THOMPSON – It’s a cliché in motorsports: To finish first you must first finish.
Phil Jacques proved the absolute definition of that cliché Wednesday at Thompson Speedway.
Jacques, of Dudley, Mass., led every circuit to win the 20-lap Limited Sportsman feature Wednesday at Thompson.
It was the first career victory for Jacques at Thompson, who was making his seventh career start in the division.
“This is the first time I’ve finished a race here,” Jacques said. “I’ve had a heck of a time. We’ve been battling one thing after another. Broken parts, rookie mistakes on my part. We finally got the monkey off our backs.”
Ryan Waterman of Danielson was second and Josh Wood of Palmer, Mass. third.
Jacques made his first start in the division with his team in July 2015. He made four starts last year and started the first two events this year before Wednesday.
“We’ve been working our tails off,” Jacques said. “It’s been an incredible journey. … To be able to do this, especially so quickly, it’s incredible. It’s humbling.”
Despite leading every lap, there was no cruise control to the finish for Jacques as Waterman closed in on him over the closing laps.
“I knew if I hit my marks he couldn’t get to me,” Jacquest said. “I’ve got more motor than him. He handles a little better than me, he was getting into the corner better, but I knew if I hit my marks I’d be good.”
Jacques said the anxiety was plenty as the laps ticked down closer to the checkered.
“In the heat race the exhaust fell off,” Jacques said. “As the laps were going on that was in the mind. There was a vibration that developed at the top end of the straightaway. The battery started dying. … With about two [laps] to go [the car] was missing really bad in the middle [of the corners]. I’m sure you could see Waterman would catch me right through the center [of the corners]. But once that thing came alive, that motor, that’s a ton of steam right there. That thing yanked him down the straightaway. That was my saving grace.”