FARLEY — Chris Simpson had not had a great couple of weeks headed into the MLRA Late Model event at Farley Speedway on Monday night.
Mechanical issues and a badly busted-up hand at I-80 Speedway followed by a frustrating trip to Cedar Lake Speedway had the Oxford driver fielding texts to keep his head up. After 50 laps at Farley, Simpson didn’t need any more encouragement to improve his mood.
Simpson picked up his third MLRA win of the season — all of which have come in his home state of Iowa — and pocketed $10,000 for his efforts.
“We need to race in Iowa more often, I guess,” Simpson said through a laugh. “We had to come home and work on the car (after Cedar Lake), thrashed on it and here we are. This is huge. This car feels like it has a helluva balance on it right now. I’m excited for the rest of this year, too, to keep this good car under us.”
Simpson’s third win join his triumphs at Lee County Speedway in Donnellson and Davenport Speedway earlier this year, and his worst finish in his home state has been second — in the first MLRA race at Lee County Speedway.
He started sixth Monday night and worked his way forward quickly, chasing down leaders Mason Zeigler and Jesse Stovall. The three put on a show in the opening half of the race, with Simpson and Stovall eventually racing hard for the lead; side-by-side for six straight laps before a caution came out with Simpson out front.
From there it was smooth sailing, and he never trailed again.
“Tonight was the best I’ve ever seen (this track) in 3 and 4,” Simpson said. “We could pull sliders and run up next to people. Stovall was running the cushion and I could run the middle.
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“It was fun racing him. He saw me and he kept trying to pinch me and pinch me. I could keep the car straighter than him and drive off. It all worked out.”
Simpson won ahead of Marshalltown’s Ryan Gustin, New Waverly, Texas driver Tyler Erb, Farley’s Jason Rauen and Zeigler, a Chalk Hill, Pa. native. Simpson’s win in Davenport also came ahead of Gustin, who put in a late charge at the end of both races.
Gustin said he likes to run these Open Late Model races with patience, so as not to use up his equipment too early. Maybe a late caution could’ve helped, but Gustin wasn’t certain. Second is always hard to take, in any case.
“The pay drop-off is hard to take, that’s for sure,” Gustin said. “Chris did a good job; he’s got a lot more laps around here. We had to start pretty far back. It might’ve been a different race if we’d gotten to start up front.
“I don’t like to go that hard at the beginning, knowing it usually gets to one lane late, and hopefully I have some tire left. I just went too late, I guess. I didn’t even see the white flag. He took a big push in 3 and 4 on the white flag lap, and if I’d have been in position, I might’ve capitalized on it. But hats off to him.”
Simpson now leads the parade of haulers south to West Liberty Raceway, where MLRA heads for Tornado Tuesday and another $10,000 to win show.
Getting to sleep in his own bed and then make the short drive to what amounts to his home track does everything to reinforce the confidence boost he got in Victory Lane on Monday night.
“I’m very, very excited to go tomorrow (to West Liberty),” Simpson said. “All in all, it’s just fun to race in Iowa. It’s awesome to be able to wake up at 8 a.m., get the car ready and drive 35 minutes to race. Hopefully we can do this again.”
MAROLF WINS MARATHON IMCA LATE MODEL RACE
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The IMCA Late Model division was on hand to run as a support class for the MLRA Late Models, and Moscow’s Nick Marolf took home the $1,000 check for winning — but not before an avalanche of caution flags.
Marolf lamented the nearly 10 yellow flags in Victory Lane, saying, “I don’t know what those guys were doing back there. We don’t have enough cars to be tearing them up like that.”
Marolf won ahead of Joel Callahan, John Emerson, Kip Siems and Becky Roth. His win leads him into a second straight night of racing on Tuesday at West Liberty, where he’ll compete in both IMCA and MLRA divisions, trying to defend his home track against the traveling racers.
MLRA LATE MODELS
FARLEY SPEEDWAY TOP 20
1.32 Chris Simpson, Oxford; 2. 19r Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown; 3. 91 Tyler Erb, New Waverly, Texas; 4. 98 Jason Rauen, Farley; 5. 25z Mason Zeigler; 6. 16t Tyler Bruening, Decorah; 7. 75p Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.; 8. 58e Dave Eckrich, Oxford; 9. 40 Joel Callahan, Dubuque; 10. 29d Spencer Diercks, Davenport; 11. 4g Brantlee Gotschall, Nevada, Mo.; 12. 93j Jay Johnson, West Burlington; 13. 15k Justin Kay, Wheatland; 14. 00s Jesse Stovall, Billings, Mo.; 15. 4w J.C. Wyman, Griswold; 16. B1 Brent Larson, Freeport, Ill.; 17. 54f Mike Fryer, Freeport, Ill.; 18. 56j Tony Jackson, Lebanon, Mo.; 19. 5m John Mitchell, Texarkana, Texas; 20. 91 Jason Papich, Nipomo, Calif.
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