DUBUQUE, Iowa – Defending Lucas Oil MLRA champion Chad Simpson beat Mother Nature and bested the field to score the victory Saturday night at Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway.
The $3,000 win was Simpson’s first of the season with the MLRA in the inaugural event at the Eastern Iowa facility.
Tyler Bruening took advantage of his DirtonDirt.com Pole Position to take the early lead from series point leader Will Vaught, as they set a wicked fast pace in the 40-lap event.
While Bruening’s Capital Chassis was out in front by nearly two seconds, Simpson began to slowly close the gap on the race leader as he searched for a quicker line around the three-eighths-mile facility.
As the duo, along with Vaught, neared the halfway point, they began to approach heavy lapped traffic. The traffic allowed Simpson to show the leader his nose multiple times, which appeared to benefit Bruening by allowing him to adjust his line to that of Simpson.
However, on lap 21 Simpson was able to get under Bruening exiting turn four and take the advantage by the narrowest of margins at the line.
Just two laps later, after making contact with Bruening, Vaught spun at the entrance to turn three. The contact caused damage to the steering of the series leader’s XR1 Rocket Chassis and would eventually relegate him to a 15th-place finish.
On the restart, lady luck would strike the top five once again, as fifth-running Jeremy Grady went around in turns one and two, resulting in yet another caution on the speedway.
Returning to green, Simpson and Bruening again battled for the top spot until fourth-running Jeremiah Hurst brought out the caution with just 11 laps to go.
With the laps winding down, it appeared that Bruening was going to be able to take a shot at the race leader. Utilizing the top side and its momentum, Bruening was within striking distance when disaster stuck with only four laps remaining.
Bruening’s hard run came up just short when he appeared to drop a driveshaft exiting turn four and slowed down the frontstretch, bringing out the event’s final caution.
The final restart would find Chris Simpson in the runner-up position with a short at stealing the win from his brother. However, Chad Simpson would not be denied and cruised to the MLRA win, while Chris settled for second.
Mitch McGrath took advantage of Vaught’s misfortunes and came home in third to tighten the series points battle, while Jason Rauen and Joel Callahan completed the top five.
Simpson credited Saturday night’s victory to the spotting help from his crew.
“I’ve got to thank both my crew guys (Gus) Farmer and Waylon (Schultz); they were standing on both ends for me,” said Chad Simpson. “Bruening was just in the wrong place at the wrong time when I chased him down and got by him in the lapped traffic. Those guys right there – my two crew guys – are the ones that won me the race tonight.”
Simpson said of the final restart with four to go that he had enough power to drive away.
“This Jay Dickens Motor runs like hell; it’s a good piece,” he noted. “I just had to make sure I didn’t slide up and get too free in the corner. I knew there at the end, my brother would be pretty good on the bottom, so I had to make sure I covered that bottom too.”
1. Chad Simpson, 2. Chris Simpson, 3. Mitch McGrath, 4. Jason Rauen, 5. Joel Callahan, 6. Spencer Diercks, 7. Joseph Gorby, 8. Logan Martin, 9. Dave Eckrich, 10. Jake Neal, 11. Jeremy Grady, 12. Tim Simpson, 13. Tyler Bruening, 14. Jeremiah Hurst, 15. Will Vaught, 16. Justin Kay, 17. Skip Frey, 18. Luke Goedert.