Celebrating in style: Simpson captures 5th annual Lucas Oil MLRA Fall Nationals and series championship
WHEATLAND, Missouri (October 13, 2018) - Chad Simpson wrote a storybook finish for his 15-year run with car owners Bud and Denise Brinkman on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Speedway.
Simpson outlasted the competition and a challenging surface to capture the 5th annual MLRA Fall Nationals and clinch the MLRA season championship for the second time.
"I'm a little choked up right now. It didn't hit me until after we took that checkered flag," an emotional Simpson said in victory lane after earning $5,500 in a hard-fought, 40-lap race of attrition. He and the Brinkmans also teamed to win an MLRA championship in 2014.
Simpson inherited the lead with four laps remaining when Logan Martin - who rallied from the back after being involved in a lap-four caution - hit the wall in turn three in a race in which only eight of the 24 starters made it to the finish. Jack Sullivan finished second with Raymond Merrill third and Terry Phillips fourth on a track that took its toll on equipment - and nerves - after a rainy week.
The 39-year-old from Mount Vernon, Iowa, began the weekend of racing, which was shortened after a Friday rainout, just 24 points ahead of Will Vaught in the MLRA title chase. Things took a bad turn for Vaught four laps into the feature, through no fault on his own.
Early race leader Tony Jackson Jr. slowed dramatically coming out of turn two on lap four and Vaught, running in second, had no place to go and plowed into the rear of Jackson's car. Vaught, with front-end damage, had to restart at the rear of the 24-car field and. He made up seven positions before slowing and pulling into the pits on lap 10, his night and title chances over.
Simpson made it clear earlier in the week that he wanted to not only win the title for himself, but for the Brinkmans. The fellow Iowans, who are retiring from the sport, joined Simpson in a joyous victory lane celebration.
"It's just been a great run with these guys," Simpson said, fighting through tears.
The feature race saw four different leaders, with Jesse Stovall leading a race-high 24 of the 40 laps. Along with four cautions, there was a red flag on lap 12 when JC Wyman, Jeremy Grady and Mitch McGrath had hard contact in turn two.
"The track was brutal. I knew it would be a survival-type deal," Simpson said. "I just had to wait for those guys to mess up and that's when I could take my shot. I was just scared to death that I was going to make the same mistake.
"The track was rough, but it definitely has got some character."
Stovall passed Jackson coming out of turn two on lap six to take over the lead. He would hold onto it until a caution flew on lap 28. Simpson, who started eighth, had worked his way into second with Sullivan running third and Payton Looney fourth.
By that point, only nine cars remained in action. During the caution, with the drivers allowed to stop and trade out helmets if they chose and get new tear offs for their visors, it was determined that the race would be shortened by 10 laps.
On the restart, Simpson rocketed into the lead as Stovall fell back to fourth. Simpson would stay in front for four laps until Martin - who restarted sixth - shot past Simpson in turn two to take his first lead of the race.
Just as it appeared that Martin was on his way to victory, he slid too high in turn three, slapped the wall and came to a stop to bring out another yellow. It was a heartbreaker for the West Plains, Missouri, driver as he dejectedly sat down by his damaged vehicle as the wrecked made its way to him.
"He definitely had a good race-car, too, and I hated to see him lose it like that," Simpson said of Martin, who wound up ninth. "We lost one earlier like that. We got it back tonight."
That gave Simpson the lead with four laps to go, ahead of Sullivan, Stovall and Looney. Simpson was up to the challenge on the single-file restart, navigating the bumpy surface despite a big hop in turn three of the final lap, to earn his third MLRA victory of the season.
The winner's share included a $500 bonus in honor of Ron Jenkins, who built the original Wheatland Raceway. The Late Model program was co-sanctioned by the COMP Cams Super Dirt Series. A total of 44 Late Models were on hand.
Payton Looney finished fifth and nailed down MLRA Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. It was the Republic, Missouri, driver's eighth top-five of the MLRA season.
B-Mod Clash of Champions feature washed out: A persistent rain began near the end of the B-Feature for the inaugural B-Mod Clash of Champions and, after a lengthy delay, the remainder of the program was called off.
The payout for the A-Feature was determined to be starting order for the feature. That meant Andy Bryant of Fort Scott, Kansas, who earned the pole after winning both of his qualifying heat races, was awarded the $3,000 first prize.
Kris Jackson of Lebanon, Missouri, was to start on the outside of Bryant and was awarded the $1,500 runner-up check.
5th annual Lucas Oil MLRA Fall Nationals
A-Feature - 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
Heat 1 - 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.
Heat 2 - 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.
Heat 3 - 1, Chad Simpson. 2, Jack Sullivan. 3, Raymond Merrill. 4, Jeremy Grady. 5, Shad Badder. 6, Gavin Landers. 7, JC Wyman. 8, Joseph Gorby. 9, Skip Frey.
Heat 4 - 1, Mason Oberkramer. 2, Payton Looney. 3, Todd Shute. 4, Colton Horner. 5, B.J. Robinson. 6, Dylan Hoover. 7, Jeff Roth. 8, Josh Leonard. 9. Blonde Bomber.
Heat 5 - 1, Tony Jackson Jr. 2, Matt Furman. 3, Chad Mallett. 4, Rickey Frankel. 5, Kaleb Stolba. 6, Kaeden Cornell. 7, Justin Zeitner. 8, Joe Godsey.
B-Main 1 - 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)
B-Main 2 - 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.
B-Mod Clash of Champions
Order of finish determined by A-Feature lineup - 1, Andy Bryant. 2, Kris Jackson. 3, Luke Nieman. 4, Brian Bolin. 5, JC Morton. 6, Galen Hassler. 7, Eric Turner. 8, John Fellers. 9, Rusty Skaggs. 10, BJ Deal. 11, Randy Zimmerman. 12, Daniel Fellows. 13, Blake Davidson. 14, Cody Brill. 15, Tyler Cadawallader. 16, Tyler Brown. 17, Roger Peck. 18, Tyler Kidwell. 19, Dillon McGowan. 20, Rex Harris. 21, Matt Rose. 22, Gene Parvin. 23, Mike Bowers. 24, Mike Striegel.
E Feature - 1, Chad Walker. 2, Greg Scheffler. 3, Lonnie Hibner. 4, John Briggs. 5, Weston Holman. 6, Jackson Hale.
D Feature - 1, Tyler Brown. 2, Mike Striegel. 3, Brian McGowman. 4, David Harris. 5, Weston Holman. 6, Justin Amick. 7, Quintin Taylor. 8, Ferris Collier. 9, Chad Walker. 10, Gregg Scheffler. 11, Matt Collins. 12, John Briggs. 13, Jackson Hale. 14, Lonnie Hibner. 15, Kaden Miller. 16, Parker Hale. 17, Taylor Moore.
C Feature - 1, Tyler Kidwell. 2, Roger Peck. 3, Mike Striegel. 4, Gene Parvin. 5, Tyler Brown. 6, Colby Kassinger. 7, Justin Amick. 8, Tyler Knudtson. 9, Richard Magee. 10, Robbe Ewing. 11, Brian McGowan. 12, Michael Bixby. 13, David Harris. 14, Quintin Taylor. 15, Hannah Frazee. 16, Weston Holman. 17, Kyle Shrum. 18, Cale Turner. 19, Jeremiah Christensen. 20, Gregg Woodcock. 21, Jason Sivils. 22, Jerry Ellis. 23, Rod Inman.
B Feature - 1, Tyler Cadwallader. 2, Tyler Brown. 3, Roger Peck. 4, Tyler Kidwell. 5, Dillon McCowan. 6, Rex Harris. 7, Matt Rose. 8, Gene Parvin. 9, Mike Bowers. 10, Mike Striegel.
First round heat races
Heat 1 - 1, Kris Jackson. 2, Brian Webster. 4, BJ Deal. 5, Taylor Moore. 6, Matt Collins. 7, Cole Christensen. 8, David Harris. 9, Brayton Skaggs.
Heat 2 - 1, Brian Myers. 2, Cody Brill. 3, Tyler Cadwallader. 4, Colby Kasinger. 5, Robbe Ewing. 6, Jerry Ellis. 7, Mark Long. 8, Ferris Collier. 9, Justin Amick.
Heat 3 - 1, Galen Hassler. 2, Brian Bolin. 3, Shaun Walski. 4, Ryan Edde. 5, Matt Rose. 6, Jason Sivils. 7, Quentin Taylor. 8, Eldon McIntosh.
Heat 4 - 1, Mike Striegel. 2, Eric Turner. 3, Dayton Newell. 4, Cale Turner. 5, Rex Harris. 6, Mike Bowers. 7, Greg Woodcock.
Heat 5 - 1, Jeremy Lile. 2, Blake Davidson. 3, JC Newell. 4, Scott Campbell. 5, Tyler Kidwell. 6, Michael Cawvey.
Heat 6 - 1, Andy Bryant. 2, Randy Zimmerman. 3, Curt Drake. 4, Jeremiah Christensen. 5, Michael Bixby. 6, Kyle Shrum. 7, Andy Chrisenberry. 8, Kaden Miller.
Heat 7 - 1, John Fellers. 2, JC Morton. 3, Gene Parvin. 4, Daniel Fellows. 5, Rod Iman. 6, Hannah Frazee.
Heat 8 - 1, Luke Nieman. 2, Rusty Skaggs. 3, Chris Theodore. 4, Tyler Knudtson. 5, Dillon McCowan. 6, Richard Magee. 7, Roger Peck.
Second round heat races
Heat 1 - 1, BJ Deal. 2, Eric Turner. 3, Roger Peck. 4, Jason Sivils. 5, Jeremy Lile. 6, Justin Amick. 7, Hannah Frazee.
Heat 2 - 1, JC Morton. 2, Dillon McCowan. 3, Randy Zimmeman. 4, Brian McGowen. 5, Ferris Collier. 6, Cale Turner. 7, David Harris.
Heat 3 - 1, Luke Nieman. 2, Ryan Edde. 3, Cody Brill. 4, JC Newell. 5, Cole Christensen.
Heat 4 - 1, Andy Bryan. 2, Tyler Brown. 3, Tyler Cadwallader. 4, Blake Davidson. 5, Dayton Newell. 6, Richard Magee. 7, Brayton Skaggs. 8, Quentin Taylor.
Heat 5 - 1, Daniel Fellows. 2, Rusty Skaggs. 3, Galen Hassler. 4, Parker Hale. 5, Scott Campbell. 6, Kaden Miller. 7, Steve Muilenberg. 8, Brian Myers.
Heat 6 - 1, Brian Bolin. 2, Rex Harris. 3, John Fellers. 4, Tyler Kidwell. 5, Kyle Shrum. 6, Brian Webster. 7, Colby Kasinger.
Heat 7 - 1, Kris Jackson. 2, Mark Long. 3, Tyler Knudtson. 4, Greg Woodcock. 5, Jerry Ellis. 6, Michael Bixby. 7, Rod Inman.
Heat 8 - 1, Matt Rose. 2, Mike Bowers. 3, Curt Drake. 4, Chris Theodore. 5, Cole Christensen. 6, Gene Parvin. 7, Robbe Ewing. 8, Matt Collins. 9, Jackson Hale.
Monster Trucks next: In what's become a popular grand finale to the Lucas Oil Speedway season, the Monster Truck Nationals "Night of Destruction" is set for next Saturday, Oct. 20. The nation's most-competitive Monster Trucks storm into Lucas Oil Speedway for high-jumping, ground-pounding, car-crushing, axle-wrenching action as they side by side and freestyle. Gates open at 4 p.m. with a Pit Party from 5-6:30 and Showtime at 7.
For ticket information on all events at Lucas Oil Speedway, contact Admission Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or by email at nichole@LucasOilSpeedway.com. Fans also can go online to purchase tickets for any event on the 2018 schedule.
Lucas Oil Speedway General Manager
Office: (417) 282-5984