Sam Mayer walked away victorious on Monday in the ARCA Menards Series East opener at New Smyrna Speedway. The 2019 NASCAR K&N East Champion started sixth on the leaderboard and led 28 of the 175 circuits. The victory will mark his fifth career win in the East division.
“I was riding behind him saving tires cause I knew he hadn’t pitted yet,” said winner Sam Mayer in victory lane. I’m definitely going to enjoy this one, beating Ty (Gibbs), and all these other people. Their team is amazing, and beating them is definitely something to be said.”
Mayer held off hard charging Derek Griffith in the closing laps of the 84-mile event. Griffith, piloting the No. 2 Chad Bryant Racing Ford and making his series debut, was popped for pulling up to pit and sent to the rear of the field prior to a restart with a handful of laps left. Before the penalty, Griffith led 144 laps.
“Definitely,” Griffith said after the race when asked if he could’ve caught Sam Mayer with five more laps. “Man, that thing was HOOKED UP, and we didn’t take tires. These General Tires held up really good.”
Mayer leaves the season opener with 12 career top five and top 10 finishes in the East division.
Ty Gibbs rounded out the top three finishers on Monday. The driver of the No. 18 Monster Energy Toyota started fourth and led the field for five laps.
Nick Sanchez and Giovanni Bromante rounded out the top five.
Stephen Nasse, Corey Heim, Parker Retzlaff, Chase Cabre and Max McLaughlin rounded out the top 10.
The race remained calm with single-car incidents until lap 145 when three cars tangled in turn four. Tanner Gray, Mason Diaz and Max McLaughlin came off turn four three wide following a restart on lap 144 and simply ran out of racing room. Tanner Gray’s No. 17 Ford went on its side against the outside retaining wall damaging the catch-fence before landing back on all four wheels. The incident resulted in a lengthy red flag period for fence repair.
Gray finished 18th while Diaz finished 17th as a result of the melee. McLaughlin continued and finished 10th on the lead lap.
Tonight’s race will air on NBCSN at 1:00 p.m. ET. on February 14.
The ARCA Menards Series East will return at Five Flags Speedway on March 14. The event will air live on NBC TrackPass Gold at 8:00 p.m. ET.