Michael Rouse and Alex Yontz raced side by side for the last three laps of the 150 lap UARA race at Myrtle Beach Speedway on Saturday night, with Rouse taking his first UARA win by a bumper.
Garrett Campbell led the twenty-seven car field to the green but that was short lived as Barry Andrews threw a tire in turn three, collecting Bo Foust and Hunter Bledsoe.
Garrett and outside pole sitter Yontz slugged it out for a few laps on the restart, with Campbell eventually taking the lead. On the move was Clint King who took second from Yontz on lap 25. In four more laps King took the top spot and opened up a huge lead. Also on the move were Jamie Caudill and Brennan Poole, who took the second and third spots, respectively, by lap thirty-five.
With the race settling in for a long green run there was little movement up front until lap 47, when Poole took second from Caudill. On lap 55 a new challenger came to the front as Lee Tissot took over third spot.
Poole steadily began to reel King in, and took the lead on lap 69. On lap 77 King's decline continued on the rough Beach track surface when Tissot took second. The race's second yellow flew on lap 81 when Hunter Bledsoe hit the wall in turn two.
Poole, Tissot and Caudill were the top three, but Kyle Grissom was up to fourth and starting his charge was Rouse, who worked his way to fifth after starting eleventh.
The top five stayed on each other's bumpers and with fifty to go Rouse began to make his move. By lap 107 he was fourth and a lap later he took third. Five laps later he got by Tissot for second.
Yontz found a second wind and began to move to the front as well, taking third on lap 118. Up front Rouse and Poole fought side by side for several laps until Poole finally gave up the position with 25 laps to go. Five laps later Poole's tires continued to decline as Yontz took second, setting up the stage for the finish.
But there was a new challenger for the lead as UARA points leader Coleman Pressley saved his tires and with 18 to go slipped by Poole to take third spot.
With fifteen to go everything changed when fifth place Ronnie Bassett and sixth place Kyle Grissom both rolled to a stop in turn four with flat right fronts, bringing out the final caution. The caution turned into a red as someone dropped fluid on the track surface.
The restart came with six laps to go, and with three to go Yontz dived to the inside of Rouse. The two raced that way until the checkered flag. There was some contact as they came under the starter's stand, but Rouse hung on to win by a bumper. Pressley had the best seat in the house, watching in third. Little did he know how close he was to the win.
In post race inspection Yontz was disqualified for a technical infraction, moving Caudill up into the fifth spot. It was a heartbreaking end for a great race between two guys who never gave in inch, but never put a wheel wrong either in the final three laps.
Pressley maintained his points lead, and considering he discovered a flat right rear after the checkers, he was content with his finish. “We raced here the last couple of years, and we've lost races by going to soon and it looks like tonight we lost one by waiting too long, but we found that flat tire so that might have had something to do with it. But, you know what, we've got a third place here, we've got a straight race car, we've still got the points lead so congratulations to Michael Rouse, it's a feel good story. I thought for a minute there I was going to get one the way I lost it last week by two leaders crashing but we'll go to my stomping grounds at Hickory next week.”
Rouse was thrilled with the result for his little team. “We raced door to door beatin' and bangin', I barely nosed him out at the end. I'm tickled to death. We're a small team and I want to thank everybody. “ Asked if his strategy was to wait until the last fifty laps before making a move, Rouse agreed, saying, “Everybody told me just to ride. This is my second time here so I just eased up and mashed the gas like there was an egg under my foot.”