PEVELY, Mo. — It looked like the cards were setting up perfectly during Jacob Allen’s 325th attempt to win his first World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series victory.
Allen started the night strong and stayed that way throughout. He was second-fastest in his qualifying flight, behind only his Shark Racing teammate Logan Schuchart, won his heat race in dominant fashion and then stormed past defending Outlaw champion Brad Sweet in the DIRTvision Fast Pass Dash.
That last bit garnered Allen the pole for the 30-lap feature at the third-mile dirt track, and the Hanover, Pa., native took advantage when the green flag waved.
Allen led the first nine laps, but not without challenge, as Shane Stewart and Brad Sweet closed in once Allen hit traffic on the fifth rotation and stayed right with him from there.
Then, disaster struck, but not of Allen’s own making. A caution flag forced by the stopped car of Terry McCarl in turn one, set up a lap-10 restart, where Allen simply didn’t have the same steam that Sweet – running second — did on the jump.
Sweet powered to the lead from outside the front row and proceeded to pace 20 of the final 21 laps en route to the victory, while Allen faded and was eventually shuffled off the podium by Schuchart.
The 25-year-old finished fifth, a solid run for his underdog team. However, at times during the night, it looked like it could have — and perhaps should have — been so much more.
Allen wasn’t hanging his head, though. He was simply happy to have a strong result for Shark Racing and get his team back on the right foot following a couple of tougher runs early in the season.
“All of these guys have a chip on their shoulder; we’re only getting to race so much,” Allen said. “Those guys that ran in front of me, the other four there, are aggressive racers and the track was aggressive. I’m not hanging my head about it at all. I was leading laps. I felt very strong. I wasn’t looking forward to the caution, but I wasn’t scared of it either. I just think I drove through too hard through the bottom and it took me a few laps to get going.
“Other than that, I felt like I was ripping just as good as anybody and had a car to win the race,” he added. “That’s such a good feeling for us right now.”
It’s not a feeling that Allen has had often during his World of Outlaws career, but it has been becoming more common lately.
Friday night marked Allen’s 14th career top five and 49th top-10 finish in those 325 starts. He’s slowly climbing the standings as well, sitting 14th and only 32 points out of a top-10 spot in the season standings.
It’s all starting to add up for Allen, and the positive momentum he’s building makes it easy to believe that first victory will come sooner, rather than later.
Rest assured, the celebration will last all night when it finally happens.