May 2, 2015
Grain Valley, MO. -Darren Hagen of Riverside, California cleaned house at the ¼ mile Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Missouri, winning his heat race and leading every lap of the 30 lap feature en route to his 13th career POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series feature victory and his first of 2015.
Starting on the pole with teammate and car owner Austin Brown to the outside, Hagen would power into the early lead at the drop of the green flag with Brown and Tyler Thomas giving chase. With two laps in the books, Hagen’s pace would be slowed as the yellow would fly for the disabled car piloted by Eric Fenton along the front stretch. Fenton, with a flat left rear tire would enter the work area and return to racing.
Leading the field back to green, Hagen would stretch his lead to three car lengths over Brown as Justin Peck would challenge Tyler Thomas for the third position and take it on lap five. On the following lap Jake Neuman and Matt Sherrell would bring out the second caution of the evening as they would both end up spun in the middle of turns three and four. On the restart Hagen’s Esslinger-powered BOSS Chassis would surge into a comfortable lead over Brown, while Thomas would overpower Peck and begin his move towards the front. Setting his sights on Brown, Thomas would continue to move forward on the bottom and complete the pass for second on lap nine. However, Brown would find a line that would allow him to garner a full head of steam and retake the second position on lap 11.
As Brown’s Toyota-powered BOSS Chassis looked to close in on Hagen, the yellow would fly as Alex Bright would slow atop turn four. Simultaneously, Casey Shuman would come to a stop off turn two. Both drivers would be done for the remainder of the event. With 16 laps down, Hagen would again lead the field back to green, but Justin Peck riding in the fourth position would throw a massive slide job forsecond, breaking Brown and Thomas’ momentum. As the trio would dice for second, contact would be made sending Brown back to the fourth position with Thomas now in control of second and Peck in third.
With Hagen closing in on lap traffic, Thomas would mount his charge to the front. Whittling away at Hagen’s lead and using lap traffic to his advantage, Thomas’ Esslinger-powered Spike Chassis would close in on Hagen in the final laps, but he would be unable to challenge Hagen for the lead as Hagen would cross the finish line first. Thomas would settle for second, while Justin Peck of Monrovia, Indiana would round out the top three. Coming in fourth was Austin Brown and completing the top five was Tucker Klaasmeyer.
“Everyone I surround myself with, they are the best in the business,” stated a victorious Darren Hagen. “Austin Brown putting this team together with Kenny, Flea, and Corey and everybody that works hard during the week when I can’t be there to help them. Without these guys, I wouldn’t be here. This is a testimony to how good these guys are and a testimony to the car.”
“I was hoping we would get to lap traffic a little bit sooner,” said second place finisher Tyler Thomas. “But, we had a really good car there at the end, we started off there a little bit tight and it just kept getting better and better each lap. Found some different lines, but we just weren’t good enough to get around Darren. Congrats to him and Austin Brown. Hopefully we’ll get it done tomorrow night.”
“We weren’t too good at the beginning of the race,” said third place finisher Justin Peck. “We were alright, but had the car a little too loose. As the race went on, probably could have gave Darren a bit of a fight.”
Ford Heat Race Winners: Heat 1: 3N – Jake Neuman, Heat 2: 56 – Alex Bright, Heat 3: 27 – Tucker Klaasmeyer, Heat 4: 9K – Kyle Schuett, Heat 5: 17 – Darren Hagen
Great Clips Feature Winner: 17 – Darren Hagen
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series Feature Results (30 laps): 1. 17 – Darren Hagen 2. 91T – Tyler Thomas 3. 5X – Justin Peck 4. 7 – Austin Brown 5. 27 – Tucker Klaasmeyer 6. 11C – Chett Gehrke 7. 35 – Matt Sherrell 8. 21 – Ty Hulsey 9. 9K – Kyle Schuett 10. 14E – Eric Fenton 11. 22 – Andy Malpocker 12. 17E – Blake Edwards 13. 89 – Nick Bailey 14. 52 – Anton Hernandez 15. 88N – Tyler Nelson 16. 8 – Alex Sewell 17. 56X – Mark Chisholm 18. 11A – Andrew Felker 19. 7JR – Casey Shuman 20. 56 – Alex Bright 21. 1K – Brayton Lynch 22. 3N – Jake Neuman 23. 4M – Michelle Decker
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