Humpe (58) was dealt a winning hand in Vegas.

Kenny Humpe went to victory lane last night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his first win of the 2015 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series Powered by iRacing. However, the win was not without controversy as Humpe made contact with Nick Ottinger while battling for the lead with just six laps remaining in the 167 lap event.  Ottinger had been leading since shortly after a restart on Lap 122 but Humpe had the better car and, as the laps wound down, began eating into Ottinger’s lead.

Humpe caught Ottinger with nine laps to go and started sizing him up, knowing that passing at Las Vegas is challenging at best. Three laps later, Humpe pounced on a mistake by Ottinger in Turn Two and made his move to the inside as they headed down the backstraight. Entering Turn Three Humpe drove it in deep, missing the bottom by a couple feet. At the same time, Ottinger tried to pinch Humpe tight to the bottom. The result was contact which sent Ottinger head-on into the outside wall and down the order to a thirty-seventh place finish.

Humpe heads to victory as Ottinger heads to the wall.

After the wreck it appeared there would be a one lap shootout to decide the winner but a crash on the restart resulted in the race ending under caution with Humpe first to the checkered and yellow flags. Defending series champion Michael Conti finished runner-up despite struggling mightily with his car’s handling after 15-20 laps into a run, while Matt Bussa was third and polesitter Chad Laughton came home fourth after setting the early pace. Danny Hansen rounded out the top five, nipping rookie Patrick Crabtree.

The first half of the race was quite tame as most drivers looked to ride in line, knowing how tough it was to pass. Laughton led the first 29 laps from the pole before  Humpe took the top spot away.  Humpe continued to lead until heading for pit road under green on Lap 83, a move that ended-up playing right into his hands.

While Humpe was getting serviced, David Rattler spun and crashed, bringing out a yellow flag which trapped everyone who had pitted under green a lap down, except for Humpe. This stroke of luck allowed Humpe to reassume the lead when all the remaining lead lap cars pitted under the caution flag. On the other hand, Laughton was not so lucky and was trapped a lap down and had to take the wave around. This put him well back in the field and despite a fast car, he could never fully recover and challenge for the lead again.

Polesitter Laughton had the speed but not the luck in Vegas.

Humpe looked to have the race under total control before the fourth yellow of the evening flew on Lap 117 which brought all the leaders to pit road. In an effort to save as much time in the pits as possible, Humpe dove hard into his pit box and slid through his box; a mistake which cost him track position as Crabtree, Ottinger and Conti all beat him out of the pits. Humpe, though, would not be denied and drove back to the front over the next 45 laps, culminating with his clash with Ottinger for the victory.

With his win, Humpe vaulted up the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series standings and trails Crabtree by three points for the series lead. Bussa is fourth, nine points back and three ahead of Laughton. Daytona winner Ray Alfalla dropped to fifth, 18 points back of the lead after finishing well down in the running order at Vegas after suffering crash damage just past the halfway point.

Next up on the schedule is Auto Club Speedway which also marks the first race on the new build. The build will introduce NASCAR’s 2015 rules package which includes less horsepower and downforce. This will likely mean old setups will be no good forcing drivers and teams to start from scratch in hopes of finding the winning combination. Could this new variable product a surprise first time winner? Tune-in to in two weeks’ time to find out!

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