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Watertown, Connecticut’s David Gravel etched his name in the Eldora Speedway history books twice in the last two days, first setting a new Eldora Speedway track record of 12.599 during the Governors Reign opener on Tuesday, September 22, then trumping that statistic with a victory in the Governors Reign finale the following evening, scoring a $52,000 top prize in the process while also earning a fourth-career Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 victory.
The pilot of the Jason Johnson Racing/Weikert’s Livestock/Durst/JRC Transportation/High Performance Lubricants/The Boyd Family/Mesilla Valley Transportation/Saich Family/No. 41 sprint car led all 35 circuits of the Governors Reign finale, but certainly not without a challenge, forced to navigate through doses of heavy traffic, all while trying to fend off a late surge by Elk Grove, California’s Kyle Larson.
“I just gotta thank this entire team. I am confident we had one of the best cars all week,” David Gravel said in Eldora Speedway victory lane. “To come out here and set two quick times, one a track record, and get a win says a lot about this team. I’m happy to win tonight rather than last night because tonight pays way more. This field was just as stout as any field we’ve seen all season. All of the best are here. It feels really good to beat the best. Anything that pays over 50 grand is a crown jewel to me.”
Larson, who started tenth on the grid, powered his way into the top-five just before the halfway point, eventually snagging fourth from Sheldon Haudenschild on lap 18, then gaining another position over his hired gun, Carson Macedo, the following circuit. A caution on lap 20, the main event’s first and only besides a hiccup on the initial start involving Jacob Allen and James McFadden, allowed Larson to advance again, this time getting by Tuesday night winner, Brent Marks, on the bottom of turns one and two.
Meanwhile, Gravel continued to set a torrid pace, quickly escaping to a healthy advantage after the lap 20 restart. Although traffic eventually re-entered the picture, Gravel was able to maintain his momentum, using both grooves of the speedway to drive under or around bundles of slower cars.
By lap 33, Gravel’s advantage had all but depleted, now feeling some pressure by the season-leading All Star winner, Kyle Larson. In a last-ditch effort on the final lap, Larson dove to the bottom of turn three and attempted to slide the familiar No. 41, only to lose in a drag race to the finish. Sheldon Haudenschild would cross under the final checkers behind Gravel and Larson, followed by Brent Marks and Carson Macedo.
“When you get into lapped traffic, it gets tough to see the cushion. It’s all you can do to not slide the tires,” David Gravel continued. “When I saw the top open up in three on the last lap, I figured I gotta take it. Even if (Kyle Larson) would have slid me, I figured I could turn back underneath him. I saw someone poke their nose before that and I figured it was him. I was just worried about making a couple good laps. I knew he was closing. Sometimes you’re better off being in second in traffic.”
The Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 will conclude the 2020 season with the two-day Jim Ford Classic at Fremont Speedway in Fremont, Ohio, on Friday and Saturday, October 9-10. Saturday’s Jim Ford Classic/All Star season finale will award a $10,000 payday. For more news and notes pertaining to Fremont Speedway, please visit www.fremontohspeedway.com.