It had been a while, but Landon Simon proved he could still get the job done when he visited his old stomping ground with the Mo Vaughn Transport - Buckeye Outlaw Sprint Series on Friday night. The scene was the Legendary Hilltop Speedway in Marietta, Ohio which was playing host to its first sprint car event in well over 30 years. Simon was instrumental in the formative years of BOSS competing in the first 2 events ever held in 2011 and running the entire tour in 2012 picking up his first career sprint car win along the way at Southern Ohio Raceway in Portsmouth, Ohio.
On Friday night, 22 cars signed in for competition with heat race wins going to Justin Owen, Aaron Middaugh, and Brandon Spithaler. There were some anxious moments in the heat races. In heat race #2 Scott Hardman jumped the right rear wheel of Kory Crabtree bicycling up on 2 wheels and making a great save to earn the "sweet move" of the night award. In heat race #3, Brandon Spithaler made a daring slide job pass in the final corner of the final lap to steal the win from Thomas Meseraull.
The 22 car field was paced to the starter's green flag by the front row of Simon and Cody Gardner. Simon rocketed to the early lead with 3rd starting Cooper Clouse quickly into the runner-up spot. The race's first caution flew on lap #3 when Steve Little came to stop in turn #4. Back under green, Simon still held command with Cooper Clouse applying the pressure until a lap #5 caution for Cody Gardner spinning in turn #2. The third and final caution would fly just 2 laps later when Clouse spun while battling with Thomas Meseraull for the runner-up spot. Brandon Spithaler, who was on the move early from his 9th starting position was running 4th when he clipped Clouse taking him out of the event. After a trip to the work area, Clouse was able to restart the event.
Once racing resumed on lap #7 it was clean and green to the end with invading teammates Landon Simon and Thomas Meseraull running 1-2 over the next 18 laps. The only serious threat left was Shawn Westerfeld who had started 7th and was clearly closing in on the lead duo. Simon, in the Mount Baker Vapor #24 proved to be untouchable as he raced to victory just ahead of his team car driven by California's Thomas Meseraull. Westerfeld held on to finish third and take over the BOSS points lead. Rounding out the top 5 were Justin Owen and Dustin Smith.
On Saturday, the Mo Vaughn Transport - BOSS sprints took traditional non wing sprint car racing into West Virginia for the first time since July 4th, 1969. The stage was the "Bullring" of Tyler County Speedway where 17 cars signed in for battle on another fast 1/4 mile oval. Preliminary heat were won by Dustin Smith, Brandon Spithaler, and Aaron Middaugh.
The 25 lap main event was brought to the green flag by Wampum, Pennsylvania driver Joe Butera along with Harrison, Ohio's "J-O" Justin Owen. From the start, Owen jumped out to the early lead and set a blistering pace in search of his first career sprint car victory. However, 4th and 5th starting Brandon Spithaler and Dustin Smith were battling for second and searching for bite all over the bullring oval.
The race's only caution flag flew on lap # 4 when Steve Little spun and collected Kirk Jeffries, Scott Hardman and Adam Miller in the melee on the backstretch. Miller and Hardman were able to make repairs in the Buckeye Machine and Fab work area and return to competition.
On the restart, Justin Owen again jumped out to a big lead and appeared to be destined for that elusive first career victory. But Dustin Smith in the Dom's Gulf #77 was dialing his car in as the laps clicked away and began to find some drive off the bottom of the track. On lap 17, Smith got by race runner-up Spithaler and set his sites on Owen who was about to catch lapped traffic. Over the next 6 circuits, Smith closed the gap to battle for the lead.
Just when it was about to get interesting, onto the scene popped the "Guilford Gasser" Shawn Westerfeld, who had started 8th and appeared to have the fastest car on the track. With 2 laps remaining, Owen led the pack into turn one with Smith to the bottom and Westerfeld on the top they were 3 wide for the lead!
Something had to give! And it did, with Smith and Owen making racing contact, Owen did a 360 spin taking Westerfeld with him. The race stayed green as Spithaler raced by the synchronized spinners and into 2nd. At the finish, it was Smith followed by Spithaler, with Owen recovering to finish 3rd. Mike "The Magic Man" Miller was able to get to 4th with Westerfeld recovering from his spin to finish 5th.
Fans and promoters at both venues were very pleased with the stars and cars of the BOSS tour. A return engagement on the originally scheduled June weekend is already in negotiations for 2016.
The series now heads for the 3 day weekend this coming weekend with Atomic Speedway on Friday, July 31st as part of the 2nd annual "Open Wheel Championships". On Saturday, the tour moves on to Lawrenceburg Speedway for the 2nd annual "Jason Soudrette Memorial". Soudrette, like Simon, was one of the original BOSS outlaws in the formative 2011 and 2012 seasons. Finally, on Sunday, it is Millstream Speedway in Findlay, Ohio, wrapping up a grueling 5 races in 10 days!
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