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Media Contact: Billy Rock
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Davenport, Iowa (April 20th, 2018) - A great field of 35 Lucas Oil MLRA late models signed in on Friday night at the Davenport Speedway for one of the rare chances to take to the speedways super quick half-mile racing surface. When the dust finally settled on the nights racing it would be Chris Simpson parking his Longhorn Chassis in Andy's Frozen Custard Victory Lane in front of a packed house.
During heat race action earlier in the evening, Simpson would take advantage of a turn four bobble on the final lap to overtake Rob Toland for the win. That pass proved huge for Simpson as it placed him on the DirtonDirt.com Pole position for the 30 lap main event.
Fortunately for Simpson, the 3rd attempt at a successful start would be the charm as he was able to bolt to the race lead, and never look back. On the initial start of the race it was Chatham IL's Brian Shirley who would capitalize on a rare slip in turn one by the pole sitter and be in command down the back stretch. However, before the field could complete the lap the caution would wave for former series champion Jesse Stovall, who would lose power and come to a stop in turn four.
On a couple of occasions Simpson would find himself working up to the tail of the field to begin working into lapped traffic. Each of those came with added pressure from Shirley, but as he was starting to mount a challenge the caution would come out and put the eventual winner back out in clean air.
The races final caution would wave with just 8 laps to go but Simpson had no trouble firing on the re-start and securing the win. Shirley would come home in second, followed by Tyler Bruening, Tony Jackson, Jr., and Payton Looney rounding out the top five. Looney would also capture the Casey's Hard Charger award for his 13 position improvement.
Simpson said of his $5,000 win, "That track was tricky tonight, but we had a pretty maneuverable car to where we could move around on the track. I hit the corners and the rough spots wrong more than I hit them right, but somehow I was able to hold on."
Regarding the caution plagued 1st lap he said, "Thank god for that caution, otherwise I don't know if we would have got back around him (Shirley)."
Simpson who is from nearby Oxford, IA was well received in front of his home state crowd. "I grew up watching Brian Birkhofer dominate the top side here. It feels really good to get a win here in Iowa."
Shirley would come up one spot short of the top prize, but in the process he takes over the MLRA points lead and the Midwest Sheet Metal Spoiler Challenge award that comes with it. The driver of the Bob Cullen Racing XR1 Rocket Chassis was very gracious following the event as sponsors Bob and Lisa Cullen were in attendance for Friday night's podium finish.
Brian commented on the race by saying, "Anytime you are on a big half mile clean air is really important, especially with tonight's track conditions. I would have liked to have seen that first start go - we were in the cat-bird-seat."
Shirley said of the night's winner, "All in all Chris Simpson is a heck of a good race car driver, so well take 2nd tonight and move onto tomorrow."
Third place finishing Tyler Bruening, had a career best finish with the MLRA series coming from his 12th starting position. The driver from Decorah, IA was one of the few that was able to navigate the highline of the ½ mile speedway. "It was a fine line, you would hit it a couple of times then the next time you miss your mark and would be bouncing all over the place."
Bruening's podium finish was a good way to jump start his season. "We're ecstatic right now just to be out here with the guys. They are all phenomenal race car drivers, it's a great way to start the year, we've just got to keep the momentum rolling."
Saturday night the MLRA tour heads south to 34 Raceway in West Burlington, IA where an even bigger field of cars is being projected. The 10th Annual "Slocum 50" will feature a time trial format to determine heat race line ups as drivers will be battling for a big time $10,555 pay day in the annual tribute event to former racer Brent Slocum. Action will get under way with Time Trials at 6:15 PM with racing to follow.
Davenport Speedway Contingencies- 10/6/17
Andy's Frozen Custard Victory Lane - Chris Simpson
Protect The Harvest.com A Feature (30 Laps): 1.Chris Simpson 2.Brian Shirley 3.Tyler Bruening 4.Tony Jackson, Jr. 5.Payton Looney 6.Jason Feger 7.Jordan Yaggy 8.Rich Bell 9.J. C. Wyman 10.Frank Heckenast, Jr. 11.Mitch McGrath 12.Raymond Merrill 13.Joel Callahan 14.Jeff Roth 15.Mason Oberkramer 16.Chad Simpson 17.Rickey Frankel 18.Cole Wells 19.Tad Pospisil 20.Will Vaught 21.Dave Eckrich 22.Jonathan Brauns 23.Joe Godsey 24.Rob Toland 25.Jesse Stovall
Casey's General Stores Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1.Chris Simpson 2.Chad Simpson 3.Rob Toland 4.Jesse Stovall 5.Jeremy Grady 6.Kolby Vandenbergh 7.Corey Zeitner 8.Jake Neal 9.Dave Wada
Chix Gear Racewear Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1.Frank Heckenast, Jr. 2.Brian Shirley 3.Joel Callahan 4.Tyler Bruening 5.Jordan Yaggy 6.Jason Feger 7.Rich Bell 8.Skip Frey 9.Cole Wells
Malvern Bank Heat 4 (8 Laps): 1.Tony Jackson, Jr. 2.Jonathan Brauns 3.Dave Eckrich 4.Jeff Roth 5.Joe Godsey 6.Justin Zeitner 7.Spencer Diercks 8.Lyndon Bolt