By Billy Rock (Fountain City, WI) -- For the second consecutive night Tony Jackson Jr. dominated the competition and cruised to his biggest career Lucas Oil MLRA victory to date. The 2013 MLRA champion has been so close to knocking off a series crown jewel event in recent years and was finally able to seal the deal on Friday night, cashing in on the $10,000 win in the 13th annual RiverCity Rumble at the Mississippi Thunder Speedway.
The MLRA’s first ever stop at the big 1/3-mile facility showcased twenty eight of the Midwest best Late Model drivers. Jimmy Mars captured the nights Illini Racing & Supply Fast Time Award with a time of 13.733 seconds and started on the outside front row alongside of pole sitter Tony Jackson Jr. Jackson assumed the lead at the drop of the green flag and laid claim to the lower line on the speedway with third starting Mason Oberkramer moving into the second spot.
PHOTO CREDIT: Chad Marquardt
The fifty lap main event got off to a good start, until the first of four StopTech Brakes cautions waved on lap twenty-one when tenth running Chad Mader spun in turn two. The field would struggle to gain rhythm after that with another immediate caution coming out when Earl Pearson Jr. slowed on the speedway with a flat tire, retiring his Lucas Oil Products Black Diamond chassis from the feature event.
With Jackson still showing the way on the restart, the pace would again slow on lap twenty-six as Chad Simpson brought his ride to a stop on the speedway. As the field navigated past the mid-point of the feature event a number of new faces began to contend for the win including the likes of Mars, and AJ Diemel who restarted second and third.
With Jackson again working lapped traffic, the night’s final caution would wave with just eleven laps remaining when lady luck struck second place running Jimmy Mars. The veteran driver drifted up the track and came to a stop off the exit of turn four while trying to chase down the race leader using a high line approach.
The final eleven laps would go caution free with Jackson cruising to his third MLRA win of the season and second win in as many nights. Jackson’s margin of victory in his Cornett powered XR-1 Rocket chassis was 1.076 seconds over Jeremiah Hurst who grabbed his second consecutive podium finish on the weekend. A.J. Diemel scored his highest career MLRA finish in third, while Jake Timm charged from his twenty-third starting spot to fourth at the line. Timm would collect the Casey’s Hard Charger and the Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Race awards. Mason Oberkramer rounded out the top five.
Jackson celebrated the big win in Cedar Creek Beef Jerky Victory Lane and reflected on finally being able to capatilize on such a big win after being so close in the past. “It’s so disappointing, I have led so many races and just never could seal the deal, but what a race car. Man, it’s fun to drive,” he exclaimed. “I want to thank my little girl and my wife, Casey (Mooneyham) and Tony (Allen), Darrell Lanigan, Mark Richards, Jack Cornett, Penske Shocks, David Willard—without all of them I couldn’t do it.”
The feature winner was able to lay claim to the low line for nearly the entire duration of the main event without having to adjust his racing line in a very versatile car. “I like the bottom you know, but I will do the top,” joked Jackson. “It’s really good when you unload fast.”
The second place run for the MLRA’s defending champion Hurst was a career best finish for the driver from Dubuque, IA. “I feel one coming, I just hope its sooner than later,” stated Hurst of finding his way to victory lane. “The track, I knew it was going to kind of take rubber there and I was just trying to hold my own. When I seen Jimmy get a flat tire, I was like I should probably save my tires. They (crew) said I had plenty of tire left so I probably should have gave her some.”
Diemel rounded out the podium after starting seventh on the grid. “Those guys were just a little bit better,” he commented of the top two. “The tire rule we kind of had to play with here, that 40 tire was just really what you needed to have on something like this. On the restarts we could make it a little interesting being a little softer. Thanks to MLRA for actually letting us come down here and run our stuff and be competitive with it,” he concluded.