After 44 Starts Josh Nelms Finally Finds Victory Lane In The JEGS/CRA All-Stars TourCRA_admin
Columbus Motor Speedway hosts traditional Memorial Day Holiday Weekend 100-lapper
Columbus, Ohio (Saturday, May 23, 2015): The JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance made their traditional Memorial Day Holiday Weekend stop at Columbus Motor Speedway in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday, May 23rd. The Memorial 100 Presented by JEGS.com saw the JEGS/CRA cars and stars take on the 1/3 (0.333) mile circular shaped paved oval for the fifth year in a row. In four previous appearances, Chad Finley had scored two wins (2013 & 2012) while Hunter Baize (2014) and Jimmy Carter (2011) were the victors in the other two races.
None of the previous winners were entered for the fifth edition of the event. Which meant that a new winner at the Buckeye State oval would emerge. In addition, only two drivers on the property had previously won a JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour race in their careers. So chances were good that a brand new visitor would make their way to victory lane. When all was said and done after 100 laps around the circular speed plant, Josh Nelms was the driver climbing out of his car after taking the checkered flag first. The Lockport, Illinois veteran, in his 44th career start, would finally put it all together and score the thrilling victory to give him the long awaited win he had been seeking since the inaugural season of 2011.
“We finally got this monkey off our backs! This has been a long time coming; I have been with this Tour since it started. I’m so happy get a win with these guys.” The emotional driver of the #71 LisaThomasSalon.com / VanDoorn Racing Development / Chevrolet stated in victory lane surrounded by his T.K. Racing Team. “We were able to hang with him (Brandon Oakley) a little bit. Then he had a tire going down and was really bogging down, but was trying to hold his position, I kind of muscled my way in there. I wasn’t backing off and I just wanted to kind of push my way through there, I passed him clean though. Then (Second place finisher) Kyle (Purvis) really raced me clean at the end, my spotter kept telling me he was there, but I was getting him in the corners, and it worked out.” The 39-year-old added.
After an inversion draw of a seven, it would be 18-year-old Howie Lettow Memorial Rookie title contender, Quinnton Bear and veteran Mike Stacy leading the field to Chief Starter, Scott Menlen’s green flag. Bear would grab the lead from the former Track Champion as the field sailed into the first corner. Bear would set a torrid early pace until Brandon Oakley fought his way to second from his sixth starting spot. On lap 11, Oakley sailed around Bear to take the lead with Bear in tow and following him around the circular oval.
The second of five cautions flew on lap 23 and on the restart, Bear briefly retook the lead from Oakley only to see Oakley recoil and grab the lead back the following lap. Oakley would get away from Bear and the rest of the field, picking up the D.T.S. Drive Train Specialists Halfway Leader Award in the process while veteran Josh Nelms was lurking and so was Kyle Purvis, who was making his JEGS/CRA All-Stars debut. 16-year-old Kody Evans would soon also join the fray making it a five car battle for the top five positions.
A pivotal moment came on lap 79 with Evans and Bear battling for position when they touched sending Evans around in turn one. As the laps continued to click off, Oakley’s car began to slow which allows Nelms and Purvis to scramble to get past Oakley’s ailing machine. A daring three-wide pass would see Nelms emerge out in front, earning him the AR Bodies Cool Move of the Race Award with Purvis right behind as Oakley would eventually pull off with a flat tire. Nelms and Purvis pulled away to battle for the win. Nelms was up to the challenge and wasn’t to be denied and after 44 career JEGS/CRA starts, the Lockport, Illinois veteran crossed the stripe first to break through for his first win in the series.
For Nelms, the all-time leader in career starts, he made the big jump from 10th to second in the points and is now guaranteed a starting position in the Mercy Master of the Pros 144 on Saturday, May 30th at Lebanon I-44 Speedway (MO). In addition and with his win, he is now tied for the all-time lead in career top fives with Chad Finley as both have 15 while Nelms sits alone on top of the mountain as the all-time leader in career top 10s with 33, 11 better than the next highest competitor. He also leads all drivers in most laps completed with a whopping 4,240 circuits toured and has the highest percentage of laps completed all-time at an even 70%.
Purvis, driving for the famed Columbus based team, JVM Racing in their familiar #7 Sizzle Marine / Ford fought hard with Nelms but would settle for second in his JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour debut. The 27-year-old standout from Caledonia, Ohio finished third in both the weekly Late Model and Modified Feature while also setting fast time in his Modified for an impressive night of racing for the Buckeye State driver. Purvis was the winner of the prestigious Run for the Gun 50 held during the Winchester 400 Weekend at the legendary high-banks of Winchester Speedway (IN) last season.
Stacy, the Enon, Ohio veteran in his 326 Platinum Express / Chevrolet fell back to deep in the top 10, but would recover to post a career high third place finish in JEGS/CRA competition and it came at his home track. The 47-year-old Enon, Ohio resident would make the huge leap from eighth to third in the season long points chase guaranteeing him a spot in the Mercy Master of the Pros 144 on Saturday, May 30th at Lebanon I-44 Speedway (MO). Stacy would also earn the FLUIDYNE High Performance Cool Under Pressure Award for his reemergence into the top three.
Elkhart, Indiana veteran, Randy Chupp also made his JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour debut and came away with a hard fought fourth place finish after starting in 15th. The oldest driver in the field at 57 years old in his #83 R.C. Sales & Leasing / Chevrolet scored the Five Star Racecar Bodies Hard-Charger Award as well as the first Great Lakes Tire / Hoosier Racing Tire Performance award for his efforts. Bear recovered from going to the back of the field twice to post a career high fifth place finish in his #94 Buzze Racing / Chevrolet. The Avon, Indiana teenager led twice for a total of 12 laps and picked up the VanDoorn Racing Development Rookie of the Race award as well as the Hedman Hedders Husler award.
Current points leader and Boyne Machine Company Fast Qualifier, Dalton Armstrong finished sixth to maintain his position on top of the standings heading into the trip to Missouri while 18-year-old rookie, Matt Mills posted a career high seventh place finish and picking up the second Great Lakes Tire / Hoosier Racing Tire Performance award. Outlaw Super Late Model standout, Phil Bozell finished eighth to climb up to from seventh to fourth in points and also guaranteeing him a spot in the Mercy Masters of the Pros 144 as Eric Lee finished ninth ahead of 15-year-old rookie, Austin Kunert who completed the top 10 with his career high showing.
Earlier in the evening in Boyne Machine Company Qualifying, Armstrong won his first career Fast Qualifier Award with a lap measured at a 13.806, which equals out to 86.832mph. The JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Track Record at Columbus remains in the possession of Chad Finley who on May 25th, 2013 turned in 13.642.
The next race on the 2015 calendar will be the biggest Pro Late Model event in the country, the 3rd Annual Mercy Masters of the Pros 144 on Saturday, May 30th at the immaculate 3/8s (0.375) mile high-banked paved oval of Lebanon I-44 Speedway, located southwest of St. Louis in Lebanon, Missouri. One of the richest paying Pro Late Model races in North America will see the winner get $8,000 plus bonuses as well as the signature green jacket, similar to the one that is known for adorning the champion of golf’s Masters event.
In two previous Mercy Masters of the Pros races, a pair of Peach State drivers have taken the money and jacket back home. 2014 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion, now 19-year-old Chase Elliott won the inaugural race back in 2013 as a 17-year-old while fellow Georgian, now 17-year-old Anderson Bowen is the reigning race winner having kept the jacket in the state of Georgia as a 16-year-old.
For more information about the 2015 racing season for all four touring series’ within Champion Racing Association Powered by JEGS, go to the new and improved series website located at: www.cra-racing.com You can also follow along with all of CRA’s touring series’ on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/ChampionRacingAssociation and on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/CRAracing Finally, for more information about Lebanon I-44 Speedway, the host track for the third race of the 2015 season for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour, go to the track website at: www.i44speedway.net