A.J. Hartman had been on top in American Iron all weekend. He scored the top time in qualifying Friday and won the qualifying race. Meanwhile, lurking just behind all weekend was 2018 American Iron champion Michael LaPaglia.
LaPaglia jumped into the lead shortly after the green flag and held it for a while fighting off a hard-charging Hartman, who eventually did get around him, but it was fleeting. LaPaglia retook the lead and the checkered flag first, but Hartman ended up with the Championship after LaPaglia was DQ’d in the days following the event.
The DQ moved Jeff Wood up to second and Bruce Byerly up to third.
“He got me on the start and I was able to hang with him, but couldn’t quite make a pass stick,” Hartman said immediately after the race. “It was fun for sure.”
Jeff Wood, who finished third, but moved up to second because of the DQ, had the speed, but traffic didn’t work in his favor.
“So I was kind of hoping for a caution so I could get back up with Mike and A.J. but it didn’t work out that way,” Wood said. “I kept watching them, checking my times. It looked like we were running similar times. I just lost too much time getting through the pack. A caution would have been huge. I saw someone go off, and I saw dust everywhere, and I was like, ‘Oh, please. Please.’ And a couple of other times. But it wasn’t meant to be. But those guys raced hard all weekend and congrats to them. I’m happy. It’s my first NASA Championship weekend, so happy to come away with a podium.”
The DQ also helped NASA Florida’s Bruce Byerly, who moved from fourth and onto the podium in third. Byerly is the 2017 American Iron Champion.