Defending ARCA East Series Champ Sam Mayer started off his 2020 season the best possible way by winning at New Smyrna.
It wasn’t easy for Mayer as he had to hold off a hard-charging Derek Griffith in the closing laps. Griffith, unknown to many, made his first start in the series and his first start for Chad Bryant Racing. The 23-year-old absolutely dominated the race until the latter stages. Griffith pitted for tires with around 25 laps to go, he then got a penalty on the pit sequence which put him further back in the field.
As the race went back to green Griffith picked off drivers one by one methodically working his way through the field and pouncing on any opportunity as other drivers used one another up.
A caution for Daniel Dye’s second blown tire of the night bunched the field back up. On the ensuing restart, Tanner Gray pulled his best Martin Truex Jr. wall ride impression bringing out a red flag.
That red flag and caution brought the field back together. Not only that, it allowed Griffith to make another run at winning the race he dominated.
On the restart, Ty Gibbs took Sam Mayer high and took the lead. The two would then battle for the next few laps showing once again why racing needs more short tracks. Mayer would regain the lead but Gibbs was there to remind him with bump after bump not to slip up.
Gibbs wouldn’t have time to worry about Mayer though as Griffith caught him and made quick work out of Joe Gibbs’ grandson. With the #18 in the rearview Griffith turned his attention to Mayer with 7 laps to go. The charging #2 Ford was able to catch Mayer but wasn’t able to get around him.
Griffith didn’t know he’d be in this was until Wednesday of last week. He had the strongest car Monday night, with Paul Andrews on the box this kid could be a force if the team can find funding.
For now, Sam Mayer celebrates with the trophy and a hot start to the 2020 season. The 16-year-old will make select NASCAR Truck Series starts this season for GMS Racing.
Follow us on Twitter @ApexOff