HUMBOLDT, Kan. — Jason Hughes isn’t ready to give up his stranglehold on Humboldt Speedway’s victory lane quite yet.
On Saturday night, the defending national champion of the USMTS Casey’s Cup powered by S&S Fishing & Rental and reigning King of America went 42 laps as the leader from start to finish to capture his series-best 13th career feature win at the Humboldt, Kan., bullring and second of the 2016 campaign.
The opening race in the MSD Central Region presented by Day Motor Sports was extended from 40 to 42 laps in honor Grant Junghans, who competed with the USMTS for the past nine years driving the familiar black, white and red Shop Quik No. 2 machine. At 27 years of age, Junghans lost his six-year battle with cancer at his home last Saturday.
Saturday’s main event started with the traditional four-wide parade lap, but this time the fans witnessed two parade laps and the lead position was left open in remembrance Junghans-one of the series’ all-time favorite personalities.
Hughes, who claimed his first win at ‘The Hummer’ almost 15 years ago, led every lap from the pole position as he fended off a furious mid-race onslaught from his fellow two-time series champ, Ryan Gustin.
It was his third straight win at Humboldt.
For his 135th career United States Modified Touring Series triumph, the Watts, Okla., veteran increased his earnings by another $3,000 and now leads the points in both regions with contested events this season.
Gustin, who has four USMTS wins under his belt this year, settled for the runner-up position while Zack VanderBeek continued his strong start to the 2016 campaign with a third-place finish.
VanderBeek held off an impressive run by Hunter Marriott, who earned $1,000 for finishing fourth in his first USMTS start since 2012, and Daniel Hilsabeck finished fifth in his first go of the year.
Todd Shute, Rodney Sanders, Jason Thoennes, Terry Phillips and Mitch Keeter rounded out the top 10.
On Sunday, the USMTS road warriors roll into Winston, Mo., for the 8th Annual Missouri Meltdown at the I-35 Speedway.
Gates open at 4 p.m. with hot laps at 6 and racing at 6:30. Spectator tickets are $20, kids ages 6-12 are $8 and children ages 5 and under are free. Pit passes are $35.
Also on tap is the Iron Man Challenge featuring Holley USRA Stock Cars and Out-Pace USRA B-Mods.
Sunday’s USMTS main event winner takes home $3,000. Holley USRA Stock Cars will race for a $750 top prize and Out-Pace USRA B-Mods grapple for a $600 winner’s share of the prize money.
The I-35 Speedway is a semi-banked 3/8-mile dirt oval located 10 miles north of Cameron on SR 6 (Exit 64). For more information, call 660-749-5317 or check out their website at www.i-35speedway.net.
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.
CASEY’S GENERAL STORES “A” MAIN (42 laps):
1. (1) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla., Hughes/Mullins, 42, $3000.
2. (4) 19R Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa, Hughes/Mullins, 42, $1700.
3. (2) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa, LG2/Sput’s, 42, $1200.
4. (8) 62 Hunter Marriott (R), Brookfield, Mo., Rage/KSE, 42, $1000
5. (3) 22D Daniel Hilsabeck, Adel, Iowa, Hilsabeck/Mullins, 42, $900.
6. (6) 5 Todd Shute (R), Des Moines, Iowa, Victory/GMPP, 42, $800.
7. (10) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas, MBCustom/Geddes, 42, $700.
8. (18) 52 Jason Thoennes, Garfield, Minn., MasterSbilt/Mullins, 42, $650.
9. (13) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo., GRT/Durham, 42, $600.
10. (7) 52 Mitch Keeter, Joplin, Mo., Hoffman/Yeoman, 42, $450.
11. (16) 97 Cade Dillard, Robeline, La., MBCustom/ASI, 42, $500.
12. (14) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla., MBCustom/Wornhor, 42, $450.
13. (17) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla., LG2/Cornett, 42, $350.
14. (21) 37 Mike Jergens (R), Plover, Iowa, Harris/GMPP, 42, $400.
15. (19) 99 Jesse Sobbing, Malvern, Iowa, Harris/GMPP, 42, $375.
16. (22) 9 Kent Arment, Aberdeen, S.D., MasterSbilt/Mullins, 42, $275.
17. (12) 49jr Jake Timm, Winona, Minn., LG2/BuckBuilt, 42, $325.
18. (11) 17 Jeremy Chambers, Parsons, Kan., Custom/Sput’s, 42, $250.
19. (20) 9D8 Paden Phillips, Chanute, Kan., BillsBuilt/Stewart, 30, $250.
20. (23) 6 Brock Bauman (R), Eureka, Ill., GRT/Mullins, 29, $300.
21. (5) 4A Josh Lanterman, Derby, Kan., BillsBuilt/KBS, 24, $250.
22. (9) 87 Darron Fuqua, Mayetta, Kan., Venom/Driskell, 24, $300.
23. (15) 75 Tad Davis (R), Mount Hope, Kan., GRT/Mullins, 15, $300.
24. (24) 2 Casey Arneson, Fargo, N.D., GRT/Durham, 10, $300.
-USMTS Press Release. Photo credit: Tyler Rinken