The J stood for “just 0.005 seconds” — Thomas J. George’s margin of defeat at Sonoma Raceway. The driver known as Mr. Versatility was one corner away from adding a road course win to his PGRL resume, but Scott Eckrich had other plans. Eckrich passed George coming out of turn 11 on the final lap, inching his way to his 8th triumph of 2022.
Pete Baskins brought the 32-car field to the green flag for The Joy of Driving without Drinking 45 — redemption after finishing last the previous week at Gateway. George, though, got up through the gears quicker heading into turn 1, and his #2 Ford set sail through the hills of wine country.
A brief off-track excursion for the #2 machine in turn 3A handed the top spot to a chasing Greg O’Berry on lap 7. While the Sequential SimSport driver tried valiantly to build up an advantage, George didn’t let him get away, and retook the lead into turn 7 on lap 13.
George built up a comfortable margin heading into green flag pit stops. Vincent Crow tried an overcut strategy, and while it worked to gain position over Jeff Ward, it was not enough to cycle out ahead of Thomas J. George or Scott Eckrich, who was charging up through the running order from his last-place starting spot.
Eckrich caught George with just a few laps remaining and kept the pressure on the #2 car. On the final lap, with a lapped car ahead, George locked his right-front tire heading into the hairpin. Eckrich got better drive off, and the two friends banged doors coming to the checkered flag. The #70 beat the #2 to the line by 0.005 seconds — the closest finish in PGRL history.
Vincent Crow finished 3rd, his best result in PGRL competition. Jeff Ward and series newcomer James Moore rounded out the top 5.
The Pretty Good Racing League takes a week off before heading to Nashville Superspeedway for the BeefJurski’s Cheesecake Emporium and Banana Breadery 200 on Tuesday, June 28. The Virtual Grip Network will have all the action from Music City covered live beginning at 8:50pm ET.