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Gustin grabs fifth USMTS feature win at I-35 Speedway
posted: Apr 14, 2011 9:07:43

WINSTON, Mo. -- The USMTS Casey’s General Stores National Tour powered by Swan Energy made its first visit since 2003 to the I-35 Speedway in Winston, Mo., on Saturday for the Yancy’s Automotive Missouri Meltdown with 64 of the baddest, fastest open-wheel Modifieds on the planet in attendance.

The event started out in unfamiliar territory for Ryan Gustin, who was just 12 years old the last time the USMTS invaded the high-banked 1/3-mile oval. But the 20-year-old rising star from Marshalltown, Iowa, ended the night in a place that is becoming familiar to “The Reaper.”

Mark Dotson sat on the pole for the 40-lap main event and grabbed the lead at the drop of the green flag, and looked poised to capture his first USMTS victory as he paced the first half of the race.

Meanwhile, Gustin and defending USMTS National Champion Jason Hughes made their way to the front from the fourth and eighth starting positions, and began pressuring Dotson for the lead as the front-runners came upon heavy lapped traffic.

A skirmish between a group of cars on lap 21 happened just in front of the leaders, but Dotson and Hughes were able to sneak through untouched while Gustin came to a stop to avoid the mess and was able to return to the runner-up spot for the restart.

With a clear track in front of him, Gustin powered around Dotson on the restart and took away the top spot on lap 22, but Dotson battled back and pulled alongside Gustin as they completed the next lap.

Gustin was able to open up a four-car-length advantage the next time around while Dotson and Hughes tussled for second for the next 10 laps.

Back in lapped traffic, Gustin’s advantage remained at about six car-lengths while Hughes finally got underneath Dotson on lap 37 as the two raced below a pair of lapped cars. Dotson tried to muscle his way back around Hughes but the rear-end of his machine slid out and Dotson came spinning to a stop to bring out the race’s second caution and wipe out a great run.

On Friday night at the LA Raceway, Gustin led every lap of the feature race only to have Hughes steal away the lead and the win on the final lap. With just three laps to go Saturday, Gustin found himself having to fend off his chassis builder once again, along with fast-moving Johnny Scott, Tommy Myer, Tommy Weder Jr. and Kelly Shryock right behind them.

But after the restart, the outcome was never in doubt as Gustin sailed to victory with an eight-car-length victory over Hughes at the checkered flag.

The win was worth $2,000 and the fifth win of the season for Gustin as he notched his 29th career USMTS victory in front of a packed house. He also now leads the points in both the Schwab’s Tinker Shop Mo-Kan Region and Arnold Motor Supply Central States Region.

Scott held on for third and Myer crossed the finish line in fourth. However, Myer was disqualified during post-race technical inspection for use of an unapproved shock which moved Weder into the fourth spot and gave Shryock the fifth-place paycheck.

Johnny Bone Jr., Austin Siebert, Ryan Ruter, Dustin Boney and Terry Schultz rounded out the top-10 finishers.