FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — Despite blowing a right-rear tire on the final lap, Roger Crockett earned his first World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory Saturday night at I-94 Speedway.
Crockett grabbed the lead from Brad Sweet on lap eight of the three-eighths-mile track and started to build his advantage in a caution-free 30-lap feature run under the constant threat of rain.
Crockett slid up to the turn-four wall repeatedly during the closing laps as he pushed hard in his Buffalo Wild Wings car to extend his advantage over Sweet and Kerry Madsen. Those knocks on the wall apparently took a toll on his right rear tire because just after the white flag waved, he rolled into turn two and the tire came apart.
“I take the white flag and I come off of turn two and I’m thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, after all these years I’ve finally won an Outlaw race,’ and the tire blows right there,” said Crockett, of Medford, Ore., who was making his 66th World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series start since 2002. “I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ So I go into turn three and I see a lapped car I passed eight laps ago go by me and I think, ‘Man, we might have enough of a lead to do this.’ … I’m not one to give up and there’s a perfect example. You never give up until you cross that line or until she won’t go no more.”
Sweet started the race by jumping out to a quick advantage in the SureTestSupplies.com car and setting the pace early, but he was held up in heavy traffic down the front stretch on lap eight as Crockett blasted to the top in turns one and two and drove into the lead down the back.
Crockett continued weaving through traffic while Madsen and his American Racing Custom Wheels car charged forward to pressure Sweet. Crockett worked through the traffic to build a straightaway advantage, which he needed on the last lap to get the biggest victory of his career.
“Obviously, winning an Outlaw race, there’s nothing bigger in sprint car racing,” Crockett said. “It’s my first one. I’ve been close, run second, run third.”