Depending on how Chase Cabre decides to respond over the final three races, Sam Mayer either virtually clinched the K&N Pro Series East championship on Thursday at Bristol Motor Speedway or made it much more challenging to finish races the rest of the year.
The two championship contenders was running first and second on the first lap of the Bush’s Beans 150 when second-place Mayer ran flat into the back of Cabre and sent his rival backwards into the Turn 3 wall.
Mayer entered the race with an 11-point championship lead over Mayer, and the points battle had become secondary to their personal rivalry over the summer. The two have engaged in hard-racing and the resulting contact at both Memphis Raceway Park and Watkins Glen International and both have conceded that a rivalry had developed between them.
The pair started on the front row of Thursday’s race, with Cabre jumping ahead, but the lead was short-lived. Cabre was able to finish the race, but finished eighth in a damaged car.
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NASCAR race control penalized Mayer to the rear of the field for the contact, but the GMS Racing youngster promptly drove back through the field, and executed a second bump-and-run on leader Spencer Davis with 13 laps remaining to complete the season sweep of K&N races at the Tennessee half-mile.
Cabre needed to be lifted out of the car following the race, suffering from back spasms, and was transported to a local hospital for X-rays.
Chase Cabre, still in his car, to Sam Mayer crew chief Mardy Lindley about the first lap crash.
"That was chickenshit."
Cabre needs assistance getting out of the car after the damage done to his car. pic.twitter.com/KRNCCQIOTF
Mayer did not hold back his feeling about Cabre during his winner’s press conference.
“I tried to get in there and move him out of the way, but I just got in there too hard,” Mayer said. “He kind of deserved it for how he’s been racing me this year, but I didn’t want to do it like that. It happened though, and luckily our team was able to fight back for a win … but that’s not how I wanted to do it.”
Mayer also accepted NASCAR’s decision to send him to the rear.
“It’s all in NASCAR’s judgement, but I mean … I did flat-out dump him,” he said. “I didn’t mean it at all, but I did get in there way too hard and get into him, so I understand.”
Cabre told SpeedSport on Friday morning that he has had enough of how Mayer is racing him.
“I think it’s pretty clear I got cleaned out on Lap 1,” Cabre said. “It’s sickening to see the way Sam races, but that’ll happen when you have someone driving that doesn’t know what a 9/16 wrench is and will rely on dad’s money. Money doesn’t buy respect or talent.
“And then to have the audacity to say, ‘yeah, he deserved it,’ as I was being transported to the ambulance … he’s got a lot to learn if he wants to make it in the sport.”
Mayer says he doesn’t want a rivalry, but conceded that it’s probably too late.
“I don’t want it to be,” Mayer said. “He just keeps racing me like a you-know-what. I can’t say the word that describes him in here, but he does not race me clean and I have not appreciated that all year long. It started at Memphis, all the way back there, but I just waited until it really mattered.
“And unfortunately, I did it big.”
Mayer now has a 22 point lead over Cabre and 37 over Max McLaughlin with three races left at Gateway, New Hampshire and Dover.
Cabre is 22-years-old and says that’s the only reason he hasn’t physically fought the 16-year-old Mayer.
He's 16. I can't
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