CANEY, Kan.– Caney Valley Speedway fans waited nearly three years for the United States Modified Touring Series to return to the quarter-mile bullring in Caney, Kan., and the Best of the Best did not disappoint with an edge-of-your-seat main event that produced a new first-time winner.
Tyler Wolff led the field to the green flag for the 40-lap feature and led the first two laps before relinquishing the lead to Mike Densberger. The pair raced side by side for the first seven laps while Wolff’s teammate, R.C. Whitwell waited to pounce.
Three cautions in the early stages of the race kept the drivers from settling into a rhythm, but the fourth caution at the end of lap seven proved to be a blessing for Whitwell.
Racing past Densberger on the restart, Whitwell found himself facing the wrong direction in the first corner. However, the yellow flag had already begun to wave for Logan Robertson’s flat tire farther back in the field.
It turned out to be the break of a lifetime as Whitwell resumed his second-place spot, and snuck past Densberger on the restart. Densberger fought back to lead the ninth lap, but Whitwell zipped into the lead the next time around and he would never give it up again.
Cade Dillard blasted into the second position on lap 15 and hunted down Whitwell, but the Tucson, Ariz., native never gave Dillard the opportunity he was looking for and drove on to score his career-first USMTS victory.
“This has been a dream of mine for most of my life,” Whitwell said during his winner’s circle interview with USMTS announcer Chris Stepan. “I’ve looked up to the guys who have raced this series over the years, and it feels great to get that first win.”
While the win was Whitwell’s first, it was also the first USMTS triumph for the Lobo Racing stable.
“A lot of different people have given me the opportunity to race with the USMTS over the years, and this year I’ve been fortunate to join forces with Brent and Tyler Wolff at Lobo Racing. They’re awesome to work with.”
Whitwell, who leads the Grant Junghans Rookie of the Year points battle, collected $3,000 for his efforts while Dillard settled for the runner-up position by a car length, but assumed the top ranking in the MSD USMTS Central Region presented by Summit Racing Equipment.
Zack VanderBeek bested Ryan Gustin for third after a back-and-forth battle that lasted most of the last 20 laps. Densberger kept Wolff at bay to secure his first top-five result.
Dereck Ramirez, Stormy Scott, Al Purkey and Joe Duvall completed the top ten.
On Wednesday, June 7, the series returns to the 81 Speedway in Park City, Kan., for the tenth race in ten seasons. While the USMTS drivers will be facing off with the best of the NCRA, joining the program will be the NCRA Mod Lites. Pit gates open at 4 p.m. and grandstands open at 5 with hot laps at 6:30 and racing at 7:30.
Adult grandstand tickets are $20 and all kids ages 11 and under get in free of charge. Pit passes are $30. Race fans can get $2-off discount coupons on race day at Casey’s General Stores locations in Andover, Augusta, Clearwater, Derby, El Dorado, Haysville, Hesston, Mulvane, Newton, Rose Hill, Valley Center and all four stores in Wichita. Visit www.caseys.com to find the location nearest you.
Jason Hughes picked up his only win at the 81 Speedway during the USMTS debut in 2008 while Jeremy Payne, Rodney Sanders and Ryan Gustin each have two victories at C. Ray Hall’s speed palace. Stormy Scott and Cade Dillard have also won here.
The 81 Speedway is located north of Wichita on I-135 to exit 16, then 0.7 mile west on 77th St. in Park City, Kan. For more information call (316) 755-1781 or visit www.race81speedway.com online.
Thursday, June 8, takes the tireless USMTS touring titans to the Salina Speedway for the first time in the 19-year history of the series. Following this three-night swing through the Sunflower State, Friday will be a day off before hitting the Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa, on Saturday, June 10, for the next-to-last event in the MSD Central Region.
That will leave the RHRSwag.com Northern Region slate of races kicking off on Sunday, June 11, at the Mason City Motor Speedway, followed by another day off on Monday before rolling into the Brown County Speedway in Aberdeen, S.D., on Tuesday, June 13.
The make-up race at the Ogilvie Raceway happens on Wednesday, June 14, and then it’s time to make tracks to the Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis., for the “Masters” which will feature the USMTS on Thursday night for $3,000 to win then qualifying on Friday night for the $50,000-to-win show on Saturday.
If a single driver could pick up all of the wins over this two-week stretch, that would be $74,000 in winnings.
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.