DUQUOIN, Ill. – For the majority of his career, Jacob Wilson has been deemed a “pavement guy.”
While that’s certainly a testament to his skills on the asphalt, where he’s earned victories in the Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial once and the Little 500 twice, it was a label that Wilson was anxious to shed.
The Crawfordsville, Ind., driver finally erased the label Sunday night with a dominant victory in the Ted Horn 100 at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, his first career triumph in the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series in his 53rd career series start.
Wilson led the final 59 laps to notch the win 11 years following his lone career AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car victory on the Salem, Ind., high banks.
“I’m still a pavement guy, right?” Wilson said with a grin. “We still joke about that. It became more apparent the last couple years that, if we did get our first win, it was going to be on the dirt, which is kind of weird. The pavement’s still what I love, but we just don’t have as good of runs anymore.”
“Man, this one is special,” Wilson continued. “There’s so many people that put effort into this thing. To get my brother his first win as a crew chief, to get (Matt) Hummel a win on this thing, my entire family and all the guys, it’s special, that’s for sure.”
Wilson started from the seventh position to begin the 100-miler, which at first, became the race that just couldn’t get going. Austin Nemire’s car refused to turn on the first turn of the opening lap, sending the Sylvania, Ohio native helplessly into the outside wall.
On the lap six restart, Levittown, Pennsylvania’s Mike Haggenbottom tagged the turn two wall, sending him into a series of flips. Both drivers walked away from their incidents.
The third try was the charm, as the race got into full swing with pole winner Tyler Courtney leading the way and Brady Bacon giving chase.
Bacon applied constant pressure to Courtney until sailing around the outside of Courtney in turn two on the 19th lap for the race lead, as Wilson pulled along to mount a challenge to Courtney for the runner-up spot before falling back into line in third.
Wilson stuck with Courtney for second, and on lap 26, threw his machine past the reigning USAC Sprint champion in turn one for the spot. Bacon’s advantage held at five car lengths ahead of Wilson with a quarter of the race in the history books.
Nearing midway, Bacon and Wilson led a two-car breakaway to separate themselves from the pack. On lap 42, Wilson made his move, riding to the outside of Bacon off the fourth turn as the two went wheel to wheel under the flag stand.
It became a case of who was going to be the last one to lift, with Wilson gaining the upper hand up top, driving around Bacon and opening up a lead of more than two seconds at the crossed flags.
“This thing was stuck so good, I knew we were going to be able to drive in deeper than Brady,” Wilson explained. “It was just one of those deals where if he’d try to drive it in as well, it was a battle of who could get to the cushion and then who could get through the first corner first.”
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