POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. – Most days at the racetrack the rain is an unwanted curse, but sometimes it can be a welcome blessing.
Saturday night for Tim Crawley and the Mike Ward Racing team, it was just that.
Crawley sprinted away from the field after winning his heat race and starting on the K&N Filters Pole Position to win his first United Sprint Car Series Outlaw Thunder Tour filtercharged by K&N main event of the season at Poplar Bluff Speedway.
The feature was scheduled for 30 laps, but was shortened to 17 laps after a deluge of rain swamped the speedway and ended the night under a red/checkered condition.
The win was Crawley’s 66th career USCS victory, which is third on the all-time win list.
“This is never the way you want to win one; you always want to get it under green and fly under the checkered flag, but after how close we’ve come so many times this year, we will absolutely take it,” Crawley said in his hauler after the race as fans and crew members alike scurried for cover.
“It feels good to finally get one for (team owner Mike Ward) and this whole crew; they’ve worked their butts off this year and they finally get to celebrate the spoils of victory for once.”
The race was slowed by caution only once, when the No. 44 of Ronny Howard slapped the outside wall going into Turn 3 and came to a stop with one lap complete. Howard was unable to rejoin the field, and Crawley sprinted away from Kyle Bellm on the restart and away to the rain-soaked victory when the skies opened up.
Bellm came home in the runner-up position, with Jerrod Hull, an eight-time USCS feature winner, completing the podium in third. Anthony Nicholson ended his night in the fourth position, and native Robbie Standridge capped off the top five finishers.
Ten-time USCS champion Terry Gray flew home in sixth and Andy McElhannon was credited with seventh at the checkers. Morgan Turpen finished eighth on the night, and 2013 USCS Rookie of the Year Curt Terrell finished ninth. Two-time USCS feature winner and 2011 Rookie of the Year Jordon Mallett rounded out the top 10.
Preston Seratt, a 2014 USCS K&N Outlaw Modified Series Rookie of the Year contender, was credited with his first career series victory in the opening round of the 2014 USCS K&N Modified Speedweek after rain drenched the racetrack just before the K&N Outlaw Modifieds were set to take to the track for their feature event.