Chesson Earns Second Straight Irl Menards Infinit Pro Series Win
Morris Nunn Racing driver P.J. Chesson (No. 76 Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone) passed Paul Dana (No. 91 Ethanol / Hemmelgarn Johnson Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone) with seven laps remaining in "The Kentucky 100" and held on in the closing laps to take his second consecutive Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro Series victory and first career win at Kentucky Speedway this afternoon.
"It was a big patience game," said Chesson, who started the race eighth. "We sat back, we knew had a decent car, and we kept working on it and adjusting it as the race went on. It got better and better and better. It's the fifth race out and we've won to two races now. I don't know how you explain that, it's unbelievable."
Chesson charts his third top-five and fifth top-10 finish of the season since making his first start for the team at Kansas Speedway on July 4.
"It was a great racecar," Chesson said. "You have to a good car and good guys around you to be able to run the car where I was today. They're good racers. We were inches apart at 180 mph and I'm impressed with the guys."
The 25-year-old from Far Hills, N.J., is a winged sprint car specialist. He entered the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series when he began searching for opportunities similar to, but outside the sprint car ranks.
"I was introduced to Kathryn (Nunn) by Roger Bailey," Chesson said. "I was looking to get into something similar to wing sprint cars where you're on the gas and dealing with wings and aero stuff. I approached Roger Bailey about it and this seemed like the best avenue. He introduced me to Kathryn during the month of May, we hit it off pretty well, and so far, so good."
He crossed the finish line .0514 of a second in front of Dana in the closest series race in Kentucky Speedway history. Dana earns his sixth top-five and eighth top-10 finish of the season. The second-year series driver did not lead a lap in the 100-mile battle, but was able to cut into the 81 point deficit that separates him from championship leader Thiago Medeiros, who closed out the race sixth.
Dana drew within striking distance of his second win of the season after caution restart with one lap remaining in the race, but was unable to overtake Chesson on the final lap.
"We actually had a run at the (finish) line," Dana said. "He went so early on the restart that he caught us all napping. If I would have gotten a remotely respectable restart, I think we could have won it. The Ethanol car was awesome. It was so busy out there. I got hit twice and can't even believe I'm still rolling. It was a wild afternoon."
The 29-year-old driver hopes for a wild finish to the series season. After making up ground in the series points chase today, he will need dominant performances in the final four races of the season to contend for the championship.
"Honestly, to catch him (Medeiros), we need to win all four and he needs to struggle in all four and then maybe the math works out," Dana said. "We need to dominate and we have the car to do it."
Leonardo Maia (No. 33 Skip Barber Racing School Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone), Arie Luyendyk, Jr. (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone) and pole sitter Travis Gregg (No. 99 AVS Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone) rounded out the top five.
~ Kentucky Speedway ~