The NASCAR K&N Series East is loaded with talented young racers all looking to turn the heads of the big teams, but there was only name being talked about after the Zombie 150 at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday (April 6).
Sam Mayer didn’t just win the second race of the East Series season, he dominated the entire weekend in his #21 GMS Racing Chevy Accessories Chevrolet Camaro.
The 15-year-old Franklin racer gave a preview in practice and qualifying, topping the sheet in every session and capping it off with a new series track record with a blazing fast 14.978-second fastest lap in qualifying.
With the lone sub 15-second circuit, Mayer looked dominant in the early sessions, but racing at Bristol is a lot different that just running laps. Not for Mayer.
Mayer led 147 of 150 laps on the Bristol track, moving away in each of the three 50-Lap sessions and only the two mandatory cautions gave the chance for the pack to come back as Mayer confidently pulled away at the start of both the second and third sessions and pulled away. At the end of the race, Mayer held a lead of more than two seconds on the rest of the field.
Bristol, which is hosting the Xfinity and Monster Energy Cup races this weekend, is celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Dale Earnhardt winning in his first race at Bristol. It was hard for race announcers not to make the comparison to Mayer who was also making his first appearance at the track.
After claiming the trophy and Sword as race winner, Mayer told the interviewer from Fanschoice.tv winning at Bristol is special.
“I mean, Thunder Valley man, it’s one of the coolest places on the planet,” said Mayer. “Coming out here and winning like this, it means a lot. Everyone at GMS, Mardy (crew chief Mardy Lindley) and everyone on the crew, Chevrolet, it means so much.”:
Chase Cabre, 22, from Tampa saw the back bumper of Mayer slipping further and further away as he held the second spot for most of the 150-Lap race.
The results were mixed for the other two Wisconsin-based racers.
Derek Kraus, 17, from Stratford entered the race as the East Series points leader after his win at the season opener at New Smyrna in February in his #16 Bill McAnally Racing NAPA Auto Body/Curb Records Toyota Camry.
Kraus qualified 10th on Friday and battled inside the Top 10 throughout the event, ultimately crossing the line sixth.
Natalie Decker, 21 from Eagle River was making her K&N Series debut and turned in a solid qualifying time of 15.209 seconds, seventh best in the field.
However, Decker’s day was cut short as she was involved in an opening lap incident and ultimately placed 19th in final races positions in her #98 N29 Technologies/Yamaha Power Toyota Camry.
Mayer jumped past Kraus into the top position of the K&N Series points standings with the win. His two-race points total is 88 points, three ahead of Kraus who sits second, another three points up on Brandon McReynolds, 27, from Florida.
Decker is 21st in points standings with 25-points.
Next event in the K&N East Series East series will be a double race weekend at South Boston (VA) Speedway – the Twin 100’s on May 4 and the next West Series event will follow a week later, also Twin 100-Lap races at Tucson Speedway May 11.