Race Report: Bommarito Automotive Group 500
MADISON, Ill. (August 20, 2022) -- The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway is meant to be run under the lights, and with a little help from Mother Nature's rain delay, it was -- despite the early 5 p.m. CT start this year.
The first 217 laps of the 260-lap race were run in daylight. However, a brief rainstorm caused the race to be red-flagged at 6:55 p.m. Restarted two hours and 10 minutes later, the lights were on giving the final 43 laps the dramatic look the track is known for.
The crew performs the final stop of the night--fresh tires and fuel for the final 40-plus laps of the race.
Both Kyle Kirkwood in the No. 14 Bommarito Automotive Group Chevrolet and Dalton Kellett in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet, who started 20th and 24th respectively, had relatively quiet races. With the first 144 laps run under green, there was little or no passing happening anywhere on the track, the drivers ran where they started. A 12-lap caution on lap 145 for Jack Harvey's grazing the wall set up a highly charged restart but everyone made it through intact.
With temperatures dropping after the rain delay, the action on the track picked up as cars were able to utilize the high groove setting up several rounds of dramatic passing especially among the leaders.
Kirkwood did have a dramatic moment where there was an equipment miscue on a pit stop and he left the pits ablaze. Fortunately, the flames extinguished themselves when he got up to speed on the track.
"Alright, so finished p 17," said Kirkwood. "The positive take is we went from 20 to 17. So we gained positions, we didn't lose positions today. But we just didn't really have the ultimate pace that some of the guys did, especially when it got dark. Those were conditions that we hadn't run in yet. And it definitely caught us out for those last 43 laps. But I mean, another learning curve to definitely put under our belt. We were pretty solid in the beginning, but we couldn't do anything with our pace just due to traffic. We missed it on strategy a couple of times too and it put us a lap down which was unfortunate but nonetheless we kept the car clean. So we'll go on to Portland with a clear head."
The storm clouds are brewing for the eventual rain that caused a two-hour stoppage of the race.
Kellett's strategy was negated by the two-hour rain stop, thwarting his gaining another five spots had the race continued under green uninterrupted. However, he ran a heads-up race and posted his second highest finish of the season with his 18th place result.
“We started 24th and finished 18th, so I’m happy we were able to make up some spots in the race," Kellett said. "That’s always the goal when you don’t have a good qualifying session. The situation was looking really good for us before the rain came. We wouldn’t have had to pit before the end, there were probably four or five cars that we might have jumped if it had gone green to the finish. Mother Nature doesn’t always play in your favor, but we got the race back underway for the fans under the lights, which is what matters. I’m happy we moved up but we would have liked to have been a little further up the grid when all was said and done.”
Josef Newgarden won his third straight race at this track and fifth of the season. Rookie David Malukas turned in a career-best finish as the runner-up after hustling from fifth in the final 30 laps. Rounding out the top five were: Scott McLaughlin, Pato O'Ward and Takuma Sato.
The team will head to Portland, Ore. this week to test before the Labor Day weekend race in the Rose City which will be broadcast on NBC on Sunday, Sept. 4 starting at 3 p.m. ET.