Carl Downey may have been a late arrival to the Short Track Simulation Circuit (STSC), but he has already established himself as a weekly contender. Downey cemented that status by winning the Country Thunder 100 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Downey led the final 44 laps of the 100-lap event around the Tennessee half-mile, holding off Tilly Tamburlaine on a late restart to secure the victory in his fifth career start.
The win marked Downey’s third top-five finish in those five appearances, as his career started with a third-place run at Oxford Plains Speedway. He followed that with a fifth at Berlin Raceway, but had returned to mortal status before winning at Bristol.
Tamburlaine put together a strong charge in the closing laps, but was ultimately thwarted by Juan Deag. Deag visited pit road and returned to the racing surface just behind the leaders, then challenged Tamburlaine hoping to earn a lap back. This held up Tamburlaine enough to allow Downey to extend his lead, only for Deag to retire a few laps later.
Danny Vandoorne continued his roller-coaster season with a third-place finish, moving from sixth to second in the STSC points standings. Vandoorne is now 24 points behind Kurt Gunnabee, who finished 20th after losing a lap early in the race. Tallahassee King and Julia O’Sullivan rounded out the top five.
As Vandoorne moved up to second in points, Jack Stevens and Joe Trickle each fell a spot. One week removed from closing the gap on Gunnabee after a mechanical failure, Stevens finished 34th, four laps down, to lose ground on the points leader. Trickle finished 36th with a retirement, while Chester Curd fell out of the top five after finishing 38th, taken out in an accident.
Now, eight drivers sit within 101 points of the leader Gunnabee with three races remaining in the STSC’s inaugural season. For context, Vandoorne made up 50 points on Gunnabee at Bristol alone, meaning the title chase is still wide open.