Dickes Delivers Iowa Late Model Goods

Travis Dickes won Saturday's MLRA/Corn Belt Clash late model feature. (Mike Ruefer photo)
Travis Dickes won Saturday's MLRA/Corn Belt Clash late model feature. (Mike Ruefer photo)
Travis Dickes won Saturday’s MLRA/Corn Belt Clash late model feature. (Mike Ruefer photo)

MAQUOKETA, Iowa — Night two of the Lucas Oil MLRA/Corn Belt Clash double-hitter weekend wrapped up Saturday night at Jackson County Speedway with Travis Dickes earning his first career victory.

Dickes and fellow Nebraska driver John Anderson started on row one for the 40-lap Lucas Cattle Company a-main event. Anderson looked strong early leading lap one ahead of Dickes and Brandon Sheppard.

Anderson’s time at the front didn’t last long as he slipped back to third behind Brian Birkhofer and ultimately outside of the top five. The first of three caution flags waved over the field by lap five with Dickes showing the way over Sheppard, Birkhofer, Brad Looney and Chad Simpson.

On lap eight, Birkhofer pressured Dickes for the lead but once again Dickes fought off all challengers to maintain his position out front. By lap 12, Chad Simpson charged into fourth while Sheppard took over second from Birkhofer, who slipped to third.

Sheppard thought about stepping out of line by lap 15 looking for a way to the front but thought better of it and moved right back down to the low side holding onto second position. The second caution flag fell over the field for the stalled car of Bill Koons.

For the restart, Dickes hammered the throttle while Sheppard went back to work trying searching for a way to pass for the lead. Chad Simpson, Brian Birkhofer, and 10th-starting Brad Looney battled close with Birkhofer ultimately fading to fourth on the restart.

A lap 22 three-car incident brought out the third and final caution as Chad Simpson moved to second with his Brother Chris moving to fourth one spot behind Sheppard. Brady Smith and Ryan Gustin ran in the sixth and seventh positions respectively just outside of the top five.

At the front, Chad Simpson tried extremely hard to find a way around Dickes, but just as he had the entire race distance, Dickes turned back all pursuers. Just shy of lap 30, Dickes left the door a little open coming off turn four but yet again Chad Simpson was unable to gain ground.

With eight laps remaining, Dickes encountered lapped traffic for the first time during the race but again he mastered his line and cleanly made his way through lapped cars, keeping Chad Simpson and Sheppard at bay. Dickes lightly clipped the infield tire in turn one running the low line but it didn’t slow him down any as he increased his lead in the closing laps.

“Starting up front was huge, luckily I was able to stay there the whole time. When you can run with them guys (Sheppard, Birkhofer, and the Simpson Brothers) and stay in front, you’ve got to take your hat off to the Victory Circle guys and Jim Kuntz,” Dickes said. “I just knew if I stayed committed to my line, we’d be fine; I tried to stay smooth and patient as long as I could.”

Chad Simpson came away with the runner-up finish just in front of Brandon Sheppard, Chris Simpson and Brady Smith.

The finish:

Travis Dickes, Chad Simpson, Brandon Sheppard, Chris Simpson, Brady Smith, Ryan Gustin, Brian Birkhofer, Jeremy Payne, Brad Looney, John Anderson, Spencer Diercks, J.C. Wyman, Rich Bell, Dave Eckrich, Jake Meier, Jordan Yaggy, Robert Cullen, Mike Collins, Matt Furman, Bill Koons, Scott Lewis, Jason Bodenhamer, Justin Kay, Mike Fryer, Justin Reed.