PARK CITY, Kan. — Ryan Gustin took the lead near the midway point and never looked back in claiming the inaugural Modified Spring Scramble that kicked off the National Championship Racing Ass’n modified season at 81 Speedway Saturday night.
Tanner Mullens started on the pole for the 50-lap championship feature and quickly took the lead from outside front row starter John Allen as the green flag fell.
Mullens kept the pace up front using the bottom of the three-eighths mile oval and led the first three laps before former three-time series champion Allen drove around the leader entering turns one and two on lap four.
Allen began to pull away from the field and by lap eight had opened an eight car length lead over Mullens as the early leader had his hands full with former two-time series late model champion Al Purkey for the runner up position.
Coming from this tenth starting position Gustin, aboard the Ed and Cinde Gressel owned, Mullens Racing Engines powered Hughes Racing chassis #19r, began pressuring Purkey for third on lap eleven and would take over that position just as Allen began working lapped traffic on lap fifteen. Just one lap later Gustin worked on Mullens for the runner up position and would take over second one lap later.
With Allen working slower traffic, Gustin took advantage and cut the leaders half stretch lead down to just five car lengths on lap eighteen. Gustin followed Allen for several laps before making his move down low coming down the front stretch on lap 22 to take the lead.
The mandatory red flag for fuel only on lap twenty-five allowed Allen to cling on the leaders rear bumper with Mullens, eighth starting Darron Fuqua, Johnny Bone, Jr. and Purkey all close behind but Gustin once again pulled away and quickly built a half stretch lead by lap 30.
Bone began to pressure Mullens for the third position on lap 32 and one lap later took over that spot and was setting his sights on Allen for second when Allen suddenly retired to the pit area with a broken air filter stud on lap 37.
Gustin was beginning to hit lapped traffic again on lap 40 but a spin by Josh Lanterman brought out the features only caution flag and gave the leader a clear track once racing action resumed.
On the final restart, Gustin pulled away from Bone and despite reaching lapped traffic with five laps to go, he received no challenge whatsoever to claim the $5,000 check. This, coupled with a $10,000 check last weekend in Humboldt, Kan., has earned the Iowa driver $15,000 in one week of racing action.
Bone settled for second while Purkey survived a ruckus with a couple of cars in the final laps to come home third. Former five-time division champion Brian Franz ended strong after a rough start to the weekend as he started eighteenth and worked his way up to a fourth-place finish while Fuqua rounded out the top five.
Robert Elliott earned $2,000 for winning the Sport Mod portion of the event.
Ryan Gustin, Johnny Bone Jr., Al Purkey, Brian Franz, Darron Fuqua, Dan Powers, Justin Rexwinkle, Marc Hurd, Darren Moses, Ken Sweet, Josh Lanterman, Tanner Mullens, Rick Beebe, Josh Everhart, Tyler Schmidt, Tyler Davis, Jon Thompson, A.J. Brochu, Brian Powers, John Allen, Jerry Rausmussen, Gene Weaver, Nic Bidinger, Joe Adams.