by Gregg Paul
The SCAG Power Equipment Midwest Truck Tour event as part of the Border Wars 2 at Madison International Speedway was akin to playing poker. While it might not have been high stakes poker, it was a lot like waiting to see what was in the cards at the end of the race. A late yellow set up a green, white, checkered finish saw Chester Ace play his cards to get the victory over a pair of Wood brothers.
Natalie Decker and John Wood led the field to the green with Wood getting the lead coming off of turn four. Joshua James followed Wood past Decker into the second spot. Decker was getting freight-trained as Chester Ace and Jerry Wood would also get by in just a lap or two.
John Wood got loose coming off of turn two allowing James to take the lead on lap 4. Ace was also able to take advantage of Wood’s slip and moved into the second spot behind James. Jerry Wood moved alongside his brother John and ran side by side for a couple of laps before finally taking the third position away.
Ace closed in on the tailgate of James on lap 6 with Jerry Wood right behind. Ace looked inside James in turn three and briefly took over the lead. A lap later Ace slipped in turn four as James ducked inside to reclaim the lead.
Ace recovered quickly and set his sights on James and made the pass for the lead on lap 11. This time Ace would make his truck stick and he began to pull away from James. Ace opened up a few truck lengths on James and appeared to be pulling away even further. Jerry Wood also got past James and moved into second. Ace’s lead almost evaporated when Jacob Van Wazer spun in turn four on lap 14, but the race stayed green.
As Ace held the lead with the Wood brothers in hot pursuit, James began to fade back. Andy Jones and Camden Murphy got past James and moved into the top five.
Jerry Wood was quickly closing in on Ace, and with just ten laps to go Wood was right on Ace’s tailgate. Wood got to the inside of Ace coming off of turn four with eight laps to go, but Ace fought hard on the outside to try to hold onto the lead. Ace cleared Wood down the front straightaway, but Wood would drive deeper into turn one and used the chrome horn coming off of turn two.
Wood got back to the inside of Ace in turn three with six laps to go and pulled alongside Ace as they came down the front straightaway. Wood and Ace would race side by side for the next couple of laps with each trading the lead by inches at the line. With just four laps remaining it appeared to be a dead heat as the pair crossed the line. When they came around the next time by, it was Ace who inched ahead at the line to claim the lead with just three laps to go.
Everything would change a lap later when Mike Corvo spun in turn four bringing out the yellow. It would be a green, white, checkered finish.
Coming to the green for the restart Ace was on the inside with Wood to the outside. As they accelerated off of turn four it appeared that Ace may have slid up the track just a tad and Jerry Wood backed off in an effort to avoid contact. Ace took advantage of that and pulled away from Jerry Wood and John Wood followed Ace into the second spot.
Chester Ace would cruise to the win over those final two laps, but was apologetic about the move in Victory Lane.
“I knew he (Jerry Wood) would probably be a little upset,” said Ace. “I did not pinch him at all, though I know he thinks otherwise. I want to deeply apologize to him whether he takes it or not. I did not mean to pinch him. We ran a good race and when he was inside of me we ran clean……a win’s a win.”
Ace even tried to downplay the thought that perhaps his truck was deserving of the win.
“I think Jerry had a little bit better truck if he could’ve got out in front of me,” said Ace. “But we put on a show for the fans and that’s what we’re here for.”
The fans saw a show on the track, and almost saw a show in victory lane as Jerry Wood was visibly upset at Ace. However cooler heads prevailed and Wood was a bit more collected when asked about the situation.
“I’ve raced this thing almost four years now and give everybody respect and give them all the room I can,” said Wood. “I don’t know how many laps we went side by side with Chester there but when you got a restart you learn. I don’t know if his truck got away from him or what it was, but he pinched me into the wall and I had to back out. Then I got the young guy in the 11 (Andy Jones) lifted me up in the air down the front straightaway. It got pretty exciting and I’m pretty happy we finished third.”
Wood definitely did not want to see that late yellow and reflected on what could have been.
“I just about had Chester and I was working him the best I could without rubbing on him,” said Wood. “When the yellow came out I knew it was going to be pretty tough to get around him but all in all I don’t think there is a fan up there that didn’t like the race. You can’t say much different about that. Sometimes it ain’t much fun sitting in these things when it gets tense like that. I’m sure it will be alright. I’ll talk to Chester, I’m sure he’ll be fine with it. I’ll talk to the 11 (Jones) and he’ll be wondering what the heck I am talking about. Oh he can’t be because his bumper has to be all smashed in, but it’s all good. It’s all fine. No one got hurt. We’re all on four tires so it’s all good.”
Lost in the shuffle was John Wood sneaking past his brother Jerry to claim the second spot.
“I would’ve liked to have had another lap it would’ve been a little more fun,” said John Wood. “Chester had a little problem up there with Jerry. There will come a time…..he (Ace) needs some more time in these bigger vehicles but he’ll be fine. Just wish I would’ve had another lap. It was fun racing with my brother as always.”
It may have been fun racing as brothers, but the competitive nature of a racer is something that even the best poker player cannot bluff.
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.