WHEATLAND, Mo. – Will Vaught grabbed the lead on lap 11 and led the rest of the way to capture the Missouri Metal Buildings ULMA Late Model feature victory Saturday night in the headliner of opening night at Lucas Oil Speedway.
Vaught earned $1,000 courtesy of HICKAMO Country Store in the main event of the Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series Spring Opener Presented by Benne Media.
Also earning opening-night feature wins were J.C. Newell (Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods), Dillon McCowan (Cedar Creek Beef Jerky USRA Modifieds) and Derek Brown (O’Reilly Auto Parts USRA Stock Cars).
Vaught said it was a good tune up before returning in his open car next week for the Lucas Oil MLRA Spring Nationals.
“We kind of knocked some rust off tonight,” said Vaught, who was driving a car owned by Larry Moon and family.
“Larry Moon and his brothers, they’re great people,” Vaught said. “They bought this car from me a couple of years ago. It’s a pleasure to drive it. When I drove this car before, I won several races. It’s an older car, but it’s a dang good one.”
Pole-starting Cole Henson and Vaught broke away from the field by three seconds by lap six with Henson holding a half-second lead over Vaught. Those two continued to duel before third-starting Vaught, using the inside line, made a pass for the lead out of turn four on lap 11.
Vaught built a 1.6-second lead over Henson when a lap-17 caution waved after Dustin Walker took a spin. That bunched the field and gave Henson and others a new chance with eight laps remaining.
Vaught was up to the challenge as the race went caution-free the rest of the way. he finished 2.99 seconds ahead of Henson with Dalton Imhoff third and Bobby Penney in fourth.
“It’s good to see the crowd here tonight, the first night of the year. It’s pretty cool,” Vaught said. “Hopefully next weekend we can get a couple of them races, too.”
Newell inherited the lead when perennial championship contenders Kris Jackson and J.C. Morton tangled on lap 14 and went on to win the Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mod feature.
Newell led the final six laps and beat Cody Nivens by a car length. Nic Hanes was third and Terry Schultz fourth.
McCowan outdueled veteran Jason Pursley to capture the Cedar Creek Beef Jerky USRA Modified feature.
The 17-year-old McCowan led 17 of the 20 laps. But he had to recapture command after Pursley, using the inside line, passed him coming to the start-finish line to complete lap 15.
McCowan came right back to regain the top spot with an outside pass the next time around as the top two weaved through slower traffic, distancing themselves from the rest of the contenders.
McCowan wound up 1.8 seconds in front of Pursley.
It was a case of new class but same winner. Brown, last year’s Lucas Oil Speedway Street Stocks champion, captured the O’Reilly Auto Parts USRA Stock Cars debut.
Brown held off Rob White by a car length in a closely contested feature that saw Brown’s familiar colors of white, red and yellow in victory lane.
Brown and David Hendrix, past track champions in the Street Stock division, both charged from the back half of the field and into contention by the midpoint of the feature – Hendrix 12th to second and Brown seventh to third – right behind Jaylen Wettengel.
Brown, who won six times en route to the Street Stock track title in 2020, passed Wettengel down the backstretch on lap 15 to take a lead he would not relinquish. Brown prevailed by .387 of a second over White, with Hendrix third and Wettengel fourth.