It was so hot at Buttonwillow in June. … How hot was it? It was so hot, one of the cars blew up before the green flag even flew for Saturday’s race.
The caution period shortened the race and that meant Matt Million’s pole position would be even more beneficial. Nick Sommers, who qualified second, was having transmission problems just before race time, and by the time he made it to grid, he had to start from the back of the pack. Mike Haddad qualified third.
The red-and-yellow restart was bungled, and that gave the cars up front an advantage. Million took off with Haddad and fourth-place qualifier Lee Papageorge in pursuit. Sommers managed to get his transmission to work well enough that he began working his way through the field, and by lap six, he had overtaken Haddad for second, where he finished.
“I was having a hard time finding fourth,” Sommers said. “I would go from third to second a few times and that hurt me, but I was able to come from eighth and fight my way to second, and just hold on till the race was over. That was our new transmission. We don’t have another one so we’re just going to try to figure out what’s wrong and see what we can do.” Million was way out front by himself the whole race.
“It was a bit lonely,” Million said. “I’ll take the points for the Teen Mazda Challenge Championship. That’s always good, but I’m definitely looking for a better fight tomorrow.”
For Sunday’s race, Million and Sommers put a gap on the field and battled each other. Sommers made a late-race pass into Grapevine and made it stick to take the win. Million finished second.
The race for third had been tight all race long between Douglass and Brett Becker. With just six minutes to go, Daniel Verity and Haddad had caught up to Douglass and Becker, and the battle for third was the one to watch. Douglass missed a shift and Becker got around him and held third for a lap. With the white flag flying, Douglass got underneath Becker entering the Sunset turn, ran wide, forcing Becker off. That bobble gave Haddad an opening, but he couldn’t get the pass done entering The Esses and he went four-off in a cloud of dust. Douglass went on to take third.