As Jacob Wilson crossed the finish line at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds on Sunday, Sep., he headed into victory lane with a huge sigh of relief.
Often labeled as a pavement racer behind his pair of wins at the Payless Little 500 in Anderson, Indiana, Wilson shrugged a monkey off his back with a dirt track win the Ted Horn 100. His first career win in the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series in his 53rd career series start.
“I’ve been deemed an “pavement guy” for a long time now,” Wilson said. “This is mainly a nod of the cap to my success on the pavement, having won the biggest race 2x (Payless Little 500) and winning the Joe James/Pat O’Connor Classic at Salem Speedway. I’ve always enjoyed the dirt miles however and its nice to finally have greater success on them.”
Wilson had the car to beat at Du Quoin, and it paid off throughout the race.
“We had everything come together at once and the results showed it. The car was set-up perfectly, the engine performed great, and I managed the race well enough to have a car left at the end,” he said. “The car was so good that it seemed too easy.”
The win may have came easy at the time, but it was a longtime coming.
“This is the team and I’s first win,” Wilson said. “We’ve had several races in the bag over the years in which something would happen. Running out of fuel at Iowa when leading on lap 85/100. Breaking a shock at Phoenix on lap 89/100 while attempting to pass for the lead. It’s just a huge relief to finally get this monkey off my back.”
In a 100 mile race, Wilson said the margin for error is slim, and that it is easy to tell early on what kind of day it will be.
“A lot of nerves come with a 100 mile race when one little mistake can cost you an entire race. The first few laps help you settle in and figure out what shape your car will be in for the race,” he said about his run at Du Quoin. “I knew pretty quickly that we had a very good car and began making our way to the front. I took over second before the 30 mile mark and quickly tracked down the leader and captured the lead before the halfway point.”
At the center of it all was Wilson’s brother, Clint, as his crew chief, making the win that much sweeter.
“My brother Clint and I have a very special relationship that not many people have. We’ve raced together since I began in 1996 and a lot of our relationship is based on mutual respect through shared experiences,” Jacob added. “We’ve seen the worst of situations and have had great success. As we’ve gained more experience, and grown older, level heads prevail in most disagreements. I feel like this is common amongst most brothers. Racing these cars at the speeds we do in some very sticky situations, it’s very nice to have someone building the cars, maintaining them, and dialing them in that you can trust completely. Knowing Clint has had my back for 20+ years makes that easy to do and lifts a huge weight off my shoulders.”
Wilson is hoping the taste of success will help him down the road as he continues his season on dirt heading into the next dirt mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Springfield on Sep. 22.
“They say the first win is the toughest to achieve and they come easy after that,” he said. “Only time will tell but we are heading into the next dirt mile at Springfield Illinois State Fairgrounds September 22nd with a lot of momentum and a ton of confidence.”