WHEATLAND, Mo. – After rain pushed the finale of the third annual Jesse Hockett / Daniel McMillin Memorial to a Sunday affair, the MAVTV American Real cameras saw Johnny Herrera live up to his nickname as “Hollywood” led from flag-to-flag for his fourth Protect the Harvest A-Feature win of the season.
His tenth overall with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by MAVTV American Real, Herrera became the ninth different winner with the National Tour at the Lucas Oil Speedway.
“The short time I raced with Jesse, we did race some non-wing stuff together and we always had great races together. He was a great guy and I wish we were still racing with him but I know he’s watching down; I just feel honored that I could actually win this race,” commented Herrera on his victory.
“We usually come to Wheatland and seem to struggle. We drew a bad number both nights in a row. I just couldn’t seem to get out of the fifties and sixties but tonight, the track was wider in the Heat Races and we were able to do some passing to get ourselves in position.”
With the track developing what Herrera called “ridges” around the cushion, the Print Place No. 45x worked the highline around the Lucas Oil Speedway for the better part of the feature. Starting off low, Herrera went topside after the seventh round with Brian Brown stalking the New Mexico driver for the lead.
“We ran the first few laps around the bottom and it was really good. I’m sure the other guys got tight like I did running the first few laps around the bottom but you just had to keep your eyes open and known when to move up on the racetrack.”
Brian Brown posted his second runner up in as many nights of racing in the Jesse Hockett Racing No. 77. Close on several restart and late in slower traffic, Brown ran the runner up spot for all but two laps when Tony Bruce, Jr. was able to sneak by in traffic.
Getting the car tipped on the Right Front several times through turns one and two, Brown commented on the car nearly getting out from under him, “I just got in behind the lapped cars and got tight. You really needed to be able to rotate the corner there and getting behind those lapped cars I just couldn’t do anything with them.”
“Lap 12 through about Lap 24 that was the absolute hardest I could driver that racecar. I know how much it would mean to Jack and Connie to put this No. 77 in Victory Lane. I promise I was doing everything I could,” explained Brown as he threw an arm around a Champaign soaked Jack Hockett.
Asked about his driver’s run, the elder Hockett replied, “Jesse would have been proud of that. If he ever could have gotten the lead, it would have been lights out.”
Tony Bruce Jr. recorded his second podium of the weekend in the Wheeler Metals No. 18.
“We had a good car there. Unfortunately we just weren’t fast enough to contend for the win but more than anything, I want to thank all the fans for staying. We really appreciate you guy and Lucas Oil Speedway for sticking it out and putting the show on Sunday and letting us play.”
Jason Johnson climbed from twelfth to fourth with Danny Lasoski coming up five spots to complete the top five.
Jeff Swindell placed second in the night’s second B-Feature and clawed from twentieth to sixth with Brad Loyet following from twenty-second to seventh after placing third in the same B-Feature. Dustin Morgan crossed eighth with Roger Crockett ninth and Derek Hagar making up the top ten.
Dustin Morgan returned to competition with the Impact Signs W.A.R. Sprint Cars and completed a weekend sweep on the Non-Wing division.
Races were stopped once on the initial start for the flipped No. 23B of Brian Bell who emerged unhurt. The caution flag displayed three times for Wayne Johnson on Lap 4, Brandon Hahn on Lap 9, and finally for a multi-car incident that claimed fourth running No. 2L of Logan Forler and fifth running No. 23 of Seth Bergman on Lap 29, setting up for a green, white, checkered finish. Both drivers were able to return for the finish.