ELDON, Mo. – Friday night’s World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series event at Lake Ozark Speedway featured the same heartbreaking narrative that’s become a theme of the last year and a half.
Shark Racing’s Jacob Allen, who has shown speed time and time again and contended at the front of multiple main events with The Greatest Show on Dirt, ran into struggles that took him out of a shot to score his long-awaited first career Outlaw victory.
Allen was making his 326th attempt to earn that breakthrough Outlaw win, and thing had shaped up for him eerily similar to how they did a week earlier at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo.
He timed inside the top 10 in qualifying, drove to victory in his heat race and then dominated the DIRTvision Fast Pass Dash to earn the pole position for the 30-lap main event.
Unlike Pevely, Allen lost the point when the green flag waved to start the race, but he quickly fell in behind teammate Logan Schuchart and laid in wait for an opportunity to pounce from second.
That chance came on a lap-six restart, when Allen beat Schuchart to turn one on the bottom of the track and appeared to have him cleared for the race lead – a moment that brought the fans in attendance and watching from home online to their collective feet.
Moments later, however, that enthusiasm soured as disaster found Allen once more.
His No. 1a hit several ruts in the middle of turns one and two that sent the car bicycling, and though Allen tried to gather it back underneath him, the final dip sent his car tumbling into a barrel roll that ended with a mangled heap of metal sitting atop the second turn of Lake Ozark Speedway.
Though numerous crew members – from both Shark Racing and other teams – pitched in to try and get Allen’s car repaired in the work area, it was to no avail. Another night where the Pennsylvania young gun appeared to have victory within reach had slipped through his fingers.
It followed on from not just the Pevely event the week before, where he started from pole only to lose speed around halfway and slid back to finish fifth, but multiple races in 2019 where circumstances intervened as well.
Most notable from Allen’s long list of heartbreaks last season was the Sept. 13 race at Stockton (Calif.) Dirt Track, where he was leading coming to two laps to go and ended up sidelined by a part failure.
But while many in Allen’s position might be dejected, disheartened or ready to throw in the towel, Allen’s mood Friday night was upbeat, all things considered.
He was pleased at having another car fast enough to win, and also grateful to everyone that lent a hand to try and get him back out into the fray.
“It was just kind of like a rodeo in the car,” said Allen of the moments before his crash. “I was sitting there wide open, and it just started bouncing around and I flipped it. It sucks, but it’s part of racing. I’m not upset. I just have to get back on the horse and go at it again the next night.
“I can’t thank everyone enough, though. That’s amazing to see all those guys over here trying to help me out,” he added. “It really means the world to me to see those guys wanting me to get another shot at it. I appreciate that and I’m thanking those guys more than they know. It made a very disappointing situation go away because they showed to me that they wanted me back out there competing again.”
Allen later expanded on his DIRTvision interview, noting that he wanted to fight to the finish with his teammate for the win but believes that his time is coming, and coming soon.
“I wanted (Logan and I) to battle it out for 30 laps, but that just didn’t happen in this case,” Allen noted. “I love racing with him; it feels so awesome and I know he was going to be tough (to beat). To me, that’s what makes it even more fun. I also want everyone to know that I want to win more than anything. I don’t get down on myself if the cards don’t play out right because I’m always trying to get better after every race.
“I feel proud to be able to compete for wins with the (World of) Outlaws because I didn’t know anything when I first started and worked hard just to get to this point,” Allen continued. “There’s no reason to beat myself up when we can come back tomorrow and work hard to get the Drydene No. 1a back in position for another chance to win. I know we can and it’s something I’m looking forward to.”
The finale to the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series doubleheader at Lake Ozark Speedway is slated to begin at 6 p.m. CT Saturday night.