Dereck Ramirez led all but the opening lap in picking up his fifth Summit USMTS National Championship fueled by Casey’s victory of the season on Saturday night at the Lucas Oil Speedway.
Ramirez, bouncing back from some tough luck the previous two nights of the USMTS swing, held off four-time series champ Jason Hughes and Terry Phillips in the 11th annual Slick Mist Show-Me Shootout presented by Foley Equipment.
“This means a lot. We’ve been working our butts off and figuring stuff out,” said Ramirez, who wound up 1.49 seconds in front of Hughes. “We’re getting better every day.”
Ramirez, from Woodward, Okla., took over the lead on lap 2 and held it from there in a race filled with six cautions and big movers from back in the pack. Ironically, he was driving a Hughes Racing Chassis and that lessened the sting of finishing second for Hughes.
“Congratulations to Dereck and all them guys. They’ve done a hell of a job this year,” Hughes said. “I’m proud to be a part of that. I don’t like second, but I’ll take it every time when we get one of my cars up there.”
Hughes, who fired off from the Sybesma Graphics Pole, led the opening lap before fellow front-row starter Ramirez traded positions with him on lap 2. Ramirez had opened a one-second lead when a four-car tangle in on lap 6 brought out a caution—a foretelling of several to come.
Ramirez and Hughes remained 1-2 after the restart and had distanced third-place Tanner Mullens by two seconds when a caution flew on lap 14. R.C. Whitwell already had worked his way from 18th to fourth by this point with Tyler Davis fifth and 13th-starting Phillips in sixth.
On the restart, seven cars were involved in an accident in turn 2 that brought a red flag out to clean up the blocked track. Once racing resumed, Ramirez opened a 1.4-second lead over Hughes when the race’s fifth caution on lap 25 again stacked the field.
Whitwell was running third, followed by Mullens and Phillips as action restarted with 15 circuits remaining. Phillips moved into third behind Ramirez and Hughes when another caution appeared with nine to go.
But that would be the final yellow, which was fine by Ramirez who admitted it was tough to stay patient through the many restarts as he cruised the high side of the 3/8-mile semi-banked clay oval.
“I was a little wore out,” Ramirez said. “I didn’t know where to be in (turns) three and four. It was a little rough up there and I figured I was gonna give it away trying to run up there. But I knew that was the fastest way around and I was just trying to keep it on the racetrack—and we got it done.”
Action remained caution-free from there with Ramirez gradually pulling away to prevail by 1.49 seconds. Hughes nipped Phillips for second with Whitwell fourth and Mullens fifth.
Ramirez claimed his 13th career USMTS victory. He finished second on Thursday at the 81 Speedway after losing the lead on the final lap. He had mechanical issues that knocked him from contention on Friday while running second at the Humboldt Speedway.
Hughes, of Watts, Okla., said he was no match for the winner as he fought with his car over the final few laps.
“I was so tight I was trying to make that thing turn in there sideways and make it wide,” Hughes said, noting his battle with Phillips near the finish.
Phillips continued his consistent and strong swing with a third straight third-place finish.
“I just didn’t get it done in the heat race tonight, so had to start so far back,” Phillips said. “We made a little charge and put on a show on for the crowd, I guess.”
Whitwell finished fourth with Mullens, winner of the June 3 USMTS event at Lucas Oil Speedway, in fifth.
USMTS points leader Rodney Sanders rallied for sixth after having to use a provisional and start the feature in 25th. Hunter Marriott, Fito Gallardo, Zack VanderBeek and Carlos Ahumada Jr. completed the top 10.
Including Ramirez, five of the top 10 finishers are past USMTS winners at Lucas Oil Speedway: Sanders (2019), Zack VanderBeek (2016) and Mullens (2020). Phillips remains the only two-time winner of the Show-Me Shootout (2012 and 2014).
We’ll be right back: The series is on hiatus for 264 hours but will return with a bang as another two-state tripleheader awaits the Summit USMTS National Championship fueled by Casey’s on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, August 20-22.
Action kicks off Thursday at the Dallas County Speedway in Urbana, Mo., for the second annual Wehrs Machine Bullring Bash. Next, the Lake Ozark Speedway in Eldon, Mo., hosts the 3rd Annual Battle at the Beach on Friday before the weekend wraps up with the eighth annual Salute To Our Veterans on Saturday at the Salina Highbanks Speedway in Pryor Creek, Okla.
Currently, the 2020 schedule for the Summit USMTS National Championship fueled by Casey’s is highlighted by 44 nights of racing at 27 unique dirt ovals for the 22nd season of competition for the world’s Best of the Best in dirt modified racing.
To connect with the USMTS check out USMTS.com, like us on Facebook, follow on Twitter, check us out on Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel. Keep up to speed by joining our email list.
-USMTS Press Release
-Photo credit: Greg Starek
1. (2) 4R Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla., Hughes/Cornett, 40.
2. (1) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla., Hughes/Mullins, 40.
3. (13) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo., GRT/Durham, 40.
4. (18) 96T R.C. Whitwell, Tucson, Ariz., Longhorn,/Mullins, 40.
5. (7) 02 Tanner Mullens (R), Wichita, Kan., Mullens/Mullens, 40.
6. (25) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas, MBCustoms/Hatfield, 40.
7. (21) 62 Hunter Marriott, Brookfield, Mo., Rage/KSE, 40.
8. (5) G17 Fito Gallardo, Las Cruces, N.M., GR2/ProPower, 40.
9. (14) 33Z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa, VanderBuilt/Stoen, 40.
10. (19) 65X Carlos Ahumada Jr., El Paso, Texas, GRT/BMS, 40.
11. (29) 23 Adam Kates, Tonganoxie, Kan., Jet/Speedway, 40.
12. (9) 9D8 Paden Phillips, Chanute, Kan., BillsBuilt/Crane, 40.
13. (22) 2G Brandon Givens (R), Wichita, Kan., Hughes/Mullins, 40.
14. (8) 52 Mitch Keeter, Webb City, Mo., GRT/Mullins, 40.
15. (28) 21R Rusty Skaggs (R), Arcadia, Kan., Xtreme/ChevPerf, 40.
16. (10) J17 Jake Gallardo, Las Cruces, N.M., GR2/ProPower, 38.
17. (15) 56 Tony Jackson Jr., Lebanon, Mo., Hughes/, 31.
18. (24) 27X Calvin Iverson (R), Eleva, Wis., MBCustoms/Tim’s, 18.
19. (3) 65 Tyler Davis (R), Haysville, Kan., Hughes/Mullins, 14.
20. (4) 9 Evan Hubert (R), Pittsburg, Mo., MBCustoms/Stoen, 14.
21. (26) 6 Casey Skyberg (R), Rapid City, S.D., Lethal/Mullins, 14.
22. (17) 4W Tyler Wolff, Fayetteville, Ark., MBCustoms/Hill, 13.
23. (11) 134 Robert Heydenreich (R), Bolivar, Mo., GRT/SCP, 13.
24. (12) 227 Chase Domer, Nevada, Mo., GRT/Schultz, 12.
25. (6) 91T Lance Town, Wellsville, Kan., MBCustoms/BMS, 6.
26. (20) G3 Brendon Gemmill (R), Wichita, Kan., VanderBuilt/Stoen, 6.
27. (16) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla., MBCustoms/BMS, 6.
28. (23) 292 Kyle Thompson, Joplin, Mo., Shaw/Yeoman, 6.
29. (27) 38C Jason Pursley, Hermitage, Mo., GRT/Midstate, 6.