BRISTOL, Tenn. — After several heartbreaking losses earlier this year, Spencer Bayston and CJB Motorsports were bound and determined to strike while the iron was hot on Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Bayston looked to have his $25,000 payday squarely tucked away on the final lap, but the first caution of the weekend flew and set up a green-white-checkered finish with Kyle Larson and Logan Schuchart hot on his heels.
It was a moment where The Last Great Colosseum shined as two gladiators went wheel-to-wheel for all the glory. Larson made his move down into turn one, but Bayston floored it and stuck the high side to fend off the first attempt.
The second and most hair-raising moment came at the white flag as Larson launched his slider into turn three and took the lead, but Bayston never wavered and somehow squeezed his No. 5 between Larson’s right rear and the outside wall with only inches to spare.
The bold and brave 23-year-old was side-by-side with the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion and led by 0.031 seconds as the white flag waved.
Using his momentum from a full-throttle hail-mary on the outside, Bayston edged ahead and shot to the bottom of turn one to protect his lead on the last lap. He held on over the final 0.533 miles and scored the biggest win of his life in the process at the Bristol Bash.
“I’ve got all the respect in the world for Kyle [Larson],” Bayston said. “He didn’t need to give me that little lane, but when I saw it open I was fully committed to sending it around the outside there. It was quite unnerving, but we’re standing in victory lane and that’s all that matters. It’s a high-speed, high-risk moment, but we came out with a high reward.”
The daring move banked Bayston a $25,000 payday (richest of his career) and his first win since joining the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series full time with CJB Motorsports. The Indiana native scored his eighth straight top-10 and jumped to sixth in the championship standings after a stellar start to the season.
“This has been a long time coming,” Bayston added. “We’ve been so damn fast every night. Barry Jackson is doing a phenomenal job. I feel more comfortable in this CJB No. 5 than I have in my whole career in any other race car. This is a testament to the equipment that Chad Clemens provides and what Barry, Scott [Vogelsong], and Brendan [Collum] do with it. Winning at Bristol Motor Speedway is something I’ll never forget.”
Officially, Kyle Larson crossed the stripe behind Bayston by0.762-seconds, but he was really only a matter of inches away from claiming his first win on the dirt version of Bristol Motor Speedway.
“I knew it was gonna be close,” Larson said. “As I got closer to the top I could hear him and I thought ‘man, I don’t want to squeeze him into the fence we’re going way too fast for that.’ Once he snuck by and blocked me into turn one, I knew that was it. I wanted to give him the decision to either lift or take it, and he definitely took it. There are some drivers that won’t shoot that gap, but he’s young.”
Closing out the podium was Logan Schuchart, who continues to show immense speed aboard a rejuvenated Shark Racing No. 1s. He fell short of a weekend sweep at the Bristol Bash but certainly leaves Tennessee with his head held high with a third-place effort.
“What a great weekend for this team,” Schuchart said. “I feel like we had the best car all weekend and I’m proud of that. If I could’ve capitalized on that restart it might’ve been different. I don’t think Bayston had more than an inch between him, Larson, and the wall, so hats off to him. I had a front-row seat, but just couldn’t go at them after I spun the tires on the restart.”
Feature (26 Laps): 1. 5-Spencer Bayston [$25,000]; 2. 57-Kyle Larson [$13,000]; 3. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$6,500]; 4. 24-Rico Abreu [$5,000]; 5. 2-David Gravel [$4,500]; 6. 83JR-Kerry Madsen [$4,000]; 7. 41-Carson Macedo [$3,500]; 8. 15-Donny Schatz [$3,000]; 9. 39M-Anthony Macri [$2,800]; 10. 8-Aaron Reutzel [$2,600]; 11. 1A-Jacob Allen [$2,500]; 12. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [$2,400]; 13. 49-Brad Sweet [$2,300]; 14. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$2,200]; 15. 11K-Kraig Kinser [$2,100]; 16. 6-Bill Rose [$2,000]; 17. 83-James McFadden [$2,000]; 18. J2-John Carney [$2,000]; 19. 20G-Noah Gass [$2,000]; 20. 7S-Jason Sides [$2,000]; 21. 1M-Landon Myers [$2,000]; 22. 3MF-Matt Frisbie [$2,000]; 23. 6X-Brian Paulus [$2,000]; 24. 7-Jake Spoon [$2,000]. Lap Leaders: Spencer Bayston 1-26. KSE Hard Charger Award:41-Carson Macedo[+5]