Special firsts highlight 15th annual Night of Fire at The Bullring at LVMS

July 5, 2015 by  

Special firsts highlight 15th annual Night of Fire at The Bullring at LVMS
Dennis Rock Jr.
enjoyed a much better Night of Fire at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway than he did a few years ago (Dennis Rock Jr. wins Spirit of ’76 76-lap NASCAR Super Late Models – Photo credit: Jeff Speer /LVMS)

The Henderson, Nev., driver survived a heated battle and held off all-time track win leader Scott Gafforini to claim his first career “Spirit of ’76” 76-lap NASCAR Super Late Models feature in front of a boisterous crowd at the 3/8-mile track. His 2015 result was a welcomed change after one experience in particular.

Matt Larsen of St. George, Utah, edged Ryan Vargas of La Mirada, Calif., by a nose in the NASCAR Super Stocks feature

Matt Larsen of St. George, Utah, edged Ryan Vargas of La Mirada, Calif., by a nose in the NASCAR Super Stocks feature

Photo credit: Jeff Speer /LVMS.

“A few years back, my car was on the billboard (for this race) because it caught on fire on the Night of Fire,” Rock Jr. said. “This is a much better finish.”

Dustin Ash, a 55-time winner at The Bullring, and Las Vegas veteran Stan Mullis had good runs going before experiencing car trouble. Gafforini – who has a track-best 61 victories under his belt – will have to wait another year to perhaps win his first Night of Fire race.

15th annual Night of Fire at The Bullring at LVMS

15th annual Night of Fire at The Bullring at LVMS

Photo credit: Jeff Speer /LVMS.

The special evening kicked off the Fourth of July weekend in style, featuring a trio of Vegas Drift cars performing exhibitions, the introduction of skid-plate racing, waterless boat races and post-race fireworks. Robert Rice won the skid plate race in his No. 7 car, while Dylin Smotherman was voted by fans as the winner of the waterless boat races.

Matt Larsen picked a great night to claim his first career Bullring victory in the race of the night, banging and across the line just a nose (.017 of a second) ahead of Ryan Vargas in the NASCAR Super Stocks class. Vargas led most of the race before Larsen, of St. George, Utah, caught him on the second-to-last lap, and the two traded paint as they surged for the checkered flag.

15th annual Night of Fire at The Bullring at LVMS

15th annual Night of Fire at The Bullring at LVMS

Photo credit: Jeff Speer /LVMS.

“I was a little rough on Vargas, and I apologize for that,” Larsen said. “I’ve raced on this night a few different times, but have never gotten this close. It was awesome”

Shane Skaggs of Albuquerque used a great late-race re-start to earn his first NASCAR Grand American Modifieds win of 2015, holding off Jim Mardis by .293 of a second to secure his first career victory at The Bullring. Mardis led a good bit of the race before Skaggs was able to capitalize on the re-start.

15th annual Night of Fire at The Bullring at LVMS

15th annual Night of Fire at The Bullring at LVMS

Photo credit: Jeff Speer /LVMS.

“The car felt really good, and the biggest obstacle was saving the tires,” Skaggs said.

In the always competitive NASCAR Bombers division, Court Connell of Las Vegas held off a charging Aaron McMorran to claim his first win since opening night by just .082 of a second. Michael Greve was .443 behind, with Martin Sullins and Nick Nuccitelli finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, less than one second off the pace.

15th annual Night of Fire at The Bullring at LVMS

15th annual Night of Fire at The Bullring at LVMS

Photo credit: Jeff Speer /LVMS.

The Bombers’ feature was a special 25-lap “Breakout race,” where any leader would be assessed a stop-and-go penalty if they broke the 20-second barrier on any lap. None of the leaders made that mistake, and Connell was thrilled to pick up the win despite a wardrobe malfunction of sorts.

“The other drivers made it easy on me, and I just stayed in front of them and blocked a little bit and they pushed me,” Connell said of staying under the 20-second barrier. “I think I ripped my britches getting out of the car, so no peeking.”

Peyton Saxton of Las Vegas won for the sixth time this season in the USLCI Legends division, surviving a big field to finish .675 of a second ahead of Jordan Dean of Henderson, Nev.

“I’d like to thank the fans for coming out and putting up with the heat,” Saxton said. “It was really hot in that race car. I’d just like to thank everyone who helped me get into victory lane in this race car.”

R.J. Smotherman of Pahrump, Nev., kept his winning ways going in the USLCI O’Hanley’s Bandolero Bandits division, crossing the line first in the night’s opening race to earn his seventh victory of the season. Las Vegas’ Kyle Jacks followed with his third win at The Bullring in 2015 after finishing 1.678 seconds ahead of Philip Root.

NEXT RACE – Saturday, Aug. 22 – The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series continues with a full night of racing. In addition to a complete race schedule, fans can come to the Bullring early for the inaugural LVMS Show & Shine car show benefiting the Las Vegas Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities.

A number of car clubs from Las Vegas and surrounding areas will bring their prized cars to display and compete for prizes. The show will run from noon to 4 p.m. Pacific Time, and fans can also enjoy food trucks, table games, a balloon artist and cooling stations at the track.

The Bullring’s concession stand offers $2 hot dogs, $2 Coca-Cola products and $3 Budweiser beer on each NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race night. For more information on all events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, please visit and follow LVMS on Facebook and Twitter.

Night of Fire Complete results

USLCI O’Hanley’s Bandolero Bandits 12-lap feature

  1. R.J. Smotherman; 2. Dezel West (-.664 seconds); 3. Kyle Keller (-2.469); 4. Brodey Warren (-2,472); 5. Ethan Deguevara (-3.066); 6. Matthew Cunningham (-10.006); 7. Colbe Arnold (-1 lap); 8. Amilleo Thomson (DNF).

USLCI O’Hanley’s Bandolero Outlaws 12-lap feature

  1. 1.Kyle Jacks; 2. Philip Root (-1.678 seconds); 3. Mason Sargent (-2.065); 4. Christian Warren (-2 laps).

NASCAR Super Stocks 25-lap feature

  1. Matt Larsen; 2. Ryan Vargas (-.017 seconds); 3. Jason Kiser (-1.524); 4. John Spilotro (-3.221); 5. Robert Negrete (-5.734); 6. Kolleen Dresser (-8.845); 7. Steve Smith (DNF); 8. Adam Simon (DNF); 9. Mark Balconi (DNF).

NASCAR Grand American Modifieds 30-lap feature

  1. Shane Skaggs; 2. Jim Mardis (-.293 seconds); 3. Jason Irwin (-1.621); 4. Doug Hamm (-2.335); 5. Vinny Raucci Jr. (-2.674); 6. Marty DeLuca (-3.360); 7. Taylor Barton (-3.784); 8. Pat Petrie (-4.083); 9. Steven Durbin (-5.608); 10. Brian Reed (-1 lap); 11. Jason Kenzevich (-1 lap).

NASCAR Bombers “Breakout race” 25-lap feature

  1. Court Connell; 2. Aaron McMorran (-.082 seconds); 3. Michael Greve (-.443); 4. Martin Sullins (-.849); 5. Nick Nuccitelli (-.888); 6. Jeremy Stetzer (-1.210); 7. Pete Meyer (-1.311); 8. Justin Griffiths (-2.198); 9. Jason Merlino (-2.618); 10. Sam Jacks (-2.633); 11. Jim Merlino (-3.207); 12. Scott Bradbury (-15.974); 13. J.J. Nunn (-16.404); 14. Jeff Bargerhuff (-16.614); 15. Anthony Scalzo (-17.110); 16. Billy Hern (-18.644); 17. Savannah Ertl (-19.116); 18. Anthony Reigert (-1 lap); 19. Gerry Dittman (-1 lap); 20. Rich Ham (DNF); 21. Gary Wyatt (DNF); 22. Arlie Daniel Jr. (DNF).

USLCI Legends 25-lap feature

  1. Peyton Saxton; 2. Jordan Dean (-.675 seconds); 3. Gary Scheuerell (-5.069); 4. Brecken Snow (-5.195); 5. Cheyanne Schindler (-6.557); 6. Caden Carlin (-6.680); 7. Matt Mead (-7.053); 8. Jeff King (-7.854); 9. Brian Williams (-8.126); 10. Brian Lane (-14.574); 11. Devin Lane (-1 lap); 12. Ricky De LeRee (-2 laps); 13. Gina Tillman (-2 laps); 14. Ian Anderson (DNF); 15. Michael Todd Glazier (-8 laps); 16. Dezel West (DNF); 17. Randy Beddow (DNF); 18. Tyler Fabozzi (DNF).

NASCAR Super Late Models “Spirit of ’76” 76-lap feature

  1. Dennis Rock Jr.; 2. Scott Gafforini (-1.766 seconds); 3. Chris Trickle (-4.698); 4. Warren Knipper (-10.070); 5. Mark Allison (-18.248); 6. Dee Cable (-2 laps); 7. Stan Mullis (-7 laps); 8. Donna Gunther (DNF); 9. David Brandon (DNF); 10. Dustin Ash (DNF); 11. Kayli Barker (DNF).

Skid plate cars 15-lap feature

  1. Robert Rice; 2. Robert Salcido (-2.434 seconds); 3. Tony Cumming (-14.750); 4. Steve Belling (-17.539); 5. Patrick Miller (-37.056); 6. Cameron Chin (DNF); 7. Chris Bosley (DNF); 8. R.J. Smotherman (-9 laps); 9. Matthew Cunningham (DNF); 10. Cheryl Hyland (DNF).

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