Hockett/McMillin Opener Goes To Blake Hahn

Hockett/McMillin Opener
Blake Hahn in victory lane at Lucas Oil Speedway. (Kenny Shaw photo)

WHEATLAND, Mo. – Lap 17 proved decisive for Blake Hahn Thursday night as the ninth annual Jesse Hockett/Daniel McMillin Memorial opened its three-night run at Lucas Oil Speedway.

Hahn grabbed command after a back-and-forth battle with Josh Baughman on the 17th circuit and went on to win the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series feature, worth $3,000.

A total of 70 ASCS sprint cars checked into the pits, earning points toward Saturday’s program, which concludes with a $10,000-to-win ASCS feature.

Hahn traded the lead with Baughman seven times over the first 17 laps before taking over for good. He wound up nearly a second in front of runner-up Dylan Westbrook with Paul Nienhiser third.

“This is a win that I wanted really bad,” Hahn said. “It isn’t Saturday night, but this is still something big. Any time you can show up to a race and race against 69 other cars and we won this thing, it’s pretty impressive.

“We were really good in the heat race and really good in the qualifier, too.”

Hahn started on the pole and led the first four laps before Baughman worked the inside line to pass for the lead coming out of turn four to complete lap five.

Hahn returned the favor on the next circuit, but going around on the outside to regain the lead. Before the lap was completed, however, the race was red-flagged as Jeff Swindell took a wild flip in turns three and four. Swindell walked away from the incident and Baughman remained the race leader for the restart.

It didn’t take long for Hahn to get the jump as the green waved, and he went on to open a 2.5-second lead by lap 10.

“We had a really good car on top,” Hahn said. “I was a little angry that I was in second and I drove it into one on the top pretty hard and it stuck pretty well.”

As the leaders caught lapped traffic, Baughman closed in and went back in front on lap 16.

Again, Hahn responded. He needed less than a lap to reclaim the lead and was in front by half a second when action again was halted on lap 18, as Jay Russell flipped his car coming out of turn four. Russell crawled out under his own power to cheers from the fans.

Hahn was solid from there, driving away for his eighth-career ASCS National Tour win.

“I really thought I needed to go to the top and then Josh was working the bottom really well down here,” Hahn said of the battle with Baughman. “After I started getting to the bottom, I felt pretty good down there, too.”

Westbrook emerged from a four-car battle to claim second, with Paul Nienhiser third, Derek Hagar fourth and Baughman fading late to finish fifth.

Three-time reigning ASCS champion Sam Haftertepe spun on lap 18 after a restart to bring out the race’s final caution. He wound up 18th.

The finish:

A Feature (25 laps): 1. 52-Blake Hahn [1]; 2. 47X-Dylan Westbrook [8]; 3. 9X-Paul Nienhiser [2]; 4. 9JR-Derek Hagar [7]; 5. 17-Josh Baughman [3]; 6. 11-Roger Crockett [6]; 7. 3-Ayrton Gennetten [10]; 8. 22-Sean McClelland [12]; 9. 21K-Kameron Key [14]; 10. 17W-Harli White [11]; 11. 9$-Kyle Clark [9]; 12. 2X-Tucker Doughty [5]; 13. 21P-Robbie Price [4]; 14. 14-Jordon Mallett [13]; 15. 81-Jack Dover [21]; 16. 21-Miles Paulus [25]; 17. 91T-Tyler Thomas [22]; 18. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr. [15]; 19. 76-Jay Russell [16]; 20. M1-Mark Smith [19]; 21. 21C-Carson Short [18]; 22. 94-Jeff Swindell [20]; 23. 84-Brandon Hanks [17]; 24. 28-Scott Bogucki [23]; 25. 95-Matt Covington [24].


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