WHEATLAND, Mo. – Derek Hagar is optimistic entering the 10th annual Jesse Hockett/Daniel McMillin Memorial this weekend.
Hagar has won both the winged and non-wing portions of the marquee event hosted by Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo. However, this weekend, he will only be competing in winged action with the Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour.
The event runs Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 17-19.
“We’ve always had good success when we go to Missouri,” he said. “We were just looking at the event t-shirt and it shows we’re the only driver to win both the winged and non-wing races. This year we’ll only be doing the winged stuff. I look forward to continuing that success this weekend. There’s a bunch of cars there and each year the event gets bigger.
“Just to get in the A-main without having to run a B-main all weekend would be an accomplishment. Once we get in the show, we know how to find our way to the front.”
Hagar won the winged event in 2014 and he swept the weekend in non-wing competition in 2015.
The race honors the memories of both Hockett, who was a star in both the winged and non-wing sprint divisions when he lost his life in a shop accident in 2010, and his cousin and crew chief, Daniel McMillin, who was killed in an automobile accident in 2006.
This year there will be no split qualifying nights, with all drivers in both the winged and wingless divisions competing both Thursday and Friday.
Combined points from heat races, qualifiers, B-mains and A-mains will set the lineup for the top eight of Saturday night’s $10,000-to-win ASCS main event.
One year ago, Blake Hahn of Sapulpa, Okla., took the ASCS main event victory.
For fans coming to Lucas Oil Speedway for the first time this season, masks are not required, but they and social distancing are encouraged. Hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout the facility.
Hagar is coming off a frustrating ending to a promising night last Saturday at I-30 Speedway in Little Rock, Ark., which featured the Ralph Henson Memorial with ASCS Mid-South Region and ASCS Lone Star Region.
“We were late getting there,” he said. “I barely made it myself in time for the pill draw. We had some issues with the trailer. Kenny didn’t leave the shop until 6 o’clock and it’s a two-hour hike to the track. We didn’t get to hot lap. When he got there we unloaded, put heat in the motor and went out for the heat race. We got the lead on the first lap and won it.”
Hagar won his heat race from third. That put him in the pole shuffle and he lost his round to garner the sixth starting position for the main event.
After winning the Race of Champions, which had no bearing on the program, Hagar lined up on the outside of the third row for the Ralph Henson Memorial A-main.
“On the first lap I went from sixth to driving by a guy for second,” he said. “We had a fast race car. I stuck the bottom really good in turns one and two. Everybody else went middle to the top. I was about to take second when the guy chopped me off going into the corner in turn three and it knocked the front end out.
“It broke the front end in half and then I got clobbered on the right side. That ended our night.”
The DNF snapped Hagar’s streak of nine straight top-10 finishes.