WICHITA, KS - For the last half of the feature, it appeared it was a matter of who would break first as the engines in Dean Jacobs' and Gary Wright's sprinters were both developing mechanical problems. It just so happens that Dean's motor held...
WICHITA, KS - For the last half of the feature, it appeared it was a matter of who would break first as the engines in Dean Jacobs' and Gary Wright's sprinters were both developing mechanical problems. It just so happens that Dean's motor held out the longest as he took advantage of Wright's broken brake rotor on the final lap to win the exciting fifth stop of the seventh annual Thunder Through the Plains tour as the O'Reilly Auto Parts National Championship Racing Association and the All Star Circuit of Champions made their annual appearance at 81 Speedway in Wichita Friday night.
A large crowd saw Wright and Kelly Kinser start on the front row for the 30 lap feature, which was delayed twice by cautions. The first came when, on a start that was called back, Mike Peters unable to slow in time and caught a rear tire and hit the backstretch wall. Peters was uninjured but rearend damage ended his night early. The red flag appeared on the second start as Rob Chaney, who started fourth, climbed the rear tire of Kinser and flipped violently off of turn one. Chaney was uninjured but done for the night.
The third attempt at the start was a charm as Wright jumped out front to the lead as D. Jacobs, Kenny Jacobs, Jason Johnson and Kinser all gave chase. Wright worked the bottom portion of the track while D. Jacobs was muscling his way through the rough portion of the top groove around the three-eighths mile oval. By lap five Wright continued with a two car length advantage before the leaders began entering lapped traffic one lap later. This allowed D. Jacobs to close on Wright's bumper as lapped traffic was working to D. Jacobs advantage. D. Jacobs got a run on Wright coming out of turn two on lap nine and pulled even with the eight time and defending NCRA champion as both drivers crossed the flag stand side by side with Wright the lap leader by inches. The torrid battle for the lead would ease on lap ten when Greg Wilson would bring Bob Hampshire's sprinter to a stop in turn one.
On the restart, D. Jacobs bicycled entering turn one allowing his brother K. Jacobs to pressure him for the runner up position. D. Jacobs would regain control of the second spot but smoke was now beginning show on Rick Daugherty's sprinter. One lap later the yellow again waved, this time when NCRA rookie contender Sean Walden stopped on the backstretch.
No lapped cars were placed between Wright and D. Jacobs on the restart but Wright quickly pulled out to a quick six car length advantage as the race began to settle down. Two laps later the caution would wave again as Larry Neighbors, who had his Neighbors Executive Coffee sprinter up to seventh, got tangled with the lapped car of Matt Saint entering turn one. Neighbors would restart the race at the tail of the field while Saints night would come to an end.
Cautions for tangles on laps fifteen and sixteen would slow the pace but when the race finally resumed, Wright quickly built up a huge ten car length lead by lap twenty with D. Jacobs still second, K. Jacobs third, 12th starting Travis Rilat fourth and Tatnell fifth. Wright would began to enter lapped traffic again on lap 22 but got a clear track when Rodney Duncan came to a stop in turn four to bring out the caution.
The restart was the beginning of Wright's troubles as his motor began to develop a miss, but that didn't detour him from again opening a huge lead. With five laps to go his eight car length advantage would be closed for the last time as the final caution of the night waved when NCRA rookie Jarrod Wilson came to a stop in turn four.
On the final restart it looked to be all Wright while behind him the Jacobs brothers and Rilat began their battle for the runner up position. What looked to be Wright's fourth consecutive Thunder victory at the track in the books, his motor had other ideas as it finally quit just as Wright took the white flag. This gave D. Jacobs the lead and his turn to battle a lapped car entering turn three, allowing brother K. Jacobs to close on his bumper. But D. Jacobs would hold on to take his first All Star victory since mid-June and his first Thunder victory since 1996 by two car lengths over K. Jacobs. Rilat brought the United Specialties sprinter home third with Tatnell coming home a strong fourth. Danny Smith came on late to round out the top five.
The ten lap heat races for the 30 car field were won by Jonathan Allard, Saint, Peters and Wayne Johnson. Smith started on the front row and led all twelve laps of the B feature over Neighbors, J. Wilson and Barry Ruble. D. Jacobs won the Haulmark Trailers Dash over Chaney, J. Johnson, K. Jacobs, Kemenah and Kinser.