There was no shortage of drama Friday night as the Chateau Raceway hosted Round 11 of the Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s Cup powered by S&S Fishing & Rental.
Jason Hughes, who came into the event ranked second in the standings, bested Stormy Scott in a race-long battle at the front while points leader Rodney Sanders suffered a big blow to his advantage when his night ended with his race car on its roof.
Seeking his first victory at the 1/3-mile clay oval in Lansing, Minn., Scott won the drag race with polesitter Daniel Hilsabeck to lead the first lap of the 40-lap main event.
Hughes ran third for the first eight laps before finally getting around Hilsabeck as they completed the ninth circuit, and then set his sights on the leader while Hilsabeck battled for position with Ryan Gustin.
Meanwhile, Sanders, who started tenth but slid back to 17th when he was forced over the turn 2 embankment on the opening lap, found his way back into the top-10 by lap 13.
Sanders passed Johnny Scott for ninth as they completed lap 17, but as they entered the first turn Scott’s machine shot up the track and collided with Sanders’s #20 mount.
The result was Sanders sailing over the turn-2 embankment for a second time, but this time his tires dug in and his race car rolled over to bring out the red flag.
Although he was not injured in the incident, the damage was enough to sideline the two-time defending USMTS National Champion, leaving him with a 23rd-place finish and just his second DNF (did not finish) of the 2015 campaign.
After the restart, Hughes drove around the outside of Stormy Scott to take the lead for the first time on lap 20. Moments later, the red flag waved again-this time for a roll-over by Jake Timm on the front-stretch in a melee which also saw Cade Dillard’s Snickers-sponsored ride battered.
The second half of the race was clean and green, with Hughes withstanding several challenges from Stormy Scott to score his third victory of ‘The Hunt’ and pocket the $3,000 winner’s share of the prize money.
“I could see (Stormy) down there, and then when we were coming up on the lapped cars and had to move around them, then I found that and thought it was a better line,” said Hughes following his 128th career USMTS triumph. “Kind of stayed with it there a little bit until it felt like it slowed down so moved down to the bottom and stayed hooked up on the top over in (turns) three and four, so I thought we had a pretty good line going.
After surviving a couple of wet, fast and rough racetracks the previous two nights, Hughes voiced his approval of the track on Friday.
“I’ve never really had much of a notebook here,” he said smiling. “The track was probably the best I’ve ever seen this place. We could race the top and the bottom so hats off to them guys, they done a good job.”
Gustin put two nights of struggles behind him with a solid third-place finish while Hilsabeck fended off hard-charging Jason Cummins for the fourth spot.
Zack VanderBeek, Keith Foss, Steve Wetzstein, Joe Duvall and Jesse Glenz completed the top 10.
In the Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s Cup powered by S&S Fishing & Rental, Sanders continues atop the standings but his advantage over Hughes is now just three points (1046 to 1043), while Jesse Sobbing is close behind with 984 markers. Stormy Scott is fourth with 977 points, followed by VanderBeek (893), Dereck Ramirez (886), Johnny Scott (808), Brent Larson (760), Dillard (741) and Hilsabeck (734).
Saturday night will find the ground-pounding USMTS goliaths back at the Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn., for the last time before the 17th Annual Featherlite Fall Jamboree on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 24-26.
The Holley Iron Man Series is back in action with the USRA B-Mods sharing the spotlight with Wissota Super Stocks, Midwest Mods and Street Stocks, plus Slingshots on the Button Buck Speedway.
The pits open at 2 p.m. and the spectator gates swing open at 4 p.m. Hot laps begin at 5:30 with the first green flag at 6 p.m.
Adults are $20 and kids ages 12 and under are $5. Pit passes are $30. Fans can get coupons good for $2 off adult general admission at Casey’s General Stores locations in Preston, Rochester, Stewartville and Lime Springs in Iowa.
Cory Crapser and his No. 07 Oreos/Sour Patch Kids machine will be greeting fans at 605 S. Main St. in Stewartville from 12-2 p.m. Listen to KWWK 96.5 FM to hear live broadcasts from Crapser’s appearance.
The Deer Creek Speedway is a 3/8-mile high-banked clay oval located 11.3 miles south of I-90 (exit 209) on US 63 (0.7 mile north of SR 16). For more info, call toll-free 877-327-7223 or (507) 346-2342 on race day or visit www.deercreekspeedway.com online.
The five-night swing wraps up on Sunday, Sept. 6, at the Cresco Speedway in Cresco, Iowa, with the Holley Iron Man Series featuring USRA Stock Cars and USRA B-Mods joining the USMTS Modifieds once again, plus USRA Hobby Stocks to round out the four-class card. Hot laps begin at 6 p.m. with racing to follow.
Tickets are $17 for adults 18 years old and up, $10 for youth ages 13-17 and admission is free for children 12 years of age and under. Pit passes are $30 per person. Fans can get coupons good for $2 off adult general admission at Casey’s General Stores locations in Cresco, Decorah, Lime Springs, Ossian, New Hampton and Waukon.
Cade Dillard and his No. 97 Snickers machine will be greeting fans at 601 2nd Ave. SW in Cresco from 12-2 p.m. Listen to KCZE 95.1 FM to hear live broadcasts from Dillard’s appearance.
The Cresco Speedway is located 2 blocks north of SR 9 on SW 7th. Race day info is available by calling (563) 547-3400 or at www.mhcfair.com.
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.