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Matthew Craig wins Masters of the Pros at Nashville by nearly 10 seconds

It wasn’t enough to simply win the Masters of the Pro 150 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, but Matthew Craig embodied the moniker on Saturday night upon taking the checkered flag. He crossed the line by 9.9 seconds over Bubba Pollard — easily the largest margin of victory in the history of the CRA: JEGS Pro […]

It wasn’t enough to simply win the Masters of the Pro 150 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, but Matthew Craig embodied the moniker on Saturday night upon taking the checkered flag.

He crossed the line by 9.9 seconds over Bubba Pollard — easily the largest margin of victory in the history of the CRA: JEGS Pro Late Model Tour.

The event was a co-sanctioned between the JEGS Tour and Nashville Speedway Fairgrounds and counted as a championship points race for both the traveling circuit and local division. Additionally, the $10,000 winner’s purse invited an all-star roster of 40 drivers to compete under the new LED lighting system in Downtown Music City USA.

Thus, it was quite the statement.

“We want to win every week, but when you have a car that is this good, you want to take advantage of it,” Craig told Short Track Scene after the race. “When you have a car that good early, you try to ride, but I would back it down, ride about 80 percent, and they would back it down too. So we got to the end, and I’ve slowed down the pace, and I’m still pulling away. It’s a good feeling.”

Craig took the lead from Travis Braden, who had led since Lap 25, on Lap 83. The race stayed green the rest of the way and the No. 54 remained unchallenged for the remainder of the event to take home his first green jacket, modeled after The Masters PGA event.

Craig hasn’t entered a lot of Pro Late Model races over the years, but his dad Jeff, has a relationship with Robbie White of RW Engines and they’ve wanted to take advantage of some new regulations they felt would help them be immediately competitive.

The 21-year-old knew he had a top-five car, but actually credited the changed made during a Lap 70 competition caution for the winning moves.

“It was a good car off the trailer in practice and qualifying, and no worse than a top-five car,” Craig said. “But it felt a lot better once the sun set and once we had that pit stop.”

The most notable incident actually occurred at the very start of the race. Jake Garcia stalled on the start and it bunched up the back half of the field. The accordion effect ultimately destroyed the cars driven by Austin Brawley, Charlie Keeven and William Hale. John Bolen was involved as well.

Jackson Boone led the first three laps before giving way to Pollard for the next seven. Dylan Fetcho led from that point until Braden passed him on Lap 25.

  1. Matt Craig
  2. Bubba Pollard
  3. Jake Garcia
  4. Travis Braden
  5. Jackson Boone
  6. Josh Brock
  7. Cody Coughlin
  8. Cole Williams
  9. Christopher Tullis
  10. Chase Burda
  11. Mandy Chick
  12. Jim Walls
  13. Austin Wilson
  14. Chase Johnson
  15. Trever McCoy
  16. Zachary Tinkle
  17. Bennie Hamlett
  18. Stephe Nasse
  19. Justin Marks
  20. Hunter Wright
  21. Davey Coble
  22. Dillon Oliver
  23. Dylan Fetcho
  24. Michael Bolden
  25. Michael House
  26. Mark Day
  27. Mason Keller
  28. John Bolen
  29. Daniel Bolden
  30. Austin Brawley
  31. Charlie Keeven
  32. William Hale

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.

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