CONCORD, N.C. — Audio, cover photo and recap by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman —
Six division champions were crowned on one of the most intense nights in Charlotte Motor Speedway history, after Champions’ Night of the 2015 Bojangles’ Summer Shootout Series came down to the final laps in determining the best of the best after 10 races and eight long weeks for the country’s top Legend Car and Bandolero competitors.
And on a night where winning was truly the difference between a title belt and a runner-up points finish, five of the night’s seven feature winners parlayed their respective victories into hoisting a championship trophy at the end of the night on the frontstretch.
In perhaps the most incredible comeback in Summer Shootout history, Jordan Black did everything he had to do — and got the outside help he needed — to rebound from missing the Round 2 feature in the Human Tuning Group Legends Car Pro division and ultimately claim his first career Shootout championship with his fourth victory of the 2015 season.
It didn’t come easy though. Black was eight points behind leader Michael Torres coming into the night (third in the standings) but took off like a bullet train once the green flag dropped. He dogged early race leader Joey Padgett and second place Gregory Lang before Lang took the top spot at lap five from Padgett, allowing Black to move to second early in the 25-lap main.
He didn’t stay there long, however — passing Lang a lap later and setting sail out in front. Two quick cautions would bunch the field up and allow Dillon Faggart to ultimately bypass Black for the lead at lap 11, but the drama wasn’t over there.
A caution for a spin by Alex Murray at lap 12 shuffled the top five and saw Torres make a bold choose to the outside, lining up second for the restart and blasting to the point with 11 laps to go. At that point, it looked like Torres’ championship, but a pivotal caution with seven laps to go after Faggart spun in turn four set up the move that would ultimately decide the entire outcome of the points battle.
Black lined up directly behind Torres on the restart and gave the No. 15 a massive shot going into turn one, sending him up the track and into Austin Hill — contact that ultimately cut down Torres’ right front tire and drew a caution with five laps to go. While Torres restarted on the tail end of the lead lap and was able to rally to ninth, it was that move that ended his championship hopes and sent Black on his way.
Despite a crash that took out Irvan and backmarker Matthew Barnard on the white flag lap, Black brought the field around under green to claim the biggest win of his career and a championship he never pictured being able to earn — though the emotions were mixed in victory lane due to the late-race contact between he and Torres.
“I definitely didn’t want to move Michael to that extent,” a subdued Black said after exiting his car. “I got into him harder than I intended. I had to move him — he had to finish fifth and I had to win — so I knew I had to move him. It’s just disappointing because I moved him harder than I wanted to and it ended up junking two cars. People move people for wins out here, but we were talking about a championship tonight.”
“I’m not proud of [the move] at all, by any means, but I am proud of the effort that Fab Specialties, Matt Drake and this entire team put in this season. To come back from missing Round Two and even have a shot at winning the championship was something we weren’t sure was going to be possible, but we did it.”
“It hasn’t really sunk in, yet, to be honest,” Black added. “That’s partially from the shock of actually making it happen and partially because I’m disappointed at the way things went down at the end. Regardless, though, if you would have told me eight weeks ago that this was going to be the outcome, I would have called you crazy. It’s really unbelievable, and this [championship] belt is going to be a highlight of my career, I can tell you that.”
Faggart rallied from his spin to finish second ahead of Ryan Shattuck, Padgett and Austin Hill.
After the race, Torres stopped on the frontstretch to offer his thoughts on the late-race drama with Black before returning to the pit area, and the emotion was thick for the Apopka, Fla. teen — who has raced with Black since the two started their careers and considers Jordan one of his “best friends.”
“I was surprised by it, quite honestly,” Torres admitted. “Jordan and I are best friends, and I’ll still be his friend after this, but what he did wasn’t right in my opinion. I just told him, ‘Dude, that hurts.’ He knows how we’ve always raced together. He knew what he was doing. He had the wheel in his hands.”
“It was uncalled for. That’s not racing. I don’t feel I did anything to deserve what I got tonight. This car was unbelievable, and it’s an absolute shame that we didn’t get to show it with the finish we deserved.”
In the Security Force Legends Car Masters division, Tom Pistone used his third different car of the summer to post a wire-to-wire victory in the 25-lap main event, winning his 21st career Shootout feature and fourth of the summer to cement his third consecutive division title.
Pistone’s primary car was destroyed in a lap one crash during Monday night’s Round Nine feature, and for a portion of that night, the longtime Shootout veteran was unsure how he was going to defend his points lead over rival Scott Whitaker — who also had to win the race to secure the title for himself.
“I’m thrilled to be able to pull this off after basically doing everything I could to give it away,” Pistone said in victory lane. “I have to give a huge thanks to the Craigs for allowing me to use this piece and having it ready to go. I had 30 laps in this car total — five in qualifying and 25 in the race — so to be able to park it in victory lane is a real pleasure.”
Pistone joins former Masters division star Clay Hair as only the second driver in Shootout history to post three consecutive championships in the same division, and will be looking to rewrite the record books when the 2016 Bojangles’ Summer Shootout rolls back around.
“I’m happy to get that accolade,” Pistone said of matching Hair’s record. “It’s a real honor, especially here at the Shootout where these big trophies are so hard to come by. Hopefully next year we can come back and go for four in a row — we’ll see if we can have that record all to ourselves.”
The Legends Car Semi-Pro division was the third and final division of the night to have a winner-take-all scenario in the points, this time between Devo Motorsports teammates John Holleman IV and Sheldon Crouse. Holleman was driving a repaired car after a hard crash during the Round Nine feature on Monday night and qualified pole to leave a four-point margin between he and Crouse going into the final main event of the summer.
An invert of six would ruin Holleman’s chances, however, as the pink and black No. 4 fell from the provisional pole to the outside of row three for the start and was never able to work through traffic after that.
At the front of the field, Crouse blitzed around Devin O’Connell at lap four and rolled out to a straightaway advantage at times, finally taking his fourth victory of the summer by 1.043 seconds over fellow title contender Stevie Johns Jr. in a race that went caution-free for the final 24 laps of the 25 scheduled circuits.
The victory gave Crouse, a paramedic and first responder originally from Groveland, Calif., his first career Shootout championship after going winless in the series during his first four seasons of competition.
“I figured tonight would be a caution-fest, quite honestly,” Crouse admitted. “My car was really good out front, though. I just kept digging lap after lap, and when I saw the white flag I was pretty surprised.”
“It’s awesome for Devo,” Crouse added, referencing team owner Devo Keith. “To be able to bring this championship trophy back to the shop and finally give him something huge to celebrate — and with John finishing second in points right behind me — it’s just amazing for this whole team and we’ll be celebrating this one for a while.”
Holleman finished third behind Crouse and Johns and was dejected that his chances of truly being able to contend were dashed by the lack of cautions in a division known for its late-race carnage in the closing stages of the summer.
“I don’t know what to say,” Holleman said. “Every week we’ve had eight million cautions in our features and tonight we only have one when I got inverted to sixth after starting pole. I’m disgusted with that, honestly. [The team] and I busted our tails to get ready for today after the car got wrecked Monday night — and we had the fastest car — and it doesn’t pay off. I just wasn’t lucky this time.”
The Legends Car Young Lions championship was iced when Mississippi native Chase Purdy, who recently relocated to Huntersville, N.C., took the green flag for their 20-lap main event, but Purdy brought his summer to a close in style.
The young Shootout star used a well-timed bump-and-run maneuver on Austin Green on the final lap of Tuesday night’s division finale to score his sixth win in ten races and win his first career Shootout championship by 35 points over Alex Reece.
“It was just a fun battle there at the end,” Purdy said. “I got lucky and got a really good run off of four despite all the Speedy-Dry, and he slipped up going into one and I was able to get underneath him.”
“It feels great, it’s great to win the race but more importantly it’s great to win this championship,” Purdy added. “If you’d asked me at the start of the summer what I thought was going to happen — I’d have told you we would be good — but I never thought we’d win this deal by winning six races. It’s unbelievable, really.”
Green finished second for the third race in a row to close out the summer, lamenting that he and his team did “everything but win” down the stretch.
“If half of the cautions hadn’t come out, I think I probably would have won. Purdy’s always moving somebody, though, I guess,” Green said. “Every time I’m leading, something like this happens. It sucks.”
Ashton Higgins was the lucky recipient of a lap seven caution that took out race leader Matthew Eades and second-place Matthew Davey during the Bandolero Outlaws main event, inheriting the top spot and going on to lead the final 13 laps of their finale feature en route to his first Shootout title in the Outlaws division.
The win was Higgins’ seventh in 10 races and makes the Weaverville, N.C. driver the second consecutive Outlaw to sweep both the Atlanta Motor Speedway Thursday Thunder championship and the Bojangles’ Summer Shootout title in the same season, after Jensen Jorgensen accomplished the same feat last year.
“We never could get a good green flag run and kept getting trapped on the outside on the restarts, but they crashed in front of us and I guess I got lucky,” Higgins smiled. “This is great. I never thought we’d be able to sweep Atlanta and Charlotte, but to be able to make it happen is an unbelievable feeling and I’ll remember this night for a long time.”
Daniel Wilk clinched the Bandolero Bandits championship by starting from the pole, however he didn’t have the speed to stay there during that division’s closing race of the summer.
Wilk, who won the first seven events of the Shootout for the Bandits, was passed by Carson Kvapil on a lap nine restart and could never mount a charge to get the lead back.
Kvapil went on to record his second straight Bandits win (and second of the day, after winning the Round Nine make-up feature earlier in the afternoon), while Wilk finished second for the third consecutive race and made it a clean sweep at CMS — adding the Shootout championship to the Winter Heat title he won back in February.
“I don’t know what the difference was on the starts and restarts; it was just like Carson found something I didn’t,” Wilk admitted. “At the end of the day, though, I can’t say enough about my team and to be standing here as a champion — sweeping both the Winter Heat and the Summer Shootout — is a really amazing feeling.”
Jacob Gantz claimed the final Beginner Bandolero feature win of the summer, driving away from Jason Chapman in the final laps to notch his second victory of 2015.
Because the Beginner Bandoleros are an exhibition division and do not race for points, no champion was crowned in that division.
Dirt triumphed over pavement in the special exhibition show for the night, as dirt late model star Chris Ferguson held off a last lap charge by NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion Burt Myers to win the 10-lap Grudge Match.
The duo raced identically-prepared Legends Cars around the CMS quarter-mile oval, and Ferguson said he nearly “gave the win away” in the final set of corners.
“To start off, if anyone didn’t notice, I jumped the start bad,” Ferguson admitted in victory lane. “I got out front, and then I screwed up about halfway and got in too hot — that let Burt get by me. Luckily, he made a mistake too and I was able to get back through, but I almost gave it away in three on the last lap. We both messed up down there, and I just gathered it up first and hung on for this win.”
“It’s great — my cousin Carson has won races and championships down here — so at least he can’t harass me too bad because now I’ve won in a Legends Car too. If I hadn’t beaten Burt he’d have never let me hear the end of it.”
The next event for U.S. Legend Cars International at Charlotte Motor Speedway is the INEX Bandolero Nationals on Aug. 6-7.
RESULTS: 22nd annual Bojangles’ Summer Shootout Series Round 10; Charlotte Motor Speedway; July 28, 2015
Beginner Bandolero Division (20 laps): 1. Jacob Gantz; 2. Jason Chapman; 3. Mason Dejarnett; 4. Jacob Putnam; 5. Stanley Hays; 6. Tyler Bartoszewicz; 7. Adam Eades; 8. Jaiden Reyna; 9. Autumn Weaver; 10. Jordan Powell; 11. Trevor Wester; 12. David Sullivan; 13. Bryce Baily; 14. Zachary Miracle; 15. Parker Eatmon.
LiveWell Homes Bandolero Bandits Division (20 laps): 1. Carson Kvapil; 2. Daniel Wilk; 3. Cameron Bolin; 4. DJ Canipe; 5. William Robusto; 6. Tommy Good; 7. Josh Kossek; 8. Isabella Robusto; 9. Steven Chapman; 10. Bryson Ruff; 11. Leland Honeyman; 12. Tyler Chapman; 13. Josh Speas; 14. Landon Rapp; 15. George Hayes; 16. Dylan Notaro; 17. Blake Cisneros.
Audio with race winner Carson Kvapil:
Audio with second place and division champion Daniel Wilk:
Bandolero Outlaws Division (20 laps): 1. Ashton Higgins; 2. Conner Younginer; 3. Jordan Plummer; 4. Blaise Brinkley; 5. Trevor Rizzo; 6. Gracie Trotter; 7. Roy Hayes; 8. Matthew Davey; 9. Mathhew Emery; 10. Robby Gordon Douglas; 11. Hudgins Gauntt; 12. Elysia Potter; 13. Tristan Lesik; 14. Bradyn Mander; 15. Seth Henry; 16. Liz Montgomery; 17. Ashley Pantoulas; 18. Jensen Jorgenson; 19. Austin Geer; 20. Matthew Eades.
Audio with race winner and division champion Ashton Higgins:
Legend Car Young Lions Division (20 laps): 1. Chase Purdy; 2. Austin Green; 3. Alex Reece; 4. Dawson Cram; 5. Conner Snow; 6. Kaden Honeycutt; 7. Jacob Heafner; 8. Garrett Manes; 9. Ryan Millington; 10. Jack Fread; 11. Sam Mayer; 12; Carson Poindexter; 13. Andrew Molleur; 14. Eddie Fatscher.
Audio with race winner and division champion Chase Purdy:
Audio with race runner-up Austin Green:
Legend Car Semi-Pro Division (25 laps): 1. Sheldon Crouse; 2. Stevie Johns Jr.; 3. John Holleman IV; 4. Jordan Stillwell; 5. Scott Joy; 6. Devin O’Connell; 7. Joe Gregory; 8. Jensen Jorgensen; 9. Gus Dean; 10. Enrique Limon; 11. Holden German; 12. Andrew Harrah; 13. Joshua Plummer; 14. Taylor Jorgensen; 15. Craig Biryla; 16. Kyle Kalash; 17. Jordan Mander; 18. Hannah Bell; 19. Jonathan Wessel; 20. Connor Pyle.
Audio with race winner and division champion Sheldon Crouse:
Audio with third-place finisher John Holleman:
Security Force Legends Car Masters Division (25 laps): 1. Tom Pistone; 2. Scott Whitaker; 3. Jon Craig; 4. Carl Cormier; 5. Tom Sherman; 6. Akinori Ogata; 7. Ron Mander; 8. Jan Ingram; 9. Nelson Stewart; 10. Gene Traxler; 11. Chip Ferguson; 12. Craig Bruce; 13. Jamie Smith; 14. Bruce Silver; 15. Danny Cisson; 16. Ernie Irvan; 17. Robby Faggart.
Audio with race winner and division champion Tom Pistone:
Human Tuning Group Legends Car Pro Division (25 laps): 1. Jordan Black; 2. Dillon Faggart; 3. Ryan Shattock; 4. Joey Padgett; 5. Austin Hill; 6. Justin Ashley; 7. Alex Murray; 8. Donovan Ponder; 9. Michael Torres; 10. Ryan Eyer; 11. Jared Irvan; 12. Greg Lang; 13. Evan Swilling; 14. Matthew Barnard; 15. Reid Wilson; 16. Drew Brown.
Audio with race winner and division champion Jordan Black:
Audio with championship runner-up Michael Torres:
Legends Car Grudge Match (10 laps): Chris Ferguson over Burt Myers.
Audio with grudge match winner Chris Ferguson:
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network. Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s. He is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for both the United Sprint Car Series and the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
Email Jacob at: [email protected]