It took Zack VanderBeek nearly a year and a half to get back to victory lane, but once he found his way he seems content to stay there for a while.
After extinguishing a 175-race drought Friday night, the 29-year-old from New Sharon, Iowa, backed up the effort with his second triumph in as many nights as he captured the feature win Saturday night to close out the 7th Annual Lecolift Texas Winter Nationals presented by 4s Motorsports and the 2014 USMTS campaign.
Rain earlier in the program delayed the start of the feature. Bryan Rowland of Woodward, Okla., took control at the start of the 40-lap Allgayer, Inc., “A” Main and set a strong pace for the first quarter of the contest.
The pace wasn’t quick enough, however, as nine-time USMTS national champion Kelly Shryock motored from his ninth starting position to take the lead on lap 12. Shryock remained in control until VanderBeek reeled him in, taking charge on lap 30 and then pacing the remaining ten laps to take an eight-car-length victory.
Only a next-to-last lap pass by Clyde Dunn Jr. in Thursday night’s opener at the Royal Purple Raceway kept VanderBeek from mirroring Jeremy Payne’s feat of a complete weekend sweep last year. With his runner-up finish Thursday and back-to-back wins Friday and Saturday, VanderBeek’s weekend loot totaled $8,500.
Saturday’s win was the 23rd of his USMTS career, tying him with Al Hejna for seventh on the all-time list. It was his fifth win at the Baytown, Texas, oval — all of them coming during the season-ending Texas Winter Nationals.
Shryock and Rowland held on to finish second and third in Saturday night’s finale, while Ricky Thornton Jr. and Steve Whiteaker Jr. completed the top five. Dunn, Brent Larson, Chris Brown, Tracy Denby Jr. and Cody Smith were sixth through 10th, respectively.
Eighty-one days from now, a first-of-its-kind slate of super-shows is set to launch next year’s season for the United States Modified Touring Series with eleven nights of racing at four fantastic racing facilities in Texas and New Mexico for a combined $32,000 to win, all crammed into the shortest month on the calendar.
The party gets started with three days at the South Texas Speedway in Corpus Christi, Texas, Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 6-8. Action moves three hours northeast along the Gulf Coast the following weekend for three nights under the lights back at the Royal Purple Raceway and the 5th Annual USMTS Texas Spring Nationals.
From there, the traveling band of mud-slinging USMTS Modifieds trek to the other side of the Lone Star State for a two-day stint at the El Paso Speedway Park. Just up the road, the Southern New Mexico Speedway in Las Cruces, N.M., will host the final three nights of high-octane energy on the last two days of February and March 1.
Each of the three-day shows will by $2,000 to win Thursday, $3,000 to win Friday and $4,000 to win Saturday. The two-day clash in El Paso will pay $2,000 and $3,000 to win, respectively.
More information on these events will be announced in the coming days.
United States Modified Touring Series
7th Annual Lecolift Texas Winter Nationals
Royal Purple Raceway
Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. Jesse Manning, Brazoria, Texas; 2. Trevor Hunt, Kearney, Mo.; 3. Clyde Dunn Jr., Sunnyvale, Texas; 4. Tim Setzer, Archie, Mo.; 5. Sean Jones, Mansfield, Texas; 6. Shane Hebert, Lafayette, La.; 7. Cade Dillard, Robeline, La.; 8. John Webb, Pauls Valley, Okla.; 9. Glen Hibbard, Euless, Texas; 10. Paul Cates, Salina, Okla.; 11. Trevor Egbert, Salado, Texas.
Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. Kelly Shryock, Fertile; 2. Ricky Thornton Jr., Chandler, Ariz.; 3. Jeremy Payne, Springfield, Mo.; 4. Cody Smith, Kaufman, Texas; 5. Kip Hughes, Enid, Okla.; 6. Garrett Gregory, Tomball, Texas; 7. Chase Allen, Midlothian, Texas; 8. Terry Schultz, Sedalia, Mo.; 9. Stan Kraly, Crosby, Texas; 10. Danny Ducote, Humble, Texas; 11. Jeff Hoegh, New Caney, Texas.
Heat 3 (8 laps): 1. Chris Brown, Spring, Texas; 2. John O Whittington, Vidor, Texas; 3. Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.; 4. Tracy Denby Jr., Vidor, Texas; 5. Donovan Lodge, Moline, Ill.; 6. Corey Babbitt, Channelview, Texas; 7. Austin Theiss, Hockley, Texas; 8. Charlie Kruithof, Haughton, La.; 9. Jeff Allgayer, El Campo, Texas; 10. Sean Gaddis, Hallsville, Texas.
Heat 4 (8 laps): 1. Eddie Martin, Stilwell, Okla.; 2. Brent Larson, Lake Elmo, Minn.; 3. Bryan Rowland, Woodward, Okla.; 4. Adam Penn, Shreveport, La.; 5. Rick Beebe, Shawnee, Kan.; 6. Phil Dixon, Crosby, Texas; 7. Nick O’Neil, Vail, Ariz.; 8. Larry Clevenger, Greenwood, La.; 9. Chris Henigan, Marshall, Texas; 10. Bob Sammann, Winona, Minn.