AUDIO/RECAP: Bluegrass Bandit; Jeff Ward Rides Substitute Role to Outlaw Truck Victory Lane at Michigan

Jacob Seelman Audio, Featured, iRacing, Midwest 0 Comments

BROOKLYN, Mich. — Audio, recap and photo by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Real Sim Racing —

Jeff Ward didn’t even expect to be driving in Wednesday night’s =RSR= Outlaw Truck Series event.

However, once he was behind the wheel in lieu of Steel Horse Racing teammate Dan Murray, Ward took no prisoners en route to stealing a victory in the Irish Hills of Michigan.

Ward was fastest in practice, sat on the pole and then led 73 of the event’s 80 laps (never giving up the lead under green-flag conditions) en route to his first career Outlaw Truck checkered flag — though in the final two laps, it didn’t come without a fight.

The No. 21 Chevrolet of Matt LaCross charged to the inside and actually took the lead going into turn three coming to the white flag, but Ward pulled the crossover and retook the lead at the start/finish line. LaCross tried to roll the high side when the pair got back to turn three for the final time, but could not get enough steam built up to stay alongside Ward and came up 0.206 seconds short at the finish.

“Right off the trailer [the car] was fast tonight,” Ward said in Victory Lane. “Gotta thank my teammate Dan [Murray] for letting me sub tonight, I was a little late signing up for this series but it’s always fun to come out here and get a big win.”

LaCross, while pleased with his run after coming from 19th in the second half of the race, was disappointed he couldn’t get his last-ditch charge to pay off in the final corners.

“You only get one chance and sometimes that’s the one you gotta live with,” LaCross said after the finish. “I was faster than [Greg] and I knew he was going to block off of two so I decided to stay high and it just didn’t work. It happens, still a solid run.”

The Wolfpack’s C.J. LaVair came home on the podium in third, followed by Cody Gibson and Wyatt Wolfe — both with surprise top five efforts. Scott Simley, John Abbott, James Thorndike, Bryan Harvey and Steve Ritter rounded out the rest of the top ten.

The race was run largely under green flag, with the first 39 laps going caution-free before a spin by Keith Brooks Jr. drew the race’s first caution just as Ward was coming down for pit service. Relinquishing the lead until those who had not yet pitted came down for their stops under yellow, Ward returned to the point and continued his march away from the field after a lap 43 restart.

A second caution with 17 laps to go bunched the field back up and set up a chaotic restart after Wolfe and Jose Gonzalez used a two-tire strategy to gain track position late in the race — neither of them could hold off Ward, however, who had four fresh Goodyear Wranglers and powered back to the point on the race’s final restart at 12 laps to go and never gave it up again even despite LaCross’ final lap charge.

The =RSR= Outlaw Truck Series continues on Wednesday, April 8 with Round Three from the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Coverage begins at 9:30 p.m. Eastern live on LSRTV.

 

Audio with race winner Jeff Ward:

Audio with runner-up Matt LaCross:

Audio with third-place C.J. LaVair:

 

RESULTS: =RSR= Outlaw Truck Series; Pure Michigan 160; Michigan International Speedway; Brooklyn, Mich.; March 25, 2015

  1. Jeff Ward (subbing for Dan Murray)
  2. Matt LaCross
  3. C.J. LaVair
  4. Cody Gibson
  5. Wyatt Wolfe
  6. Scott Simley
  7. John Abbott
  8. James Thorndike
  9. Bryan Harvey
  10. Steve Ritter
  11. Jared Comeau
  12. Stefan Marinak
  13. Steven Haring
  14. Jose Gonzalez
  15. Ed Williams Jr.
  16. David Gibson
  17. Derrek Hiatt
  18. William Kempf
  19. Kevin Pearson
  20. Nicholas Kohan
  21. Steven Waller
  22. Doug Roth
  23. Mark Bratcher
  24. Keith Brooks Jr.
  25. Jamie Pitts
  26. Bobby Whetsel
  27. Jason Swann
  28. Kevin Linden
  29. John Klickner (DNS)

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