Kayli Barker continues to make history at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The short track’s winningest female driver, Barker held off six-time track champion Scott Gafforini to become the first woman to win a NASCAR Super Late Models race at the 3/8-mile paved oval on Saturday night (Photo credit: Jeff Speer).
The victory – which came at the Chris Trickle Classic – was the 16th of Barker’s career at The Bullring and broke a five-year winless draught for the popular 20-year-old college student.
Barker started the 35-lap race from the pole thanks to a full invert and built a sizeable lead on the field before Gafforini began his charge. The 66-time winner chased Barker down over the race’s final 10 laps and rode her bumper all the way through turns 3 and 4 on the last lap, but Barker held strong and crossed the line .229 of a second ahead of Gafforini.
“I don’t even know (how it feels) yet, I’m so excited,” Barker said. “I had a great spotter behind me and a great team all day. We knew (the win) was going to come eventually, but just weren’t sure when.
“I knew that, starting on the pole, I was going to have a good chance if I got enough of a lead. I didn’t get my dad a Father’s Day gift because I was joking I was going to get him a trophy, so I’m glad I pulled it off.”
The first NASCAR Super Late Models feature also was a high-action affair, complete with numerous lead changes and cautions involving key players. Season points leader Jimmy Parker Jr. blew a tire on lap 26 of the 35-lap race and hit the wall in Turn 2, and Tyler Fabozzi also cut a tire and hit the Turn 3 wall with just five laps remaining.
Reigning division champion Justin Johnson held off Gafforini by .722 of a second to take the checkered flag for the 53rd time of his career at The Bullring.
“I didn’t have the best car, but luck just fell in our hands,” said Johnson, who has been competing in the Lucas Oil Modified Series this year. “My intentions this weekend were to get this car set up for Jimmy Parker, who’s running for a championship. Jimmy Parker Sr., my father-in-law, set this thing up pretty good, and boy was it fast.”
For the fourth straight time, Vinny Raucci Jr. made his way to the Winner’s Circle after winning the NASCAR Bombers race. Raucci Jr. came all the way from the back of the field and didn’t look back after taking the lead at the midway point.
The win helped Raucci Jr. break a tie atop the season points standings with Kyle Jacks, who finished third, with Adam Simon taking second place 1.328 seconds behind Raucci Jr. The victory was a great early Father’s Day present for Vinny Raucci Sr., who finished sixth in the race.
“It feels great, and there’s a lot of hard work that goes into these cars,” said Raucci Jr., who gave his trophy to teammate and longtime Trickle family supporter Michael Miller, who finished fifth. “I knew there were going to be some slow cars at the beginning of the race, and I just wanted to let them sort themselves out so I could pick them off. There’s countless hours put into these cars, so to come out and win races means a lot.”
Jason Irwin added to his Bullring legacy with career win No. 38, crossing the line 3.416 seconds ahead of Jace Jones in the USLCI Legends race. It was Irwin’s fourth win of the season, a triumph that was aided by some post-qualifying adjustments in the pits.
“This car was really good,” Irwin said. “We were a little off today and qualified second, but we made some adjustments and took some pretty big swings at it before tonight to help with the wind factor. It went the right way and was just really good tonight.”
Chris Bosley picked up his third USLCI Thunder Car win of the year, crossing the line 2.545 seconds ahead of Ed Hohman. It was Bosley’s 11th career win at the LVMS short track.
“I’ve been racing and working on these things a long time and just working to come into the Winner’s Circle every time,” said Bosley, the division’s points leader. “Thank you to everybody, because they put a lot of their time into coming out here and putting on a show, and this is what it’s all about.”
Kyle Keller earned his second consecutive Jr. Late Models win after passing R.J. Smotherman with two laps remaining in the 30-lap feature. Smotherman finished second by .630 of a second despite being sent to the back of the field after spinning Keller out on the second-to-last lap.
“Going into Turn 1, I just got hit from behind, and I was lucky the caution came out,” Keller said. “I already had no power steering, and it wouldn’t really turn, so I wasn’t afraid that (the car) was messed up. I just started from the pole again and won the race.”
In the NASCAR Super Stocks division, Mason Sargent made it two wins in a row after points leader Sam Jacks had car trouble on lap three of the 25-lap feature. Sargent took the checkered flag 1.276 seconds ahead of Chad Mattos to earn his 12th career Bullring victory.
“It feels good and was much more relaxed than last time,” said Sargent, who had to use a last-lap pass to win the race two weeks ago. “It was much easier today. Thank you to everyone who came out and supported me, and Happy Father’s Day dad.”
Eleven-year-old Landon Gresser remained perfect on the season, winning his seventh consecutive USLCI Bandolero Bandits race by 3.970 seconds over Jake Bollman. Amilleo Thomson claimed his third straight USLCI Bandolero Outlaws race, while Cindy Clark made her way to the Winner’s Circle for the first time by taking the 15-lap Skid Plate Cars feature.
Next event: Arguably the most popular of all Bullring events, the annual Night of Fire is up next on Tuesday, July 3. The night will feature a 76-lap NASCAR Super Late Model race, the second annual Figure 8 Trailer Race and post-event fireworks, and children 12 and under get in free with a ticketed adult.
Tickets are available on www.LVMS.com or by calling 800-644-4444.