Summer is not quite over, but class was already in session during Champions’ Night at Cook Out Summer Shootout presented by the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Tuesday Night. Trackhouse Racing mechanic James Civali took his teammates to school in an epic school bus slobberknocker to cap the grassroots racing series’ 30th anniversary season.
Daniel Suarez gave the command to fire engines in Spanish as Ross Chastain waved the green flag for one of the most memorable school bus races in Summer Shootout history.
Civali and Josh Heidkamp were neck-and-neck until a run-in along the backstretch brought out the yellow flag and brought the pack back together. On the race’s final lap, Civali and Heidkamp were once again trading paint and the lead until Heidkamp slammed hard into the backstretch wall off of Turn 2 to end the race under caution, with Civali narrowly edging out the field for an unforgettable win.
On the final night of the season of the Cook Out Summer Shootout, Cullen Hutchinson (Night Owl Contractors Beginner Bandoleros), Wyatt Coffey (Bandits), TJ Moon (Bojangles Outlaws), Jackson Denton (UNC Charlotte Young Lions), Dwayne Holder (Old Armor Beer Co. Masters), Parker Traves (VP Racing Fuel Semi-Pro) and Jake Bollman (Boston Reid & Co. Pro) also claimed victory, while six worthy drivers earned hard-fought division championships for the 30th anniversary season.
Boston Reid & Co. Pro
Jake Bollman proved why the Boston Reid & Co. Pro Division is considered the best in all the land as he claimed his third Cook Out Summer Shootout victory of the season in the 25-lap A-feature Tuesday night. Cameron Bolin claimed second, with Jadyn Daniels in third, Garrett Gumm in fourth and Justin Calabro finishing out the top five.
Alex McCollum took the Boston Reid and Co. Pro Division title for the first time in his Summer Shootout career. Three victories in the 10-race shootout proved to be enough to lift the Huntington Beach, Calif. native to the title and earn a famed championship belt.
“To be able to get this (Cook Out Summer Shootout Championship Title), is a dream come true,” said McCollum. “It feels really good to race with the best of the best and come out with a championship.”
Old Armor Beer Co. Masters
Dwayne Holder put on a master class in driving, pacing the field for all 25 laps of the Old Armor Beer Co. Masters division. Josh Mullins finished second, with Mark Green, Carl Cormier and Kevin Foisy rounding out the top five finishers. With his podium finish, Green earned his first Cook Out Summer Shootout Masters title since 2019.
With a 15-point cushion entering the final race of the season, Green knew he didn’t need to win, but needed a clean race to secure the championship. A caution-free affair aided his efforts, and ultimately Green got the job done to take home the title.
“My daddy always told me ‘Any fool can knock somebody out of the way, but to try to pass them, that’s where you become a racer,’” said Green.
VP Fuels Semi-Pro
While Parker Treaves claimed the win in Round 10, George Phillips’ consistency throughout the season earned him the top spot in points and the title of VP Fuels Semi-Pro champion at the Cook Out Summer Shootout.
Mason Lastra started and ended the race at the head of the field, but following post-race inspections, he was disqualified, giving Treaves’ No. 60 machine his first win of the season.
Leading by almost a full second from Lap 3 to Lap 9, Phillips was able to finish in the third spot for the final race of the Cook Out Summer Shootout season. Phillips is no stranger to the winners’ circle, with four victories on the season setting him up to win the 30th annual Cook Out Summer Shootout for the VP Fuels Semi-Pro division.
“It absolutely means so much to me. I was able to stay consistent every week. I had great competition and I just want to thank the lord most of all,” said Phillips.
UNC Charlotte Young Lions
Jackson Denton dodged his way through nine cautions and subsequent restarts to take home his fifth win this season and the championship in the UNC Charlotte Young Lion division. With Keelan Harvick starting at the pole, Denton quickly powered his Legend car to the lead; however, the battle for the top spot didn’t end there, as Ryan Zima passed Denton after a restart on Lap 3.
Zima and Denton were bumper to bumper, a car length ahead of their opponents, until Harvick and Dillon Thomas made contact and brought out the caution. On the ensuing restart, Zima charged back out front and charged to victory.
“It’s awesome. This is my best trophy in Legends Cars so far. It just means a lot to win it in this 10-race series,” said Denton on winning the Cook Out Summer Shootout UNC Charlotte Young Lions title.
Although Ben Morabito earned the Bojangles Outlaw championship Tuesday night, TJ Moon put up a fight during Round 10 of the Cook Out Summer Shootout, taking the top spot on the podium for the second time this season.
Moon led the final race of the season from green flag to checkered. Throughout the race, the Taylorsville, NC native was able to distance himself from competitors Alison Johnson and champion Morabito. Only on restarts following the six cautions of the race were drivers able to get a glimpse of the top spot. But in the end, Moon drove away with a convincing win.
Ending the season with 859 points, Morabito’s two wins proved to be enough to earn the coveted 2023 Cook Out Summer Shootout Championship belt.
“The up and downs have been the hardest part of the whole year,” said Morabito. “We’re just thankful we can just get up this far and everybody that’s helped me get up here. It’s been a tough road, but eventually, we were able to do it.”
As it has all season, the Bandolero Bandits championship battle came down to four drivers. LaQuan McCoy, Jack Smith, Colt Johnson and Wyatt Coffey all entered the final week of the season with two wins each and locked in a tight points race. When the final checkered flag fell, Coffey picked up his third consecutive win, but McCoy did just enough to hold off the competition and hold on to his narrow points margin to take the championship by just seven points over Smith.
“It’s great being able to win a championship here at Charlotte after so many years,” McCoy said. “I’d say the biggest challenge of the summer for me was this race. I was really nervous before the race, but when it started, I felt like I had it.”
Night Owl Contractors Beginner Bandoleros
In the final Night Owl Contractors Beginner Bandolero division race of the season, Cullen Hutchison outran all of the battles that took place behind him en route to collecting not only his first Cook Out Summer Shootout win, but also his first-ever checkered flag on asphalt.
Early in the race, Corbin Cannon challenged Hutchison for the lead, but a malfunction in his Bandelero brought out a caution and moved him back to fifth. Roman Petrino benefitted from three cautions to race his way into second place, but Hutchison’s Bandolero was unstoppable on the way to victory, holding off the field by five car lengths.
NEXT UP: America’s Home for Racing kicks off its fall season of speed at The Dirt Track at Charlotte during this year’s Circle K Monster Truck Bash. Ten 2,000-horsepower machines will face off in an evening of jam-packed action and car-crushing fun for all on Saturday, Aug. 19. Adult tickets are $30, while children 12 and under get in for just $10! For tickets, schedules and more details, visitwww.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets.