MEMPHIS, Mo. –Hustling around the hairy high side for 40 laps, Ricky Thornton Jr. nabbed his first main event win during the USMTS Hunt for the Casey’s Cup powered by S&S Fishing & Rental Thursday night before a packed house at the Pepsi Scotland County Speedway in Memphis, Mo.
While it was Thornton’s sixth United States Modified Touring Series of the season, it was the first of the season behind the wheel of his favorite Larry Shaw Race Cars chassis and first since his initial USMTS victory in last year’s “Deuces Wild” prelude to the Grant Junghans Memorial.
Just moments after winning the 20-lap Out-Pace USRA B-Mod feature, Thornton led the 24-car USMTS field to the green flag after securing the pole position.
The 26-year-old Chandler, Ariz., native quickly made his way to the highest line on the 4/10-mile dirt oval with fellow front-row starter Jason Hughes in tow.
While Hughes got underneath Thornton on several occasions as they sliced and diced their way through heavy lapped traffic, Thornton never wavered and posted a wire-to-wire victory in his Oreo Double Stuf machine to pocket the $3,000 top prize plus an additional $1,500 as part of the Rancho Milagro Bonus Bucks program.
Hughes, meanwhile, narrowed the gap between himself and points leader Stormy Scott with a runner-up finish as he seeks his third straight USMTS title and fourth overall.
Cade Dillard, who came up just three points shy of denying Hughes the crown last year, tried to deny Thornton the win on an early-race restart but could not make the pass and eventually settled for third place money.
In just his second USMTS start, Cayden Carter registered an impressive fourth-place finish after starting 11th on the grid, holding off a late charge from Scott who finished fifth.
Ryan Gustin bested Zack VanderBeek for sixth after a race-long back-and-forth battle, Travis Saurer was eighth, Rodney Sanders was the ninth car to cross the finish line and the final driver still on the lead lap at the end while Dereck Ramirez rounded out the top 10.
Earlier in the night, Grant Junghans Rookie of the Year points leader R.C. Whitwell got the short end of the stick when a handful of drivers were fighting for the same piece of real estate during Edelbrock Heat Race #3.
The resulting melee forced Whitwell’s race car to veer right as the group entered turn three, tipping over and then barrel-rolling several times before coming to a stop outside of the corner.
Whitwell was uninjured in the incident, got out his backup car and raced from 21st to 12th in the main event to earn the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Award.
Celebrating the life of one of the most popular USMTS racers of all time, the 2nd Annual Grant Junghans Memorial will take place Friday night at the Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.
The racing world lost one of its finest ambassadors in March 2016, and the Grant Junghans Memorial race is an opportunity for his fans, family and friends to remember the good times and racing memories shared in his 27 years with us.
The one-day event will once again pay $10,002 to the winner of the main event, with no less than $1,002 to each of the feature race starters. Out-Pace USRA B-Mods will be racing for $2,222 to win and $222 to start their “A” Main.
Lucas Schott of Chatfield, Minn., topped the inaugural event last year, besting nearly 100 of the most prolific field of dirt modified drivers ever assembled.
Sponsors stepping up to make this race possible include Shop Quik Stores, ARMI Contractors, Rick Beebe Heating & Air Conditioning, Ramirez Motorsports, Rancho Milagro Racing, River’s Edge Scrap Management, Kenny’s Tile, Seeburg Muffler, Malvern Bank, RHRSwag.com, Shell Oil, Boubin Tire & Automotive/Real Racing Wheels, Town Oilfield Service, 33z Racing/VanderBuilt Race Cars, A&A Electric & Underground, MB Customs Race Cars, “Gator” & Lana Calhoun and Fast Shafts. An unbelievable fireworks show presented by Kenny’s Tile will also be a part of the night.
Pits open at 2 p.m., spectator gates open at 5, hot laps start at 7 and racing begins at 7:30. General admission seating is $20 for adults, $15 for kids ages 11-15. Children ages 10 and under get in for free. Pit passes are $35. A limited number of suite and terrace tickets are available by calling the Lakeside Speedway office at (913) 299-9206.
Coupons good for $2 off adult admission available at Casey’s General Stores locations in Basehor, Kansas City, Lenexa and Overland Park, plus Belton, Blue Springs, De Soto, Grain Valley, Independence, Kansas City, Kearney, Lees Summit, Shawnee and Smithville in Missouri. To find the location nearest you, visit www.caseys.com.
Terry Phillips has four career USMTS victories here while Rodney Sanders and Jeremy Payne have each won three. Ryan Gustin, Nic Bidinger, Matt Dotson, Jesse Sobbing, Ricky Thornton Jr., Aaron Marrant and Schott each have one win here.
For fans unable to be there in person, RacinDirt.com will carry every lap live at www.racindirt.com.
The Lakeside Speedway is located 1.0 mile west of I-435 (exit 18) on SR 5 (northwest of Kansas City). For more information, call (913) 299-9206 or visit lakesidespeedway.net.
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 and Instagram at www.instagram.com/usmts or subscribe to our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/usmtstv. Keep up to speed with everything USMTS by joining our email list at www.usmts.com/subscribe.