From Anthony Corini
SARVER, Pa. (September 23, 2017) – David Gravel survived a pair of late caution flags and held off Brad Sweet to pick up his 14th victory of the season at Lernerville in the running of the Commonwealth Clash. Gravel saw the white flag on two separate occasions only to see a caution come out both times. Gravel led all 37 (extended because of the yellows) laps over Sweet and Donny Schatz.
Gravel and the CJB Motorsports team, who did a scheduled engine change after Qualifying, won their heat race before finishing second in the Craftsman Club Dash.
Gravel got the jump on fellow front row starter Brad Sweet and led the opening three laps before a Red Flag for Jason Sides, who took a wild crash on the front stretch and off of turn one, stopped the action. Thankfully, Sides walked away from the accident under his own power.
On the ensuing restart, Sweet took the lead from Gravel down the backstretch but a caution for Lernerville Track Champion AJ Flick, who had major front end damage, negated the pass.
On lap eight, fourth-place running Daryn Pittman jumped the tricky cushion in turn four bringing out the caution. A handful of laps later Brent Marks, who was running in the top ten, suffered the same fate.
Brad Sweet fell off the banking in turn two allowing Sheldon Haudenschild to take over the second spot at the time of the open red flag on lap 14. Sheldon began closing in on Gravel, before making the same mistake as Sweet off of two and letting the aforementioned re-gain second.
As laps winded down, Gravel grappled with heavy lapped traffic allowing Sweet to close in. Sweet lurked behind the CJB Motorsports No.5 before making a bid for the lead with a slide job attempt off of turn four, to no avail. The unsuccessful slider allowed Gravel to pull away.
On the final circuit, Danny Holtgraver ended up backwards in turn two setting up a Green, White, Checkered finish. Gravel again commanded control on the restart before taking the white flag, only to see another caution. Gravel was strong once again on the restart and this time went on to pick up the victory.
“I didn’t really know what to do. I knew I didn’t want to give the bottom away,” Gravel said about the multiple restarts. “I saw Brad stick his nose under me early and I knew I had to step it up,” the Watertown, CT native said in Victory Lane.
“Once David got control, it was tough to get by him. We had lots of chances in lapped traffic, but could not get the job done,” Sweet said following his runner-up finish.
Donny Schatz quietly worked his way forward from seventh to complete the podium. Shane Stewart and Friday’s winner at Eldora, Tim Shaffer completed the top five. Kraig Kinser, Jason Johnson, Daryn Pittman (from the rear), Logan Schuchart and Chris Andrews completed the top ten. Danny Holtgraver picked up the KSE Hard Charger award.
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