Taylor Gray came away victorious Friday (July 8) in the ARCA Menards Series’ second race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. It was his second career win in the series.
Although everyone had practiced and qualified in dry weather, the rain came in just over an hour prior to the start of the race. ARCA officials then made each team transfer over to the General Tire rain tires for the start of the race. 23 cars took the green flag and chaos ensued.
Multiple cars had off-track accidents, but kept going, most notably the No.30 of Amber Balcaen who spun 6 times during the race. While many struggled, polesitter No.55 John Hunter Nemechek pulled away to over a 20 sec lead on the field. 2nd place was a highly contested battle between Nemechek’s Venturini teammates Jesse Love and Parker Chase along with the REV Racing’s Nick Sanchez and Rajah Caruth.
By the time of the halfway break, the track had started to dry up and the question was starting to be made, was it safe to switch to slick tires?. While most teams chose to stay on the wet tires, a couple of teams chose to put on the slick tires. The No. 15, 17, 2 and 6 teams had slick tires in hopes the track would fully dry up by the end of the race.
After dominating the 1st half, Nemechek had the No.18 of Sammy Smith staying right there with him, and the slick tires of Nick Sanchez also came into play as well. After contact with Smith it looked like Nemechek had it locked up, Sanchez flew past on the slick tires and looked like he was gonna steal the win.
an untimely caution with 7 to go bunched up the field and gave the teams who were still on slick tires a chance to put on slicks and be back in contention for the win. Due to a tire rule however, Both REV entries were given 2 lap penalties for changing to new slick tires.
Kris Wright, Parker Chase and Sammy Smith stayed out to the leaders on the restart, as the laps continued on it looked like Wright would steal the win, the No.17 Gray was right on his tail. In the back of the pack there was contact between teammates at both REV and Venturini on track which really jumbled the field.
Coming to 2 laps to go there was contact between Taylor Gray and leader Kris Wright, with Gray getting the better end of it. With over a 3 second lead, Gray led the final 3 laps and went on to secure his 2nd career ARCA Menards Series Victory.
More contact was made behind Gray as the No. 18 Smith spun the No.55 Nemechek in the final corner to finish 3rd. In the post race interviews, Nemechek was confronted by his teammates Jesse Love and Parker Chase as well as Sammy Smith. Nemechek would own up to his mistakes on track, but also said he wont forget what happened on the track.
The point standings after the race see Rajah Caruth keeping his points lead over Nick Sanchez and Daniel Dye, although the margin between them is down to 9 points. For Taylor Gray and DGR, getting another win and closing the gap to Sammy Smith in the Sioux Chief Showdown championship
The next race for the ARCA Menards Series is Friday, July 22nd at Pocono Raceway.