Connor Okrzesik hadn’t enjoyed the kind of year he expected after a breakout performance in 2019.
He famously outdueled both Bubba Pollard and Kyle Busch in late model races last year, winning some high-profile events and increasing his expectations as one of Late Model racing’s rising young stars.
But, the Grand Bay, Ala., driver had been met only with frustrations before Sunday’s Allen Turner Hyundai Pro Late Model 100.
A day after turning 19, Okrzesik celebrated in style by winning the 100-lap race by a nose against 15-year-old Jake Finch and late model veteran Stephen Nasse, who was looking to sweep the day after his victory in the Blizzard Series 150.
The three leaders waged a fantastic finish over the race’s final laps. With the checkered set to wave, Okrzesik and Finch swapped paint coming out of Turn No. 4 with Nasse close behind. As they reached the flag stand, Okrzesik pinned Finch against the outside wall and edged him at the line.
“I didn’t wanna get into the 81 car,” Okrzesik said of Finch. “We were all loose coming off the corner, and I just held (the throttle) wide open trying to get to the checkered flag.”
He got there by a radiator, then wheel-hopped Finch before both spun out their torn-up PLMs in Turn No. 1.
“I can’t do a burnout because the car is wrecked,” said Okrzesik, who took the lead from Nasse on Lap 80. “That sucks, but it’s amazing we finally pulled it off after so many years of trying here. It feels great. I’m just glad we won it.”
Despite not finishing the race because of tire and radiator issues, Chris Davidson won his first career Allen Turner Hyundai Pro Late Model track championship at Five Flags.
He came into Sunday’s race 18 points ahead of 14-year-old Grant Thompson. Thompson had issues of his own and failed in his quest to make up enough ground on Davidson. The Pearland, Texas, driver won the crown by a mere four points against Thompson.
“It just kept getting worse and worse,” a frustrated, but relieved Davidson said. “We weren’t gonna finish anyway today, so we pulled it in. It was a rough day, but thankfully we were good enough at the beginning of the year.”
- Connor Okrzesik
- Jake Finch
- Stephen Nasse
- JoJo Wilkinson
- Charlie Keeven
- Kyle Plott
- Grant Thompson
- Hudson Halder
- Justin Bonnett
- Steven Chunn
- Dustin Smith
- Troy Grisaffi
- Brandon Brilliant
- Chris Davidson
- Elliott Massey
- Bobby Reuse
- David Pritchett
- Greg Fore
- Adam Nelson