Clintonville driver wins ROC, finishes fourth in feature
By Bert Lehman
Photo courtesy IMCA
Lucas Lamberies of Clintonville said he had one goal entering this year’s IMCA Super Nationals event in Boone, Iowa — to qualify for the IMCA Northern SportMod main event.
On Tuesday night, Sept. 8, he achieved that goal, winning his feature that night, which placed him on the outside of the front row for the feature to be run on Saturday, Sept. 12.
“I just wanted to make it into the big show, that was it. I achieved that goal,” said Lamberies in a phone interview on Thursday, Sept. 10.
For those unfamiliar with the IMCA Super Nationals, it is one of the most anticipated IMCA events each year, drawing drivers from all over the country. It’s not the highest-paying special, but no race can touch it when it comes to the prestige of winning it.
This is the second time Lamberies has raced at the Super Nationals.
Lamberies said he arrived at the track Sept. 6 and participated in some hot lap sessions that day. His first attempt to qualify for the main feature was the following day. There were a total of 20 SportMod heat races that night, as more than 150 SportMod drivers were on hand to race. Lamberies finished third in the 18th heat race, which didn’t qualify him for the big show.
His luck changed the next night when he drew the outside pole for his heat race. He won that race, which put into the night’s feature event. He drew the pole position starting spot for the feature.
“I’m usually not too good at drawing but I had a break in my luck and we drew the pole,” Lamberies said.
Luck is something all drivers have to have if they want to qualify for the main event.
“It’s a lot about luck down here,” he said. “If you don’t have any luck and have bad draws [you won’t do well]. Last year I think I drew dead last in every heat race.”
Starting on the front row, Lamberies said he led the first half of the race, building around a straightaway lead when a caution came out. After building another big lead, another caution came out with five laps to go.
“It was a heartbreaker,” Lamberies said about the cautions. “… But you have to just keep fighting forward.”
With a little over a lap to go, and qualifying for the big show within his grasp, it almost slipped away for Lamberies.
“Coming to the white flag I almost got passed by Nick Meyer, he’s pretty good down here, he’s won some big races,” Lamberies said. “He tried putting a slide job on me but the car was really hooked up, I have to thank my dad for that, he gave me an awesome car. It was able to drive by him and on to the win.”
Lamberies admitted Meyer’s attempted pass scared him because he thought he had lost the position.
“I think he just drove it in there as hard as he could and hopefully it would stick. I worked for about maybe a quarter of the way through the corner, but when I got back on the gas I was able to drive back to him,” Lamberies said.
What was his reaction to winning the qualifying feature to put him in the big show?
“I was so happy I was shaking. I couldn’t even stay still,” Lamberies said.
When asked what reaction his dad had, Lamberies said, “I think he was crying a little bit. He had tears in his eyes.”
Lamberies added, “My grandma was super excited. She was taking pictures non-stop. My grandpa just kept saying he couldn’t believe it.”
Prior to the main feature on Saturday night, Lamberies also raced in the Race of Champions race for IMCA Northern SportMods. Only current track champions were eligible for this race. Lamberies, the Shawano Speedway IMCA Northern SportMod track champion, finish second in his Race of Champions qualifying race earlier in the week to place him in the final Race of Champions race.
“I’m going to drive hard. That’s another big race to win. I’m not going to try to do anything stupid either. If I get passed, I get passed. It’s just nice to be in these races,” Lamberies said two days prior to the race.
At the start of the Race of Champions race Lamberies said he spun his tires and had to settle into the second spot. He said he caught the leader with about two laps remaining in the 10 lap race.
“It took me about three times to finally get it but I worked my way in front of him (leader) on the last lap into turn one,” Lamberies said. “Coming down into turn three he put a slide job on me but I was able to diamond underneath him coming down to the checkered and I think we beat him by half a car length.”
In victory lane, Lamberies celebrated the win by standing on the roof of his car.
“It was just pure excitement,” Lamberies said. “I never had that close of a race before so it was just unbelievable, especially in a race that big.”
In the main event later that night, Lamberies said he fell back to around seventh place after starting the race in the front row. He worked his way back up to fourth.
“On the last restart I hooked up on the topside and we were moving pretty good,” Lamberies said. “I couldn’t really make the pass for any other positions but we were right there at the end. I think the top four were within five car lengths of each other.”
Besides a little disappointment he didn’t win, overall, Lamberies said he was happy with how his week of racing ended.
“That’s just me being a driver, everyone’s going to be disappointed if you don’t win, but to just make a race like that, that was a win itself for me,” he said.