by Jacob Hord,@HordRaceWatcher
One night after the Toledo Walleye convincingly swept the Cincinnati Cyclones out of the Kelly Cup Playoffs, Skylar Gee found himself with an opportunity to sweep the opening weekend of AFCS 410 action at Fremont Speedway after his win at Attica Raceway Park Friday night. It wouldn’t come easy, though.
After winning his heat race, Gee redrew the seventh spot for the 30 lap, $4,000 to-win feature event. TJ Michael, fresh off of a podium the previous week at Fremont, and Stuart Brubaker, coming off his best run of the season the night before, led the 23 car field to the green flag. It was neither Michael nor Brubaker who got the jump on the start, but third starting Cap Henry. Henry rocketed to the lead down the backstretch on the opening lap.
Henry’s lead wouldn’t last much longer, though, as a mechanical issue forced him off track and out of the race on lap two. This gave the lead back to Micheal, with Brubaker and 410 rookie Bryce Lucius right behind him. Brubaker was all over Michael for the top spot. On lap four, Brubaker showed Michael his nose in turns three and four, and on the following lap, used the top side of three and four to drive around Michael and take the lead.
Brubaker put some distance between himself and Michael as he approached lapped traffic, but Michael would soon have his hands full with Lucius. Brubaker brought a 2.085 second lead into lapped traffic on lap nine as Lucius tried to make a move for second. One lap later, Lucius tried again on Michael and this time, the move stuck, and he brought Byron Reed with him as Micheal slipped back to fourth. Reed was getting ready to battle Lucius for second on lap 11, but the yellow would come out for Brayton Phillips, who spun in front of the leaders. It erased a 2.632 second lead for Brubaker and put Lucius and Reed on his bumper, but also got Brubaker out of lapped traffic.
On the restart, it was all Brubaker as Reed made it by Lucius for second. Brubaker had a .747 second lead, and was able to gap Reed by about a tenth a lap for the next handful of laps. On lap 16, Brubaker found himself back in lapped traffic, and Reed was reeling him in and ready to pounce. All of the sudden, Brubaker and Reed were nose-to-tail coming down the front stretch. Reed dove inside in turns one and two, but Brubaker held on to the top spot. Meanwhile, Skylar Gee had quietly worked his way into third, stalking the top two.
Brubaker was able to extend his lead on Reed as he maneuvered through lapped traffic, and a battle for second between Reed and Gee helped Brubaker’s cause. On lap 21, Brubaker had a 1.169 second lead, but that quickly evaporated as Gee worked by Reed for second on lap 22. Gee was right with Brubaker the following lap and made his move going into turns one and two. Gee’s move was the right one, and he was your new leader. The yellow flew for pole-sitter TJ Michael the following lap, which would get Gee into that valuable clean air.
It was all Gee on the restart, but Brubaker was hanging on. Brubaker could make ground on the exit of turns one and two, but Gee was too fast on the rest of the track for Brubaker to be close enough to make a move. Brubaker would get one more shot at Gee after a lap 27 caution for Mike Keegan, but Gee was just too good.
Gee would go on to win by 1.495 seconds, sweeping the AFCS weekend and pocketing another $4,000. Brubaker, Reed, Lucius, and Chris Andrews rounded out the top five. This was Gee’s first career Fremont Speedway win.
“I was pretty good early, but a little free. I was trying to figure out what the race track was going to do,” said Gee. “I knew that if I wasn’t getting passed, I could hang in there and move around a little bit. I just started searching and after the first restart, I moved the wing back quite a bit and really started searching around. I was stuck behind the 32 [Bryce Lucius] for a while. But I was able to slow down quite a bit and catch the bottom coming off of four. The bottom of four was really really good, if I could hit it.”
Once Gee got by Lucius, he knew it could be difficult to get by Reed and Brubaker for the win:
“I thought that once I got to third, that I was going to struggle to get by those guys. We were all pretty even. Just as we got into lapped traffic, it slowed those guys up enough on the top to where I could sneak around them on the bottom. Stuart and I think were side-by-side for a lap. I was able to stay patient around the bottom and got by him.”
For Gee, it turned out to be an $8,000 weekend for himself and the Logan Fenton Racing #99 machine, plus a good shot of momentum going into a week that will feature the High Limit Racing Series at Wayne County on Tuesday, plus the World of Outlaws on Friday and Saturday.
Gee’s full post-race interview can be found here:Skylar Gee Sweeps AFCS Weekend with Fremont Speedway Win 5/13/23