Cosmin Ioanesiu punched his ticket to the playoffs with his first career FAST Under Armour Cup Series victory on Wednesday night at Darlington in the Mtn Dew Southern 250. Ioanesiu led 74 of 129 laps and survived the chaos that led to many beautiful throwback schemes destroyed in the race’s eleven cautions.
Stage one saw some drivers make green flag pit stops as fuel mileage came into play for others. Randal Coleman was leading when a caution came out in the closing laps to secure the stage victory and playoff point. In stage two, Austin Hakes grabbed a playoff as part of his 28 laps led.
Hakes would go on to finish the race in second, 0.21 seconds behind Ioanesiu. It was his first top five since FUEL Motorsport Park and immediately puts him back into playoff contention. Ricky Collette, defending FAST winner at Darlington, came in third. Tyler Mallon earned his first top five of the season and tied his career best finish in fourth. Zach Chrostowski put himself in the playoff provisionally with a fifth place finish, his second straight top five.
Next week, the drivers of the FAST Under Armour Cup Series will head to Road America for the Camping World 250. Left and right-hand turns will be on the menu in the penultimate race of the regular season before the final twelve drivers are officially determined for the season playoff. In the last race in Elkhart Lake, Davey Hazard started dead last but worked his way through the field to earn his first victory of the 2017A season (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVEbOgQUZMo).
22 drivers still mathematically have a chance to earn a playoff spot this season, though some can only do so with a victory. No driver has clinched a spot on points yet, though several may do so with one week remaining. An outside driver claiming a clutch win could spoil the party and shift the playoff cut line up a spot. Drivers on the edge of elimination will have to be careful and avoid disaster to remain in the hunt the following week at Auto Club.