Wheatland, MO (October 13, 2018) - Chad Simpson's quest to become a two time Lucas Oil MLRA Series Champion came to a picture perfect ending on Saturday night as the driver of the GATR Truck Center/Liebe Trucking # 25 rallied late to record his 3rd series win of the season and lock up the 2018 season Championship. The victory was worth $5,000 plus an additional $500 bonus in memory of the late Ron Jenkins, the original builder of the Wheatland Raceway.
After rains claimed night one of the 5th Annual Fall Nationals on Friday night, track crews worked all day on Saturday to get the track ironed out for the 44 car field that would take to the Lucas Oil Speedway on Saturday. Simpson entered the weekend holding onto a tight 24-point advantage over six-time feature winner Will Vaught of Crane, MO.
Tony Jackson, Jr. would fire from the Dirtondirt.com Pole alongside of last year's Fall Nationals winner, Jesse Stovall. Jackson paced the early laps before trouble would strike championship contender Vaught. Exiting turn two on lap four, Jackson would briefly slow and bunch up the pack resulting in contact between Vaught and Logan Martin. Both drivers would be able to continue, though re-starting from the rear.
On the ensuing restart Stovall took command, but had to endure a multitude of short run re-starts on the super-fast track. The field was finally able to put a long caution free stretch together until the yellow would fly once again on lap 28 for Rickey Frankel. During the extended caution period, the red flag was displayed to allow drivers to change helmets and tear offs. The race originally scheduled for 50 laps was also reduced to 40 before going back to the green for the final 12 circuits due to track conditions and the threat of incoming rain.
Stovall would lead back to the green, but a bobble on the following lap in turns 1-2 by the 2016 series champ would open the door for Simpson. As Stovall push up the track it allowed Simpson to make a champions move off the exit of turn two, driving past second running Sullivan and Stovall to take the lead. Simpson said of the battle for the lead, "The track was brutal and I knew it was going to be a survival type deal and I just had to wait for them guys to mess up, and then I had to take my shot."
As the Duece-Nickel # 25 of Simpson appeared headed for victory, it was the hard charging XR-1 Rocket of Logan Martin that was looking to steal the show. Coming from tail-back due to the lap four contact, Martin took advantage of a rare mistake by Simpson and drove past for the lead as the field crossed the line with only 7 laps to go.
Martin's night came to a devastating end as he went high and made contact with the turn three wall with only four laps remaining. Martin would end his bid at the win on the hook, again turning the top spot over to Simpson.
Making his final start for car owners Bud and Denise Brinkman, Simpson would send them out on top, as he would not be denied and cruised to the championship night win, capping a great championship journey on an emotional night. Sullivan would come home in second, while Raymond Merrill had his best run of the season in third.
As a light rain shower began to fall, an emotional Simpson said from Andy's Frozen Custard Victory Lane, "I'm going to be honest, I'm a little choked up right now. It didn't hit me until after we took the checkered, it's been a great ride with these guys."
Also on Saturday night, Payton Looney would wrap up the 2018 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors by virtue of his 5th place finish-his 8th MLRA top five of the season.
The 2018 Lucas Oil MLRA Championship banquet is up next, and will take place on November 17th, in Nevada, Mo. Series officials will honor the top drivers as well as hand out season long contingency awards during the annual event. Times for the event and additional details will be forthcoming along with the 2019 MLRA series schedule.
Lucas Oil Speedway Contingencies 10/13/18
Andy's Frozen Custard Victory Lane - Chad Simpson
Casey's General Store's "Hard Charger of the Race" -BJ Robinson
DirtonDirt.com "Pole Award" - Tony Jackson, Jr.
Hooker Harness "11th Place Finisher" - Scott Crigler
Malvern Bank "Most Laps Led" - Jesse Stovall
Midwest Sheet Metal "Points Leader Spoiler Challenge" - Chad Simpson
Mittler Brothers Machine and Tool "Crew Chief of the Race" - Gus Farmer
Performance Bodies "Performer of the Race" - Chad Simpson
Sunoco "Rookie of the Race" - Payton Looney
Wehrs Machine - JC Wyman
RacingJunk.com "Hard Luck Award" - Logan Martin
Allgaier Motorsports Racing Shocks Award - Raymond Merrill
Lucas Oil Racing TV A Feature (40 Laps): 1.Chad Simpson 2.Jack Sullivan 3.Raymond Merrill 4.Terry Phillips 5.Payton Looney 6.Aaron Marrant 7.BJ Robinson 8.Jesse Stovall 9.Logan Martin 10.Rickey Frankel 11.Scott Crigler 12.Hunter Rasdon 13.Mark Burgtorf 14.Mason Oberkramer 15.Mitch McGrath 16.Jeremy Grady 17.Colton Horner 18.Will Vaught 19.JC Wyman 20.Tony Jackson, Jr. 21.Jake Neal 22.Chad Mallett 23.Kaeden Cornell 24.Matt Furman
Allgaier Motorsports Racing Shocks B Feature 1 (12 Laps): 1.Matt Furman 2.Aaron Marrant 3.Jeremy Grady 4.Jordan Yaggy 5.Gavin Landers 6.Josh Leonard 7.Mitch McGrath 8.Lynn Beach 9.Hunter Rasdon 10.Skip Frey 11.BJ Robinson 12.Justin Reed 13.Ryan Johnson 14.JC Wyman 15.Justin Zeitner(DNS)
MAVTV B Feature 2 (12 Laps): 1.Jake Neal 2.Colton Horner 3.Kaeden Cornell 4.David Payne 5.Lane Ehlert 6.Todd Shute 7.Dylan Hoover 8.Shad Badder 9.Steve Johnson 10.Jeff Roth 11.Blonde Bomber 12.Joe Godsey
Swift Springs Heat 1 (10 Laps): 1.Scott Crigler 2.Jesse Stovall 3.Mitch McGrath 4.Terry Phillips 5.Steve Johnson 6.Jordan Yaggy 7.Lane Ehlert 8.Ryan Johnson 9.Lynn Beach
Casey's General Stores Heat 2 (10 Laps): 1.Will Vaught 2.Logan Martin 3.Mark Burgtorf 4.Jake Neal 5.Justin Reed 6.Aaron Marrant 7.Hunter Rasdon 8.David Payne 9.Robert Baker
Chix Gear Racewear Heat 3 (10 Laps): 1.Chad Simpson 2.Jack Sullivan 3.Raymond Merrill 4.Jeremy Grady 5.Shad Badder 6.Gavin Landers 7.JC Wyman 8.Joe Godsey 9.Skip Frey
Malvern Bank.com Heat 4 (10 Laps): 1.Mason Oberkramer 2.Payton Looney 3.Todd Shute 4.Colton Horner 5.BJ Robinson 6.Dylan Hoover 7.Jeff Roth 8.Josh Leonard 9.Blonde Bomber
Sunoco Race Fuels Heat 5 (10 Laps): 1.Tony Jackson, Jr. 2.Chad Mallat 3.Matt Furman 4.Rickey Frankel 5.Kaleb Stolba 6.Kaeden Cornell 7.Justin Zeitner 8.Joe Godsey
For all of the latest news and information fans are encouraged to visit the series website at www.MLRARacing.com.