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“The Reaper” racks up 12th USMTS Casey’s General Stores National Tour triumph at Webster City
posted: Aug 19, 2010 10:32:35
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WEBSTER CITY, Iowa – Pay no attention to the lyrics put forth by Blue Öyster Cult. Drivers in the Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s General Stores National Championship presented by Bad Boy Mowers have good reason to fear “The Reaper” after Wednesday night’s performance.

After finishing third on Sunday at the Monett Speedway in Monett, Mo., Ryan Gustin came to the Hamilton County Speedway as the points leader and left with an even deadlier margin in the standings and increased his series-best win total to 12 this season (13 if you throw in a USMTS Castle Rock Recruiting Southern Series win four months ago).

Make no bones about it, the 19-year-old from Marshalltown showed the patience of a veteran in the 35-lap WIX Filters “A” Main. After starting 11th on the 24-car starting grid, he methodically worked his way to the front and eventually took the lead for good with seven laps to go after a spirited battle with Fertile’s Kelly Shryock.

Polesitter Mike Sorensen gained the advantage over Shryock at the drop of the green flag while fellow Rochester, Minn., racer Tim Donlinger got around Shryock and followed Sorensen to the stripe at the end of lap 1 on perhaps the smoothest racing surface served up for USMTS drivers this season.

With six laps in the books, Shryock found his comfort zone and battled his way past Donlinger for the second spot. At the same time, Gustin powered around the outside of Jason Krohn of Slayton, Minn., to claim the fourth position.

Three laps later, Shryock snagged the top spot away from Sorensen while Gustin moved by Donlinger for third, and then took second place away from Sorensen on lap 12.

During the next 15 laps, Shryock hugged the low line around the sweeping half-mile oval while Gustin went into the corners on the high side and tried to slingshot past Shryock with each orbit.

On lap 25, the two raced side by side down the back-stretch but Shryock was able to maintain the advantage at the flagstand. Two laps later, however, Gustin edged out the nine-time USMTS National Champion at the line and it appeared the fans in attendance were about to get a repeat of the opening race of The Hunt where Shryock and Gustin finished door to door at the Great American Dirt Track in Jetmore, Kan., last Thursday.

With four laps to go, Shryock dove to the inside of Gustin in turn 1 and slid up into the middle lane of the racing surface, making contact with the left rear of Gustin’s machine. It was nearly enough to take both drivers out of the race, but Shryock turned hard left to avoid a pile-up and, instead, went spinning alone to bring out the race’s fourth caution flag.

With Shryock tagging the rear of the field for the restart, opportunity knocked for Jason Hughes of Westville, Okla., who sat in second place after passing three cars during the previous four laps.

A fifth and final yellow flag waved on lap 32, but neither restart allowed Hughes to challenge the leader as “The Reaper” sailed away to collect the $3,000 winner’s share of the prize money.

Tommy Myer of Blooming Prairie, Minn., got around Zack VanderBeek of New Sharon on the final lap to take the third spot while Donlinger crossed beneath the checkered flags in fifth. Sixth through tenth were Jon Tesch, Nate Caruth, Sorensen, Johnny Scott and Bob Timm.

Shryock got around six cars over the last four laps to finish a disappointing 16th and increased the difficulty level in his quest to repeat as the USMTS National Champion