An expanded effort for KRT’s oval program saw an expansion to all three of the ITSR league’s stock car series during the spring of 2016.  The results included multiple race wins and two championships for Corey Davis, while Dean Moll found Power Series victory lane for the first time.

The Tuesday night Stars Series featured a 13-race season using NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series machinery.  While this season marked Davis’ first time competing in one of the new-generation trucks, he quickly came to grips with his #70 Exide Toyota Tundra, winning the first race of the season at Charlotte.

Davis passes Tim Johnston (#54) for the lead in the closing laps of the Stars Series opener at Charlotte.

Davis passes Tim Johnston (#54) for the lead in the closing laps of the Stars Series opener at Charlotte.

A victory later in the season at Watkins Glen plus 10 top-five finishes in the first 12 races put Davis in championship contention entering the season finale at Homestead.  In that race, Davis used fuel strategy to score the victory over his two title rivals, and he won the series championship by two points over Bobby Terrell and three over Tim Johnston.

Davis also competed in the ITSR Thunder Series using the NASCAR Xfinity cars.  The #70 Valvoline Ford Mustang previously ran in three of the Thursday-night races last summer, so the team polished up the car and prepared it for a full season of action.

For Davis, it was a season of consistency with 12 podium finishes out of 13 races, including wins on the road courses at Watkins Glen and Road America.  However, he couldn’t match the success of Terrell, who won an impressive seven races and the series championship.  Davis finished second in the Thunder Series standings, coming home 12 points behind Terrell.

The three Thunder Series title contenders -- Johnston (#54), Davis (#70), and Terrell (#4) -- battle at Phoenix.

The three Thunder Series title contenders — Johnston (#54), Davis (#70), and Terrell (#4) — battle at Phoenix.

For the fifth straight season, Davis ran full-time in the ITSR Power Series on Sunday nights using NASCAR’s Gen6 stock cars.  His 17-race schedule got off to a rocky start, with DNFs in consecutive races at Kentucky and Chicagoland.  While Davis struggled, Moll found success at Kentucky, picking up his first Power Series victory on the 1.5-mile oval when the two leaders made contact in the final corner.

By the middle of the season, Davis and his #70 Ford Fusion rebounded with back-to-back wins at the Milwaukee Mile and Watkins Glen. However, rival Mike Kelley followed that up with four straight wins to take a stranglehold on the points lead.

The final three races of the season again saw the return of the “earn it on track” championship format in which no dropped results are allowed.  Although Kelley had an eight-point lead entering this trio of races, two straight results outside of the top five saw that lead evaporate and Davis take a one-point advantage into the season finale at Indianapolis.

Mike Kelley (#80) and Davis (#70) race in the early laps at Indy while Dean Moll (#1) runs closely behind.

Mike Kelley (#80) and Davis (#70) race in the early laps at Indy while Dean Moll (#1) runs closely behind.

For much of the race, Davis and Kelley ran within one position of each other and followed in each other’s tire tracks, including when they hit pit road.  During the final round of pit stops, Davis took a gamble by staying out to lead a lap and get a valuable bonus point.  While a few extra laps on old tires dropped him out of the battle for the race win, it was a strategic move that put the championship within reach.

In the closing laps, Davis held on to fourth place while Kelley faded to third, giving Davis a one-point advantage and his second series title against a familiar foe.  In season eight, Davis edged Kelley on a tiebreaker to win the championship.

Dean Moll (#1) takes the lead on the final lap after contact between Mike Kelley (#2) and Scott Simley (#4).

Dean Moll (#1) takes the lead on the final lap at Kentucky after contact between Mike Kelley (#2) and Scott Simley (#4).

 

Moll finished fifth at Indy — one of his 11 top-five finishes during the season.  Along with his win at Kentucky, he finished on the podium at Las Vegas and Phoenix en route to a sixth-place finish in the standings.  He plans a part-time Power Series effort for season 12.

Along with the wins at Milwaukee and Watkins Glen, Davis finished first at Laguna Seca and the daytime Iowa race to make it four victories during the season.  His 17 career Power Series wins are tied for second on the all-time list, trailing only Johnston.

Davis will look for more success as he again competes in all three series during their upcoming seasons.  New twists including a Chase system for the Stars Series and an “earn it on track” format for the Thunder Series should ensure more close points battles and exciting racing on the ovals this summer.

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