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Pryor Creek, OK (June 26, 2020) - Republic Missouri's Payton Looney erased a long streak of Lucas Oil MLRA runner-up finishes on Friday night, grabbing his first career series victory at the Salina Highbanks Speedway in Pryor Creek OK.
For the second consecutive night Looney grabbed the Slick Mist Fast Time Award after turning a lap of 14.198 seconds in group B qualifying, propelling him to a heat race win an outside front row starting spot for the 30 lap main event. Looney started alongside DirtonDirt.com pole winner Chad Simpson, as the two ran side by side for the first three laps, with Looney pushing the limits on the top side of the Highbanks.
As the leaders crossed the stripe on lap number three, Looney grabbed the top spot away from Simpson and set sail before a couple of first half cautions waved over the field. The final caution of the night dropped with seventeen laps remaining setting up a restart with Simpson and Johnny Scott trailing the Capital Chassis of Looney. Scott capitalized on the restart and cleared Simpson, setting up the second battle between Looney and Scott in the last three events.
Looney previously led 38 of 40 laps on Wednesday night at the Lucas Oil Speedway only to see victory slip away to the 1st car of Scott in the closing laps. In the closing laps, Scott would again pull to within a couple of car lengths of Looney, until slightly jumping the cushion in turn one and two with a lap to go, allowing Looney to pull away for the win by .921 seconds.
Scott's second place finish is his third consecutive finish of 2nd or better, while Simpson recorded his second consecutive third place finish, enough to remain atop the Midwest Sheet Metal Point Leader Spoiler Standings. Jeremiah Hurst grabbed his best MLRA finish to date in fourth while Logan Martin rounded out the top five.
The victory for Looney was worth $3,000 and moved him to second in the series standings. All smiles in Cedar Creek Beef Jerky Victory Lane, the driver of the Atnip Enterprises, Duvall Electric, Specialty Risk Insurance, Cornett powered entry commented, "Man, it's about time. We have been doing this a long time and it just seems like we would always be in position and something would happen. We have ran second a lot, just more times than I wish to admit, but everything just fell our way tonight. I really thought I had one Wednesday night, that's my favorite place (Lucas Oil Speedway) and to lead the whole thing and get passed coming to the white was really heart breaking, and I just didn't want that to happen again."
Knowing that the XR1 Rocket of Scott was lurking once again in the closing laps Looney continued, "I saw Johnny come to second on the scoreboard and I was just doing all I could, trying to make my car wide. My car was good enough I could go about anywhere I wanted to, but traffic was getting hairy there and I just wanted to make sure I didn't make any mistakes."
Scott continued his string of podium finishes noting, "We're getting this thing faster and faster and just have to keep tuning on it any maybe tomorrow we can get qualified good and start out front in one of these things because it's just tough. There are too many fast guys and it's hard if you start even a couple of rows back."
Simpson, a former Friday night MLRA winner at the Salina Highbanks continues to show the way in the MLRA standings, recording his fourth top four of the year. The driver of the Jay Dickens powered Black Diamond commented, "It definitely pays off (consistency), but we still want that win. I just didn't get up early enough in the race, Payton did a good job and got up there on the top and let it sail. Johnny did good on the restart and got by me. I was good but just made a couple of mistakes there and let them guys get by me, but hey they were both good too and that's what makes this series so tough."
The fourth consecutive night on the road for the Lucas Oil MLRA will wrap up on Saturday night, as action continues at the Salina Highbanks Speedway with a $5,000 to win weekend finale on tap.
Salina Highbanks Speedway Contingencies 6/26/20
MAV TV Motorsports B Feature 2 (10 Laps): 1.Tony Jackson Jr. 2.Jesse Stovall 3.Justin Duty 4.Jeremy Grady 5.Preston Luckman 6.Aaron Marrant 7.Cliff Morow 8.Will Vaught (DNS) 9.Jon Driskell (DNS)
Casey's General Stores Heat 2 (10 Laps): 1.Logan Martin 2.Jake Timm 3.Joe Godsey 4.Raymond Merrill 5.Ryan Johnson 6.Hayden Ross 7.Justin Mills 8.Jeremy Conaway (DNS) 9.Brennon Willard (DNS)
Sunoco Race Fuels Heat 3 (10 Laps): 1.Payton Looney 2.Jason Papich 3.Mitch McGrath 4.Jordan Yaggy 5.Jesse Stovall 6.Justin Duty 7.Aaron Marrant 8.Jon Driskell 9.Joseph Gorby (DNS)
Midwest Sheet Metal Heat 4 (10 Laps): 1.Johnny Scott 2.Terry Phillips 3.Garrett Alberson 4.Daniel Hilsabeck 5.Tony Jackson Jr. 6.Preston Luckman 7.Jerermy Grady 8.Cliff Morrow 9.Will Vaught
For all of the latest news and information fans are encouraged to visit the series website at www.MLRARacing.com.