North Central Speedway
WDRL champ survives wild last lap at Brainerd
By Dustin JarrettDirtonDirt.com correspondent
BRAINERD, Minn. (June 17) — Reigning World Dirt Racing League Champion Chad Simpson of Mount Vernon, Iowa, powered from third to first with just four laps remaining, then held off Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., on a wild final lap Wednesday night at North Central Speedway for a $5,000 victory. | Slideshow
Mars took the lead from Chad Mahder of Marshfield, Wis. on lap nine and led the pack through two mid-race cautions before Mahder began reeling Mars back in. Mahder caught Mars and inched back out front by a nose with just six laps remaining, only to have Mars go back ahead with five to go.
Out of nowhere, a high-flying Simpson rocketed past both Mahder and Mars on the 37th lap to take command. Mars didn't give up, however, going to the high groove when Simpson ducked low and pulling alongside Simpson in lapped traffic as the pair received the white flag.
With Simpson on the bottom and Mars on the top, a pair of lapped cars running side-by-side added to the drama as Simpson held a slight advantage over Mars down the backstretch.
Entering turn three, Mars maintained his high-side momentum while Simpson stayed low, trying to wedge his car between a backmarker and the infield tire barriers. Simpson hopped wheels with the lapped unit, shooting his car into the air as Mars rip-roared around everyone cushion. Desperate to maintain control of his No. 25, Simpson grabbed a handful of steering wheel, smashed the throttle, and beat Mars back to the finish line by less than a nosepiece.
“What a race!” said an excited Simpson in victory lane. “I just. ... I don’t know. I knew Jimmy was back there, I knew he was coming. So I just did what I had to do.”
Mars had a hard time being too disappointed with the exciting finish.
“I drove it in there as hard as I could,” he said of his last-ditch effort. “I’m happy to see Chad get the win.”
Mahder started on the pole and led the first eight laps before the fifth-starting Mars took command on lap nine. A lap-14 yellow waved for a slowing Lance Matthees of Winona, Minn. and kept Mars from having to battle lapped traffic. The second and final caution of the event flew on lap 19 when Canadian invader Joel Cryderman of Thunder Bay, Ontario, stopped high in turn four.
Although Mars never led by more than eight lengths after halfway, he seemed to have the race in hand. Mahder, however, found the low groove to his liking and quietly caught the leader with eight laps remaining.
“I knew I was gaining on him," Mahder said. “But I didn’t know Chad was, too.”
Mahder fell back to third when Simpson made his daring lap-37 pass that catapulted him from third to first. Simpson’s high-side move set the stage for the wild final lap.
Notes: Simpson’s MasterSbilt Race Car carries sponsorship from Liebe Trucking, GATR Volvo GMC, Brown Bros. Enterprises, Five-Star Bodies, and Farm Bureau Financial Services. ... Bill Frye made the long tow from Greenbrier, Ark. worthwhile, charging from 18th to eighth in the feature. ... Andrew McKay of Edina, Minn., scratched for the night after hot laps. ... WDRL competitors continue a busy week with a June 18 event at Superior (Wis.) Speedway and a pair of $5,000-to-win events at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis., on June 19-20.
WDRL at North Central: (1) Chad Simpson, (2) Jimmy Mars, (3) Chad Mahder, (4) Jake Redetzke, (5) Al Purkey, (6) Gordie Seegert Jr., (7) Jason Utter, (8) Bill Frye, (9) Tim Isenberg, (10) Eric Pember, (11) Denny Eckrich, (12) Chris Simpson, (13) Adam Hensel, (14) Justin Fegers, (15) Jeremy Grady, (16) Rob Moss, (17) John Kaanta, (18) Dave Eckrich, (19) Curt Martin, (20) Bryant Goldsmith, (21) Bill Koons, (22) Joel Cryderman, (23) Lance Matthees, (24) Brent Larsen. Fast qualifier (among 29 cars): Chad Simpson. Heat race winners: Redetzke, Mahder, Purkey. Consolation winner: Hensel. Provisional starters: Martin, Goldsmith.