CONCORD, N.C. — A trio of first-time Bojangles’ Summer Shootout winners graced Charlotte Motor Speedway’s makeshift victory lane Tuesday night, after a waterlogged third round of competition on the track’s frontstretch quarter-mile.
But buoyed by the excitement of two stunning last-lap, last-turn passes for the win, the action couldn’t have been hotter.
In the headlining Lead 2 Real Estate Pro division, a last-lap tangle between off-track friends paved the way for the second-closest finish in Shootout history, after Carson Ferguson and Kaden Honeycutt got together in the final corner.
Ferguson, who took the lead on lap six and played defense of the high groove for most of the night, was pushed wide by Honeycutt in Turns 3 and 4 coming to the checkered flag and ended up briefly in the grass, stalling his momentum as Honeycutt moved past underneath him.
As Ferguson struggled to get back going again, Honeycutt crossed under the checkered flag as the apparent winner, while Alex McCollum edged out Ferguson for second by the narrowest of margins at the finish line.
But a post-race review led to an aggressive driving penalty for Honeycutt, dropping him behind Ferguson and elevating McCollum to a shock first-career Shootout victory.
The official margin of victory between McCollum and Ferguson? A thousandth of a second, such that even McCollum wasn’t sure at first how he’d ended up as the victor.
“I thought he beat me, I honestly did,” McCollum said. “I can’t describe what this feels like, to get the win at the Summer Shootout. This is my first big win down south. I came here for a top seven … to win at this level is unbelievable.”
Tuesday night’s finish is only topped by the opening night of Semi-Pro competition in 2005, which ended in a dead heat between Jess Mattox and Chrissy Wallace.
Ferguson came home as the official runner-up, with Honeycutt scored third after the penalty was applied. Dillon Faggart and Brody Pope completed the top five.
Equally as crazy was the finish to the K1 Speed Young Lions division, which saw Sam Mayer get his first win of the season after two near-misses during the opening week of action.
Mayer, who started sixth and had finishes of second and fifth in the first two races, only led the final 50 feet of racing after polesitter William Robusto and D.J. Canipe crashed on the frontstretch racing for the win, sneaking to the outside in a thrilling dash.
A caution with three laps to go set the stage for mayhem, after Robusto led the opening 17 laps but had to survive a restart with Canipe alongside. Though Robusto got through Turns 1 and 2 cleanly, he overdrove the opposite end of the race track and washed into the grass, allowing Canipe to inherit the top spot.
From there, it was Robusto who had to rally, finally working to Canipe’s inside exiting Turn 4 on the final lap before the back end of his car kicked sideways into Canipe’s machine, sending both of them spinning and sliding towards the finish line.
Meanwhile, Mayer had his momentum built up exiting Turn 4 in third and hauled around the outside of both leaders, nabbing the victory by an official margin of .405 of a second over Canipe, who was able to refire and cross second.
“My spotter told me to go high … and I had to put complete trust in him,” Mayer said with a big grin. “It was the only place I could go … I had nowhere else to go, and thankfully it paid off. It was an amazing finish. There was about a car length and a half between me and the wall, but when they started to come back up (the track) I just had to go.”
“After how close we came last week, this made up for both of those races we didn’t win, for sure.”
Nick Sanchez, Josh Kossek and Ryan Heim completed the top five, with Robusto falling to 14th in the final rundown.
Continued on the next page…