Brock Lemley seized what Liam Ryan couldn't.
After leading 37 of the first 38 laps of the 600 A-Main on Saturday, July 20, at Deming Speedway's Clay Cup Nationals, all signs pointed to Ryan being the first driver in the 30-year history of the event to win multiple titles the same night.
Ryan had already won the 1,200 A-Main moments before the start of the 600 A-Main in dominant fashion. Winning the next one seemed a near certainty with with six laps to go and a healthy lead over Lemley, but then something happened. Ryan ran into lap traffic and couldn't get past Brayden Planko. High, low, side to side, nothing worked for Ryan. And slowly yet surely, Lemley drew him in.
Then came Turn 4 on lap 38.
"(Ryan) just kept leaving that door open for me, and I finally got close enough to strike," Lemley said of passing Ryan for the lead. "I came off the corner with a pretty good head of steam... It worked out."
As Ryan tried to negotiate his way around Planko, Lemley catapulted around Turn 4 and passed both Ryan and Planko on the outside heading into the front straightaway, taking the lead he wouldn't relinquish.
"I'm shocked, exstatic, excited," he said in the moments following the come-from-behind win. 'It was awesome. It was like my first Clay Cup win in the 1,200. Just really special.
"It is my first 600 one. I've gotten second twice, and finally everything panned out."
While much was made of Ryan's chances of doing what nobody else had ever done, Lemley was vying for membership in an equally as impressive racing hierarchy. With the win, Lemley became only the second driver in Clay Cup Nationals history to win both the 1,200 and 600 A-Main's in their career. Stan Yockey is the only other person to have done it.
But Lemley's success had to come at the expense of the noticiably dejected Ryan.
"I'm still disappointed," he said. "I don't know what to say... It was one of those nights where just everything went your way except the thing you wanted to."
Ryan still got the better of Lemley in the 1,200 A-Main, taking home his second consecutive title in the event following a near-flawless race.
"It's perfect as always," he said of his car. "I have an aweseome car everytime we hit the track. We set it up how we think it is going to go, and 99.9 percent of the time it is dead on, and it is up to me."
In the first ever 600 Restricted A-Main, 10-year-old Jesse Schlotfeldt led from beginning to end to win his first race of the year.
When asked in a post-race interview whether he could believe he had actually won or not, Schlotfeldt responded," No, but I do know."
Madison Hess held out for a wire-to-wire win in the 600 B-Main despite five yellow flags. Dustin O'Brien and Shaun Holtorf finished second and third, respectively, with Kevin Wilkerson grabbing the seventh and final position in the 600 A-Main.
Jaden Thomas bested a surging Tanner Holm to win the 600 Restricted B-Main. Thomas and Holm ran nost-to-tail the entire race, separating themselvers from the rest of the field by nearly six car lengths.
30TH ANNUAL CLAY CUP NATIONALS
At Deming Speedway
A-Main (40 laps): 1. (87) Liam Ryan, 2. (10) Brock Lemley, 3. (6) Jared Gundersen, 4. (13) Steven Hendrickson, 5. (22) Eric Drake, 6. (11m) Dwayne Mackey, 7. (99) Kyle Johnson, 8. (N8) Nate Vaughn, 9. (16z) Zach Keefe, 10. (10s) Frosty Metcalfe, 11. (21c) Ryan Cully, 12. (51) Ben Dial, 13. (72) Chance Arrants, 14. (21) Derek Holmwood, 15. (7) Dick Williams, 16. (15) Dale Schmidt, DNF (55) Tony Helsel, DNF (09) Tyson Cross, DNF (01) Darren Hillberg, DNF (2) Derek Junell, DNF (98K) Jacob Buckenmeyer, DNF (9) Clennon Holloway.
A-Main (40 laps): 1. (10) Brock Lemley, 2. (79) Heath Duinkerken, 3. (12) Spud Allen, 4. (7j) Michael Faccinto, 5. (40) Madison Hess, 6. (78) Joe Constance, 7. (19) Shaun Holtorf, 8. (21p) Robbie Price, 9. (83c) Chance Crum, 10. (96) Greg Hamilton, 11 (17) Kevin Wilkinson, 12. (71) Dustin O'Brien, 13. (1) Austin Sheridan, 14. (23) Jacob Brown, 15. (87) Liam Ryan, 16. (00) Brayden Planko, DNF (21b) Landon Hurst, DNF (9p) Jared Peterson, DNF (76k) Kyle Mitchell, DNF (12s) Hayden Schmidt.
B-Main (20 laps, top 7 advance): 1. (40) Madison Hess, 2. (71) Dustin O'Brien, 3. (19) Shaun Holtorf, 4. (1) Austin Sheridan, 5. (23) Jacob Brown, 6. (93) Greg Hamilton, 7. (17) Kevin Wilkinson, 8. (14) Keith Wickard, 9. (29o) Alden Ostrom, 10. (5d) Annie DeRemer, 11. (M79) Dahnelynn McKay, 12. (13) Kris Labree, 13. (N8) Nate Vaughn, 14. (3H) Hannah Lindquist, 15. (8R) Rachel Westmoreland, 16. (28R) Kelly Mauck, DNF (47) Derek Torkelson, DNF (33s) Lance Sargent.
C-Main (10 laps, top 2 advance): 1. (13) Kris Labree, 2. (3H) Hannah Lindquist, 3. (8) Kyle Kennedy, DNF (11C) Chad Sinner, DNF (4x) Tom Hovind, DNF (12X) Brent Holloway.
600 Restricted class
A-Main (30 laps): 1. (21) Jesse Schlotfeldt, 2. (9T) Tristin Thomas, 3. (23R) Dylan Resch, 4. (29b) Jacob Brown, 5. (1w) Brandee Wood, 6. (44) Jake Helsel, 7. (78) Spencer Constance, 8. (39k) Kaitlyn Hammer, 9. (29) Galent Turner, 10. (0) Ashleigh Johnson, 11. (J10) Jaden Thomas, 12. (53) Ian Humphries, 13. (91) Isaac Abenroth, 14. (48T) Tanner Holm, 15. (22) Sawyer Sorgenfrei, DNF (41) Ashley Thompson, DNF (76e) Eli Schmidt, DNF (3H) Hannah Lindquist, DNF (55z) Riley Watkins, DNF (25) Darius Walker-Perkins.
B-Main (20 laps, top 6 advance): 1. (J10) Jaden Thomas, 2. (48T) Tanner Holm, 3. (55z) Riley Watkins, 4. (22) Sawyer Sorgenfrei, 5. (25) Darius Walker-Perkins, 6. (91) Isaac Abenroth, 7. (12p) Tatum Pospical, 8. (55) Kinser Kennedy, 9. (08) Lizzy Johnson, DNF (41m) Ozzie McGee.