Wheatland, Missouri – Will Vaught made the most of a late-race restart to grab a season-opening win Friday night as the 4th annual Lucas Oil MLRA Fall Nationals began at Lucas Oil Speedway.
“It’s pretty sweet,” Vaught said after getting past Tony Jackson Jr., with five laps remaining and going on to capture the $2,000 feature on night one of the doubleheader presented by RacingJunk.com.
Other feature winners on the opening night of the weekend doubleheader were Jon Sheets (Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds) and Burl Woods (Big O Tires Street Stocks).
Vaught, of Crane, took home the win with Springfield veteran Terry Phillips second and Lebanon’s Jackson settling for third after being in control most of the way.
Jackson passed MLRA rookie Payton Looney, who started on the pole, for the lead on lap five. He maintained it until the race’s lone caution waved, when Jackson teammate Raymond Merrill spun in turn four.
That set up a five-lap shootout to the finish with Jackson leading Vaught, Looney, Phillips and Rodney Sanders to the restart.
That was the opportunity Vaught needed. Jackson slipped high in turn two and Vaught slid underneath to take the lead with Phillips also going past and into second. That’s the way it stayed until the finish with Vaught earning his second career win at Lucas Oil Speedway, following up a win in the Larry Phillips Memorial last September.
“He over drove the corner a little bit and we got by him,” said Vaught, who was making his season debut. He’s been overseeing his children’s quarter-midget racing with daughter Mallory (5) and Maddox (7) winning on Lucas’ “slick track” behind the main grandstand a week ago.
“Both of them won last week and we got the win tonight. It’s pretty special,” Vaught said. “We’ll have to improve (Saturday night) because Tony probably had the best car. But he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and we compensated.”
A dejected Jackson said he wasn’t sure what happened on the re-start, though he suspected that a new right-rear tire rule played a factor and he didn’t have enough heat in the rubber when the race returned to green.
“That’s a part of it,” Jackson said of the untimely caution.
Phillips was more upbeat, driving from a 12th starting position to the runner-up spot.
“The way the night started, it wasn’t looking too sporty,” Phillips said. “To be able to drive up through there with all these good cars, we’ll take it.”
Sanders finished fourth and reigning MLRA Series champion Jesse Stovall was fifth.
Sheets holds off Schrader: Jon Sheets of Nevada took the lead midway through the 20-lap feature and held off former NASCAR standout Ken Schrader for the Pitts Homes USRA Modified victory.
Jeff Cutshaw, the three-time reigning track champion who won last week’s weekly opener, was third and Mark Dotson wound up fourth.
Woods uses late pass to prevail: Burl Woods of Republic passed Warrensburg’s Marc Carter for the lead on lap 17 and pulled away over the final three laps to prevail in the Street Stocks feature, earning the $400 first prize.
Woods moved from his outside third-row starting position to second place and, after a restart following a lap 14 caution, was able to move past Carter on the bottom side down the backstretch. Carter held on to the runner-up position ahead of Brian Schutt with Kenny Carroll fourth.
“I’m usually not that good on the bottom,” Woods said, noting that Carter always is strong on the bottom side at Lucas. “We went low and (Carter) slipped up there at the end and we got him.”
Finale Saturday night: The doubleheader weekend concludes Saturday night with the Late Models running for a $3,000 first prize in the feature, plus an added $500 in memory of Ron Jenkins, the builder of the original Wheatland Raceway.
The Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds will compete for a special $750 to win feature on Saturday while the Big O Tires Street Stock second-night feature will pay $500 courtesy of Elite Auto Repair in Warrensburg.
Gates open at 5 p.m. with hot laps at 7 and racing at 7:35.
Tickets on Saturday:
Adults (16 and up) $20
Seniors (62 and up)/Military $17
Youth (6-15) $10
Kids (5 and under) FREE
Family Pass $40
Pit Pass $40
Reserved with Electric and Water- $35/Night (limited availability)
Reserved Dry Spots- $20/Night (limited availability)
Dry Camping- $10/Night
For complete Lucas Oil Speedway event information, archived stories, ticket info and the 2017 racing schedule, visit LucasOilSpeedway.com. Three-day passes for the 25th annual Show-Me 100 Presented by ProtecttheHarvest.com are now on sale. Only about 500 of the three-day passes remain. Call admission director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or email Nichole@lucasoilspeedway.com for more information.
Lucas Oil Speedway is located at Highways 83 and 54 in Wheatland, Missouri. A campground with shower and bathroom facilities is also available. With it’s entrance located just outside the pit gate this sprawling scenic camping facility will continue to enhance the racing experience at the Diamond of Dirt Tracks.
Click www.LucasOilSpeedway.com for more information and detailed directions to the speedway or call the Track Hotline at (417) 282-5984.
In addition, fans can get social with Lucas Oil Speedway by following @LucasSpeedway on Twitter, clicking “Like” at www.facebook.com/LucasOilSpeedway and on www.youtube.com/LucasOilSpeedway.
About Lucas Oil Speedway
Lucas Oil Speedway is considered by fans, drivers and industry insiders to be one of the top five race tracks in the nation. Located in Wheatland, Missouri, approximately an hour from Springfield, Missouri, and just a quick hour and a half from the Kansas City metro area, dubbed the “Diamond of Dirt Tracks,” Lucas Oil Speedway certainly lives up to the title.
Twenty-One VIP Luxury Suites, HD Jumbo-Tron Screen, Stadium Style Musco Sports Lighting, a Bose Sound System, Go-Kart Slick Track, The Diamond Bar, Track Treasures Gift Shop, the best track food in the country and paved pits are a few of the spectacular amenities setting the Diamond of Dirt apart. 2017 marks the 7th season for the Liquid Quarter Mile Drag Racing Lake, Lake Lucas. Two nationally televised Drag Boat Races featuring the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series will be held in 2017. New for 2017 will be an all new purpose build Off Road Racing facility featuring the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series as well as a host of other regional events.
Lucas Oil Speedway hosts some of the largest and most popular events in the Midwest! National and regional touring series appear frequently for Special Events on the Diamond of Dirt Tracks. The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, POWRi Midget National Series, Lucas Oil Pro-Pulling League, United States Modified Touring Series, ASCS Sprint Cars and the Lucas Oil MLRA.
In addition to the incredible Special Events, the Lucas Oil Speedway Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series features the Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA Late Models, Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds, Big O Tires Street Stocks and the Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods, racing weekly.