SOPHIA, NC (July 29, 2013) — Dillon Bassett started in third position and dominated the UARA-STARS 150-lap event at Caraway Speedway on Sunday afternoon. “Spark Plug” took the lead on lap 3 and never looked back, despite an incident late in the race, winning his first trophy of 2013. Point leader Garrett Campbell finished second with Joey Mucciacciaro third, Brandon Jones fourth, and Kaz Grala, who started last, rounded out the top five.
Travis Swaim claimed yet another Sunoco Pole in qualifying on Sunday afternoon, but the former track champion at Caraway quickly faded from the start of the event, eventually dropping out of the top five by the end of the day. The first car to pass Swaim was Dillon Bassett, who pulled away to a lead that no one was able to overcome, despite mid-race cautions that typically result in fierce battles for the top spot.
The 150-lap event ran green up until lap 48 when Dylan Hall spun while racing Kaz Grala for position. Hall pinched his car down in turn one, spun, and made no contact until he turned the car around to rejoin the field and caught the turn two wall. Hall eventually retired after 91 laps, finishing last in the final rundown, earning the ARBodies Hard Luck Award in the process.
Current Caraway Speedway weekly racing point leader Ryan Wilson experienced a mishap on lap 104 in turn two as well, bringing out the second caution of the afternoon and the only real challenge to Dillon Bassett’s lead. On the restart, Bassett’s older brother, Ronnie Jr., restarted alongside of him. Dillon didn’t get up to speed right away and it allowed Ronnie to pull slightly ahead entering turn one. The two drivers made contact and the No. 04 of Ronnie Bassett, Jr., spun into the outside wall, ending his chance at victory and putting him out of the race on lap 109. The move on the restart, despite the outcome, earned Ronnie Jr. the Pigwire Electrifying Move of the Race Award.
“I missed a shift on the restart and it allowed him to get up beside me, and I think he thought he was clear,” said Dillon Bassett of the incident immediately after the race. “But it was for the lead, so we both were going hard. We don’t race each other [dirty] like that, and really don’t race anyone like that. But, like I said, it was for the top spot, we both went for it, and it ended up in a wreck.”
Ronnie Jr. was unavailable after the race for comment but did post to his Twitter account (@bassettjr_04) after the event, saying, “Made a driver error today, thought I was clear to come down on a restart and just wasnt enough room, congrats to @Dillon_Wayne44 on the win.”
The field resumed green flag racing after the cleanup on lap 118 and no one had anything for Dillon Bassett. Bassett stretched his lead over Garrett Campbell to nearly two seconds and held it until the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the season and the third of his career. He is the fourth different winner in the last four UARA-STARS races.
“I thought I drove my butt off at Tri-County, but Tri-County had nothing on this,” said the driver of the No. 44 Butler Trailer Manufacturing/PigCoil Ford. “I drove from lap one to 150 as hard as I could. I was falling out of the seat, but I wasn’t hoping for a caution to rest. I kept digging, I didn’t care how tired I was. It was all about heart from there.”
“He (Ronnie Jr.) came over here and told me good job, but we don’t come out here to tear each other’s racecars up. That’s not what it’s about, but if it was on the other hand, I would expect him to do the same thing,” continued winner Dillon Bassett. “That’s just racing, I don’t care if it’s Ronnie or if it’s Garrett (Campbell) or if it’s anybody else. Racing’s racing, and if you want to win that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Garrett Campbell extended his point lead slightly over second place with his runner-up finish in the event. His team car, Joey Mucciacciaro, finished behind him in third.
“We needed to cut a little better in the center. I got into the 33 (Jones) towards the end and knocked the toe out a little bit, too,” said Campbell, who also won the Fluidyne Cool Under Pressure Award, after the race. “I wish we could’ve raced [Dillon] a little harder, but it is what it is. It was a good race for Garrett Campbell Motorsports, Joey Mooch did a hell of a job in my other car and that was a good showing for someone who’s trying to start this driver development stuff out.”
Mucciacciaro was equally as pleased with his effort, enough to earn the Holley Performer of the Race Award for his 12-spot pickup after starting 15th.
“I knew saving tires was going to be big, so I tried to do that the best I could. My crew gave me the best car out here,” said the driver affectionately known as “Mooch” in post-race interviews. “They were all over this thing all week and I can’t thank them enough for that. I wasn’t too happy with my qualifying run, but I told them I’d make it up to them at the end and I think we did. I’m so thankful to be able to come out here and run as good as we did, and we’ll come back in two weeks at Southern National.”
With his win, Bassett picked up a large number of contingency awards including the Comp Cams Engine Builder of the Race Award for Charlie Long, Driven Oil fastest lap of the race and the Tilton Most Laps Led Award for leading 148 of the 150 circuits. Garrett Jones was the Circle Wheels/Xtreme Trophies Rookie of the Race, the highest finishing first-year driver registered to compete for the year-long title.
The next UARA-STARS Late Model Stock Tour event is at Southern National Motorsports Park on Saturday night, August 10. It will mark the tour’s second visit to the Lucama, NC, track this season. Ronnie Bassett, Jr., won the tour’s season opener at the facility in March.
For more information on the UARA-STARS, call (828) 692-3833 or visit uara-stars.com. Fans are also encouraged to follow along on Facebook (facebook.com/uararacing) and Twitter (@uarastarsseries), and to join the conversation by using #uarastars on all their tour-related social media posts.
NOTES OF INTEREST:
– BALLING, AND NOT IN A GOOD WAY: Kaz Grala went out to qualify on Sunday afternoon and never made it to the green flag. As soon as his No. 3 OzLink/NETTTS Ford hit the banking in turn two, a ball joint in the right front broke, disabling his car and negating his attempt to qualify, placing him at the back of the field. Grala answered the challenge by driving through the field from the last place starting spot all the way to 5th by the end of the event.
“That was a great race, I can’t thank Ricky Viers and Jason, my crew chief, enough, the entire crew from Falcon Racing did a great job,” he said. “We had some trouble in practice and qualifying with a ball joint breaking, obviously some bad luck, but we came back and they gave me a great car, we had a good race, and kept our nose clean. I just can’t thank them enough, it was a great race for us.
– STAYING COOL WHEN THE HEAT PICKS UP: Rheem-sponsored driver Brandon Jones and his crew chief, Cale Gale, have worked together for a long time. This UARA-STARS season is no exception. On Saturday, Gale was not at the racetrack as his wife, Jennifer, began experiencing mild health issues while expecting the couple’s first child. By Sunday, after the event’s postponement, Jennifer was healthy and resting at home and her husband was back at the track. He guided his young driver to another top five finish, ending the day in fourth.
PHOTO CREDIT: Dillon Bassett – Bassett Racing
UNOFFICIAL FINISHING ORDER:
1. Dillon Bassett
2. Garrett Campbell
3. Joey Mucciacciaro
4. Brandon Jones
5. Kaz Grala
6. Travis Swaim
7. Brodie Kostecki
8. Taylor Stricklin
9. Randy Benson
10. Garrett Jones
11. Ryan Wilson (-1L)
12. Michael Leavine (-2L)
13. Chandler LeVan (-2L)
14. Thomas Beane (-3L)
15. Jay Payne (-3L)
16. Ronnie Bassett, Jr. (Accident)
17. Dylan Hall (Accident)
18. Tyler English (DNS)