their cars to the limit all scrambling to get as good of a finish as possible. Coming down the front stretch with 3 laps to go, Salek tried to force a 3-wide situation driving up between Silvia and Dempster resulting in both drivers sliding across the infield and handing the lead and race win over to Cosmin Ioanesiu taking the checkered flag under yellow flag conditions with Colton Salek holding onto 2nd. Thomas George, Vincent Crow, and Michael Chrobok round out the top 5 tonight at Auto Club Speedway.

Vincent Crow stretches out his lead with 136 points with Jake Silvia now 12 points behind him. Thomas George jumps up 4 spots into 3rd with 120 points, Jeff Ward is up 4 spots into 4th with 115 points, and Michael Chrobok rounds out the top 5 with 114 points. The Pretty Good Racing League next heads to Las Vegas for the “MARSS Properties Vacation Rentals 200” at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7th with all the action broadcast live at 8:50PM ET exclusively on the Virtual Grip Network!

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