Written By: Gregg Paul
Joshua James may have started on the pole and led all forty laps, but no one can say that he didn’t earn his very first career Midwest Truck Series victory at State Park Speedway. James had to hold off veteran racer Jerry Wood in the early stages, and Blake Brown in the late stages to secure the win.
Getting off the corners so much better than his competitors was definitely a key in the win.
“We were able to carry speed off turn two unlike anyone else here so far,” said James. “Off of four we were definitely loose a couple times but off of two we did carry a lot of speed down that backstretch.”
James and Wood led the trucks to the green flag with James getting the lead heading into turn one. Kevin Kneuse looked to the inside of Wood for second, but Wood cleared for the spot on lap 3. James meanwhile stretched a few truck lengths ahead as the field started to string out.
James opened up a three truck length lead over Wood by lap 6, but Wood chiseled away at that lead and was back within a truck length by lap 7. Blake Brown began to battle with Kneuse for third, while Derek Kraus battled with Mark Mackesy for the fifth spot.
Brown took over the third spot on lap 9 and closed in on Wood for second. Wood seemed to gain on James getting into the corners, but James had much better drive off turn two and would stretch out his lead once again.
As Brown caught up to Wood, they both closed in on the tailgate of James on lap 15. Yet once again James had the drive up off of turn two and pulled away down the backstretch. Brown looked to the inside of Wood in turn three on lap 19 and after a little bit of contact coming off of turn four Brown inched ahead at the line. Wood fought back on the outside as they raced side by side down the backstretch. Brown got a run off the corner and cleared Wood for second on lap 21.
Just as James started to stretch out his lead even further, the yellow came out on lap 22 for debris in turn three that would bunch up the field.
When the cone came out for the restart, James took to the inside with Brown and Wood following James. Kneuse was the first to try the high side, followed by Kraus and Mackesy.
James got a huge jump coming to the green and cleared Kneuse easily. Brown slid into second, just ahead of Kneuse. Kraus had trouble getting going and slowed up the outside lane behind him. James tried to pull away again, but Brown stuck to James’ tailgate.
Brown looked to the inside of James on lap 25, but James was able to slam the door off of turn two once again. Brown tried to get underneath James again on lap 30, but James continued to show his strength off of turn two to maintain the lead.
The yellow would come out again on lap 31 when Mike Corvo spun in turn four.
James would get another great restart and cleared Brown for the lead. Mackesy tried to get to the inside of Kneuse and they would race side by side for a few laps before Kneuse cleared for third with just three laps to go. James stretched out to a truck length ahead of Brown and would maintain that lead all the way to the checkers.
James knew his truck was strong off of turn two, but was still a bit surprised that it stayed that way for the whole race.
“I was surprised we did it,” said James. “We were pushing in and very loose off. Even off of two our wheels would spin as soon as we hit the gas. I don’t know how I did it to be honest with you.”
Blake Brown was thrilled to get second.
“That was a heck of a race. I hope the fans enjoyed that,” said Brown. “Congratulations to Joshua I’m pretty sure that’s his first win and he definitely earned that one. These things honestly, this is the most fun I have ever had racing. I think a lot of it has to do with how equal all the trucks are. I wasn’t on the same playing field (in the other series). It’s such good racing. We saw it here tonight and we’ve seen it every race we’ve been at this year. Everyone is just so close it’s a lot of good side by side racing.”
Still there isn’t anything like the feeling of getting your first career win.
“It’s amazing!” said James. “This is the first feature win I have had for the trucks series. You know it’s not like anything else!”