ELM MOTT, Texas — Ryan Gustin rolled to his second win during USMTS Winter Speedweeks with an impressive wire-to-wire triumph Friday night during the second night of the 7th Annual Day Motor Sports Texas Spring Nationals at the Heart O’ Texas Speedway.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Gustin charged from 22nd on the starting grid to finish fourth in the main event, but Friday night his job was made a little easier with an outside front row slot for the 45-lap “A” Main, but Jason Hughes saw to it that his job wasn’t a walk in the park.
After claiming the Sybesma Graphics Pole Award and then redrawing the pole position, Philip Houston set the pace to start the feature race but Gustin was able to beat him into the first corner and lead the race’s first lap.
Dereck Ramirez jumped up to second quickly and challenged Gustin for the top spot throughout the first ten laps while Houston raced with Zack VanderBeek and Hughes in the top five.
Cautions on laps 16 and 20 slowed the pace twice, but Gustin was able to withstand the challenges from Ramirez, and then Hughes, for the race lead.
After taking second place away from Ramirez for good on lap 22, Hughes mounted several strong runs at Gustin but the defending USMTS national champ was never able to pass ‘The Reaper’ with or without the aid of lapped traffic.
With the win, Gustin became the first repeat winner during the first five events of USMTS Winter Speedweeks and the first repeat winner in six events at the 1/3-mile clay oval outside of Waco, Texas. It also netted a third win on the season for Hughes Racing Chassis and Mullins Race Engines.
Gustin’s 73 career USMTS win netted the 25-year-old from Marshalltown, Iowa, a cool $3,000.
VanderBeek, who captured the previous night’s winner’s trophy, got around Ramirez with six to go and held on to finish third while Cade Dillard came out of a Real Racing Wheels “B” Main to finish behind Ramirez in fifth.
Rounding out the top ten were Austin Arneson, Stormy Scott, Houston, Johnny Scott and Ben Kates, who earned the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Award after starting 21st.
Saturday’s finale will feature USMTS Modifieds going for $4,000 to win, with Limited Mods racing for $700 to win and I-Stocks $400 to win. Spectator admission is $20 for adults, kids ages 6-12 are $5 and 5 and under are free. Pit passes are $40.
Gates will open at 4:30 p.m. with the first green flag at 6:30.
For unfortunate fans unable to make one or more of these blockbuster events, every lap of every race at every event during USMTS Winter Speedweeks will be broadcast live on RacinDirt.com. Visit www.racindirt.com/livevideo for ordering information.
The Heart O’ Texas Speedway is a semi-banked 1/3-mile clay oval just off of I-35 at exit 343 (FM 308), then 0.6 mile north on east frontage road. For more information, call 254-829-2294 or check out www.heartotexspeedway.com online.
The third round of USMTS Winter Speedweeks happens at the Ark-La-Tex Speedway for the 5th Annual Cajun Clash on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 25-27, and then wraps up at the Southern Oklahoma Speedway in Ardmore, Okla., Thursday-Saturday, March 3-5.
To learn more about the United States Modified Touring Series, visit www.usmts.com online or call 515-832-7944. You can also like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/usmts, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/usmts and Instagram at www.instagram.com/usmts or subscribe to our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/usmtstv.
-USMTS Press Release & Photo