The Reaper prevails in post-pandemic USMTS Park City Sunflower State Showdown
By: Jeff Nun
PARK CITY, Kansas (June 4)--Race fans waited nearly two months to attend Thursday night's 9th Annual USMTS Park City Sunflower State Showdown at the 81 Speedway and they were rewarded with yet another barnburner from the Summit USMTS National Championship fueled by Casey's.
Postponed in April by government restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the event returned to the calendar when elected officials in Kansas eased restrictions in late May.
And with an assist from a pair of caution flags with seven laps to go, Ryan Gustin made his way into the winner's circle at the end of a USMTS feature for the 102nd time in his 12-year career.
Piloting a Hughes Racing Chassis out of the Ramirez Motorsports stable, Gustin followed up his third-place finish Wednesday at the Lucas Oil Speedway with some late-race heroics that extinguished Tanner Mullens' red hot run of three straight wins in five days.
Including last Saturday's USRA Modified season opener here, Mullens won Sunday at the Humboldt Speedway--home of the next stop for the series--prior to picking up his first USMTS win 24 hours ago in Wheatland, Missouri.
The 27-year-old from Wichita looked to be on his way to a fourth win in a row Thursday when the yellow flag waved with three laps remaining in the 40-lap main event.
Gustin, who passed Zack VanderBeek for second moments before the caution, elected to fire off from the inside for the double-file restart despite making his advances to the front using the top side of turns one and two.
Mullens got a strong jump when the green waved while Gustin slipped back to fourth and VanderBeek jumped back into the second spot, but it was all for not as the yellow light came on again before a lap could be completed.
Gustin chose the outside lane this time and stayed close to Mullens as the pair began pulling away from the pack after a couple of laps.
With three laps to go, Gustin nailed a strong run and overtook Mullens down the backstretch before slamming the door on him in turn three.
From that point, Gustin increased his margin and beat Mullens to the checkered flag for the $2,500 top prize.
"Everybody's just kind of running the bottom there and I figured 'Hell we'll give it a shot up there' and it stuck," Gustin said in victory lane. "To save a little momentum them guys on the outside we had to get back down in (turns) three and four.
"That yellow saved us there. Without that, Tanner would've won. We'll take 'em any way we can get 'em."
Despite enjoying arguably the best week of his racing career, Mullens was not satisfied with his runner-up finish.
"I screwed it all up down there in (turns) one and two and just stumbled a little bit," Mullens said. "I pushed the front end out and that was the end of that. I don't know. This sucks."
One night earlier, Mullens was on the other end of heartbreak when misfortune found Terry Phillips with just three laps to go. His failed engine allowed Mullens to go on for the win that night.
For Vanderbeek, a third-place showing was a welcome effort after posting a 12th-place result Wednesday night, but he too was left wondering what might have been.
"I think I showed Ryan you could carry a little momentum on the start there and just kind of get position on the guy on the bottom," VanderBeek said. "He knew what he had to do there. He was good. I wish I had went up to the top there like he did and make make the straightaway longer and diamond the corner because that's what got him the win."
In his second start of the season, Jake O'Neil finished fourth while three-time and defending USMTS national champ Rodney Sanders wound up fifth.
R.C. Whitwell came from 14th to get sixth, Dereck Ramirez raced from 12th to seventh, 19th-starting Cole Traugott finished eighth while seizing the FK Rod Ends Hard Charger Award, ninth went to Sybesma Graphics Pole Award winner Darron Fuqua and four-time series champ Jason Hughes completed the top ten.
Action moves to the Humboldt Speedway Friday with gates opening at 6 p.m. and racing at 8. USRA B-Mods, Factory Stocks, Midwest Mods and Sport Compacts round out the five-division card.
The Humboldt Speedway is a located 0.1 mile west of US 169 at the Humboldt Exit, then 0.5 mile south, then 0.9 mile east on Georgia Rd. For more information, call (620) 431-2470 or visit humboldtspeedway.com.
The series wraps up a four-night swing Saturday at the Tri-State Speedway in Pocola, Oklahoma.
Currently, the 2020 schedule for the Summit USMTS National Championship fueled by Casey's is highlighted by 43 nights of racing at 28 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
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United States Modified Touring Series
Summit USMTS National Championship fueled by Casey's
9th Annual USMTS Park City Sunflower State Showdown presented by Murphy Equipment
81 Speedway, Park City, Kansas
Thursday, June 4, 2020
Showing finishing position, starting position in parentheses, car number, driver and hometown. The top 12 in heat race passing points advance to the Casey's "A"Main.
SIMPSON PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS HEAT RACE #1 (8 laps):
1. (1) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas
2. (2) 65 Tyler Davis (R), Haysville, Kan.
3. (4) 22H Dustin Hodges, Centralia, Mo.
4. (3) 444 Brooks Strength (R), Raymond, Miss.
5. (7) 3J Jake Nightingale (R), Hutchinson, Kan.
6. (6) 96J Jaxon Saathoff (R), Beatrice, Neb.
7. (8) 7 Shayne Bailey (R), Lathrop, Mo.
8. (5) 9 Kevin Rutherford, Flower Mound, Texas
FAST SHAFTS HEAT RACE #2 (8 laps):
1. (1) 33Z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa
2. (3) 4X Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa
3. (8) 21 Jacob Bleess, Chatfield, Minn.
4. (7) 55 Chris Kratzer (R), Wichita, Kan.
5. (6) 6 Casey Skyberg (R), Rapid City, S.D.
6. (2) 55D Michael Dotson, Lathrop, Mo.
7. (5) 38 Chris Purkey (R), Park City, Kan.
8. (4) 23 Adam Kates, Tonganoxie, Kan.
EDELBROCK HEAT RACE #3 (8 laps):
1. (2) 0 Jake O'Neil, Tucson, Ariz.
2. (1) 4R Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla.
3. (6) 19 Dustin Sorensen, Rochester, Minn.
4. (7) 96T R.C. Whitwell, Tucson, Ariz.
5. (3) 21C Cody Schniepp, Wichita, Kan.
6. (8) 51 Lucas Gibbs, Udall, Kan.
7. (5) 21B Bryce Schniepp, Wichita, Kan.
8. (4) 71 Patrick McManus (R), Derby, Kan.
MSD PERFORMANCE HEAT RACE #4 (8 laps):
1. (1) 02 Tanner Mullens (R), Wichita, Kan.
2. (3) 62 Hunter Marriott, Brookfield, Mo.
3. (2) 4W Tyler Wolff, Fayetteville, Ark.
4. (7) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
5. (6) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.
6. (8) 9 Cole Traugott (R), Woodward, Okla.
7. (4) 55H Nathan Hagar (R), Adair, Okla.
8. (5) 2G Brandon Givens (R), Perry, Okla.
VP RACING FUELS HEAT RACE #5 (8 laps):
1. (1) 27X Calvin Iverson (R), Eleva, Wis.
2. (5) 87 Darron Fuqua, Mayetta, Kan.
3. (4) 4R Jared Russell (R), Wagoner, Okla.
4. (3) 74 Rodney Schweizer (R), Kansas City, Kan.
5. (7) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla.
6. (8) 747 Colton Eck (R), Goddard, Kan.
7. (2) 7G Treyton Gann (R), Ponca City, Okla.
8. (6) 40 Jason Yager (R), El Dorado, Kan.
REAL RACING WHEELS "B"MAIN #1 (12 laps, top 5 advance):
1. (3) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
2. (4) 444 Brooks Strength (R), Raymond, Miss.
3. (2) 55 Chris Kratzer (R), Wichita, Kan.
4. (8) 9 Cole Traugott (R), Woodward, Okla.
5. (5) 3J Jake Nightingale (R), Hutchinson, Kan.
6. (1) 22H Dustin Hodges, Centralia, Mo.
7. (7) 21C Cody Schniepp, Wichita, Kan.
8. (6) 6 Casey Skyberg (R), Rapid City, S.D.
9. (10) 7 Shayne Bailey (R), Lathrop, Mo.
10. (14) 2G Brandon Givens (R), Perry, Okla.
11. (12) 7G Treyton Gann (R), Ponca City, Okla.
12. (11) 21B Bryce Schniepp, Wichita, Kan.
13. (9) 96J Jaxon Saathoff (R), Beatrice, Neb.
14. (13) 23 Adam Kates, Tonganoxie, Kan.
REAL RACING WHEELS "B"MAIN #2 (12 laps, top 5 advance):
1. (2) 96T R.C. Whitwell, Tucson, Ariz.
2. (6) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.
3. (1) 4R Jared Russell (R), Wagoner, Okla.
4. (5) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla.
5. (3) 4W Tyler Wolff, Fayetteville, Ark.
6. (4) 74 Rodney Schweizer, Kansas City, Kan.
7. (7) 51 Lucas Gibbs, Udall, Kan.
8. (12) 9 Kevin Rutherford, Flower Mound, Texas
9. (10) 38 Chris Purkey (R), Park City, Kan.
10. (13) 71 Patrick McManus (R), Derby, Kan.
11. (8) 747 Colton Eck (R), Goddard, Kan.
12. (9) 55D Michael Dotson, Lathrop, Mo.
13. (11) 55H Nathan Hagar (R), Adair, Okla.
14. (14) 40 Jason Yager (R), El Dorado, Kan.
CASEY'S "A"MAIN (40 laps):
1. (8) 4X Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa
2. (3) 02 Tanner Mullens (R), Wichita, Kan.
3. (7) 33Z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa
4. (5) 0 Jake O'Neil, Tucson, Ariz.
5. (2) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas
6. (14) 96T R.C. Whitwell, Tucson, Ariz.
7. (12) 4R Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla.
8. (19) 9 Cole Traugott (R), Woodward, Okla.
9. (1) 87 Darron Fuqua, Mayetta, Kan.
10. (16) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.
11. (9) 62 Hunter Marriott, Brookfield, Mo.
12. (6) 21 Jacob Bleess, Chatfield, Minn.
13. (13) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
14. (11) 65 Tyler Davis (R), Haysville, Kan.
15. (21) 3J Jake Nightingale (R), Hutchinson, Kan.
16. (4) 27X Calvin Iverson (R), Eleva, Wis.
17. (15) 444 Brooks Strength (R), Raymond, Miss.
18. (25) 6 Casey Skyberg (R), Rapid City, S.D.
19. (18) 4R Jared Russell (R), Wagoner, Okla.
20. (20) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla.
21. (22) 4W Tyler Wolff, Fayetteville, Ark.
22. (24) 23 Adam Kates, Tonganoxie, Kan.
23. (10) 19 Dustin Sorensen, Rochester, Minn.
24. (23) 9 Kevin Rutherford, Flower Mound, Texas
25. (17) 55 Chris Kratzer (R), Wichita, Kan.
26. (26) 55H Nathan Hagar (R), Adair, Okla.
(R) = Grant Junghans USMTS Rookie of the Year contender
Lap Leaders: Fuqua 1-3, Mullens 4-37, Gustin 38-40
Total Laps Led: Mullens 34, Fuqua 3, Gustin 3.
Margin of Victory: 0.866 second.
Time of Race: 22 minutes, 25.906 seconds (3 cautions).
Provisional Starters: Kates, Rutherford, Skyberg, Hagar.
Eibach Spring Forward Award: Traugott (advanced 17 positions).
FK Rod Ends Hard Charger: Traugott (started 19th finished 8th).
Next Race: Friday, June 5, Humboldt Speedway, Humboldt, Kansas.
Summit USMTS National Championship fueled by Casey's Points: Sanders 686, Ramirez 683, Hughes 641, Marriott 608, Iverson 589, Davis 585, VanderBeek 554, Skyberg 509, Bleess 458, Rutherford 444, Phillips 444.
Grant Junghans USMTS Rookie of the Year Points: Iverson 589, Davis 585, Skyberg 509, Hagar 431, Bailey 345.
Jobbers Warehouse Supply USMTS Manufacturers Championship Points: Hughes 71, MBCustoms 69, Rage 53, VanderBuilt 45, Lethal 37, GRT 37.
Compstar/JE Pistons USMTS Engine Builder of the Year Points: Cornett 57, Hatfield 52, Mullins 51, Stoen 44, KSE 43.
American Racer - Hagar.
Beyea Custom Headers - O'Neil.
BigDeal Car Care - Gustin.
Bryke Racing - Nightingale.
BSB Manufacturing - Wolff.
Champ Pans - Sanders.
Deatherage Opticians - Marriott.
Edelbrock - O'Neil.
Eibach - Traugott.
Fast Shafts - VanderBeek.
FK Rod Ends - Traugott.
Forty9 Designs - Davis, Russell.
Hooker Harness - Bleess.
Integra Racing Shocks & Springs - Skyberg.
Jerovetz Motorsports Racing Parts - Strength.
K1 RaceGear by Ryan Bowers Motorsports - Hodges.
Keyser Manufacturing - Hughes.
KSE Racing Products - Fuqua.
Maxima Racing Oils - Gustin.
Penske Racing Shocks - Phillips.
PEM Racing Gears & Drivetrain - Rutherford.
QA1 - Ramirez.
RacerWebsite.com - Eck.
Simpson Performance Products - Sanders.
Spyder High Performance Filters - Whitwell.
Summit Racing Equipment - Givens, Sorensen, VanderBeek.
Super Clean - Gustin.
Swift Springs - Gustin, Traugott.
Sybesma Graphics - Fuqua.
Tire Demon - Yager.
VP Racing Fuels - Gustin.
Wehrs Machine & Racing Products - Yager.
Wilwood Disc Brakes - Ramirez.
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USMTS OFFICIAL SPONSORS: American Racer Racing Tires, Casey's, Chevrolet Performance, Compstar Performance Engine Components by Callies, CP-Carrillo, Dirt Draft, Eibach, Fast Shafts, FK Rod Ends, Intercomp, Jerovetz Motorsports Racing Parts, K1 RaceGear by Ryan Bowers Motorsports, KS Engineering, KSE Racing Products, Malvern Bank, Mesilla Valley Transportation, MSD Performance, MTN DEW Zero Sugar, MyRacePass, Nitroquest Media, PEM Racing Gears & Drivetrain, RacinDirt.com, Snickers, Summit Racing Equipment, Super Clean, VP Racing Fuels, Wrisco Industries.
USMTS PARTICIPATING SPONSORS: Boubin Tire & Automotive, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Duvall Electric, Eagle Moon Farm, JE Pistons, Miller Welders, PBM Performance Products, Rancho Milagro Racing, Rivers Edge Scrap Management, Tony Moro Powder Coat, Top of the World Ranch, YouDirt.com.
USMTS CONTINGENCY SPONSORS: AFCO Racing Products, Allstar Performance, Beyea Headers, BigDeal Car Care, Brown & Miller Racing Solutions, Bryke Racing, BSB Manufacturing, Champ Pans, Deatherage Opticians, Edelbrock, Forty9 Designs, Genesis Racing Shocks, Hooker Harness, Integra Racing Shocks and Springs, Keyser Manufacturing, Maxima Racing Oils, Penske Racing Shocks, QA1, RacerWebsite.com, Real Racing Wheels, Simpson Performance Products, Swift Springs, Sybesma Graphics, Tire Demon, Wehrs Machine & Race Products, Wilwood Racing.