by Gregg Paul
It might not be a surprise that Jerry Wood won another SCAG Power Equipment Midwest Truck Tour race. It is also getting to be that it is no longer a surprise that Wood is having to work harder to get those wins. The young, up and coming drivers in the Midwest Truck Tour are catching on quickly and giving the veterans all they can handle.
Camden Murphy and Jacob Van Wazer led the field to the green flag with Murphy getting the early lead. Fast Qualifier Andy Jones moved up to fourth and brought Jerry Wood towards the front with him.
Murphy stretched out his lead to several truck lengths over Van Wazer by lap 7. Jones ducked to the inside of Van Wazer in turn one and moved into the second spot. Jerry Wood followed Jones past Van Wazer as the pair hunted down Murphy for the lead.
Van Wazer was sliding back and soon felt the pressure from Natalie Decker on his rear bumper. Decker would get to the inside of Van Wazer, but couldn’t quite get in far enough to make the pass. Lap after lap the duo battled as the leaders were getting further away.
Meanwhile back up front, Wood moved around Jones into the second spot just as they reached the halfway mark of the feature. Once Wood finally cleared Jones, Wood had a six truck length deficit to make up. Wood began to reel in Murphy as the laps were winding down. Wood moved alongside Murphy with just ten laps remaining, as the battle for the lead began to heat up.
A bit further back Decker and Van Wazer were beginning to trade paint a bit harder. Decker used the chrome horn to loosen up Van Wazer coming off of turn four, but could not get underneath enough to get by before Van Wazer recovered and slammed the door. Decker may have been growing impatient with Van Wazer and stepped up the pressure with just six laps remaining. Contact between the two in turn two resulted in Van Wazer spinning and bringing out the yellow flag.
As the field lined up for the restart the front row of Wood and Jones accelerated down the middle of the backstretch and did not keep in formation. Several trucks tried to keep up and get back into position as they headed into turn three. John Wood spun as he got to turn three and this caused the restart to be aborted.
The next attempt at the restart was a good one, with both Jerry Wood and Jones battling side by side. Camden Murphy was on the inside and used the chrome horn on Wood’s bumper. Wood bobbled slightly, but recovered and cleared Jones for the lead with just two laps to go. Murphy followed Wood past Jones and into second. A bit further back Decker moved past Justin Oertel for the fourth spot and set her sights on Jones for third.
Coming to the white flag Wood stretched out to a truck length lead over Murphy, as Decker got to the inside of Jones and claimed the third spot. Wood managed to hang onto his slim lead as he took the checkers just ahead of Murphy and Decker for his third win of the season out of the four events.
The late yellow flag can be a help to those back in the pack, but for Wood, he definitely would have preferred that the race had stayed under green.
“I didn’t really want a yellow because it was so comfortable out in the lead,” said Wood. “I knew they would be dangling behind me. Those guys are coming on more and more every week and it’s just a matter of time before more of them are winning races. Look at Natalie (Decker) in the heat. She was really strong. I don’t know what happened to her in the feature but they said she had a really good comeback. All of these guys are doing a really great job and they’re listening. Even my brother (John Wood) is listening.”
They may be listening, but that doesn’t mean they want to settle for second behind Wood. Yet they are happy with their performance.
“That’s for sure, especially how the day started,” said Murphy. “As the heat got to us we did some wrong gear changes and it was off during qualifying. After the heat race, yeah we won it but we had a leak in the right rear tire. This old girl is a piece of work. She’s one of the oldest trucks here and she’s always temperamental.”
The trucks and the young kids might be temperamental, but the veterans are going to have to be on the lookout. Like Jerry Wood said it’s only a matter of time before more of them are winning races.
The next event for the Midwest Truck Tour is Friday, July 26th at State Park Speedway. For a complete schedule and event details log on to arcamidwesttour.com
Be sure to follow the Midwest Truck Tour on Facebook (midwesttour) and Twitter (@midwesttour).
To learn more about the Midwest Truck Tour, log on to arcamidwesttour.com. For questions call the ARCA Midwest Tour office at (262) 729-4111 or Tim Olson at (612) 327-5831 or Steve Einhaus (630) 212-6022 at or e-mail Tim Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org Steve Einhaus at email@example.com.