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Thunderbird Speedway

Vaught cruises to victory in Muskogee opener

September 24, 2011, 6:16 am
From series reports
Will Vaught heads to a 15-lap victory Friday in Muskogee, Okla. (Ron Mitchell)
Will Vaught heads to a 15-lap victory Friday in Muskogee, Okla. (Ron Mitchell)

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (Sept. 23) — Will Vaught of Crane, Mo., led flag-to-flag Friday at Thunderbird Speedway to capture the first round of the two-night Topless Thunderfest at the historic Muskogee County Fairgrounds.

The 24-year-old Vaught earned $2,500 in winning his first MARS DIRTcar Series victory in more than two years and his first-ever on the National Championship Racing Association DIRTcar Series. | Slideshow

MARS points leader Brad Looney of Republic, Mo., finished second in a race shortened to 15 laps from 20 because of a multicar crash on the 10th lap. Jesse Stovall of Galena, Mo., Looney's closest pursuer in the title chase, was third while Justin Asplin of Birch Tree, Mo., and R.C. Whitwell of Tucson, Ariz., rounded out the top five.

A rougher-than-normal track surface greeted drivers at the half-mile after soaking rains earlier in the week. Just two cautions slowed the action, but the lap-10 slowdown involved several cars and only eight of 22 starters continued after the accident.

Notes: Vaught's family-owned Warrior Race Car is sponsored by Big Dog Motorsports, Circle M Auto Sales and Manpower to Horsepower. ... The victory is Vaught's second of the season overall and first since splitting with car owner Paul McKenna. ... Action continues Saturday at Muskogee with a $3,000-to-win feature. If Vaught can score another victory he'll receive a $1,000 bonus, half of it from long-time Late Model supporter Charlie's Chicken of Muskogee. ... Among drivers failing to make Friday's feature: Jason Redman, Franke Tindle and Dave Deetz, a New Mexico driver who made the 15-hour haul to Muskogee with teammate Garrett Alberson, who finished sixth. ... Alberson is trying to wrap up the season-long DIRTcar Western Region points title.

Topless Thunderfest: (1) Will Vaught, (2) Brad Looney, (3) Jesse Stovall, (4) Justin Asplin, (5) R.C. Whitwell, (6) Garrett Alberson, (7) Steve Johnson, (8) Leroy Johnson, (9) Gary Christian, (10) Raymond Merrill, (11) Eric Turner, (12) Jack Sullivan, (13) Tony Jackson Jr., (14) Brandon McCormick, (15) Justin Wells, (16) Ken Essary, (17) Jay Rierson, (18) Don Cloyd, (19) Jeff Roth, (20) Jon Driskill, (21) Chance Bishop, (22) Darrell Mooneyham. Heat race winners (among 30 cars): Vaught, Christian, Merrill, Stovall. Consolation winners: Wells, Alberson. Provisional starters: L. Johnson, Roth.

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