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Gustin goes home with USMTS hardware at Heart O Texas Speedway
posted: May 09, 2011 10:35:57
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ELM MOTT, Texas -- After rain wiped out plans for the inaugural USMTS event at the Heart O’ Texas Speedway each of the last two seasons, the third time was the charm as Mother Nature delivered a picture-perfect day for racing Thursday.

Forty-three of the nation’s fastest and most furious Modified drivers descended on Gene Adamcik’s quarter-mile clay oval near Waco, Texas, and delivered an exciting night of racing for the throng of fans who had waited patiently for three years.

The event was first rained-out on May 3, 2009, and at that time Ryan Gustin was just 18 years old and had just won his first and only USMTS Casey’s General Stores National Tour powered by Swan Energy a few months earlier.

Gustin found his way back to victory lane again Thursday night, but this time for his sixth win of the season and 30th USMTS triumph in his young career.

After five heat races that clicked off without a single caution flag, Sean Jones was the AFCO Pole Award winner by earning the most passing points and then redrew the pole position for the start of the 40-lap WIX Filters “A” Main.

Jones jumped out to a four-car-length bulge in just one lap and paced the field of 26 starters through the first seven laps. Meanwhile, Rodney Sanders worked his way into second before Gustin grabbed the second spot away just before the race’s first caution.

On the restart, Jones again maintained the top spot with Gustin and Sanders giving chase, but after just one more lap Jones’ crate-powered machine veered off the track in turn 1 and came to a halt atop the embankment in turn 2, bringing out the second yellow flag.

With Jones dropping from first to last for the next restart, Gustin was in control but Sanders, 21, kept the 20-year-old Gustin within striking distance. The leaders encountered lapped traffic on lap 27 and Sanders closed in on Gustin.

With 10 laps to go, Gustin went to the high side while Sanders dove to the bottom as the two attempted to split the lapped car of Rory Jordan. As they exited turn 4, Gustin completed the pass but Jordan and Sanders made contact which sent Sanders head-on into an inside tire barrier.

The incident brought out the final caution of the race with Jimmy Ray, 13th-starting Jason Hughes and 19th-starting Johnny Scott sitting second, third and fourth behind Gustin for the restart.

Despite owning nine wins in the sixteen previous feature races so far this season, Hughes and Scott were unable to mount a challenge for the lead. However, Ray pressured Gustin in every turn for the remainder of the contest but had to settle for the runner-up paycheck at the finish line.

Hughes and Scott held on for third and fourth, respectively, while Shane Hebert climbed all the way to fifth after starting 25th and earned the Mesilla Valley Transportation Hard Charger Award.

Brad Doherty finished sixth, Jason Grimes grabbed the seventh spot, Keith Green was eighth, Jones rebounded to finish ninth and Heart O’ Texas Speedway track points leader Chase Jupe rounded out the top-10.

The win, worth $2,000, moved Gustin into the points lead in the Day Motor Sports Southwest Region after four completed events. Scott is second, followed by Hughes, Sanders, Kelly Shryock, Bobby Malchus, Hebert, Bryan Rowland, Ray and Dereck Ramirez.

Shryock struggled in the USMTS main event, but still took home a trophy as he drove Shannon “Slider” Young’s SLY1 to victory in the 20-lap HotMod feature race.