September 13th, 2017 by Jason Lofing
Taylor Hurst played spoiler in the battle for the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series championship, taking two tires during a caution with 13 laps to go then surging to the lead on a late restart to win his first race of the season at Chicagoland Speedway. Hurst restarted in fourth with ten laps to go but needed less than a lap to claim the top spot from Alex Bergeron just before the caution froze the field once again.
The race restarted for the final time with four laps to go and while Hurst got a good jump Ryan Luza was in hot pursuit despite the damage he sustained on the previous restart. With three laps remaining Luza closed to within a car length down the back straightaway but a crash further back in the field brought the caution out before Luza could challenge for the win.
Luza would settle for second, but while a victory would have locked him into the final round of the championship the runner-up finish let him build a reasonably comfortable margin over his fellow competitors.
Jimmy Mullis came home third, Bergeron faded to fourth, and Marcus Richardson finished fifth after running strong for most of the night.
Zack Novak led the field to the green after earning his fifth pole of the season but led only one lap before Logan Clampitt took the lead away. Clampitt would go on to lead a race-high 73 of 167 circuits while Novak found trouble on a restart after some bad luck with pit strategy. The damage ended his night and the polesitter finished thirty-eighth.
Clampitt continued to pace the field until Lap 33 when he gave up the lead to make his first pit stop. He briefly lost the lead until the cycle completed and then again on Lap 50 when Andrew Fayash, who was on a different strategy, stayed out under caution. Clampitt made quick work of Fayash though and took the lead back one lap after the restart, this time with Michael Conti in tow.
The second run was much like the first as Clampitt started to pull away on the long run but a caution closed the field up and Clampitt wound up losing the lead on pit road to Luza.
The clean air seemed to help Luza’s car as he became the class of the field out front, leading until he, like Clampitt before him, gave up the lead for service on pit road. A caution during the round of stops mixed up the running order but Luza still held the lead on the restart with 27 to go. Hurst was twenty-second and only climbed to fifteenth by the time the yellow came up with 15 laps remaining. However, the gutsy pit call worked and Hurst gained 11 spots in the pits on his way to victory.
While Luza failed to lock himself into the final four, he does hold a 15-point lead over Clampitt in the standings. Bobby Zalenski is third, 23 points back and is the final transfer spot since Ray Alfalla is locked in thanks to his win at Darlington. Corey Vincent and Richardson are only three and four points out, respectively while Novak has more work to do. He sits 33 points out after his crash and will likely need a win to advance.
With only two races remaining in the NPAS season the series heads to Dover International Speedway for Week 15. Three spots in the final four are still up for grabs. Who can join Alfalla in Homestead to fight for the title? Find out in two weeks when the NPAS drivers take on the Monster Mile.