A fast car, a growing lead, and the final laps closing in. Drake Troutman was only moments away from his first career DIRTcar Summer Nationals victory Tuesday night at Moberly Motorsports Park. And then, pop.
The right-rear tire on Troutman’s Wheeler Fleet Solutions, Jay Dickens/Longhorn #7 had blown while entering Turn 3, dramatically slowing him through Turn 4 before the caution was thrown. He pulled behind the wall and into the pit area, and just like that, the 18-year-old Pennsylvanian’s run was over in a matter of seconds.
Outside polesitter Billy Moyer Jr. had been stalking him a handful of car lengths behind, waiting for his opportunity to strike and take the lead back. He inherited the lead under the yellow, fended off a hard-charging Jason Feger, Morgan Bagley and Kye Blight in the closing laps and brought the field back around to the checkers to win his 11th career Hell Tour Feature in the opening race of Week 2.
“Eleven Summer Nationals wins – that’s pretty cool,” Moyer Jr. said. “I’ve been around this a long time and watched a lot of guys who ran a lot of Summer Nationals races and never won more than three or four. So, it’s pretty cool to win 11.”
Back in the pits, Troutman stood by his car, knowing it was fast, despite the bitter outcome.
“That was an upsetting deal, for sure,” he said.
On the other side, Moyer Jr. celebrated his $5,000 victory and recalled the moment when he saw Troutman’s right-rear issue, knowing he was about to be the leader for the final restart.
“My first thought was, ‘Alright, now don’t let anybody behind you get you,’” Moyer Jr. said. “We had a little luck, so we’ll take it.”
Moyer’s run to the checkers started with a run out front for the first 16 circuits of the 30-lap event. Troutman trailed him by only a half-second on average every lap, waiting for Moyer to make a mistake and capitalize.
The two leaders broke away from the pack and soon dipped into lapped traffic, where the gap tightened the most. Troutman ramped-up the banking in Turn 1 with a great burst of speed on Lap 17 and drove right around Moyer Jr. on the top side, sealing the pass down the backstretch.
“We were just kinda riding around there, and if the right opportunity came, we were going to take it,” Troutman said. “[Moyer Jr.] ended up moving down that one trip for the lapper and it just opened up the door for me.”
Though he had just lost the lead, Moyer Jr. had already devised a plan to put himself in a spot to regain it.
“Once [Troutman] got by me, I knew I had a [big gap] on third place – I was just halfway cruising,” Moyer Jr. said. “I was trying to get [Troutman], but I was thinking at that point, it was gonna be hard to pass him. So now, I was trying to make my tires last. And we did, luckily.”
Once he did, there was no stopping Moyer Jr, who cruised to the Week 2 Summer Nationals victory in his first start of the season.
The DIRTcar Summer Nationals Late Models head to the famed Iowa 1/4-mile of Davenport Speedway in Davenport, IA, for a Wednesday night show on June 21. Tickets will available at the gate; streaming is available at DIRTVision.com.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)
Feature (30 Laps): 1. 21J-Billy Moyer Jr; 2. 25-Jason Feger; 3. 31AUS-Kye Blight; 4. 42-Chad Finley; 5. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr; 6. 15-Clayton Stuckey; 7. 58-Tyler Clem; 8. 4G-Bob Gardner; 9. 22H-Daniel Hilsabeck; 10. 42H-Johnathan Huston; 11. 14X-David Melloway; 12. 50K-Kayden Clatt; 13. 38-Thomas Hunziker; 14. 14M-Morgan Bagley; 15. 7-Drake Troutman; 16. 22R-Will Roland; 17. 21-Billy Moyer Sr; 18. 5-Austin Vincent; 19. 101-Forrest Trent; 20. 30-Mark Voigt; 21. 4D-Doug Tye; 22. 12-Ashton Winger