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Ricky Thornton Jr. wins USMTS race at Shady Oaks Speedway

by Jay Hallas | Posted on Friday, February 17th, 2017

Goliad, TX., – It’s a bittersweet weekend as the United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS) Road Warriors roll into town for one last weekend at Shady Oaks Speedway, with the Stacy family. This event could possibly mark the end of 31 years of racing at the 3/8 mile, semi-banked, clay track just outside of town. After this weekend the property, which is now owned by the neighbor, goes silent unless someone comes along to lease the facility.

It will be tough to top last weekend’s season opener in Paige, Texas at Cotton Bowl Speedway. Three nights, three different track surfaces, three different winners. Ryan Gustin picked up the first win of the season going flag to flag in Thursdays feature. Friday night, it was team mate Jason Hughes, who drove through the field for the win, after starting sixteenth. Chris Brown was Saturday night’s hero taking the lead in the final eight laps after going three wide with Hughes and Dereck Ramirez for the lead, then holding off Hughes for the victory.

Also in action all three nights are the Limited Modifieds, who also saw three different winners at the opener. (Johnny Torres, Lawrence Mikulencak, Gabe Tucker) On Friday and Saturday night the Pure Stocks will be included in the nights racing going after the $400 to win top prize.

Ricky Thornton Jr. USMTS winner. Photo by JM Hallas


Thornton Tallies First Win for New Team

Ricky Thornton jr.(Harcourt, Ia.) grabbed his first win in the Gressel Racing ride going flag to flag in the 31-lapper that saw caution fly on the final lap. Thornton got out front and was chased early by Stormy Scott. Last week’s winner, Ryan Gustin took up the challenge during the mid-point, but ceded to S. Scott late. Thornton had to deal with one last restart, but held off S. Scott for the victory for the $2000 payday.

As the 24-car field blasted into turn 1 it was Thornton beating Mickey Lassiter to the lead. At the line it was Thornton, S. Scott, Chris Brown, Lassiter and Gustin in the top five. The early portion of the race was dotted by numerous spins and debris cautions before finally getting to a long green flag run.

When things finally got sorted out it was Thornton, S. Scott, Gustin, Johnny Scott and Brown up front with Cade Dillard, Jason Hughes and Lassiter three wide for sixth. Gustin finally got by S. Scott at the 1/3 point as the top 8 finally got single file. At halfway it was Thornton easing away from Gustin, S. Scott, J. Scott and Brown.

With ten to go Thornton had built nearly a half straightaway advantage over Gustin, only to see it erased when Trevor Egbert stopped in turn 2 for a lap 23 yellow. On the restart S. Scott retook second and stuck the nose inside Thornton. Thornton held steady up top while Brown got third back from J. Scott and Hughes snagged sixth from Dillard.

Scott and Brown continued to swap fourth as did Hughes and Dillard for sixth. Corey Weir and Logan Robertson went around in turn 4 for a lap 25 yellow. Back to green Thornton and S. Scott got away with Brown now side by side with Gustin for third. S. Scott gave Thornton a quick look inside while Brown secured third from Gustin.

Just as Thornton was taking the white flag, Lassiter looped it in turn 3 to slow the action again. This set up a green, white, checker finish. Thornton again had S. Scott show the nose low, but was able to keep momentum up top going on the snag the win in the Gressel Racing, Henryetta Ford, Certified Inspection, Integra Shocks, Eibach Springs, CPD, Mullins powered, Hughes Chassis.

“I had a real good car tonight,” exclaimed Thornton. “It was the first night in this car and my first win for this team on our second weekend. I could go where I wanted to. I got a couple lucky yellows, then one at the end that I really didn’t want. The car was good, I can’t thank Ed Gressel, Roger and my wife enough. This thing was pretty good tonight.”

“I was a little worried on all those yellows. There was one time that Stormy (Scott) drove by me on the bottom. I thought maybe I need to move down. Luckily we got another yellow and I held my line and was able to seal the deal.”

“When I came up on that traffic I wasn’t sure how much of a lead I had. I was trying to get to them as quick as I could, but not run into to them when I got there. When I got to them I had to stay smart and not ruin my own race.”

“I knew Stormy was down there on that late restart. I heard them on the receiver. I figured as long as I kept my line and didn’t mess up the next few corners that I’d be good. It would take a bit to get my momentum going and I knew I would be good.

USMTS Modifieds

20rt Ricky Thornton, 2s Stormy Scott, 21 Chris Brown, 19r Ryan Gustin, 1st Johnny Scott, 1s Travis Saurer, 12 Jason Hughes, 4w Tyler Wolff, 97 Cade Dillard, 4r Dereck Ramirez, 33z Zack VanderBeek, 4v Billy Vogel, 91 Joe Duvall, 717 GW Egbert IV, 91w RC Whitwell, 78e Trevor Egbert, 23 Logan Robertson, 4m Bobby Malchus, 9 Kevin Rutherford, 78 Corey Weir, 34 Mickey Lassiter, 20 Rodney Sanders, 89c Steve Whiteaker jr., 12 Cody Leonard

USMTS Modified B-mains (Top 5 to A-main)

B-main 1; 4r Dereck Ramirez, 20 Rodney Sanders, 89c Steve Whiteaker jr., 23 Logan Robertson, 717 GW Egbert IV, a1 Phil Dixon, 29 Jamie Campbell, 137 Bill Pittaway, 91j Jeremy Davidson, 12L Cody Leonard

B-main 2; 33z Zack VanderBeek, 91 Joe Duvall, 1s Travis Saurer, 4m Bobby Malchus, 78e Trevor Egbert, 12, Adam Cates, 9 Kevin Rutherford, 141 Rob Sanderson, 71 Philip Houston

USMTS Modified heats (Top 12 in passing points to A-main)

Heat 1; 21 Chris Brown, 78 Corey Weir, 91 Joe Duvall, 4v Billy Vogel, 137 Bill Pittaway, 9 Kevin Rutherford, 23 Adam Cates, 91j Jeremy Davenport

Heat 2; 1st Johnny Scott, 34 Mickey Lassiter, 4w Tyler Wolff, 4r Dereck Ramirez, 12 Cody Leonard, 23 Logan Robertson, 29 Jamie Campbell, 141 Rob Sanderson

Heat 3; 2 Stormy Scott, 20rt Ricky Thornton, 12 Jason Hughes, 20 Rodney Sanders, 1s Travis Saurer, 717 GW Egbert IV, 89c Steve Whiteaker jr., a1 Phil Dixon

Heat 4; 97 Cade Dillard, 19r Ryan Gustin, 91w RC Whitwell, 33z Zack VanderBeek, 71 Philip Houston, 4m Bobby Malchus, 78e Trevor Egbert

Limited Modified winner Shane Hoefling going around the outside of Edward Oakes. Photo by JM Hallas


Hoefling Hustles High Side for Limited Modified Money

Meyersville’s Shane Hoefling used his track experience and found his groove up top to get by early leader, Edward Oakes late in the event. Hoefling hung around in the top five throughout the 20-lapper, then made a slight adjustment on his entry to hit his spot and make his move in the API Pipe & Supply, Wiley Leasing, Pro Tech Fuel Services, McDowell Refrigeration, Hook Oil Field, Rockin R Trucking, Leita Farms, Extreme Racing Engines powered, Hughes by 89 Motorsports Chassis.

As the 18-car Limited Modified pack took the green it was Oakes off turn 2 with the lead trailed by Marcus Mikulencak, Tanner Whitmire and Hoefling with Hunter Flanagan and JJ Jennings side by side for fifth. An early yellow waved for Jacob Burnett who stopped on the front stretch. Once back to green Hoefling, Flanagan and Whitmire were three wide for third, with Hoefling getting the position.

Jennings then got by Flanagan for fifth and Whitmire for fourth, followed by Broc Bowen. Hoefling began his challenge on M. Mikulencak. With the two side by side, Jennings closed in on both. Hoefling and Jennings both passed M. Mikulencak, but Oakes had already built a big lead. Coming to halfway it was Oakes, Hoefling, Jennings, Bowen and M. Mikulencak.

Last weekend’s winner, Johnny Torres saw his night end on lap 10 as he rolled to a stop in turn 4. On the restart Jennings got past Hoefling for second bringing Bowen along to third. Lawrence Mikulencak got alongside his son, Marcus, for fifth taking the spot. Hoefling, using the top was able to retake third from Bowen. Jennings had just taken a look low on Oakes for the lead when Tom Grothues had trouble in turn 4 to bring out a caution.

On the restart Hoefling and Jennings stayed wheel to wheel for second with Bowen and L. Mikulencak side by side. Hoefling finally got the spot on lap 14 while Bowen dispensed with L. Mikulencak and snagged third from Jennings. Hoefling kept it wound up around the high side and caught Oakes while Jennings got back by Bowen.

With three to go Hoefling was able to get alongside Oakes for the lead. Using the momentum up top Hoefling was able to get the nose out front on lap 18. Coming to the white flag Hoefling had a car length on Oakes who now had Jennings pressuring him. Jennings was able to grab the position, but it was Hoefling taking the checkers.

“I had to work real hard for that one,” said Hoefling. “I finally calmed down a little bit and went back to the same spot I go to every time that I’m here. Riding around the rail, right on top. I was entering too low the whole time. I had to move up about another four feet to get the car where it needed to be. I finally started hitting my mark at the end.”

“I knew I could catch them. I didn’t know that I’d have enough room to go around them. I knew it was time to make my move. They stayed on the bottom and let me go by.”

“Having a lot of laps on this track never hurts. I’ve been racing here for about 25 years on and off. I don’t think the USMTS guys here does anything but help the track. They slick it up and that’s the way I like it.”

Limited Modifieds

63 Shane Hoefling, 26g JJ Jennings, 99 Edward Oakes, 56 Broc Bowen, 87 Lawrence Mikulencak, 101 Tanner Whitmire, 03 Marcus Mikulencak, 58c Hunter Flanagan, 6 Vince Louden, 174 Mickey Helms, 10 Caleb Hudgeons, 04 Jacob Burnett, 47 James Myers, 90k Dustin Butcher, 25 Tyler Box, 66 Johnny Torres, 11t Tom Grothues, 77 Cody Beddoe—dns

Limited Modified heats

Heat 1; 63 Shane Hoefling, 90k Dustin Butcher, 26 JJ Jennings, 174 Mickey Helms, 99 Edward Oakes, 56 Broc Bowen, 6 Vince Louden, 10 Caleb Hudgeons, 25 Tyler Box

Heat 2; 03 Marcus Mikulencak, 66 Johnny Torres, 101 Tanner Whitmire, 58c Hunter Flanagan, 11t Tom Grothues, 47 James Myers, 04 Jacob Burnett, 77 Cody Beddoe, 87 Lawrence Mikulencak

Racing continues Friday night with pit gates opening at 3:00pm, spectator gates at 5:00pm. Hot laps begin at 7:15pm and racing starts at 7:30pm. For more info visit www.shadyoakspeedway. com or their Facebook page

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