Jason Hughes notched his first win of the 2013 campaign Saturday night as the USMTS Casey’s Cup Series invaded the West Plains Motor Speedway.
Once this season the 2010 USMTS national champion has been on his way to victory when a mechanical failure sidelined him late in the race, and on another occasion he actually made it to victory lane — big trophy, flash bulbs, big winner’s check and all — but was disqualified when it was discovered that his team had forgotten to swap chips during an engine change earlier in the day.
Saturday night, however, the 38-year-old chassis builder from Watts, Okla., left nothing to chance and left West Plains, Mo., with the accolades and the $4,000 top prize.
Starting on the pole, Hughes got beat to the first corner by Jeremy Payne and followed him for the first nine laps before making his move.
Once out front, Hughes was flawless as he maneuvered around the legendary red clay oval and beat Payne to the finish line with two-tenths of a second to spare.
It was the 112th career USMTS win for Hughes and his first since Aug. 1, 2012. Only Kelly Shryock and his 178 victories top Hughes on the USMTS all-time win list. Shryock won the USMTS debut at West Plains last year.
While Hughes and Payne stayed up front the entire race, the third- and fourth-place finishers had to claw their way to the top.
Coming out of the “B” Mains, Rodney Sanders and Ryan Gustin started deep in the field but found a way to claim a pair of top-5 finishes. Sanders passed 10 cars en route to a third-place finish while Gustin passed 13 drivers to earn the Mesilla Valley Transportation Hard Charger Award and a fourth-place paycheck.
Shryock, who started 11th, finished in the fifth spot while Dallas Everett, Dereck Ramirez, Rick Beebe, Logan Martin and Austin Siebert completed the top 10.
With his runner-up finish, Payne remains the points leader in the Arbor Masters Central Region presented by Day Motor Sports while Hughes jumped into second. Stormy Scott is third, Johnny Scott fell to fourth and Shryock is fifth.
Four big USMTS Casey’s Cup Series events are on tap for Memorial Day Weekend to close the month of May. All four events will award points in the Farm Boy BBQ Sauce Northern Region presented by Day Motor Sports with a possible $17,000 to win during the 100-hour stretch.
The swing kicks off on Wednesday, May 22, at the I-35 Speedway in Mason City and then moves to the Fairmont (Minn.) Raceway on Thursday, May 23. On Friday, May 24, the mighty USMTS Modifieds will be circling the Chateau Raceway in Lansing, Minn., and the fourth and final night happens Saturday, May 25, at the Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn.
United States Modified Touring Series
USMTS Casey’s Cup Series – Arbor Masters Central Region
West Plains Motor Speedway
West Plains, Mo.
Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. Johnny Scott, Arroyo Hondo, N.M.; 2. Scott Crigler, Alton, Mo.; 3. Bill Frye, Greenbrier, Ark.; 4. Kelly Shryock, Fertile; 5. Stormy Scott, Las Cruces, N.M.; 6. Trevor Hunt, Kearney, Mo.; 7. Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla.; 8. Jeff Conner, Panora; 9. Brandon Ball, West Plains, Mo.
Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. Jeremy Payne, Springfield, Mo.; 2. Steve Picou, High Ridge, Mo.; 3. Logan Martin, West Plains, Mo.; 4. Austin Siebert, Grandview, Mo.; 5. Daniel Hilsabeck, Adel; 6. Masen Big Eagle, Manor, Sask., Canada.;7. Thomas Tillison Jr., Wellston, Okla.; 8. Mikey Bell, Quitman, Ark.; 9. Kyle Cotter, Mountain Home, Ark.