WHEATLAND, Mo. — J.J. Hickle realized a dream Saturday night by winning one of the biggest events in winged sprint car racing.
Hickle took over the lead with eight laps remaining and went on to win the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series feature at the 11th annual Jesse Hockett/Daniel McMillin Memorial.
A big crowd watched the final night of the event, which pays tribute to the legacy of Jesse Hockett, from Warsaw, who was a star in both the winged and non-wing sprint divisions when he lost his life in a shop accident in 2010. His cousin and crew chief, Daniel McMillin, was killed in an automobile accident in 2006.
ASCS national-tour rookie Hickle grabbed the lead on lap 32 and maintained it the rest of the way to take home the big prizes in the Lucas Oil ASCS division.
Hickle was making his first appearance at Lucas Oil Speedway at the Hockett/McMillin Memorial and it proved to be a valuable one as he took home $10,000 and one of the biggest sprint-car wins in the sport.
Hickle beat Roger Crockett, who led much of the race before Hickle wrestled command away.
“Man, this is awesome,” Hickle said. “Jesse Hockett is a guy I really looked up to. Roger Crockett is a guy who’s been beating me my whole life.
“I can’t thank my team enough and everybody who gives me this opportunity. This is awesome.”
Crockett bolted from his outside front-row starting position and set the early pace, with J.J. Hickle and Hagar following him as the race’s first caution appeared with three laps complete.
Crockett continued to lead, but was unable to open up his margin or get into much rhythm as a series of incidents – including red flags for two accidents and a pair of cautions – bogged the race down through 11 laps.
As things settled into a longer period of green-flag laps, Crockett, Hickle and Scott Bogucki broke away from the field with a 2.7-second margin to fourth-place Howard Moore by lap 20.
Hickle slipped past Crockett on lap 24 for the race’s first lead change, making the pass coming to the start-finish line. But that pass was negated when Matt Covington flipped his car in turn four before that lap was officially in the books, the running order reverting to the previous lap to put Crockett back in front for the restart.
Crockett took advantage of his good fortune and re-established his lead by 1.2 seconds by lap 29. But Hickle closed within a car length in just two laps and passed Crockett in turn two as the duo were in lapped traffic for the lead on lap 32, this time seeing it count.
“It was just a matter of figuring out a way to catch him and pass him and tonight it all worked out,” Hickle said.
Hickle sailed to the win from there, leading the final eight circuits for his fourth ASCS feature win of the season. He finished .890 seconds in front of Crockett with Bogucki finishing third, Blake Hahn fourth and Moore was fifth.
“It’s very disappointing. This races means a lot to me,” Crockett said. “It’s disappointing to be up here leading this one and basically giving it away in traffic. That’s the way it goes in racing sometimes. It sucks to run second.”
Feature: 1. 63-JJ Hickle; 2. 11-Roger Crockett; 3. 28-Scott Bogucki; 4. 52-Blake Hahn; 5. 3M-Howard Moore; 6. 14E-Kyle Bellm; 7. 51B-Joe B Miller; 8. 24-Garet Williamson; 9. 5T-Ryan Timms; 10. 3-Ayrton Gennetten; 11. 47X-Dylan Westbrook; 12. 98P-Miles Paulus; 13. 55B-Brandon Anderson; 14. 9JR-Derek Hagar; 15. 21-Gunner Ramey; 16. 53-Jack Dover; 17. 11A-Austin O’Neal; 18. 14-Jordon Mallett; 19. 17B-Ryan Bickett; 20. 2C-Chase Porter; 21. 95-Matt Covington; 22. 77X-Alex Hill; 23. 88-Travis Reber; 24. 7M-Chance Morton; 25. 1-Brenham Crouch; 26. 10C-Jeremy Campbell