PLYMOUTH, Ind. – Sometimes the best defense, is a good offense. That’s the approach Rick Eckert used to win Saturday’s World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series feature at Plymouth Speedway.
Eckert led all 40 laps of the race, but he didn’t dominate. The York, Pa., driver had to think quickly in lap traffic while holding off challenges from Frank Heckenast, Jr.
Heckenast tried crossing Eckert over several times on the back straightaway but didn’t have the momentum he needed after charging to the bottom off turn two.
Heckenast made several attempts to steal the top spot, but Eckert was focused on getting through traffic ahead of him.
“It’s awesome to go almost all the way green, but traffic is tough,” Eckert said. “One time I saw a nose and I wasn’t sure if it was [Heckenast] or a lap car, but it didn’t matter anyway because I was going [to the top.]
“I was just trying to chase traction and chase where there was a hole. I never raced behind me; I was on offense the whole time trying to get through the traffic.”
Saturday’s win is Eckert’s 38th career World of Outlaws victory. Eckert also swept the night setting Slick Woody’s Quick Time and winning his Drydene Heat Race.
Heckenast was impressed with how well Eckert moved through traffic.
“[Eckert] drove a perfect race, for dodging what he had to dodge,” Heckenast said. “I had about 15 shots at him, but not really because of lap traffic. It was just one of those things that was teasing you like a steak out there on a string.”
The only regret for the Frankfort, Ill., driver, was not being aggressive enough early in the race.
“The only thing I’m upset about is maybe I could’ve pushed a little bit harder the first five or 10 laps when me and [Eckert] were side-by-side,” Heckenast said.
Tyler Bruening, the rookie of the race, crossed the line third. The Decorah, IA driver stayed on the bottom for most of the race, keeping Eckert and Heckenast in his sight.
“We made it interesting if nothing else,” Bruening said. “I don’t really know what we were missing, I think if we would’ve zigged instead of zagged in lap traffic it would’ve made it more interesting.”
Bruening leads the chase for Rookie of the Year—108 points ahead of Ryan Gustin, who finished fifth.
Three-time and defending champion Brandon Sheppard crossed the line fourth.
The reigning champion and New Berlin, IL driver extended his point lead for the second straight night. He’s 46 points ahead of Chris Madden, who finished seventh.
1. 0E-Rick Eckert [$10,000]; 2. 99JR-Frank Heckenast [$6,000]; 3. 16-Tyler Bruening [$3,500]; 4. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$2,800]; 5. 19R-Ryan Gustin [$2,500]; 6. 157-Mike Marlar [$2,300]; 7. 44-Chris Madden [$2,200]; 8. 111V-Max Blair [$2,100]; 9. 28-Dennis Erb [$2,050]; 10. 7-Ricky Weiss [$2,000]; 11. 97-Cade Dillard [$1,600]; 12. 11-Gordy Gundaker [$1,400]; 13. 11T-Trevor Gundaker [$1,200]; 14. 7R-Kent Robinson [$1,100]; 15. 42-Chad Finley [$1,050]; 16. 99B-Boom Briggs [$1,000]; 17. 93-Pancho Lawler [$1,000]; 18. 1M-Mike Mataragas [$1,000]; 19. 79-Troy Worrick [$1,000]; 20. 21N-Logan Nickerson [$1,000]; 21. 20TC-Tristan Chamberlain [$1,000]; 22. 21-Billy Moyer [$1,000]