Vaught Scores Victory at Lucas Oil MLRA Spring Nationals
Wheatland, Missouri (April 14, 2017) - Will Vaught made the most of a late-race restart to grab a season-opening win Friday night as the 4th annual Lucas Oil MLRA Fall Nationals began at Lucas Oil Speedway.
"It's pretty sweet," Vaught said after getting past Tony Jackson Jr., with five laps remaining and going on to capture the $2,000 feature on night one of the doubleheader presented by RacingJunk.com.
Other feature winners on the opening night of the weekend doubleheader were Jon Sheets (Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds) and Burl Woods (Big O Tires Street Stocks).
Vaught, of Crane, took home the win with Springfield veteran Terry Phillips second and Lebanon's Jackson settling for third after being in control most of the way.
Jackson passed MLRA rookie Payton Looney, who started on the pole, for the lead on lap five. He maintained it until the race's lone caution waved, when Jackson teammate Raymond Merrill spun in turn four.
That set up a five-lap shootout to the finish with Jackson leading Vaught, Looney, Phillips and Rodney Sanders to the restart.
That was the opportunity Vaught needed. Jackson slipped high in turn two and Vaught slid underneath to take the lead with Phillips also going past and into second. That's the way it stayed until the finish with Vaught earning his second career win at Lucas Oil Speedway, following up a win in the Larry Phillips Memorial last September.
"He over drove the corner a little bit and we got by him," said Vaught, who was making his season debut. He's been overseeing his children's quarter-midget racing with daughter Mallory (5) and Maddox (7) winning on Lucas' "slick track" behind the main grandstand a week ago.
"Both of them won last week and we got the win tonight. It's pretty special," Vaught said. "We'll have to improve (Saturday night) because Tony probably had the best car. But he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and we compensated."
A dejected Jackson said he wasn't sure what happened on the re-start, though he suspected that a new right-rear tire rule played a factor and he didn't have enough heat in the rubber when the race returned to green.
"That's a part of it," Jackson said of the untimely caution.
Phillips was more upbeat, driving from a 12th starting position to the runner-up spot.
"The way the night started, it wasn't looking too sporty," Phillips said. "To be able to drive up through there with all these good cars, we'll take it."
Sanders finished fourth and reigning MLRA Series champion Jesse Stovall was fifth.
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Photo courtesy of www.lucasoilspeedway.com/ Kenny Shaw