Taylor Gray secured his second career ARCA Menards Series win Friday, leading the final two laps at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
The 17-year-old Gray, driving the No. 17 for David Gilliland Racing, took the lead coming to two laps to go when he got underneath Kris Wright in the final turn, became loose and slammed doors with him. Gray quickly drove out to a 1.7-second lead. He ultimately finishing with a roughly eight-second lead over Parker Chase.
Gray’s win comes after he also won at Phoenix Raceway in March.
“First off, I want to say sorry to Kris,” Gray told Fox Sports 1. “I didn’t want to race him like that, I want to race him clean. He bobbled getting into Turn 12. I took the bottom and it was still slick down there and I lost the front (tires) and doored him. I didn’t want to race him like that. But we got the win, that’s all that matters. … Awesome call by (crew chief) Chad (Johnston) coming down and getting (slick) tires. Awesome job by the pit crew getting me out first.”
In third was Sammy Smith.
Coming to three laps to go, Jesse Love and John Hunter Nemechek spun from contact in the final turn.
Nemechek then was spun from behind by Smith in the final turn coming to the checkered flag .
Nemechek, the NASCAR Truck Series driver making his first ARCA start, finished fourth and Love placed seventh fifth.
“I feel like if someone’s going to ruin your day, you ruin their’s,” Smith told FS1 about dumping Nemechek. “He came over an apologized for wrecking me and told me good job for wrecking him back. I think we’re good.”
Nemechek dominated the first half of the race, leading all 22 laps on the water-covered road course after an afternoon filled with rain.
But after the mandatory competition caution for pit stops, the track was relatively dry and the real race began.
Nemechek and Smith’s teams elected to stick with wet tires, while Nick Sanchez took slick tires.
After the restart, Smith began a heavy challenge of Nemechek for the lead, getting around him for the first time on the frontstretch with 14 laps to go.
The Toyota drivers swapped the lead multiple times over the next two laps.
With 12 laps to go, Nemechek got into Smith’s rear bumper and sent him spinning off course, allowing Nemechek to secure the lead with a five-second advantage over Sanchez. Smith visited the pits the next time by to get slick tires.
He returned to the track in sixth, but was penalized for speeding and had to revisit the pits to serve it.
With 10 laps to go, Sanchez caught Nemechek and easily passed him for the lead in Turn 2.
A couple of laps later the race’s second caution for an incident waved for the No. 91 of Colby Howard stalling on the track.
This allowed any team still on wet tires to even the field by putting on slicks.
Sanchez, who was leading, and Rajah Caruth were among those who changed tires and they were issued two-lap penalties for going from slicks to slicks.