A big burden was lifted off the shoulders of Brad Lovell on Friday night at Route 66 Raceway.
Lovell, the defending Pro-Light champion in the Traxxas TORC Series presented by AMSOIL, had suffered through a long string of bad luck at the start of this season before finally picking up his first victory of the year with his AMSOIL/Torchmate/BF Goodrich Nissan on Friday.
"Our season has been rough," Lovell said. "We've lost engines, we've had fires; we even broke before a race started out in the desert. Tonight is just vindication. We've been trying and struggling and you just get down.
"We've been ramping it back up. I'm proud to do this on a short course because these are challenging for me."
Lovell qualified on the pole for the race and had the truck to beat from the outset. He led the first half of the race despite a couple of restarts following accidents and lapped traffic. On a restart following a competition caution, Doug Mittel got around Lovell.
"I could see him poking his nose in there," Lovell said. "I don't know if I bobbled or didn't quite get the run I needed. He snuck by me and I told myself, 'OK I'm not going to start freaking out.' If you start freaking out, you lose focus and roll the thing over."
The serene reaction paid dividends a couple of laps later when Mittel's tire let go and Lovell cruised on to victory from there.
"I saw Doug slow up hard and hug the inside," Lovell said. "I figured either he made a real bad mistake or something broke. I just sailed on by."
Lovell said he nearly threw the race away in the closing laps.
"There's a lot of pressure," he said. "I was coming through the track and I biked it up on two wheels. I did the same thing when I was trying to come around lapped traffic. It was so much relief when I hit that finish line."
Lovell has the chance to go from zero wins to two in a row when the Traxxas TORC Series runs the second half of its Chicagoland doubleheader on Saturday night. Opening ceremonies begin at 7 p.m. and the race will be broadcast from 8-10 p.m. on SPEED TV.