WHEATLAND, Mo. – Ryan Middaugh broke through Saturday night at Lucas Oil Speedway, earning his first Cedar Creek Beef Jerky USRA Modified win of the season in the headliner of the Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series program.
Other feature winners as NMI/VMG Marketing and Wild Animal Safari Presented Round 4 of the Weekly Racing Series were David Hendrix (O’Reilly Auto Parts USRA Stock Cars), Larry Ferris (Missouri Metal Buildings ULMA Late Models) and Kris Jackson (Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods).
Middaugh took home $1,000 for the 25-lap feature victory. In his first trip to Lucas Oil Speedway victory lane since 2019, he finished a half-second in front of Dillon McCowan in a race that came down between those two.
Middaugh started on row two and made his way to the lead by lap five and held command the rest of the way with McCowan close behind.
“Whenever I saw the eight (McCowan) up in second on one of those restarts, I knew I had my work cut out for me,” Middaugh said. “There at the start, I could tell I was quite a bit better than those guys in front of me and I needed to get out in front as quick as I could to get out of their roost.
“There was a lot of tear-offs being pulled tonight and just being able to dictate the restarts. I’ve got to thank my dad and cousin Trevor who drove down here to help. My wife’s at home 22 weeks pregnant on bed rest. I wish she could be here. I hate that she missed it.”
Robert Heydenreich and Evan Hubert started on the front row and it was Heydenreich who took the early lead, with Hubert, Middaugh and McCowan right behind when the first caution came out on lap three.
Middaugh went around Heydenreich coming out of turn four to take the lead, completing lap five. Meanwhile, McCowan moved into third with Hubert fourth as action slowed due to a lap-eight caution, wiping out Middaugh’s 1.7-second lead.
One lap later, after McCowan climbed into second, a multi-car mishap on the backstretch brought out the third caution.
By lap 13, Middaugh and McCowan broke away from the field, with Heydenreich three seconds behind the front two. McCowan gave chase and pulled within a car length before Middaugh was able to regain a one-second led five five to go.
Middaugh hung on from there, as the race remained green, and he prevailed by two car lengths at the checkers.
“Those big checks are awesome,” Middaugh said of the ceremonial oversized check in victory lane. “I saw those the first week and thought, ‘man, I’ve got to get one of them.’ It’s been a couple of years since we’ve been able to win here. To be able to do it tonight, being the featured class, it’s pretty awesome.”
Third-place Heydenreich was a half-lap behind the top two with Kyle Thompson finishing fourth and Chase Domer fifth.
Hendrix cruised to his third straight feature victory in the O’Reilly Auto Parts USRA Stock Cars division, leading all 20 laps while continuing to solidify his season points lead.
Hendrix started outside of Bolivar’s Lyle Dietrich on the front row and won the race into the first turn after the green flag flew. He drove away in the caution-free 20-lapper to prevail by 3.1 seconds over Darren Phillips.
“The track was really good,” Hendrix said. “Usually we like it better when it gets a little slicker, but we made some adjustments for a heavier race track. That’s part of it sometimes, just getting lucky and knowing when to adjust the car, because we got our butt handed to us in the heat race.
“You just have to work on it and keep digging, even if you’re fast. You have to try and make it better.”
Phillips charged from his fifth-starting position to finish as runner-up. Dietrich, passed by Phillips with two to go, finished third and Doug Keller, after running second the first half of the race, faded to fourth.
Ferris got a late start to his season, but he’s now making his presence felt. The Nevada veteran driver captured the Missouri Metal Buildings ULMA feature by leading all 20 laps.
Ferris started on row two alongside JC Morton and those two finished 1-2 with Ferris prevailing by 1.2 seconds. Defending track champion Cole Henson was third and Todd McCoin was fourth.
After missing the first two weekly races of the season, Ferris returned with a third-place feature run on May 1 before finding victory lane on Saturday.
“It’s a good car, I think,” Ferris said, noting that he paid attention to what was ahead and not what was behind as the laps clicked toward the finish.
“I couldn’t hear him and never could see him, either,” Ferris said. “That’s probably a good thing.”
For Morton, making only his third start in a Late Model, it was another strong performance with a second runner-up to go with a third-place. Henson, meanwhile, had another good points night with a solid third that will keep him in the championship lead.
Defending track champion Jackson took over the lead with eight laps remaining and went on to claim the Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mod feature, his second straight win.
Jackson said the win was special because it required him to rally from his seventh-starting position and pass several fast cars to get to the front. He finished about four car lengths clear of Andy Bryant, who led the first 11 laps.
“That was a lot of fun,” Jackson said. “Andy is so good at running the top. It seemed like he kind of slowed up. I don’t know if he had something laying down or a tire going down, but he definitely seemed to back up a little bit.
“The one means a lot to me. I’ve started in the front and won a lot this year, but starting behind all the guys who are fast runners and passing them without hitting them, all those things come into play tonight.”
Jackson, who started seventh, pass three cars on a lap-four restart and advanced into second behind Bryant. Just one circuit later, another caution waved leaving the running order Bryant, Jackson, Daniel Franklin, J.C. Morton and Jon Sheets.
As Bryant ran the high side and Jackson applied pressure to the leader by using the low groove, Jackson finally was able to make the decisive pass coming out of turn four to complete lap 12.
Jackson drove away from there to win by 1.14 seconds. Morton wound up third with a sizeable gap back to fourth-place Eric Turner and Sheets in fifth.