DAVENPORT, Iowa — A strong field of 45 Lucas Oil MLRA competitors jammed the pits at Davenport Speedway Friday night, culminating in Chris Simpson winning a race for the ages.
It was MLRA’s first visit to the speedway in its 26-year history.
Starting on the pole of the 40-lap Lucas Cattle Company main event, alongside late model rising star Ryan Gustin, Chris Simpson did all he could to keep ‘The Reaper’ from leading the opening laps, but Gustin’s No. 19r quickly darted out to the lead, leaving Simpson to battle with fellow Iowan Brian Birkhofer in the early stages of the race.
With such an intense battle taking shape at the front of the field, it proved hard for onlookers to turn their attention away from the leaders but the battles from fifth on back were just as impressive with the likes of Chad Simpson, Brandon Sheppard, and Billy Drake doing all they could to advance towards the front.
For a while, it appeared Gustin was on his way to dominating and picking up yet another early season win in the process until Birkhofer made his way to the front in front of the enthusiastic crowd, relegating Gustin to second and Simpson third, while current MLRA point’s leader Terry Phillips charged his way into the mix from his fifth-starting position.
Two-thirds of the way through the race Iowa drivers held down the top three positions as Birkhofer led Simpson and Gustin through heavy lapped traffic, which proved crucial in the closing laps when Phillips turned up the wick in the final stages of the race.
With just five laps remaining, it was anyone’s win for the taking as race leaders mastered lapped traffic and the racy track surface.
In the end, Chris Simpson came away as the winner ahead of fifth-starting Terry Phillips in second.
After his home-state victory, Simpson said, “It was a good track, I fell back a little bit at the start there, I think we put a little bit too much fuel in it, she wouldn’t fire up right away but the longer that race went the better this thing got. I just got to thank Birkhofer for everything he does for me, to be able to run with him, I thought he was gone when he got around me. Lapped traffic helped me tonight and I had a hell of a car. This is close to home and it means a lot for me to win here.”
Birkhofer edged Gustin for third leaving ‘The Reaper’ in fourth, one spot ahead of seventh-starting Chad Simpson.
Chris Zogg won the modified feature and Donnie Louck topped the street stock race.
Chris Simpson, Terry Phillips, Brian Birkhofer, Ryan Gustin, Chad Simpson, Brady Smith, Rich Bell, Jeremy Payne, Dave Eckrich, Billy Drake, Scott Lewis, Brian Harris, Jason O’Brien, Denny Eckrich, Travis Dickes, Brad Looney, Matt Furman, Brandon Sheppard, Ray Guss Jr., John Anderson, Mike Collins, Jason Bodenhamer, Jason Jaggers, J.C. Wyman, Justin Reed, Bill Koons, Jason Utter.