(Cordele, GA) The JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance opened its 2024 season last week at Crisp Motorsports Park’s Watermelon Capital Speedway for the Speedfest 100. The feature event was a non-points race, but the grid’s talent stole the headlines leading up to the green.
Qualifying saw lap times in the low 16 seconds with the Yoder Construction Fast Qualifier of Hudson Bulger (No.17) cracking a 15.965. Michael Hinde (No.69), Bubba Pollard (No.26), Josh Hicks (No.62), and Ross Chastain (No.25) rounded out the top 5 qualifiers. When the time came to redraw it was Augie Grill (No.43) grabbing the JEGS Pole hat to start first for the main event. Once the green flag dropped on Saturday, it was shown why Watermelon Capital Speedway is known for its great racing. Early in the run Augie Grill was the driver to beat but Michael Hinde was consistently a car length back ready to strike. Trouble would then occur on lap 23 as Jeremy Miller (No.5) would bring out the first yellow by spinning off turn 4. After the restart, another caution would be shown on lap 29 for Grant Thompson (No.38) as he found himself in the turn 3 watermelon patch.
Once the field reracked the fight for positions didn’t stop. Bulger and Christensen dueled for 8th while Pollard and Nasse (No.51) battled for 3rd. Ross Chastain and Josh Hicks used the bumper on each other fighting for 6th but once the dust settled it was Chastain overtaking the position. The Yoder Construction Fast Qualifier of Hudson Bulger found himself turned around on lap 41 when the driver of the 17 squeezed Mike Hopkins (No.15) into turn 1, making contact.
The restart on lap 41 showed the most intense racing all day with four drivers consistently battling for the lead. It was Grill, Hinde, Pollard, and Stephen Nasse battling nose to tail, wheel to wheel for fourteen laps. Then on lap 55 Bubba Pollard made a three-wide move to the outside of Hinde and Nasse that put him well in the running for the lead due to Nasse pressuring Grill on the bottom. The 43 of Grill then went wide defending the top spot all he could where he then made contact with Pollard thundering on the top side. Grill would end up in the outside wall bringing the yellow out and ending his Speedfest 100 run.
After the restart, a caution would come out two laps later for Kevin Cremonesi (No.28) stalling on the bottom of turn 3. The quick stint showed drama as Bubba Pollard and Michael Hinde shoved multiple times nearly throwing both cars onto the backstretch grass. After transmission failure, Bubba Pollard would call it a day parking his 26 car in the garage.
On lap 57, the final restart of the race showed Ross Chastain powering on the outside to take the lead from Stephan Nasse. Then the battle was on. Nasse stuck with the Rackley WAR 25 as both fought side-by-side for the lead. Nasse would then gain the advantage and on lap 64 would take the lead. Stephen Nasse went on to win the Speedfest 100 at Watermelon Capital Speedway. Ross Chastain, George Phillips, Seth Christensen, and Mike Hopkins would round out the Top 5.
Next time the JEGS / CRA All-Stars Tour presented by Chevrolet Performance takes the green flag will be at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan Saturday, April 27th. Berlin will hold the first points-paying racing for the tour.