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Hughes Hundred
posted: May 02, 2011 10:21:20
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WEST SILOAM SPRINGS, Okla. -- A late-race caution and a little home field advantage helped defending USMTS National Champion Jason Hughes get to the winner’s circle Saturday night as the USMTS Casey’s General Stores National Tour powered by Swan Energy invaded the West Siloam Speedway.

With the 36-year-old’s race shop just a few miles down the road, it was a fitting location for Hughes to score his seventh win of the season and 100th career USMTS feature win in his backyard.

First-year track promoter Joey Ross welcomed the USMTS Modifieds back to the 3/8-mile high-banked red clay oval after a one-year hiatus, and provided the drivers and fans with a smooth racing surface that produced two- and three-wide racing throughout the field during the 40-lap main event.

From the outside of the front row, Brian Williams shot past polesitter Austin Siebert to take the lead in the WIX Filters “A” Main while Hughes and Ryan Gustin – who have a combined 11 feature wins coming into the contest – started side by side in the fourth row.

Williams paced the field for the first eight laps but relinquished the lead on lap nine to Rodney Sanders. From that point on, Sanders extended his lead as the front-runners encountered lapped traffic and built nearly a full straight-away advantage when the race’s first and only yellow flag waved with four laps to go.

With Hughes, Williams and Gustin now glued to his rear bumper, Sanders led the pack back to the green flag for the restart and maintained his position for the next two laps.

Hughes, kept the pressure on, however, and moved alongside Sanders to lead by a nose at the white flag. Sanders bobbled slightly in the first turn which allowed Hughes to race away with the top spot and secure his second victory in three nights.

The win was worth $2,000 to Hughes as he joined Kelly Shryock as the only two drivers to eclipse the century mark in career USMTS triumphs. While Shryock claims a series-best 165 victories, the nine-time USMTS National Champion has won just eight main events since the start of the 2009 season while Hughes has accumulated 32 wins in the same time period.

Hughes also swept both nights of action at the West Siloam Speedway in 2009 en route to capturing his second consecutive USMTS Southern Series crown that year.

Sanders, Williams, Gustin and Bobby Malchus completed the top-five finishers in Saturday’s nightcap, giving Hughes Racing Chassis a sweep of the first five spots.

Tommy Myer finished sixth after starting 16 on the 26-car grid and pocketed the Mesilla Valley Transportation Hard Charger Award bonus money.

Bryan Rowland, Jon Tesch, Zack VanderBeek and Dustin Boney finished seventh through tenth, respectively.