Jeff Ward may have had the most dominant car, but Tommy Rhyne had a perfectly-calculated strategy. The Unacceptable Racing driver stretched his fuel tank to the absolute limit — twice — to score his first win in PGRL competition at Nashville Superspeedway.
Cody Erdmann started the BeefJurski’s Cheesecake Emporium and Banana Breadery 200 from pole position. The #52 Chevrolet held the top spot for 15 laps, before being passed out of turn 4 by Michael Chrobok. Chrobok led double-digit laps for the first time all season, keeping his #72 Ford out front for 22 circuits.
With the Nashville setup leaning on the tight side, Chrobok was no match for understeer expert Jeff Ward. Ward, who started 19th, had a long-run car that was class of the field, and he took over the lead on lap 38.
It looked like tire management would tilt the race in Ward’s favor, as the race was slowed by just one caution. But the timing of the yellow — right on the edge of the fuel window — set the stage for a dramatic strategy showdown. Ward and Chrobok opted to pit twice in the final run; Scott Eckrich and Tommy Rhyne, who both started at the rear, stopped just once.
Eckrich went into major fuel-save mode, running part-throttle for much of his laps. Rhyne, who stopped three laps later than Ekrich, did not have to lift-and-coast as much. The #99 machine caught and passed the #70 with 11 laps to go, and had enough fuel to coast to the checkered flag and do a celebratory burnout. With the victory, Tommy Rhyne earned himself a choice of victory cheesecake or banana bread courtesy of BeefJurski’s Cheesecake Emporium and Banana Breadery.
Eckrich, meanwhile, ran out of gas on the final lap, handing second place to Jeff Ward, but holding on to third himself. Woody Mahan and Ricky Hardin, also on the fuel-saving strategy, rounded out the top five.
The Pretty Good Racing League heads to Wisconsin for the Grand Brie of Road ‘Merica Benefiting Dog McStacks on Tuesday, July 5. The Virtual Grip Network will have all the action from Elkhart Lake covered live beginning at 8:50pm ET.