Joshua Wilkinson won Saturday night’s rain delayed 5th Annual Corvega Clash in likely one of the weirdest editions of the race so far.
The race started a little after 9:30 after lingering rains forced the postponement of the ARCA series race prior to the event, and slowed track drying into the early evening. Once the rains cleared and the track dried, it was game on.
Defending race winner TJ Howard led the field to the green flag, by luck of the random draw that took place earlier Saturday afternoon. And while he led the opening two laps, the lead would trade a record 37 times, among a record 18 drivers, meaning just 3 drivers failed to lead a lap.
The first of the two segments, was quite uneventful, aside from lead changes, with Brendan Wolkowicz leading the field at the segment break. Urban Jaklin was the source of the only incident during the segment, when his car got into the wall off turn four, and was turned around by teammate Joseph Tanner. Surprisingly, no caution flew despite that. Jaklin would head behind the wall due to engine problems at the end of the segment, while Tanner’s damage would cause him to lose a lap. At the end of the segment he would pit for repairs after receiving the free pass.
The second segment started out much how the first ended – uneventful. A few cars would have minor scrapes with the wall, but nothing major would result. That is, until contact off turn four would cause Blake Turner, along with his teammates Michelle Mostiler and Casey Blandford, to go for a spin entering the tri-oval. The incident would produce the first caution as a result on track contact. Zachary Maloney was also collected in the crash. All four drivers would continue, and it set up some interesting strategy with pit stops.
All lead lap cars would pit, with the exception of Joe Reynolds and Zachary Maloney, who would each pit later on different laps. Ultimately, Joshua Wilkinson would inherit the lead after Maloney stopped on lap 58.
The race resumed, and then the big one struck. The field would complete a lap, and while working 62, the third and final caution would come as Joseph Tanner and Ben Smith both got turned by cars behind or beside them. The contact sparked a 13 car wreck that sent 10 to the garage for the night, and left three cars on track but with little to no chance to win because the damage the cars had.
Following the caution, Wilkinson would lead the field back to green. Philip von Borries, the fastest car from practice, would be the main challenge for the race win. Von Borries took the lead at lap 67, and looked capable of winning, but Wilkinson regained the lead with 6 to go, and was able to hold off the rest of the field. Wilkinson would win his second career Corvega Clash (he last won it in 2014A), and did so in his first start for his new team, ND Racing.
Kirby Ammons would finish in second, followed by Mary Capuzello, Fred Martin, Brendan Wolkowicz, Nik Kustak, and Philip von Borries, among the drivers remaining in contention for the win. Also finishing the race were Michelle Mostiler, Zachary Maloney, and TJ Howard.
Overall the race was record breaking. The race featured the largest ever field for a Clash at 21, had the most lead changes, besting last season’s event, and with 18 different leaders, besting last season in that category as well. Eleven drivers failed to finish, resulting in the most DNF’s in a Clash event.
Speedweeks continues Sunday with Daytona 500 Pole Qualifying, where the front row for the Daytona 500, and starting line ups for Thursday’s Budweiser Duels are set, starting at 12 PM ET. The postponed ARCA race will follow Corvega Cup Series Qualifying at 7 PM.