Winning the Hockett Memorial!
Today seems fitting to talk about my favorite win of my career. It was the 2015 Jesse Hockett Memorial race at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, MO. Before I dive into the race and how it all shook out, I should set some background.
Before I started racing any sprint cars, we obviously had a large fleet of midgets and during that time frame we were lucky enough to have Jesse Hockett drive for us at Chili Bowl. Jesse was what I would consider the last true outlaw. He would drive anything anywhere whenever he could. Jesse was also another Missouri boy and that is how our relationship began. Jesse and Jack were one of the reasons we started to make the switch over to the sprint car world. I can still remember like yesterday talking to Jesse the night before he passed away as we were getting ready to put in an order for wings to get me set up for my first season. Regretfully that never got to happen.
After Jesse had passed away Jack had asked me to drive Jesses car at the Lake of the Ozarks one night. This was something that I was actually really torn about and was not sure if I wanted to do as I saw it as Jesses car. I actually told Jack several times before he convinced me to strap in one night. This would be the first time I had ever driven a wing sprint car in my career and somehow, we ended up running third that night. One thing that stands out more than anything that night was when Jack and Conny gave me a hug in the trailer and thanked me for driving. It was me that should have been thanking them though for the chance to drive his car. We eventually ended up purchasing two motors off of the Hocketts that we used while racing with ASCS.
Flash forward to 2015 and we are running with the National Tour at Lucas Oil. A race that is circled on the schedule for every driver each year. It was a two day show at this point and in our heat race we would start from the pole and win the race without any issues until the last two laps when I heard a knock in the motor. After pulling the valve covers, we found a broken valve spring. In the midst of time, we swapped out the motor. A rule with ASCS was if you changed a motor and were locked in you would have to relegate back to 16th.
The format for the feature would lock in the top 4 from the night into the finale on Saturday! Luckily, we had a great car and we would drive from 16th up to 6th during the race. On the last lap we made a pass in three and four that would move us into 4th place and the final lock in position! That pass would obviously play a huge role in how Saturday would pan out!
On Saturday we redrew the 3rd starting spot. While trying to get the race rolling the front row was playing games with each other that resulted in our nose wing getting knocked off. At that moment I thought the race was for sure done for us. Our saving grace was an open red that allowed my guys to get the nose wing fixed and us back in contention. We were able to chase down the leader and make the pass for the lead around lap 10. We ran the race uncontested and ended up taking the win over 7 seconds ahead of second place.
In victory lane Jack was there and reminded me that the first sprint car I ever raced. It was cool to see it all come full circle and get to celebrate such a big win with Jack there with us! I was fortunate to win a lot of races over my career along with several championships in just about every class I competed in, but this is the one that stands out the most. It is actually the only trophy that I have at my house that I get to see each day.
Until next time –