Simpson steers new car to $5,000 Tucson victory
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com managing editor
TUCSON, Ariz. (Jan. 13) — Polesitter Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, led all 40 laps Sunday at Tucson International Raceway to capture the second round of the six-race Winter Extreme miniseries.
Making just his second start in his new MB Customs car, Simpson was never seriously threatened by Jimmy Mars — co-designer of the chassis — in scoring a $5,000 victory to match the richest payday of his career. | Complete Arizona coverage
“It feels good to come out here and get a win right away,” said Simpson, who finished fourth in Saturday’s miniseries opener. "I never would’ve thought ... last night we were close, and tonight we’re there, so it feels real good.”
In a race where a rubber strip filtered racing into single file by the midway point, Simpson was never seriously threatened, building a full straightaway lead after 25 laps and never allowing Mars to get closer than a half-dozen car lengths in the late stages of the caution-free affair.
“I made sure I came up down on the straightaways, because that’s where most guys get you,” said Simpson, who received help in the pits from fellow Iowan Brian Birkhofer, a two-time World 100 winner and another co-designer of the MB Customs car. “They kind of roll in on you and get more miles per hour down the straightaway, then roll in the middle ... Brian was telling me I had a good lead, so I just kept it straight, kept smooth on the throttle to keep the right-rear (tire) on it, and it all worked out.”
Mars, who started third, had hopes of tracking down Simpson in his own MB Customs machine, but the timing didn’t work out.
“He went high a couple of times there in lapped traffic, and I’m like ‘Maybe you could do that one more time for me please,’ ” Mars jokingly said. "Nah, he did a good job judging where he needed to be. Congratulations to them guys.”
Morgan Bagley of Longview, Texas, was third followed by Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., and hometown driver R.C. Whitwell, who posted his second straight fifth-place finish at the 3/8-mile oval.
Don Shaw of Ham Lake, Minn., started outside the front row but dropped back quickly and pulled to the infield on the third lap.
The six-race Winter Extreme returns to action at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday with a $3,000-to-win Late Model event and $1,000-to-win modified event. The miniseries wraps up with races next Friday-Sunday, capped by a $10,000-to-win Late Model program.
Notes: Simpson’s MB Customs entry is sponsored by King Farms, Five Star Shop Service, GearWrench, Advanced Machine & Tool and Christner Concrete. ... Simpson’s previous $5,000 victories came Oct. 3, 2009, at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., on the Lucas Oil Midwest LateModel Racing Association and Oct. 8, 2006, at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb., on the World Dirt Racing League ... Seventeen of 24 starters were running at the finish, 14 on the lead lap. ... Saturday’s runner-up Will Vaught retired with fuel pump problems on the sixth lap of Sunday’s feature. ... Reigning MARS champ Jesse Stovall broke a crankshaft in his Al Humphrey-owned No. 00 on Saturday, but he drove the Phoenix-based Jeff Manka-owned Rocket Chassis on Sunday, finishing eighth. ... Leon Henderson of Laurel, Miss., flew back home for a family emergency; he’s expected to return for next weekend’s racing. David Breazeale drove a Henderson Motorsports entry to a 17th-place finish Sunday. ... Garrett Alberson entered Sunday’s event after missing Saturday’s race because he was attending a racing seminar at MasterSbilt Race Cars in Crothersville, Ind.; Alberson piloted car owner Dave Deetz’s No. 12a after Alberson’s No. 43 broke following hot laps. ... Rodney Sanders of Happy, Texas, won his second straight modified feature.
Winter Extreme (Jan. 13): (1) Chris Simpson, (2) Jimmy Mars, (3) Morgan Bagley, (4) Shane Clanton, (5) R.C. Whitwell, (6) John Anderson, (7) Billy Moyer, (8) Jesse Stovall, (9) Lance Matthees, (10) Terry Phillips, (11) Ron Davies, (12) Justin Kay, (13) Tim Fuller, (14) Chase Junghans, (15) Kyle Beard, (16) Trevor Glaser, (17) David Breazeale, (18) John Lowrey, (19) Pat Doar, (20) Billy Moyer Jr., (21) Lonnie Parker Jr., (22) Nick Bartels, (23) Will Vaught, (24) Don Shaw. Heat race winners (among 50 cars): Matthees, Mars, Clanton, Beard, Whitwell, Simpson. Consolation winners: Fuller, Phillips.
First heat: Lance Matthees, Billy Moyer, Trevor Glaser, Tim Fuller, Joey Moriarty, Garrett Alberson, Randy Shafer, James Chavez Jr.
Second heat: Jimmy Mars, Jesse Stovall, Justin Kay, Ron Davies, Pat Doar, Jason Papich, David Breazeale, Tyson Turnbull, Mark Carrell.
Third heat: Shane Clanton, John Anderson, John Lowrey, Mike Balcaen, Rob Sanders, Tim Isenberg, Scott Lewis. Scratched: Dave Deetz.
Fourth heat: Kyle Beard, Nick Bartels, Will Vaught, Terry Phillips, David Karst, Clay Daly, Jordan Yaggy, Jimmy Whisler.
Fifth heat: R.C. Whitwell, Morgan Bagley, Chase Junghans, Lonnie Parker Jr., Rob Mayea, Brad Williams, Rick Shafer, Paul Guglielmoni.
Sixth heat: Chris Simpson, Don Shaw, Steve Isenberg, Billy Moyer Jr., Brad Looney, Bumper Jones, Steve Drake, Rick Shafer, Troy Ruebke.
First consolation: Tim Fuller, David Breazeale, Lonnie Parker Jr., Tim Isenberg, Steve Isenberg, Jason Papich, Larry Childress, James Chavez Jr., Brad Williams, Jimmy Whisler, Troy Ruebke, Joey Moriarty, Mike Balcaen. Scratched: David Karst, Steve Drake, Rick Schafer.
Second consolation: Terry Phillips, Ron Davies, Pat Doar, Garrett Alberson, Brad Looney, Clay Daly, Rob Sanders, Rob Mayea, Jordan Yaggy, Scott Lewis, Tyson Turnbull, Mark Carrell, Randy Shafer, Paul Guglielmoni, Bumper Jones. Scratched: Dave Deetz.
Correction: Fixes that Simpson had two previous $5,000 victories.