O’Neil Wows Worthington Crowd with Last-Lap Pass

WORTHINGTON, Minn. – Ever since Terry Philips nipped Dereck Ramirez by two one-thousandths of a second for the win on the first night of ‘The Hunt’ three weeks ago, the racing in the USMTS has been nothing short of incredible.

Saturday night was more of the same.

After a riveting 39 laps of racing around the Nobles County Speedway, the winner’s paycheck at the 9th Annual USMTS Summer Slam presented by Beyea Custom Headers came down to a pass for the lead on the 40th and final lap of the main event.

One of the hottest drivers in the sport during the month of August, Phillips took command at the start of the race and set the pace for ten laps but tagged the guardrail in turn two, allowing Jon Tesch to take over the top spot.

Tesch led the procession around the extreme high side of the 1/4-mile clay oval for four circuits before he smacked the back-stretch wall and came to a stop at the top of turn three, ending his night and bringing out the race’s first caution.

That gave the lead back to Phillips with Jake O’Neil and Ryan Gustin trading punches for the runner-up spot behind the veteran racer.

O’Neil eventually gained a solid grip on second place, and let Phillips know on several occasions that he was not going away.

Battling heavy lapped traffic the final three laps, Phillips took the white flag with O’Neil on his rear bumper, and the scooted around the low side as O’Neil churned the dark cushion around the high side.

On their way out of turn two, O’Neil pulled alongside of Phillips and beat him in the race to turn three. That was all she wrote, as the Tucson, Ariz., native kept Phillips behind him for the last few hundred feet and collected his seventh career USMTS win.

The $3,000 triumph was also the fourth of the 2019 campaign and second of the weekend for the 27-year-old while Phillips had to settle for back-to-back runner-up finishes in this event.

Gustin held firm for third with Hunter Marriott and Dereck Ramirez completing the top five. Adam Kates, Don Gerritsen Jr., Kyle Brown, Travis Saurer and Daniel Hilsabeck were sixth through tenth, respectively.

Kates advanced eight positions overall for the night to earn the Eibach Spring Forward Award, and nine spots in the feature race to take home an extra one hundred bucks as the FK Rod Ends Hard Charger Award winner.

Sunday for Sandy: Another classic is expected when the Casino Speedway in Watertown, S.D., hosts the USMTS Hunt for the Casey’s Cup powered by Summit on Sunday, Aug. 25, to celebrate the life of Sandy Benson, the track’s “Chairman of the Board.”

Presented by Riddle’s Jewelry and Jurgens Printing, the Sandy Benson Memorial will carry a top prize of $4,000 for the USMTS road warriors. On top of that, Wissota Midwest Mods will grapple for a $2,000 top prize and Wissota Street Stocks are looking at $1,500 to win their main event.

Fans can expect to see USMTS legend Jon Tesch at his hometown track as he pilots a USMTS Modified out of the Ramirez Motorsports stable. The Wizard of Watertown’ will be shooting for his third career victory in the 11th running of the USMTS Summer Slam presented by Out-Pace Racing Products.

In addition to Tesch, Zack VanderBeek is also a two-time winner in Watertown. Tommy Myer took down the win in the first visit here in 2005 with Watertown’s Scott Ward getting his first and only USMTS victory here in 2007. Al Hejna and Kelly Shryock picked up wins here in 2009 and 2011, respectively, while Ryan Gustin (2017) and Johnny Scott (2018) are the most recent winners here.

The pit gate opens at 4 p.m. and grandstands open at 5. Hot laps begin at 6 and the green flag waves at 6:30. Admission is $20 for adults, kids ages 8-13 are $5 and children 7 and under get in for free with a paid adult. Pit passes are $35.

– USMTS Press Release


O’Neil Wows Worthington Crowd with Last-Lap Pass