WHEATLAND, Missouri (September 19, 2019) – Lap 17 proved decisive for both winners Thursday night as the 9th annual Jesse Hockett/Daniel McMillin Memorial opened its three-night run at Lucas Oil Speedway.
Blake Hahn grabbed command after a back-and-forth battle with Josh Baughman on the 17th circuit and went on to win the Lucas Oil ASCS Winged Sprint feature and collect $3,000. Meanwhile, in the POWRi WAR Sprint feature, Zach Daum also took over the lead and held it for the final eight laps of a 25-lap featuer to grab the $1,377 first prize.
A total of 70 ASCS Winged Sprints checked into the pits, with 29 WAR Sprints in action. The WAR entries were split, with half running on the first night and the other half in action on Friday when the three-night open-wheel major continues.
Both series earn points toward Saturday’s program, which concludes with a $10,000-to-win ASCS feature and the WAR feature paying $3,077 to the victor.
Hahn, of Sapulpa, Oklahoma, traded the lead with Baughman seven times over the first 17 laps before taking over for good. He wound up nearly a second in front of runner-up Dylan Westbrook with Paul Nienhiser third.
“This is a win that I wanted really bad,” Hahn said. “It isn’t Saturday night, but this is still something big. Any time you can show up to a race and race against 69 other cars and we won this thing, it’s pretty impressive.
“We were really good in the heat race and really good in the qualifier, too.”
Hahn started on the pole and led the first four laps before Baughman worked the inside line to pass for the lead coming out of turn four to complete lap five.
Hahn returned the favor on the next circuit, but going around on the outside to regain the lead. But before the lap was completed, the race was red-flagged as Jeff Swindwell took a wild flip in turns three and four. Swindwell walked away from the incident and Baughman remained the race leader for the restart.
But it didn’t take long for Hahn to get the jump as the green waved and he went on to open a 2.5-second lead by lap 10.
“We had a really good car on top,” Hahn said. “I was a little angry that I was in second and I drove it into one on the top pretty hard and it stuck pretty well.”
As the leaders caught lapped traffic, Baughman closed in and went back in front on lap 16.
Again, Hahn responded. He needed less than a lap to reclaim the lead and was in front by half a second when action again was halted on lap 18 as Jay Russell flipped his car coming out of turn four. Russell crawled out under his own power to cheers from the fans.
Hahn was solid from there, driving away for his second national-tour win.
“I really thought I needed to go to the top and then Josh was working the bottom really well down here,” Hahn said of the battle with Baughman. “After I started getting to the bottom, I felt pretty good down there, too.”
Westbrook emerged from a four-car battle to claim second with Paul Nienhiser third, Derek Hagar fourth and Baughman fading late to fifth.
Three-time reigning ASCS champion Sam Haftertepe spun on lap 18 after a restart to bring out the race’s final caution. He wound up 18th.
Daum wins WAR feature: Zach Daum took over the lead on lap 17, then held off Mitchell Moore in a green-white-checkered finish to take the opening-night WAR Sprint win to a $1,377 payday.
Daum was just a lap away from the victory in a race that had been caution free when Terry Richards flipped his car in turn three on the white-flag lap. That brought out the red flag and set up a two-lap shootout once action resumed.
Daum, of Pocahontas, Illinois, had a 2.8-second lead over Moore with Chris Windom in third and Kory Schudy fourth at the time of the red flag. He handled the restart by hugging the low groove and drove away to win by about five car lengths over Moore for his sixth career WAR Sprint Series win.
Windom, who briefly passed Moore for second, wound up third and Schudy was fourth with Joe B. Miller fifth.
“I had to be really patient there,” Daum said. “I started to lose brakes when I got to second. I saw (Moore’s) rotor glowing. I knew his brakes were fading and I to save my brakes a little bit. That red saved me. I was able to let the brakes cool off a little bit.”
Daum said he was thrilled to get the win in a race named for the late open-wheel champion Jesse Hockett, whose father Jack Hockett gave Daum his first Sprint-car ride.
“Any time I can win a race in Jesse’s honor, with Jack here, you’re talking family,” said Daum, who all but locked himself into Saturday’s main event. “I’m really excited and hopefully we can carry it on to Saturday.”
Pole-starting Moore, of Edgerton, Kansas, set the pace for the first 15 laps before Daum began whittling into the lead. Daum started fifth and made what turned out to be the winning pass come off turn two with eight laps to go.
“I was running a little hard and thinking ‘I don’t know if they’re gonna last,” Moore said of his brakes. “I guess I’m happy to run second. We destroyed this car two weeks ago and were thrashing to the last minute. We got here just in time to make hot laps.”
WAR championship points leader Riley Kreisel had a tough night, finishing 18th.