SALISBURY, N.C. – Ryan Israel entered Millbridge Speedway’s $300-to-win Intermediate Special on Wednesday night looking to prove that he could get the job done no matter what circumstances were thrown at him.
After 20 laps and his third-straight victory to open the season, the Concord, N.C. young gun had accomplished just that.
Entering the racing action, track promoters Ashly and Jeremy Burnett had put up a $100 bounty to any driver who could successfully stop Israel’s winning streak, with an added caveat – if Israel elected to start at the rear of the field and successfully won the race, then he could collect the bounty himself.
In addition, an anonymous donor put up an additional $200 towards the ‘Last Row Challenge’ following Israel’s spectacular heat race, in which he sustained damage in an opening lap incident, started last and came back to win as well.
That made Israel’s possible prize $600, and the additional money donated prior to the feature made the decision to drop to the rear a lot easier.
“I wasn’t going to do it … but when the extra money was put up there, it was really tempting,” Israel admitted. “My dad and I thought it would be fun to try, so we went for it.”
And fun it was.
Despite another first-lap incident, in which Joey Robinson spun in turn one and left Israel with nowhere to go, the personable teenager rallied from slight wing damage sustained in the shunt to pass nine karts in the first three laps.
He sat sixth when a red flag came out on lap four, after Eli Adams tipped over on the frontstretch from fourth, and when then-race leader Tyler Letarte’s kart wouldn’t fire back off, Israel suddenly found himself fourth with 16 laps to work with.
It didn’t take him half of those before he was leading.
Israel got bogged down slightly on the restart, but quickly found pace and passed Jordyn Bregoli for third on the seventh round, just before another caution flew for a multi-kart crash in turns one and two.
That set up a restart which allowed Israel to pull a slide job on Brent Crews for second, immediately giving chase to leader Taylor Gray.
After a dead-heat, side-by-side battle on lap nine, Israel pulled away on the bottom, never looking back en route to the win and a $600 payday.
“I can’t thank everyone who’s involved in this program enough … from QRC and JGRMX to my family, who helped get this kart back together after that heat race crash,” said Israel, who had to survive a restart with three laps to go before pulling into victory lane.
“This was a team effort tonight. The number one thing for me was to be calm, because 20 laps is a long race here, and it’s enough time where I knew that if we were going to win I was going to have to be patient and let the race play out and come to me. This kart couldn’t have handled any better tonight; it’s an amazing feeling and I can’t put tonight into words.”
Crews came home second ahead of Caden Kvapil and Gray, while Letarte came back from his misfire issues to complete the top five.
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