BRISTOL, Tenn. — Recap and photo by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Real Sim Racing — LSRTV audio —
After a three-month stretch of close calls or bad luck to start the 2015 Real Sim Racing season, One Up Motorsports and Adam Benefiel finally got their program up to par on Wednesday night.
Benefiel stayed out under caution at lap 147 during the =RSR= Asphalt Assault TV Series (AATV) Thunder Valley 200 from Bristol Motor Speedway and never gave up the top spot the rest of the way to score his fifth career AATV victory and first since walking away with the series title one season ago.
Despite leading the final 54 laps en route to victory lane, Benefiel had to survive a flurry of late-race cautions and a one-lap dash to the checkered flag, turning back a charge on fresher tires from Jeff Ward to top the pylon at the end of the night.
“I just had to hit my marks there at the end,” Benefiel said in Gatorade Victory Lane. “I knew [Jeff] had fresher tires and I knew he was coming, butt I just had to focus forward and here we are. You always hate when it comes down to a scramble like that, but we made it work.”
The driver of the Rollspeed Dynamics/Adasign Wraps Ford Mustang led a total of 107 of 200 laps on his way to the dominating win — one that comes after a long string of connection issues and other assorted unlucky breaks to kick off the 2015 season.
“It means a lot to finally get the monkey off our back and get a win,” Benefiel expressed. “We’ve had so many different things happen this season derail what we’ve been trying to do — we’ve had speed — just no luck. For everyone putting time in to make all this happen, tonight is the proof of that. I’m really happy with this.”
Ward crossed the line second in an attempt to become the first driver in =RSR= history to win a race in all three TV-broadcasted series (Full Throttle Cup, Asphalt Assault and Outlaw Truck) in the same season — hailing Benefiel’s effort on old tires over the closing stint.
“Hats off to Adam, he drove a great race,” Ward said. “He and I were both in survival mode tonight. [This race] was a lot of cautions. We had to work the pit strategy and hope we would go green for a while and not get a lot of [trouble] going on. We had that last caution and I told Adam afterwards, ‘I didn’t think I could get to you’ — but it would have been close.”
“All in all, it’s a great points night though, and great to finish on the podium again.”
Corbin Himstreet, in a substitute role for fellow RCO-Boomtown Sim driver Christopher Hurlow, charged from 27th after starting from pit road to finish on the podium in third — his best drive of the season after staying out on several pit stops to gain track position.
“[Chris] was pretty pumped up about this finish tonight and I’m glad I was able to get it for him,” Himstreet said. “I know he was in a lot of pain tonight and he’s had a rough couple of weeks with the car accident he went through and everything. So that’s great. I just could not stay out of trouble there at the end so I’m just glad we were able to do what we did and get a good points night for him.”
Scott Simley and William Kempf rounded out the top five. Behind them, Bryan Clark, Anthony Palombo, James Thorndike, Jason Miller and Wyatt Wolfe made up the balance of the top ten.
In the caution-laden event, 17 cautions slowed the pace for 85 laps, with seven lead changes between six different drivers.
Benefiel started off the night by scoring his fifth career AATV Pole Award, turning a lap of 16.652 (115.229 mph) in qualifying to pick up the top honors.
The =RSR= Asphalt Assault Series returns to action on April 29 for round four of their season, the Talladega 200 from Talladega Superspeedway (9:30 p.m. Eastern on LSRTV).
Audio with race winner Adam Benefiel:
Audio with runner-up Jeff Ward:
Audio with third-place Corbin Himstreet:
RESULTS: =RSR= Asphalt Assault TV Series; Thunder Valley 200; Bristol Motor Speedway; April 15, 2015
- Adam Benefiel
- Jeff Ward
- Corbin Himstreet (subbing for Christopher Hurlow)
- Scott Simley
- William Kempf
- Bryan Clark
- Anthony Palombo
- James Thorndike
- Jason Miller
- Wyatt Wolfe
- Matt LaCross
- John Klickner
- Doug Roth
- Jared Comeau
- Bradley Haveard
- Jose Gonzalez
- Kevin Pearson
- Paul Williams II
- Steven Haring
- Gregg Omo
- Sean Mire
- Mark Bratcher
- Ed Williams Jr.
- Kevin Linden
- Danny Sanchez
- Thomas George
- Anthony DeBaro
- Scott Granberg
- Nathan Little
- John Abbott
- Jason Swann
- David Camarra
- Keith Brooks Jr.