TALLADEGA, Ala. — Recap by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — LSRTV audio — Jacob Seelman/iRacing.com photo —
It’s rare that a driver can start on pole and go on to win the race at Talladega Superspeedway, with the air of unpredictability and late-race chaos that tends to surround the 2.66-mile mammoth of a track.
Wednesday night during the =RSR= Asphalt Assault TV Series stop in the Deep South, Jose Gonzalez defied the odds and parlayed the top starting spot into the top finishing spot, taking the lead for the final time at lap 68 and pacing the final eight laps to win the Alabama 200 for his first =RSR= broadcast victory since his win in the Full Throttle Cup Series at Kansas in the fall of 2014.
“You don’t have to rub it in [either],” Gonzalez said jokingly when reminded of the nearly eight-month gap between wins in Gatorade Victory Lane.
Gonzalez iced the checkered flag when the caution flew with two laps to go for a crash in turn three that swept up Steel Horse Racing teammates Thomas George and Dan Murray in turn three, freezing the field and ending the race under yellow.
The win was Gonzalez’s fourth career Asphalt Assault triumph (fourth all-time) and his first of the season, after Bobby Terrell won as a substitute for Gonzalez in race two at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I owe this win all to Matt tonight,” Gonzalez added. “He gave me the right push at the end and we were able to go to the front. It was a tough race, but we had a fast car and it was very exciting at the finish.”
In total, Gonzalez lead the most laps (30) on the night, holding the top spot on four different occasions.
Matt LaCross gave Gonzalez the winning push, but said the race-ending caution spoiled his chances of making a run for the victory in his own right.
“I hate that it ended the way it did,” LaCross said of the finish. “That last caution with Thomas and Dan, I was trying to stop their momentum on the outside and still try and stay with Jose — completely forgot about Jimmie North on the bottom. When we got to turn three I don’t know if Thomas didn’t know we were three-wide or what, but he didn’t really give me a lot of room and it was just tight.”
“I never touched him — it looked like net code on the replay — but we’ll see. Just hate that happened fighting for the win, you never want to have one shake out like that. I felt like I might have had a chance myself if it had stayed green.”
A flat-black machine powered North to the final podium position in third, his best result across any =RSR= broadcast series in 2015 and a score for the underdog teams in the draft.
“This feels like we just won the race,” an ecstatic North said after the event. “I was waiting to make a move — I had John [Abbott] ready to push me — and that caution just came before we could make it happen.”
“It’s still great though. It’s been a long time [since we’ve had a top result].”
Abbott hung on to come home fourth and Daytona 250 champion Rich Jette rounded out the top five.
Positions six through ten went to Gregg Omo, Jeff Ward, Jason Swann, Ed Williams Jr. and J. Randall Watkins.
The race was largely competitive and clean for long stretches, with 11 lead changes between six different drivers and five cautions, including the final one, for 18 total laps.
The dreaded “Big One” bit at lap 55, with a four-wide maneuver gone wrong that saw LaCross squeeze up into the No. 59 of James Thorndike, who got into the RCO-Boomtown Sim entry of Mitch Rollo and sparked a seven-car melee that ended the chances at victory for all three RCO-Boomtown Sim cars (Rollo, Christopher Hurlow and Anthony DeBaro) as well as the machines Kevin Pearson, Chad Cole and Steven Haring.
The =RSR= Asphalt Assault Series returns on Wednesday, May 13 for the start of segment two — round five and the Get to Know Newton 125 from Iowa Speedway airs live at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on LSRTV.
For more information on Real Sim Racing, visit www.realsimracing.com.
Audio with race winner Jose Gonzalez:
Audio with runner-up Matt LaCross:
Audio with third-place Jimmie North:
RESULTS: =RSR= Asphalt Assault Series; Alabama 200; Talladega Superspeedway; Talladega, Ala.; April 29, 2015
- Jose Gonzalez
- Matt LaCross
- Jimmie North
- John Abbott
- Rich Jette
- Gregg Omo
- Jeff Ward
- Jason Swann
- Ed Williams Jr.
- J. Randall Watkins
- Mitch Rollo
- William Kempf
- Paul Williams II
- Anthony DeBaro
- Dan Murray
- Kevin Pearson
- Scott Simley
- Bryan Clark
- David Killough
- Thomas George
- Christopher Hurlow
- Chad Cole
- James Thorndike
- Steven Haring
- Scott Granberg
- Keith Brooks Jr.
- Mark Bratcher
- Derrek Hiatt
- David Camarra
- J.R. Johnson
- Bryan Harvey