PONTOON BEACH, ILL. – Zack VanderBeek passed Jason Hughes on lap 21 Friday night, then held off Dereck Ramirez over the final 14 laps in winning the USMTS Casey’s General Stores National Tour main event in the Inaugural Event presented by Budweiser at Kevin and Tammy Gundaker’s historic Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill.
From the outside of the front row, Hughes followed polesitter Kelly Shryock for the first circuit before capturing the lead the second time around. Two laps later, Dereck Ramirez grabbed the top spot and held it until lap 12 when Hughes again powered to the point.
Looking to garner his sixth Hughes USMTS Casey’s General Stores National Tour victory of the season, Hughes paced the next eight laps before seventh-starting VanderBeek slipped past to lead lap 21.
From there, VanderBeek held a four-car-length advantage over Ramirez to the finish of the 35-lapper while Hughes failed to finish the Sunoco “A” Main due to mechanical troubles.
For VanderBeek, the win was worth $2,000 and was his second triumph in eight days.
Shryock hung on to the third spot, followed by Michael Long, who got as high as third before settling for a fourth-place finish ahead of Rodney Sanders.
Long, however, pocketed the PBM Performance Products Hard Charger after passing 13 competitors from his 17th starting position.
Jon Tesch, 22nd-starting Terry Phillips, Marty Smith Jr., Steve Lach and Dustin Boney rounded out the top-10.
Hughes now holds a slim 11-point lead in the Bear Tire Mo-Kan Region points over Shryock (717 to 706), while Sanders is third with 700. Fourth is VanderBeek (687), with Johnny Bone Jr. (684), Boney (659), Ramirez (635), Bryan Rowland (604), Scott Green (590) and Tesch (563) sitting sixth through tenth, respectively.