LAS VEGAS – Four drivers can now call themselves national champions after an action-packed night at The Bullring.
More than 150 drivers took to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway 3/8-mile paved oval to battle for event and national titles at the US Legends Asphalt Nationals, with a talented quartet clinching season crowns in Las Vegas. Baiden Heskett (Pro), Drew Dollar (Semi-Pro), Tim Brockhouse (Masters) and Jake Matheson (Young Lions) secured national titles after the dust cleared at The Bullring.
Heskett finished fourth in the 35-lap Pro feature to hold off a charging Jason Irwin, who led most of the race before taking second behind Carson Ferguson. Irwin, a four-time Bullring track champion with 43 career Saturday night wins in Las Vegas, settled for second in the season points race to Heskett, who hails from New Richmond, Wis.
“I’ve been trying to do this for 13 years running, and I was finally able to do it,” Heskett said. “I’ve been in this position twice with Jason Irwin, fighting him for a national title, and luck was on our side in fabulous Las Vegas.”
Heskett cruised in the middle of the pack throughout the early stages of the 35-lap race before making his move down the stretch to seal the national championship.
“I was just biding my time, because I knew there were going to be wrecks since it’s a Pro field and everybody’s hungry,” Heskett said. “Once I got freight-trained and got shuffled to the back, I got a little nervous, but I was able to march back through the field, wind up fourth and wrap up a national title. It feels awesome, because we had such an awesome season where we won a lot of races and set some track records. To be able to come out here and run at the top of the field with the best of the best in the country, it’s amazing.”
Semi-Pro points leader Sammy Smith appeared to be headed to a national title, but lost his engine with two laps remaining after one of many cautions in the 35-lap race. Dollar, of Atlanta, was the beneficiary, taking the championship after a third-place finish in the season’s final race.
“Just to get it done after an up-and-down weekend, it feels great,” Dollar said. “It wasn’t quite the way I wanted to win it with Sammy Smith blowing up, but I think we may have had something for him at the end. I’m just excited and am still soaking it all in.
“I love this track, and it’s probably one of my favorite tracks I’ve ever raced a Legend Car at. It’s surreal.”
Connor Mosack won the 35-lap Semi-Pro feature by .326 of a second ahead of D.J. Canipe, with Dollar .613 of a second back.
Tim Brockhouse of Shakopee, Minn., won the 35-lap Masters race to break a tie with Larrel “Scotty” Scott for the national points lead and secure a season championship. Brockhouse was overjoyed with the major triumph.
“I love coming to Vegas and love this race track,” Brockhouse said. “I’ve been coming here since 2003 or 2004, so to finally win it on Saturday night is really special. The car was awesome, and I don’t know what to say. Last year, I was leading this race with five to go and blew an engine, so it is justice and there are some racing gods up there.
“If you guys want to have a good time, follow me down to Fremont Street because this (celebration) is going to be epic. Viva Las Vegas, this is awesome!”
Bullring Legends track champion Jaron Giannini bided his time through a plethora of re-starts in a crash-mired Young Lions 35-lap race and passed for the lead with a few laps remaining on his way to the checkered flag. Matheson was second by just .261 of a second, while Daniel Silvestri was third, .506 of a second off the pace.
Matheson passed Silvestri on the second-to-last lap, and that move ended up winning him the Young Lions national championship. The duo finished tied in season points, but The Bullring race was the tiebreaker, so Matheson leaves Las Vegas with the season title.
“I was hoping to make something happen on the last few laps,” said Matheson, of Hillsboro, N.H. “The door opened up for me, I took it and now I’m a national champion. The entire race was intense, and all the frontrunners were very competitive and very close.
“It’s a very good national race track, it’s very competitive, very fast and very fun.”
In other action, reigning Thunder Cars track champion Chris Bosley out-dueled Ed Hohman in a 25-lap feature by 1.973 seconds. Hohman led early before Bosley overtook him en route to another trip to The Bullring’s Winner’s Circle.
Brody Moore won the 20-lap Bandolero Bandits feature by .182 of a second over Hank Hall, and North Las Vegas’ Chloe Lynch emerged victorious in the 20-lap Bandolero Outlaws race. Andy Hulcy took the 25-lap Masters B feature, while Derek Lemke took the checkered flag in the 25-lap Pro B feature.
NEXT RACE: The West Coast Short Track Championships will put a cap on The Bullring’s 2018 racing season on Nov. 17, with the Lucas Oil Modified Series, SRL Spears Southwest Tour Series, USAC HPD Midget Series and Jr. Late Models in action.
-The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Press Release & Photo