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Stardust Memories for Kamikawa
(Vegas) -- Ev Kamikawa has been the stalking horse in the race for the Husarsbilt Cup in 2018-19, but at the Stardust 500 he has made it clear he's in this championship battle to the finish with a win that pulls him even with John Wiedemann for second place, 35 points behind Mike Lack with three races remaining.
The night started with a career first for Black-Atom Racing's Pete Dorn, who scored his first pole position edging out Kamikawa by 15-one-thousandths of a second over their four lap qualifying run and setting a new single lap track record of 1.654 seconds.
In the heats the challenge for all the drivers at Stardust Speedway was avoiding the green lane, typically, if a driver was in green they did not advance out of the final, However, in the opening heat, Pete Dorn followed up his pole position with a win, holding off Ev Kamikawa who would be the exception to the rule about the green lane, having started in yellow and finishing in green, the PenskeHO Racing veteran piled up enough laps to transfer into the final as did third place in that heat, hometown favorite Chris Spehert. The only driver not to transfer out of the heat was title contender John Wiedemann, starting in green, the USAF car was unable to recover in the second half and wind up sixth on the night.
The second heat started out with Mike Kristof again leading Mike Lack in the first half of a heat, as he did at Rapids two weeks ago, and again he couldn't close the deal, moving to the green lane he fell behind Lack and Tom Spehert, who had a solid run to fifth place on the night. Lack would take the win to advance, while Kristof would settle for seventh on the night and Matt Hayek struggled in qualifying and his heat to finish eighth.
In the final, the early battle was between Kamikawa and Lack as they traded the lead, while Pete Dorn started closing in and by half way, with a lightning fast pit stop, the #5 Arrow Electronics car soon passed Lack as the #1 SealMaster car was shuffled to the green lane. Dorn then showed how quick he was taking the lead over Kamikawa after several spinouts for the #12 Verizon car. But the pressure of possibly taking his first win may have gotten to Dorn as he started losing the handle on the car while Kamikawa took advantage to pull out a lead that he would hold to the checkered flag and take his second win of the season and the 43rd of his career moving him into solo second place on the all-time victories column, just one behind record holder Dan Margetta. Dorn would still have his best finish of his career in second and his fifth final of the season. Mike Lack struggled in green in the second half to finish third and hold off the hometown driver, Chris Spehert who was satisfied to make his first start of the season and finish fourth.
The series moves back to it's historic home, the Shrine Desert Road Course for the Shrine Cup in two weeks. Can Wiedemann or Kamikawa close the gap on the five-time defending champion, but with double points on offer for the season finale HO Indy 500, it's almost impossible to be able to close out the title before the last race.