Layfield Rim Rides to First Non Wing Victory at PPMS!
As with many things in life, experience plays a key role in success in auto racing. Although Grafton, West Virginia’s Andre Layfield lacked much experience in traditional wingless sprint cars, he did have many laps and some prior victories on the monster 1/2 mile of Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway. Combining his many laps there in modifieds and winged sprints, Layfield appeared to have adopted a “devil-may-care” attitude as he rode high against the unforgiving steel wall, flirting with destiny lap after high speed lap.
The 21 lap BOSS non wing feature event was paced to green by Westerville, Ohio’s Kirk Jeffries with recent Southern Ohio Speedway winner Landon Simon alongside. At the drop of the green flag, Jeffries wheelied to the lead with Simon in tow along with 3rd starting Mark Cassella. Meanwhile, Layfield wasted little time in asserting himself in the fray as he shot from 7th to 3rd in the first 3 laps using the extreme high side of the track.
The battle for the lead was intense early as Simon dogged Jeffries for the lead while Cassella and Layfield closed in on the pair. Simon wrestled the lead from Jeffries on lap 3 and exiting turn 2, Cassella had a run and nearly passed both for the lead! Off turn #4 to complete lap #3 found the 4 drivers nearly 4 wide for the lead! Simon went on to lead the next 7 circuits with heavy pressure now from the “West Virginia Wildthing” Mark Cassella.
On lap nine, Cassella threw a slide job on Simon for the lead off turn 2 and fellow Mountaineer driver Layfield followed him to the runner-up spot. The new lead duo then began to pull away and distance themselves just slightly with Cassella appearing to be in full control as the laps clicked away.
On lap 15, the race’s first caution flew for a flat right rear on the #9c of Charlie Cornelius. This breathed new life into the hopes of the rest of the top 5 as Cassella was the leader with Layfield, Simon, Jeffries, Brandon Matus, Brandon Spithaler, and Tony Beaber all still in the mix. On the restart, Cassella drove ever harder into turn 1 and 2 and extended his lead down the backstretch, but the caution may have broken Cassella’s rhythm as he brushed the outside wall off turn #4 completing lap 16, flattening his right rear tire and sucking him into the turn 1 guardrail, bringing out the 2nd and final caution of the race.
Layfield now found himself with the lead and 5 laps standing between himself and his first trip to victory lane in the traditional sprint car world. He wasted no time on the restart letting everyone know that Andre “Dr Dre” Layfield, was in the house. He sailed over the final 5 laps appearing like a wingless veteran as Simon, Jeffries and Beaber threw down in a fierce battle for the runner-up spot. At the wire, Layfield emerged victorious with Simon second and Beaber barely edging Jeffries for 3rd. Jeffries and a late charging Brandon Spithaler rounded out the top 5. Dustin Smith made some late race moves to get up to 6th and Brandon Matus had a great race running in the top 5 most of the event, but finishing 7th. Arnie Kent, Adam Miller, and Brent Matus rounded out the top 10.
Heat #1: 1) Andre Layfield 2) Dustin Smith 3) Brandon Spithaler 4) Arnie Kent 5) Chuck Wilson 6) Lewie Christian
Heat #2: 1) Mark Cassella 2) Kirk Jeffries 3) Aaron Middaugh 4) Adam Anderson 5) Bob McMillen 6) Brent Matus
Heat #3: 1) Landon Simon 2) Tony Beaber 3) Brandon Matus 4) Adam Miller 5) Paul Kish 6) Charlie Cornelius
Feature: 1) Layfield 2) Simon 3) Beaber 4) Jeffries 5) Spithaler 6) Smith 7) Brandon Matus 8) Kent 9) Miller 10) Brent Matus 11) Anderson 12) Middaugh 13) Wilson 14) McMillen 15) Cornelius 16) Christian 17) Cassella 18) Kish
Lap Leaders: Jeffries (1-2), Simon (3-8), Cassella (9-16), Layfield (17-21) – 2 cautions
Hard Charger: Brent Matus (+7) – $50 cash bonus courtesy Horne Performance Motorsports
Steel Block: Adam Miller – $50 cash bonus courtesy Superior Tank and Trailer
Hard Luck : Mark Cassella – $50 gift certificate courtesy Indy Race Parts
Hoosier Tire: Landon Simon – Free tire from Hoosier
American Racer: Brandon Spithaler – $100 gift certificate from American Racer / Lias Tire