June 17, 2004

Jason Hughes Quenches Thirst For Victory With Win At USMTS Gatorade Race

Jason Hughes took the high road to victory June 17 at Bentz GM Country Scotland County Speedway as he took the checkered flag in the USMTS Gatorade 35.

By Chris Feeney

The Gatorade 35 started out more like the Heinz 3, as the first three laps took an eternity to complete do to a number of caution flags. But as the famous ketchup jingle goes, "Anticipation, is making me wait…" the second USMTS special of the year at Bentz GM Country Scotland County Speedway June 17, proved well worth the wait.

After the initial three laps narrowed the field from 24 cars down to 21 (including the loss of two of the top USMTS drivers, Johnny Bone, Jr. and Al Hejna) the racers put on one of their infamous action-packed shows.

Mark Noble and his #74 car had drawn the poll with SCS driver Tony Fraise in the two spot. Jason Krohn started in third with the 7K car. However Krohn didn't waste much time taking over the top spot. He got by Fraise and around Noble in turn four to pull into the lead. Ray Guss, Jr. moved his black Harris Motor #12 car up into third.

Early in the 35-lap marathon, Krohn built a solid cushion as Noble, Guss, Jr., and Fraise duked it out for the second spot. Guss, Jr. got too high coming out of the backstretch and Fraise took advantage of the error to slide by the 12 car as well as Noble to take over the two slot.

The leaders leveled out about 10 laps into the contest with Krohn holding a seven or eight car-length advantage over Fraise, who had a similar cushion on Noble in third.

The rest of the field started to shape up as Jim Lynch had the #77 car in fourth. George White, who brought his #10 car all the way from Texas, was trying to hold of Jason Hughes for the fifth spot. The battle didn't last long as the #10 car pulled up lame and headed to the infield.

Hughes, who had started on the fourth row, began taking the high road in turns three and four. The move worked as he road the line past Lynch into fourth.

Hughes wasn't the only hard-charger. Kelly Shryock has his #3 car coming hard as well. The USMTS points leader had started on the sixth row but as the race wore on the #3 car got stronger.

His sixth row starting partner, Tommy Myer (#65), also began to move up the pack as the duo grabbed hold of the sixth and seventh spots.

By the midway point, Fraise began to narrow the gap on Krohn as the leaders moved into lapped traffic. Hughes was right in tow with the Flyin' Iowan, as he had his #12 car in third and looking for more.

A yellow flag on lap 23 brought the leaders back to the rest of the field when Hank Delonjay and the #35 car went out on turn four.

Hughes took advantage of the restart to blow by Krohn into the lead.

One lap latter Zack Vanderbeek, who had moved the 33z up, spun in turn two as he was challenging for a top five spot.

The second restart in as many laps cost both Krohn and Fraise as Noble sped by the two cars on the underside to pull into second behind Hughes.

The yellow flew one more time as Lynch lost a tire and his hopes of a top five run with 27 laps completed.

The restart again changed the front of the field, this time as Krohn and Noble got together heading into turn one. Noble ended up in the infield with a flat tire and Krohn quickly fell off the pace before turning it in a few laps later. That left second place to Fraise.

One thing remained constant on all the restarts and that was Jason Hughes out in front of the rest of the field. He had the front spot all to himself as Fraise was forced to turn his attention to trying to hold off Shryock. With five laps to go the #3 car got by Fraise to grab second place.

Fraise held on for the third place finish. Guss, Jr. came back to get fourth place after falling back as far as 10th place. Myer rounded out the top five.

It look less than 10 laps for Vanderbeek to recover from his spin and jump all the way back up to sixth place from the back of the pack.

Dan Chapman (#1), Mike Hughes (#11) Bruce Hanford (#61) and Mark Burgtorf (#69M) rounded out the top 10.

A total of 41 modifieds showed up to try to qualify for the Gatorade 35. Noble edged out Fraise to win the first heat race. Krohn beat White in the second heat while Burgtorf held of Mike Hughes in the third preliminary. The #12 cars won the next two heats. Guss, Jr. took the fourth race while Jason Hughes won the final qualifier.

Leader Martin Bennett spun late in the first Midwest Motorsports B Main race leaving the checkered flag all to Shryock. Vanderbeek was the runner-up.

Twelve cars took to the track for the final Midwest Motorsports B-Feature. Johnny Bone, Jr., John Tesch and Bruce Hanford went three wide for several laps battling for the lead. Bone, Jr., eventually took the checkered followed by Tesch and the 21m car of Dean Mahlstedt.

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