CONCORD, N.C. — Audio, photos and story by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online —
The opening day of the 2015 Winter Heat Series for Legend Cars and Bandoleros at Charlotte Motor Speedway was a story of wire-to-wire wins, thrilling finishes and double checkered flags for two of racing’s rising stars.
Michael Torres (Pro) and Matthew Thomas (Young Lions) led all comers in their performances on a cold Saturday afternoon, sweeping both ends of double features for the four Legend Car classes in attendance in their respective classes.
Thomas scored one of the most exciting victories of the afternoon in a near-three-wide run to the checkered flag during the second Young Lions feature, using a bump to grab the lead when Alex Reece ran wide in turn three. The Florida native then held off an inside charge from Bandolero graduate Chase Purdy to claim his second victory of the day in the Charlotte twilight after holding off Ladyga Motorsports driver Reece in the first race.
“That last lap there, (Reece) slid up and I was able to get by him and going into three, it was just racing. The 8 car (Purdy) bashed me up into the 48 car and it was out of my control,” Thomas said. “I just tried to salvage a win and was lucky enough to do so.”
Torres dominated the Pro class on Saturday, leading every lap in both races and posting sub-17.1 second lap times across the entirety of the second feature.
“(Our) consistency is what killed everybody today,” Torres said of his afternoon. “I’m just glad we’re finally back to where we were (in 2013) when we won the Shootout championship and I hope it keeps getting better and better.”
Bruce Silver took an emotional and long-awaited first-career win in a Legend Car at Charlotte, claiming the second Masters division feature after Race 1 winner Scott Whitaker and Rodney Tharp got together in turn two on the final lap of the second feature racing for the win.
Silver, who was third at the time of the incident, snuck through despite a wrinkled bumper to claim the checkered flag and deny Whitaker the opportunity at the Saturday double. Tom Sherman finished second after Whitaker was penalized for the last lap incident and dropped to seventh in the final rundown.
“It was nuts — I knew something was going to happen there at the end,” Silver said of the closing laps. “I could feel it. Those guys were going for broke. I was just sitting back there waiting for it to happen and it did. I actually got clipped in the wreck and was able to pull away from it, come around and get the checkered flag.”
“It’s a choke-up moment for me, it really is.”
Christian Eckes and Dillon Faggart split the two Young Lions features on the afternoon, with Eckes grabbing the win in the first race on a last-corner bump-and-run over Faggart. The second-generation Legends racer then came back and held off the same bump on the last lap of the second race to avenge his earlier defeat and pick up his first win of the winter.
Matthew Davey (Outlaws) wired the field to claim his first-career Charlotte victory in a Bandolero, while Daniel Wilk (Bandits) and Tommy Good (Beginner Bandits) also claimed Bandolero victories on the afternoon.
Good’s win was the closest finish of the day, after he made a furious charge coming off of turn four to the inside of Dylan Notaro and stole the win by 0.007 seconds in a photo finish that took nearly 15 minutes to officially declare the winner.
“I didn’t think I’d have a shot at it going into turn three,” Good said of the last lap. “I went in way too wide but then I saw a hole and I went for it and found it. I thought (Notaro) actually won because he was in front of me most of the frontstretch. Just a crazy race, wow.”
The 2015 Winter Heat Series continues Sunday afternoon beginning with hot laps at noon Eastern time, followed by heat races and features for all classes, including double features for the three Bandolero classes.
RESULTS: 2015 Winter Heat Series; Charlotte Motor Speedway; Jan. 10, 2015
Legend Car Pro Race No. 1 (20 laps): 1) Michael Torres; 2) Joey Padgett; 3) Zane Smith; 4) Julia Landauer; 5) Henri Tuomaala; 6) Brandon Gdovic; 7) Drew Brown; 8) Reid Wilson; 9) Spencer Saunders; 10) Matt Marina
Audio with Race One winner Michael Torres:
Legend Car Pro Race No. 2 (20 laps): 1) Michael Torres; 2) Zane Smith; 3) Reid Wilson; 4) Henri Tuomaala; 5) Spencer Saunders; 6) Brandon Gdovic; 7) Julia Landauer; 8) Matt Marina; 9) Drew Brown; 10) Joey Padgett
Audio with Race Two winner Michael Torres:
Legend Car Masters Race No. 1 (20 laps): 1) Scott Whitaker; 2) Bruce Silver; 3) Ron Mander; 4) Tom Sherman; 5) Robby Faggart; 6) Rodney Tharp; 7) TJ Larsen; 8) Greg Bruce; 9) Danny Cisson; 10) Jimmy Martin
Audio with Race One winner Scott Whitaker:
Legend Car Masters Race No. 2 (20 laps): 1) Bruce Silver; 2) Tom Sherman; 3) Greg Bruce; 4) Ron Mander; 5) Jimmy Martin; 6) Rodney Tharp; 7) Scott Whitaker; 8) TJ Larson; 9) Danny Cisson; 10) Robby Faggart
Audio with Race Two winner Bruce Silver:
Legend Car Semi Pro Race No. 1 (20 laps): 1) Christian Eckes; 2) Dillon Faggart; 3) Erik Nash; 4) John Holleman IV; 5) Brad Lonmaster; 6) Devin O’Connell; 7) Alex Murray; 8) Jordan Mander; 9) Chase Campbell; 10) Blake Spears; 11) Matthew Moermond; 12) Alex Urbina; 13) Breanne Gilligan; 14) Joseph Bisson
Audio with Race One winner Christian Eckes:
Legend Car Semi Pro Race No. 2 (20 laps): 1) Dillon Faggart; 2) Christian Eckes; 3) Alex Murray; 4) John Holleman IV; 5) Devin O’Connell; 6) Brad Lonmaster; 7) Alex Urbina; 8) Blake Spears; 9) Chase Campbell; 10) Breanne Gilligan; 11) Jordan Mander; 12) Joseph Bisson; 13) Matthew Moermond
Audio with Race Two winner Dillon Faggart:
Legend Car Young Lions Race No. 1 (20 laps): 1) Matthew Thomas; 2) Alex Reece; 3) Chase Purdy; 4) Jacob Heafner; 5) Dawson Cram; 6) Riley Herbst; 7) Austin Green; 8) Zack Wells; 9) Scott Joy; 10) Ryan Millington; 11) Alex McCollum; 12) Anthony Alfredo; 13) Jack Fread; 14) Andrew Molleur; 15) Jonnie Varga; 16) Carson Poindexter
Audio with Race One winner Matthew Thomas:
Legend Car Young Lions Race No. 2 (20 laps): 1) Matthew Thomas; 2) Chase Purdy; 3) Alex Reece; 4) Austin Green; 5) Jacob Heafner; 6) Scott Joy; 7) Alex McCollum; 8) Dawson Cram; 9) Ryan Millington; 10) Zack Wells; 11) Anthony Alfredo; 12) Riley Herbst; 13) Andrew Molleur; 14) Jonnie Varga; 15) Jack Fread
Audio with Race Two winner Matthew Thomas:
Audio with Race Two runner-up Chase Purdy:
Audio with Race Two 3rd-place Alex Reece:
Bandolero Outlaws (20 laps): 1) Matthew Davey; 2) Trevor Rizzo; 3) Kayla Lyons; 4) Eddie Fatscher; 5) Roy Hayes; 6) Austin Geer
Audio with race winner Matthew Davey:
Bandolero Bandits (20 laps): 1) Daniel Wilk; 2) Ryan Isreal; 3) “Mini” Timothy Tyrrell; 4) DJ Canipe; 5) William Robusto; 6) Cameron Bolin; 7) Joshua Kossek; 8) Braydn Mander; 9) George Hayes; 10) Parker Ratzlaff; 11) Carson Kvapil; 12) Isabella Robusto; 13) Bryson Ruff
Audio with race winner Daniel Wilk:
Bandolero Beginner Bandits (20 laps): 1) Tommy Good; 2) Dylan Notaro; 3) Gracie Trotter; 4) Tyler Adams; 5) Reyna Jaiden; 6) Tyler Bartoszewicz; 7) Christopher Oplinger; 8) Mason Dejarnett; 9) Stanley Hayes; 10) Justin Oplinger; 11) Zach Lightfoot; 12) David Sullivan
Audio with race winner Tommy Good:
Audio with runner-up Dylan Notaro: