HUMBOLDT, Kan.—Jason Hughes stalked Dereck Ramirez for 57 laps Saturday night at the Humboldt Speedway, finally pounced on an opportunity to take the lead on lap 58, and then paced the final 43 circuits to capture the victory in the King of America V Modified Nationals presented by Chix Gear Racewear.
In addition to his 2010 United States Modified Touring Series National Championship trophy, the 40-year-old from Watts, Okla., has won every USMTS major event at least once, but his 124th career USMTS triumph Saturday may be the sweetest of all.
“This is one of the crown jewels we have every year for the Modifieds,” Hughes said in victory lane. “You want to have your name on all of them, and this is one of them we was missing and sure liked to get.”
Hughes has won more USMTS races at ‘The Hummer’ than any other driver, but his tenth and most recent win prior to Saturday night came 13 races ago during the 2012 season.
And after spending most of last year on the road racing late models full time, his last USMTS victory of any kind was at the Salina (Okla.) Highbanks Speedway on Oct. 11, 2013.
“We had a pretty good race car tonight,” Hughes said. “We started the year off good and found a few problems with it, went down and did some testing last week and got her dialed in for this race.”
Ramirez, who started on the pole next to Hughes to start the 100-lapper, set a furious pace early on and pulled out to a big lead. But his advantage began to shrink after lap 12 when a swarm of lapped cars slowed his progress and allowed Hughes to narrow the gap.
Cautions on laps 22, 31, 42 and 51 kept the field close behind the back bumper of Ramirez, with Hughes searching throughout the first half of the race for a way to get by.
“I knew somebody was ducking underneath me and I could hear somebody up top,” Ramirez said. “So I just tried to keep my car wide but I was still sort of a sitting duck out there.”
While Hughes was maneuvering in Ramirez’s shadow, defending King of America winner Rodney Sanders was methodically working his way to the front of the pack and eventually got around Brandon Davis and Austin Arneson in back-to-back laps to take control of the third spot on lap 45.
Another yellow flag on lap 57 saw Hughes get his chance on the restart when Ramirez bobbled ever so slightly through a rough portion of turn 4. Hughes pulled alongside and edged Ramirez by a nose to take the lead for the first time on lap 58.
“Dereck’s a heck of a racer and he had a good car,” Hughes said, “I just kept working and trying to run him clean. I finally make a good line around the outside there and got the passing lane. It was a long, hard battle there.
“I felt pretty good about my line and if I could get by him I thought maybe I could drive away from him.”
Ramirez never let Hughes get too far away, keeping him within two or three car lengths until the race’s final caution came out with 19 laps to go.
On the restart, Sanders darted to the outside of Ramirez and shut the door as they exited turn 2.
Hughes found the back of the field with eight laps remaining and Sanders pulled up to the leader’s rear bumper as they managed the lapped traffic around them.
“I didn’t have a clue who it was,” Hughes admitted. “I seen a nose down there one time and just tried to make sure I didn’t anything silly with the lapped cars.”
Sanders had some daylight underneath Hughes and almost pulled even as they crossed beneath the flagstand with two laps to go, but Hughes pulled away in the next corner and was able to keep Sanders at bay for the final two trips around the 1/3-mile clay oval.
“I wasn’t going to do anything to move him out of the way. He races me clean all the time so I wasn’t going to do anything too crazy,” a smiling Sanders said. “I was trying to give it all I had, letting it slide all around there at the end because I thought it was close to being over.”
Hughes pocketed $10,000 for his efforts, along with an extra $500 from Kenny’s Tile and a brand new driveshaft from Fast Shafts.
Sanders, who won more than 30 feature races in between Hughes’s last two, settled for a $6,000 consolation prize while Ramirez continued his hot start to the 2015 campaign with a third-place finish.
Davis held on for fourth and Jeremy Payne slid past 11 cars en route to a fifth-place result. Arneson, Lucas Schott, Zack VanderBeek, Chris Brown and 2012 King of America winner Stormy Scott rounded out the top 10.
After suffering through a difficult week, VanderBeek raced his way out of the “C” Main and then used a last-lap, last-corner pass to earn the final transfer spot into the finale.
He made the most of his good fortune, roaring from 26th on the starting grid to eighth on the final score sheets.
A total of 82 cars and drivers were on hand for the three-day affair which will be broadcast to a national television audience this summer on MAVTV.
Up next for the tireless touring titans of the USMTS is a three-race swing to kick off the Double H Bands Southern Region presented by Day Motor Sports.
Thursday, April 9, will find the USMTS Casey’s Cup Series powered by S&S Fishing & Rental at the Superbowl Speedway in Greenville, Texas, and then on to the RPM Speedway in Crandall, Texas, on Friday, April 10. The tripleheader wraps up on Saturday, April 11, at the Longdale Speedway in Longdale, Okla.
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 or subscribe to our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/usmtstv.
-USMTS Press Release & Photo
United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS)
King of America V Modified Nationals presented by Chix Gear Racewear – Night 3 of 3
Humboldt Speedway, Humboldt, Kan.
Saturday, March 28, 2015
CHIX GEAR RACEWEAR “A” MAIN (100 laps):
1. (2) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla., 100, $10500.
2. (13) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas., 100, $6000.
3. (1) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla., 100, $4250.
4. (6) 50iii Brandon Davis, Medford, Minn., 100, $3400.
5. (16) 186 Jeremy Payne, Springfield, Mo., 100, $2700.
6. (3) 10 Austin Arneson, Fargo, N.D., 100, $2200.
7. (11) 69 Lucas Schott, Chatfield, Minn., 100, $2000.
8. (26) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa., 100, $1700.
9. (7) 21 Chris Brown, Spring, Texas., 100, $1500.
10. (17) 2s Stormy Scott, Las Cruces, N.M., 100, $1400.
11. (9) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo., 100, $1300.
12. (15) 97 Cade Dillard, Robeline, La., 100, $1250.
13. (21) 18 Tate Davenport, Vinton, Ky., 100, $1225.
14. (18) 3 Kelly Shryock, Fertile, Iowa., 100, $1200.
15. (10) 2c Dave Cain, Corcoran, Minn., 100, $1150.
16. (5) K6 Joe Adams, Enid, Okla., 100, $1125.
17. (12) 23 Justin Rexwinkle, South Coffeyville, Okla., 99, $1100.
18. (25) 21x Travis Saurer, Elizabeth, Minn., 99, $1090.
19. (4) 49jr Jake Timm, Winona, Minn., 80, $1080.
20. (27) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla., 78, $1070.
21. (19) 21J Josh Everhart, Burlingame, Kan., 63, $1060.
22. (8) 71 Philip Houston, Odessa, Texas., 57, $1050.
23. (28) J17 Jake Gallardo, Las Cruces, N.M., 57, $1040.
24. (22) 49 Bob Timm, Winona, Minn., 57, $1030.
25. (14) 30 Jordan Grabouski, Beatrice, Neb., 31, $1020.
26. (24) 85 Thomas Tillison Jr., Wellston, Okla., 22, $1000.
27. (23) 19R Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa., 21, $1000.
28. (20) 24 Brad Waits, Rochester, Minn., 11, $1000.