by Jeff Nun, USMTS.com

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.

OFFICIAL RESULTS
United States Modified Touring Series
USMTS Hunt for the Casey’s Cup powered by S&S Fishing & Rental
Pepsi Scotland County Speedway, Memphis, Mo.
Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017

Showing finishing position, starting position in parentheses, car number, driver, hometown, and money won.

SIMPSON PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS HEAT RACE #1 (8 laps): 1. (1) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, OK; 2. (3) 20rt Ricky Thornton Jr., Chandler, AR; 3. (4) 10c Cayden Carter, Oskaloosa, IA; 4. (5) 21t Lance Town, Wellsville, KS; 5. (6) 23 Adam Kates (R), Tonganoxie, KS; 6. (2) 33f Jardin Fuller (R), Memphis; 7. (7) 81 Mike Densberger, Lincoln, NE; 8. (8) 18z Zane DeVilbiss (R), Farmington, NM; 9. (9) 19j Levi Smith, Donnellson, IA.

FAST SHAFTS HEAT RACE #2 (8 laps): 1. (2) 97 Cade Dillard, Robeline, LA; 2. (3) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, OK; 3. (5) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, TX; 4. (6) 49jr Jake Timm, Winona, MN; 5. (7) 18L Michael Long, Fowler, IL; 6. (4) 53 Ronnie Woods, Mexico; 7. (9) 9 Charles Baker, La Belle; 8. (8) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, OK;
9. (1) 18 Austin Howes, Memphis.

EDELBROCK HEAT RACE #3 (8 laps): 1. (5) 07 Cory Crapser, Chippewa Falls, WI; 2. (3) 1s Travis Saurer (R), Elizabeth, MM; 3. (6) 1m Curt Myers, Cameron, WI; 4. (1) 5 Robbie Reed, Mexico; 5. (4) 2t Jake O’Neil (R), Tucson, AZ; 6. (8) 71w Jeff Waterman, Quincy, IL; 7. (2) 96 R.C. Whitwell (R), Tucson, AZ; 8. (7) 110 Jerad Fuller, Memphis; DNS – 10b Kelly Buckallew, Memphis.

THE JOIE OF SEATING HEAT RACE #4 (8 laps): 1. (2) 19r Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, IA; 2. (1) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, IA; 3. (4) 2s Stormy Scott, Las Cruces, NM; 4. (3) 99 Jesse Sobbing, Malvern, IA; 5. (7) 1st Austin Becerra, Carthage, IL; 6. (5) 9 Evan Hubert, Cross Timbers, MO; 7. (6) 8c Chris Clark (R), Jackson, WY; DNS – 88d Matt Dotson, Sturgeon.

REAL RACING WHEELS “B” MAIN #1 (top 5 advance): 1. (1) 49jr Jake Timm, Winona, MN; 2. (3) 18L Michael Long, Fowler, IL; 3. (4) 23 Adam Kates (R), Tonganoxie, KS; 4. (2) 5 Robbie Reed, Mexico; 5. (7) 96 R.C. Whitwell (R), Tucson, AZ; 6. (5) 53 Ronnie Woods, Mexico; 7. (8) 18z Zane DeVilbiss (R), Farmington, NM; 8. (9) 19J Levi Smith, Donnellson, IA; 9. (6) 9 Charles Baker, La Belle; DNS – 10B Kelly Buckallew, Memphis; DNS – 71w Jeff Waterman, Quincy, IL; DNS – 110 Jerad Fuller, Memphis.

REAL RACING WHEELS “B” MAIN #2 (top 5 advance): 1. (1) 21t Lance Town, Wellsville, KS; 2. (4) 2t Jake O’Neil (R), Tucson, AZ; 3. (2) 99 Jesse Sobbing, Malvern, IA; 4. (8) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, OK; 5. (3) 1st Austin Becerra, Carthage, IL; 6. (9) 18 Austin Howes, Memphis; 7. (6) 81 Mike Densberger, Lincoln, NE; 8. (7) 8c Chris Clark (R), Jackson, WY; 9. (5) 9 Evan Hubert, Cross Timbers, MO; DNS – 33f Jardin Fuller (R), Memphis; DNS – 88d Matt Dotson, Sturgeon.

CASEY’S GENERAL STORES “A” MAIN (40 laps): 1. (1) 20rt Ricky Thornton Jr., Chandler, AZ, $4500; 2. (2) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, OK, $1700; 3. (5) 97 Cade Dillard, Robeline, LA, $1200; 4. (11) 10c Cayden Carter, Oskaloosa, IA, $900; 5. (12) 2s Stormy Scott, Las Cruces, NM, $900; 6. (6) 19r Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, IA, $800; 7. (9) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, IA, $700; 8. (7) 1s Travis Saurer (R), Elizabeth, MN, $650; 9. (10) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, TX, $600; 10. (8) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, OK, $550.
11. (13) 49jr Jake Timm, Winona, MN, $500; 12. (21) 96 R.C. Whitwell (R), Tucson, AZ, $450; 13. (19) 5 Robbie Reed, Mexico, $350.; 14. (20) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, OK, $400; 15. (24) 81 Mike Densberger, Lincoln, NE, $375; 16. (16) 2t Jake O’Neil (R), Tucson, AZ, $350; 17. (22) 1st Austin Becerra, Carthage, IL, $250; 18. (23) 18z Zane DeVilbiss (R), Farmington, NM, $300; 19. (14) 21t Lance Town, Wellsville, KS, $300; 20. (4) 07 Cory Crapser, Chippewa Falls, WI, $300. 21. (3) 1M Curt Myers, Cameron, WI, $300; 22. (18) 99 Jesse Sobbing, Malvern, IA, $300; 23. (15) 18L Michael Long, Fowler, IL, $250; 24. (17) 23 Adam Kates (R), Tonganoxie, KS, $300.