Zachary Tinkle came into his second full season with the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance with high hopes of showing improvement over his 2020 Rookie Season. The series’ first event was this past weekend on the famous High Banks of Salem Speedway, the series last competed on that track in 2018. The 2018 event was one of Zachary’s first ever events with the series where he started 14th and finished seventh, he had looked forward to returning to Salem ever since it was announced the series would be returning to that track in 2021.
Mother Nature did not cooperate on Saturday, with the scheduled open practice getting rained out. Sunday morning on track activities got held up while track personnel worked on getting the track dry with a lot of fog in the area, but the forecast was for a beautiful afternoon.
Crew Chief Gary Estes and the Stagger Pro Motorsports team had Zachary’s car ready for the first of two practice sessions with the revised Sunday schedule of events. The team had a fast race car in the practice session with Zachary near the top of the speed charts. With the weather delay in the morning, the second practice session for the series was also group qualifying. Unfortunately, on his qualifying run in the second practice session Zachary got into the treacherous turn 3 and 4 wall, resulting in some heavy suspension damage to the car.
Estes and the whole team went to work and got the car fixed in time to make the 100-lap feature event, under beautiful sunny skies after the morning fog had burnt off. The series feature was the first of the afternoon in front of a great crowd of fans on hand to watch the CRA events at Salem Speedway.
Zachary started 16th in the field after his practice/qualifying incident. There was a huge crash on lap one that took out several cars, but Zachary did a great job of avoiding being involved in the incident.
The field went back green, and Zachary went to work taking his car to the front during the long green flag run. Zachary worked his way all the way into second place and looked like he may have had something for the leader, but bad luck struck again with a right-side tire blowing out, sending him hard into the outside wall, damaging his car and ending his day, but Zachary was okay. Zachary still came away with a sixth place finish and showed a lot of speed and that he is ready to compete for series wins in 2021!
“We had a day of ups and downs at Salem Speedway,” remarked Zachary. “We were good in practice. Then, I hit the wall in qualifying and started the race at the back after the team made extensive repairs with no time to spare. I made it up to second place and was hoping to have the opportunity to make a move, but a tire blew, and I crashed into the wall – ending our day. Even though the 6th place finish does not show it, I feel this was one of my top 5 races as a driver. I cannot thank my team enough. They were the hardest working team at the track and there wasn’t a minute when anyone thought about giving up.”
For their efforts in putting Zachary’s car back together to get Zachary back in the race, his team won the Pit Crew of the Race Award from PitBoxes.com.
About Zachary Tinkle:
Zachary Tinkle was the 2019 Vore’s Welding CRA Late Model Sportsman Champion and 2019 Anderson Speedway McGunegill Engines Late Model Series Champion and Rookie of the Year. He also won the 2019 Vore’s Welding CRA Late Model Sportsman Triple Crown Championship. In his 2018 rookie season in the same series, Tinkle was named PGG Sportsman of the Year and voted Most Popular Driver; finishing 5th in the championship. In 2020, Tinkle competed full-time in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance, finishing seventh in the series Chase for the Championship.
About the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance:
2021 will be the 11th season of competition for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance that crowned its first Champion in 2011. Past Champions include NASCAR competitors Erik Jones and Daniel Hemric, also Cody Coughlin, Jack Dossey III, Dan Leeck and Dalton Armstrong. The tour is the top crate engine asphalt template late model touring series in the country.