(Justin Gareis and the entire Tretow Racing bunch celebrate the biggest win of the season for the group / LN Photo)
CONCORD, NC : Justin Gareis capped off his breakthrough season with a spin and win in the annual Spooktacular Bandolero Outlaws 80 lap race on Saturday at Concord Speedway. Gareis began the day by qualifying his #53 Tretow Racing prepared Bandolero on the pole for the longest feature race of the season and just edging out track champion Cameron Bolin in the process.
Gareis jumped out to the lead after a quick side by side battle with Bolin to begin the first 40 lap segement of the Outlaws feature as the event is split into two 40-lap segments with a break inbetween them.
Following an accident on lap 18, Gareis and Bolin lined up on the front row for the restart. As the field came off of turn two on the first green flag lap, Gareis went around in front of the entire field. Carson Ramsey, Luke Akers and Austin MacDonald all spun to avoid the Gareis car that was in the middle of the track, but for Johnathan Lesik his day ended after he made hard contact with the outside wall. Officials deemed that Bolin made initial contact with Gareis that sent the 53 around from the lead of the race and sent him to the back of the field as well.
After the field was reorganized from the accident, Josh Speas inherited the top spot from his previous position of third. Speas went on to lead the balance of the first half of the 80 lap feature as the field left the race track for the halfway break. Behind Speas, Ethan Norfleet, Trevor Wester, Garin Mash and Jadyn Daniels rounded out the top five runners. Gareis made his way back up to 6th and Bolin 8th as the field reached the scheduled break.
After a couple hours off track for other racing events, the Outlaws returned under the lights to conclude the final 40 laps and determine the winner of their Spooktacular feature. On the restart, Speas took off to a sizeable advantage as the drivers behind were door to door for second place on back. Speas’ lead was wiped out after Cameron Murray was sent for a spin on lap 48 to bring out the yellow flag.
Gareis and Bolin lined up in second and third behind the leader Speas for the restart and wasted no time taking the battle three wide for the top spot. Gareis would eventually come away with the lead once again with his closest rival Bolin up to second as the next caution flag waved a few laps later for another spin.
With 19 laps remaining the field doubled up for another restart, but it wasn’t long before another incident took place. Norfleet was working his way under Wester for the fourth spot through turns three and four, when Norfleet went around as he exited turn four. Daniels, who was having a career run, slammed the outside wall hard. She was in the sixth spot at the time of the accident, but was able to exit the car under her own power.
Following the accident the race restarted on lap 64 with Gareis and Bolin out front. Speas, in third at the time, was shuffled to the outside in turns one and two and subsequently hit by another car which damaged his car and forced him to retire from his final Bandolero race with brake issues.
The biggest accident of the race took place on the ensuing restart as Murray was sent for a spin across the middle of the field in turn three after contact with Cole Bruce. Akers, Ramsey, Nathan Blackburn, Logan Clark and MacDonald were all involved. Akers hit the outside guardrail, but continued on to finish fifth in the feature. MacDonald was also able to continue and came home fourth, with Ramsey a season-best third in his #77.
Over the final 11 laps of the feature race, Gareis and Bolin checked out to settle the win amongst themselves before Gareis eventually crossed under the checkered flag first to score his biggest win of the 2017 season and his second consecutive Outlaws win in the annual Spooktacular race.
“I don’t think there has ever been a race were I really didn’t look in my mirrors a lot,” Gareis said on his race win. I think it showed there was a few times I accidently cut-off a few people, honestly. I learned last year that you can’t control anything in this race, you can’t control everything in any race, but especially this one with how unpredictable it is. I knew Cameron [Bolin] was there for most of the race, but beyond that I had no clue who was behind me.”
“It has meant the world to me to see how far we have come. The first part of the season here at Concord we were a fourth place car at best. Something really clicked midway through the [Summer] Shootout. I think we started to figure it out. It means a lot to see how far we have come from last year, because last year we were worse than a fourth place car at best. Last year we struggled to get top tens and now it is almost a given we will be a top ten car.”
“I really, really love this race. We won the Spooktacular last year, just not the way I wanted to win it. Tonight really showed that we have figured out Concord.”
Gareis finished the season fourth in national standings with 10 wins during the INEX point season, which runs from March 1st through October 8th, and added his 11th feature win of the 2017 calendar year on Saturday in the Spooktacular feature race. The team will now take a much deserved break before returning to run the Winter Heat, which begins in December at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s fifth-mile oval.
Spooktacular Outlaws Results :
- Justin Gareis (#53)
- Cameron Bolin (#67)
- Carson Ramsey (#77)
- Austin MacDonald (#27)
- Luke Akers (#13)
- Logan Clark (#15)
- Garin Mash (#2)
- Trevor Wester (#8)
- Ethan Norfleet (#56)
- Josh Langille (#11)
- Garrett Lowe (#6)
- Cameron Johnson (#1)
- Cole Bruce (#31)
- Cameron Murray (#04)
- Josh Speas (#54)
- Jadyn Daniels (#24)
- Franklin Caricofe (#33)
- Nathan Blackburn (#44)
- Johnathan Lesik (#12)
- Eddie Slagle (#58) – Did Not Start