Vaught Tops MLRA’s Badger State Debut

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Will Vaught poses in victory lane after winning Friday's MLRA feature at Beaver Dam Raceway. (Lloyd Collins Photo)
Will Vaught poses in victory lane after winning Friday’s MLRA feature at Beaver Dam Raceway. (Lloyd Collins Photo)

BEAVER DAM, Wis. – Lucas Oil MLRA Series point leader Will Vaught cashed in on his long haul to the Beaver Dam Raceway Friday night, driving away with the $4,000 top prize in the series inaugural appearance in the Badger State.

Vaught started on the outside front row along with pole winner Joel Callahan after both drivers, along with Mitch McGrath, scored wins in preliminary action.  Vaught immediately jump to the race lead on lap number one as the front duo exited turn number two, and cruised out to a sizable advantage over the field.

“I knew we were going to have to be in that momentum lane and we got rolling and Eric (Barnes) just kept giving me pretty good gap,” Vaught said. “There aren’t very many nights this car is real close like this. It was pretty good.”

As the leaders approached lap twelve, they quickly began to encounter a heavy dose of lapped traffic as the events first 35 laps went caution free.  Defending series champion Chad Simpson maintained the runner-up spot over McGrath as lapped traffic did it’s best to help determine the outcome of the main event.  As the event made it to the mid-point, Simpson used the lapped traffic to his advantage and all but erased the race lead that Vaught had established.

Home State driver McGrath, who was searching for his first career MLRA win, began to apply heavy pressure to the back bumper of Simpson and as the pair crossed the line with eight laps to go was able to move ahead of Simpson for the runner up spot.

“I saw that we were reeling them in and I knew they were getting held up by lapped traffic, and I thought maybe we can capitalize.  It sucks for Chad he got bounced out of the bottom by a lapped car, but we were able to fill the gap and got second,” said McGrath on his pass for second.

Just three laps later the events only caution would wave as Zach Kessler slowed down the back stretch and came to a stop at the exit of turn three.

The restart set up a five lap shootout between the series current top two drivers, but as the green was dropped, Vaught shot off the bottom of turn four and quickly took control of the event.  Vaught grabbed his second MLRA win of the season while McGrath settled for a career-best second.  Simpson came home in third while Logan Martin and Joel Callahan completed the top five.

Post-race Vaught was quick to thank his crew and his crew chief Eric Barnes.

“Eric was giving me signals and keeping me calm, and when it got close I had to push it,” Vaught said. “I was sometimes being too patient with the lap cars, and some of the lapped cars didn’t give us any room.  They were racing hard for position and I understand that, I was there one day.

While the runner-up finish for McGrath may have ended one spot shy of their goal, they were all smiles after the Friday’s event.

“We would have liked to get the win, but had a hell of a lot of fun.  Congrats to Will, he is a tough competitor and a great friend,” stated McGrath.

The finish:

Will Vaught, Mitch McGrath, Chad Simpson, Logan Martin, Joel Callahan, Paul Parker, Justin Reed, Jeremy Grady, Joseph Gorby, Dave Eckrich, Jake Neal, David Jaeger, Brett Swedberg, Brad Mueller, Taylor Scheffler, Brad Mueller, Turk Letizia, Tony Peterson, Skip Frey, Zach Kessler.