PRYOR CREEK, Okla. — Lucas Oil MLRA series point leader Will Vaught took advantage of starting on the pole to lead the entire distance on Friday night in picking up his first victory in the sixth annual ARMI Freedom Classic at the Salina Highbanks Speedway.
While Vaught controlled the field from the pole, Friday night’s -ap victory would not come easy. Chad Simpson, from his third starting position, quickly jumped to the inside of outside front row starter Jon Mitchell and began his pursuit of Vaught and his fourth consecutive MLRA win in a row. Simpson was able to pull up alongside through the middle of turn one and two only to find a lack of forward drive off the exit of turn two.
The events only two cautions would wave back-to-back on laps five and six with Vaught leading Simpson and former Freedom Classic winner Jesse Stovall. The lap-five caution came out for CCSDS point leader Tony Jackson Jr. who collided in turn four with Joseph Gorby.
On the ensuing restarts Vaught was able to take control leaving Simpson to battle with a determined Stovall. Stovall took advantage of his outside restart position to seize the runner-up spot from Simpson, and begin his journey toward the race lead.
With lapped traffic coming into play by the middle of the $3,000-to-win main event, Stovall continued to pound the top side cushion in turn one and two, utilizing the momentum to chase down Vaught.
With just seven laps to go and Vaught on the bottom contending with lapped traffic, it appeared that Stovall had the money run off the top side of turn two to take the lead, but the No. 1v of Vaught slowly drifted out to the outside wall and was able to stop the top side run of Stovall. That would be as close as Stovall would come to the back bumper of Vaught’s Clements powered Rocket XR 1Chassis, as Vaught went on to grab his third MLRA win of the year.
Stovall held on in the closing laps to grab second over Simpson, while Timothy Culp and Payton Looney rounded out the top five.
“Leading the race early I didn’t know where to be and I saw his nose(Simpson) there a couple of times and I’m like gosh dang it. We were pretty good through the center on the bottom, it was just too black on the exit. That momentum over there (turn two) was pretty good, we were just trying to roll around there and got a little gap, so I just tried to keep my tires under me. A couple of years ago we led 39 laps and then had a flat coming to the white. That was $5,000 that year, so they at least owe me $3,000 tonight,” commented Vaught.
While Stovall was just inches from passing for the lead in the closing laps, he commented on the close racing by stating, “It was one of them moves where you have to give–you either wreck or you try it, and it just wasn’t worth it at that point. It’s just hard not to keep your car on the bottom (turn two) no matter who you are or what you’re doing there. You kind of drift and I know that too. It’s better to come home and make some money than to have a bunch of piles of trash lying around.”
Feature (30 Laps): 1.Will Vaught 2.Jesse Stovall 3.Chad Simpson 4.Timothy Culp 5.Payton Looney 6. B.J. Robinson 7.Jon Mitchell 8.Scott Crigler 9.Mitch McGrath 10.Hunter Rasdon 11.Morgan Bagley 12.Raymond Merrill 13.Logan Martin 14.Gavin Landers 15.Tony Jackson Jr. 16.Charlie Cole 17.David Payne 18.Kyle Beard 19.Chad Mallett 20.Patrick Daniels 21.Terry Phillips 22.Brian Rickman 23.Joseph Gorby