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Hughes smokes USMTS field at LA Raceway
posted: Aug 30, 2010 8:51:15
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LA MONTE, Mo. – It had been a close-but-no-cigar campaign so far for Jason Hughes in The Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s General Stores National Championship presented by Bad Boy Mowers, but Friday night at the LA Raceway the Westville, Okla., driver was smoking – literally.

Nate Caruth took the lead at the drop of the green flag in Friday night’s 40-lap WIX Filters “A” Main. In the first three laps, the 17-year-old built himself a five-car-length advantage over points leader Ryan Gustin, but Gustin chased down the leader and pulled alongside Caruth as they came to the flagstand to complete lap 5.

Debris on the front-stretch brought out the race’s first and only caution at that point. As the field slowed, Hughes’ machine began to belch smoke and it appeared his night might end prematurely.

On the restart, however, Hughes found a fast line around the top of the 3/8-mile oval and powered around both Gustin and Caruth to lead the sixth lap. Gustin followed into second a half-lap later.

Hughes expanded his lead over Gustin to about ten car-lengths during the next ten laps. Two things didn’t change over the final 30 laps: Hughes’ advantage over the field and the blue smoke pouring out of the rear of his Modified as he entered each turn.

After taking the checkered flag for his first win of ‘The Hunt,’ it was discovered that Hughes ran over the debris on lap 5 which punctured his oil pan. He finished the race $3,000 richer but with several quarts of oil missing from his powerplant.

Gustin finished second while Tommy Myer raced from 11 on the starting grid to third at the finish line. Corey Dripps was fourth and Zack VanderBeek wound up fifth. Sixth through tenth went to Jason Krohn, Dustin Boney, Jesse Stovall, Caruth and Tim Donlinger.

While Hughes won the battle, Gustin continues to win the war but saw his points lead dwindle to a single point over Hughes (886 to 885) after nine events. VanderBeek lurks in third with 834 markers, followed by Myer (806), Kelly Shryock (761), Krohn (749), Donlinger (689), Rodney Sanders (689), Dereck Ramirez (683) and Johnny Scott (634).