Mlraoz1 04 28 23 (270)mikeruefer
Chris Simpson (Mike Ruefer photo)

Consistent Simpson Conquers Lake Ozark

ELDON, Mo. — Chris Simpson almost watched his 16th Lucas Oil MLRA victory slip away on Friday at the Lake Ozark Speedway, but stayed consistent to his game plan to retake the lead late in the going to capture the opening night of the third annual Battle at the Beach.

Simpson made his first visit to the third-mile facility and grabbed the win in his respective heat race to earn the third starting spot on the grid for the 30 lapper. At the drop of the green Tony Jackson Jr. darted from his pole position into an immediate front row battle with current series point leader Chad Simpson.

With Chad Simpson and Jackson racing hard for the lead, Chris Simpson played it cool on the low line and topped both front row starters to lead the first two laps.

Jackson quickly regrouped and shot to the top side of the track and regained the lead on lap three, just before the caution waved for Aaron Marrant who came to a stop at the top of turn one. Jackson quickly jumped back to the point running the extreme top side of the track while Chris Simpson remained committed to the low line.

The leaders would become engulfed in lapped traffic during the mid-point of the feature event, with Jackson having just enough to hold Simpson at bay.

Exiting turn four just past halfway, Simpson made contact with Johnathan Huston as he was pulling of the track, nearly bringing an early end to his night.

Just prior to the nights next caution on lap 21, Simpson slipped past Jackson to regain the lead by a slim margin of just .015 seconds. A lap-23 caution quickly followed, all the while Simpson continued to pilot the low line with Jackson living on the edge at the top of the speedway. On lap 25, Jackson caught the wall and ended up retiring, and was relegated to a 16th place finish.

The victory didn’t come easy for Simpson as he had to survive a green-white-checkered finish to collect the $5,000 pay day. Simpson got the best in the family battle on Friday night as brother Chad came home in second.

Tyler Stevens came from 12th and grabbed his first podium finish of the year with a third-place finish. Daniel Hilsabeck and Logan Martin rounded out the top five.

“I was good down on that bottom, but they kept pushing the tires out during the caution,” noted Chris Simpson. “One time they would and one lap they wouldn’t. I just kind of had to get up top in three and four and let it eat. He moved me down at the end, but I didn’t want to leave that top, I was getting a hell of a run off of there.”

Chad Simpson captured his third podium finish of the year and noted of his run, “the car just didn’t fire off real well for me, we just weren’t that good out of the box but it kind of came to us late in the race. Hats off to Chris, he had a great car and was definitely the car to beat tonight.”

The finish:

Feature (50 laps): 1. 32S-Chris Simpson[3]; 2. 25-Chad Simpson[2]; 3. 2-Tyler Stevens[12]; 4. 22-Daniel Hilsabeck[11]; 5. 36-Logan Martin[14]; 6. 15-Justin Duty[16]; 7. 45-Cole Wells[19]; 8. 11H-Jeff Herzog[13]; 9. 7D-Dusty Leonard[21]; 10. 22H-Dustin Hodges[24]; 11. 31H-Cole Henson[18]; 12. 14G-Trevor Gundaker[17]; 13. 96-Dalton Imhoff[22]; 14. (DNF) 58-Garrett Alberson[4]; 15. (DNF) 8-Dillon McCowan[8]; 16. (DNF) 56JR-Tony Jackson Jr[1]; 17. (DNF) 93-Mason Oberkramer[6]; 18. (DNF) 29D-Spencer Diercks[5]; 19. (DNF) 50-Kayden Clatt[26]; 20. (DNF) 15L-Payton Looney[7]; 21. (DNF) 42-Johnathan Huston[20]; 22. (DNF) 1ST-Justin Reed[10]; 23. (DNF) 3W-Brennon Willard[25]; 24. (DNF) 49T-Jake Timm[9]; 25. (DNF) 1X-Aaron Marrant[15]; 26. (DNF) 78S-Steve Stultz[23]