WHEATLAND, Mo. – One year later, Will Vaught finds himself in the opposite position entering the final weekend of the Lucas Oil MLRA championship chase.
Instead of chasing, he is the one being chased, and that’s a good feeling.
“I’d a lot rather be in the situation we’re in this year, rather than last year when we were the underdog,” Vaught said in looking ahead to the sixth annual MLRA Fall Nationals, this Saturday and Sunday at Lucas Oil Speedway.
Action has been pushed back by a day due to rain and cold weather expected to enter the area by late week.
The COMP Cams Super Dirt Series Presented by Lucas Oil will combine with the MLRA for a 50-lap, $5,000-to-win feature on Saturday and a 40-lapper for $3,000 to win on Sunday.
The B-Mod Clash of Champions II will co-headline the doubleheader.
The Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods will have two sets of heat races on Saturday to help set the lineup for Sunday’s $3,000-to-win feature.
Vaught, of Crane, can almost taste his first MLRA championship. He enters the action 88 points in front of Mitch McGrath and 99 clear of Logan Martin.
One year ago, Vaught was riding a three-race winning streak into the Fall Nationals, but was still digging out of an early-season points hole and trailed Chad Simpson by 24 points.
Simpson went on to win the weekend, taking the lone feature after night one was rained out.
“The weather didn’t cooperate and our run didn’t cooperate, either,” Vaught said.
This time, Vaught has some cushion to work with where solid runs should clinch the championship. It’s conceivable that he could clinch the title by the time the checkered flag flies on Saturday.
Vaught admits that it’s difficult to dial anything back, as winning always is the primary goal. He has three MLRA feature wins in 2019 and was second to Jesse Stovall in the last event, the Larry Phillips Memorial at Lucas Oil Speedway over Labor Day weekend.
“We approach every race the same,” Vaught said. “We go there to win. I catch myself sometimes trying to finish, before winning, and I don’t really like racing that way. But we do have a pretty good lead. We still need to win races, though.”
Vaught said winning his first MLRA championship “would mean a lot.”
“I’ve never been that guy who really followed a series like we have the last couple of years,” he added. “I’ve never won a series championship. It would be a good accomplishment and something to put on the resume to say we did it.”
Showing how seriously he’s taking this weekend, Vaught said he wanted to race a few times since the Larry Phillips Memorial, but decided to keep his car in the shop instead and go through it with the proverbial “fine-tooth comb.”
“We’re going into this weekend fresh and really looking forward to getting back on the track,” he said. “We’re excited to get back to Wheatland. We’ve been pretty successful there in recent years.”
The battle for second in points is razor close, with McGrath and Martin separated by just 10 points. Martin has clinched the Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Year Award, with a 255-point lead over Joseph Gorby.
The COMP Cams Series finds a tight championship battle brewing. Timothy Culp of Prattsville, Ark., leads Tony Jackson of Lebanon by 28 points. Unlike the MLRA, the Comp Cams Series does not conclude this weekend, with two November events remaining.