Diamond Dozen: A look back at memorable moments, events from the 2017 Lucas Oil Speedway season
WHEATLAND, Missouri (October 25, 2017) - The checkered flag has dropped on the 2017 racing season at Lucas Oil Speedway and what a year it was, with memories made and records broken.
"It was a great season, with the Inaugural Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series event and all the other specials along with our ultra-competitive Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series," Lucas Oil Speedway General Manager Dan Robinson said. "I can't thank our drivers, crew members and fans enough for their support.
"It was our best season on record in terms of attendance," Robinson added, noting that 113,000 fans came through the gates in 2017, breaking the previous total attendance record of 107,000 from 2016. "Whether it was the consistent quality of our weekly racing or our special events, it was a year to remember."
Before looking ahead to 2018, we offer up 12 memorable moments from the 2017 Lucas Oil Speedway season:
1 - Off Road Track opens for high-flying thrills: After more than a year of construction, the new Lucas Oil Speedway Off Road track opened to rave reviews and big crowds the weekend of July 22-23. The high-flying jumps and full-contact action of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series certainly did not disappoint.
The legendary Carl Renezeder, in his final season before retirement, captured the Pro 4 win to highlight the first day. Day two found X Games legend Jeremy McGrath rallying from the back after an early spin to score a last-lap win in the Pro 2 feature.
2 - Pierce captures his first Show-Me 100: After nearly winning his first Show-Me 100 Presented by ProtecttheHarvest.com a year before, this time 20-year-old Bobby Pierce got it done. In a race delayed a day by Memorial Day-weekend severe weather, the 14th-starting Pierce led the final 14 laps and beat runner-up Earl Pearson jr. by 3.299 seconds. Tim McCreadie was third and Scott Bloomquist fourth in front of an estimated 6,000 fans.
"Whenever you can get a win, whether it's a local race or a crown jewel like this, it's the best thing in the world," Pierce said in victory lane.
3 - Hafertepe gets coveted Hockett/McMillin Memorial win: Sam Hafertepe Jr. held on to claim one of sprint-car racing's crown jewel events, September's Jesse Hockett/Daniel McMillin Memorial in front of a near-capacity crowd. With his 14th feature win of the Lucas Oil ASCS Winged Sprint Car season, Hafertepe denied veteran Sammy Swindell a weekend sweep after Swindell won features on the first two nights.
In the co-headliner, Logan Seavey finished off a sweep with his third win in as many nights in the POWRi Lucas Oil Wingless Auto Racing Series feature.
4 - Stovall breaks through, with Big Buck win to Anglin: The oval-track season came to an exciting close as Jesse Stovall, putting a tough-luck season behind him, led all 50 laps to capture the Lucas Oil MLRA Fall Nationals final-night feature. Terry Phillips joined him in post-race festivities, commemorating Phillips' fourth MLRA championship.
Meanwhile, Arkansas driver Tony Anglin took command over the final 10 laps and held off Derek Brown to win the Street Stocks Big Buck 50 Presented by Whitetail Trophy Hunt. Both Stovall and Anglin earned $5,000 and it was announced that the 2018 Big Buck 50 would pay $10,000 to win.
5 - Compton takes battle of teammates at Diamond Drag Boat Nationals: In a Labor Day Weekend battle on the water, Scott Compton in Liquid Voodoo defeated teammate and reigning Top Fuel Hydro champion Bryan Sanders in Nitrochondriac in the finals of the 7th annual Diamond Drag Boat Nationals.
Both boats had put up world-record legs of 270 miles-per-hour on "Lake Lucas" in qualifying. Compton had an elapsed time of 3.5224 seconds and speed of 252.5205 miles-per-hour in the finals with Sanders shutting down early due to mechanical issues.
6 - Richards rolls at Diamond Nationals: Josh Richards' summertime roll on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series continued at mid-July's 11th annual CMH Diamond Nationals. Richards took command late, after Jimmy Owens had dominated most of the event, for his seventh win of the season and a $12,000 winner's check.
Veteran Don O'Neal wound up second with Darrell Lanigan third. The 60-lap race had only one caution - for second-running Owens three laps from the finish as he aggressively tried to overtake Richards.
7 - Open-Wheel Showdown produces a classic: With 114 cars in three classes, open-wheel fans were in heaven for May's 6th annual Impact Signs Awnings & Wraps Open-Wheel Showdown. The race of the night saw Brad Loyet make a last-turn pass of Jonathan Cornell to take a thrilling win in the ASCS Winged Sprint feature. Justin Grant captured the POWRi WAR Sprints win and Tyler Courtney beat Zach Daum in POWRi Midget feature.
8 - Spring heats up with MLRA Spring Nationals: Will Vaught, taking advantage of a restart slip by leader Tony Jackson Jr. with five laps remaining, grabbed the Night One feature win in the Lucas Oil MLRA Spring Nationals. The next night, Rodney Sanders passed Randy Timms coming to the white flag for his first MLRA triumph.
9 - Ott busts through, with more to follow: Hometown driver Toby Ott earned his first career Street Stock feature win at the speedway, leading the final 18 laps of the 20-lap feature. He held off Marc Carter, who was on his back bumper over the final five laps. Ott, racing since 2002, said in victory lane, "I'm kind of speechless, really." Ott won three more times in 2017 en route to a track championship.
10 - Timms wins wild Larry Phillips Memorial: After a battle of attrition, Randy Timms was the man standing in victory lane at the conclusion of a wild Larry Phillips Memorial on Labor Day Weekend. Timms started 14th and led only one lap - the final one - in winning his first MLRA race. When Jesse Stovall broke, Billy Moyer Jr., inherited the lead coming to the white flag. But Moyer slid too high in turn two on the final lap and Timms drove past.
11 - Last-lap fireworks at Thursday Night Thunder: In a pre-July 4th thriller, Johnny Fennewald made a pass-attempt stick, coming out of turn four as he took the white flag. He held off Aaron Poe, the first-half points champ, for the featured Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA Late Model win. A whopping 117 cars entered the week-night event, with 85 new bicycles awarded to kids in the annual Kids' Bicycle Giveaway during intermission.
12 - A sign of big things to come: Opening night of the Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series found 125 cars in the pits. Jeff Cutshaw wound up in Pitts Homes USRA Modified victory lane, a successful start as his chase of a fourth straight track championship began. "There's nothing better than starting out with a win on the first night," said Cutshaw, who followed through with another track championship when the points chase concluded in August.
Bobby Pierce captured his first Show-Me 100, one of the memorable moments in 2017 at Lucas Oil Speedway. (Kenny Shaw photo)
Sam Hafertepe Jr. prevailed in one of open-wheel racing's short-track majors, winning the Hockett/McMillin Memorial at Lucas Oil Speedway.
Liquid Voodoo, driven by Scott Compton, captured the Diamond Drag Boat Nationals during Labor Day Weekend. (Kenny Shaw photo)
Lucas Oil Speedway's 2017 total attendance of 113,000 was an all-time high for the facility. (Kenny Shaw photo)
Complete Lucas Oil Speedway event information, archived stories, ticket info and schedules can be found by visiting LucasOilSpeedway.com.
Lucas Oil Speedway is located at Highways 83 and 54 in Wheatland, Missouri. A campground with shower and bathroom facilities is also available. With its entrance located just outside the pit gate this sprawling scenic camping facility will continue to enhance the racing experience at the Diamond of Dirt Tracks.
Click LucasOilSpeedway.com for more information and detailed directions to the speedway or call the Track Hotline at (417) 282-5984.