Presley Sorah claimed his spot in the Interstate Batteries Monday Night Racing Pro Series Round of 8, winning at the virtual Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 16.
Sorah won the Next Level Racing 225 in an ARCA Menards Series car, surviving a thrilling finish while running three-wide in the middle in the race’s closing laps. The field crashed coming to the checkered flag while Sorah soared out front ahead of the mayhem.
He joins Chase Cabre in the next round of the playoffs.
“I didn’t know what was happening coming from turn 4 to the checkered,” Sorah said after the race. “I knew I was getting moved around a bunch, I was getting hit in the door, I was getting hit from behind. I didn’t know where the run was coming, I didn’t know. I thought I was going to get wrecked coming to the checkered and tri-oval. Somehow I got the run and Justin [Melillo] gave me a little tap in the right rear and just propelled my car perfectly enough to get past DJ [Cummings] on the inside. I don’t think if I’d have gotten that push from Justin, I don’t think I’d have gotten the win.”
Relive with us the moment Presley Sorah punched his ticket into the @MonNightRacing Round of 8 in the #NextLevelRacing225 at @DAYTONA #MNRPlayoffs | @nextlvlracing | @interstatebatts pic.twitter.com/hiycM9EST1
— Podium Sports (@PodiumeSports) January 17, 2023
Other drivers still fighting for the title were Leighton Sibille in 13th, Garrett Smithley in 14th, David Schildhouse 17th, Corey Heim 18th, Collin Fern in 26th and Nick Olsen mired back in 32nd after a late crash.
But when the field began to make their green-flag pit stops about 30 laps in or so, chaos ensued. All of the previous leaders had problems when they pitted, whether it was speeding or spinning. They all incurred black flags while in the first group.
Later groups that pitted had similar trouble, including playoff drivers Collin Fern and Matt Stallknecht.
These mishaps left other drivers to inherit first place, starting with James Bickford. Ryan Vargas, Connor Barry and Chase Cabre also battled for the lead after capitalizing on others’ mishaps during the pitstops.
Vargas held the lead for the majority of this segment until some lapped cars, which were trying to get their laps back, took him out of first place temporarily. Rajah Caruth tagged the left rear of Vargas’ car, turning him around and collecting others like Bickford and Ronnie Osmer. The damage was too severe on Bickford’s car for him to continue, and he dropped out of the race.
Vargas, however, had hardly any damage and was able to keep running near the front.
This allowed Alfredo, DJ Cummings, Sorah and Stallknecht to make their way to the front four spots within the next five laps. Joey Padgett was also near the front but pitted with 21 laps remaining.
As the laps wound down on the 2.5-mile superspeedway, many of the frontrunners attempted to save fuel. Caruth became a lap down and joined the front pack, hoping for a caution near the end of the race.
Unfortunately, Caruth became the caution he was searching for with 11 laps to go. He was spun after attempting to go four-wide with Sorah coming down. This caused a huge melee, with other cars scattering into the grass trying to avoid the crashes in front of them. Mark Rebilas, who was battling for third at one point, and Sexton were also caught up in the crash.
The race restarted with seven to go with Sorah and Cummings on the front row, but the yellow flag waved once again for another incident involving Reid Wilson and Olsen at the rear of the field.
With four laps left, Sorah, Cummings and Melillo battled at the front with the pack forming three lanes to close out the race. Multiple crashes occurred over this run, with the biggest one happening as they approached the finish line.
Sorah came out on top for his second victory of the season.
Up next, the Porsche 911 cars take on Watkins Glen International for the final race in the Round of 12. Coverage airs Jan. 23 at 8 p.m. ET on Podium eSports’ Twitch and Frontstretch’s YouTube channel.
About the author
Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor while continuing to write daily fantasy and news articles. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.
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