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The Story From PPMS- Hawkins Gets Monkey Off The Back In Jook George Steel City Classic

 

Jason Spencer Photo

What a difference a year can make. Nearly one year ago, Jacob Hawkins looked to be well on his way to victory in the Annual Jook George Memorial at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway. However, misfortune struck when he had no where place to go following a spin by Jamie Wrightsman near the halfway point of the 40 lap main event.

On this Saturday night, no such misfortune impeded Hawkins progress to a $5,035 payday as he outpaced the stout field of cars en route to his first career victory in the storied history of the race. Restarts would play a major factor in the win as he took the lead following a mid race restart and never looked back, while defending the lead successfully on a late race restart to preserve the victory.

“The one where I went for the lead wasn’t near as stressful,”  Hawkins said. “I knew what I needed to do and on this track clean air just means so much so if you can get ahead of the guy it really creates problems for them. I was lucky to get a good run on Pegher down the back stretch and get the lead on him. And on the last restart I was sweating a little more because I know Miley and he knows this track better than anybody and I just drove it as hard as I could those last five or 10 laps and held on to it.”

2017 Champion Mike Pegher Jr and Nico Dabecco lead the 26 car field to the green flag as Pegher left the field behind him quickly, setting a torrid pace in the early stages of the race. Meanwhile, Daryl Charlier and Hawkins engaged in a battle for the third spot behind second running Dabecco. Hawkins was able to make his way around Dabecco and set his sights on the leader who was making his way through considerable lapped traffic approaching lap 14 mark of the main event. Hawkins began shaving Pegher’s lead down with each lap until he found himself looking for clean air or a restart. He was given the opportunity when Dabecco slowed on lap 18 to bring out the first caution flag of the race.

Jason Spencer Photo

With a new lease on life, Hawkins took full advantage of the opportunity the restart gave him as he dove underneath Pegher in the second set of turns for the lead. Jared Miley, driving the familiar pink number 99 entry, then made his march forward to the front as he battled Charlier for the third spot behind Pegher and Hawkins. Charlier spun and made contact with the wall in turns three and four as Dan Angellichio got collected in the process with 21 laps in the books. The incident ended the night for both contenders and when action resumed, Pegher and Miley took looks underneath Hawkins but neither could wrest the top spot away from him.

While Hawkins was putting up a three second lead on the field, the prime battle on the track moved to Miley’s hunt of second running Pegher as Miley made the move underneath on lap 24 to take the position. All seemed to be locked away for Hawkins up front until Logan Roberson brought out the yellow flag with four laps to go. Hawkins pegged the restart and kept the field behind him the rest of the way, earning a little redemption after suffering heartbreak nearly one year prior.

Jason Spencer Photo

“It means a lot, especially here,” Hawkins said.  “For some reason I seem to have some bad luck in some bigger shows here and I think hopefully we finally got the monkey off our back and we can just keep plugging forward. Last year was a bad deal and I’m just glad that we were able to keep it on all fours this year.”

 

Quick Time: Nico Dabecco- 19.333
Heat Winners: Nico Dabecco, Daryl Charlier, Jacob Hawkins, Christian Schneider, Mike Pegher Jr., Russ Matejka
BMain Tranfsers: Colton Flinner, Zachary Kane, Jamie Wrightsman, Troy Shields, Wayne Roberson, Brady Wonderling
Hard Charger: Ben Policz (+12)
Non Qualifiers Race Winner ($375)- Wayne Robertson


Official Finish- 40 Lap $5,035 to win Jook George Steel City Classic

1. (13) Jacob Hawkins
2. (99) Jared Miley
3. (1C) Mike Pegher Jr.
4. (3J) Jeremy Wonderling
5. (14B) Ben Policz
6. (03) Garret Paugh
7. (1/2) Damion Bidwell
8. (1ST) Christian Schneider
9. (8S) Tommy Schirnhofer
10. (29J) Jason Genco
11. (11) John Waters
12. (12) Troy Shields
13. (1Z) Logan Zarin
14. (93x) Justin Lamb
15. (15) Chad Sines
16. (10) Zachary Kane
17. (21J) Jamie Wrightsman
18. (66) Adam Ferri
19. (17M) Russ Matejka
20. (17) Logan Roberson
21. (Z1) Brady Wonderling
22. (75) Colton Flinner
23. (93) Cory Lawler
24. (12) Daryl Charlier
25. (14) Dan Angellichio
26. (F1) Nico Dabecco

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