SPRING VALLEY, Minn. — Jason Hughes was the class of the field Wednesday as he conquered a fast and furious field of USMTS Modifieds to top opening night at the third annual World Modified Dirt Track Championship presented by Bauer Built Tire and Hanson Tire Service.
Race fans at the Deer Creek Speedway have become spoiled over the years, with two- and three-wide racing being the norm and, generally, demanded by the faithful.
What they got Wednesday was even more than usual as drivers jockeyed three-, four- and often five-wide on the three-eighths-mile high-banked clay oval in Spring Valley, Minn.
With everybody anxious to get to the front right away, the 35-lap feature race had a rocky start with three cautions coming out before a lap could be completed. The worst of them was a six-car melee on the front-stretch that put an end to the night for Bob Timm and Zack VanderBeek, and sent Jason Cummins to the rear of the field.
When the first lap was finally in the books, Jason Hughes was in command with polesitter Lucas Schott following close behind.
By the 10th lap, Hughes and Schott had broken away from the pack and engaged in a wild fight for the lead once they encountered lapped traffic. Hughes picked his way through the traffic quickly and expanded his advantage to half a straightaway over the 16-year-old by lap 20.
Meanwhile, Cummins had clawed his way back into the top 10 using a high line hugging the outside concrete wall.
Hughes, who turned in the quickest time during qualifying earlier, never gave Schott a chance to challenge and sailed the rest of the way to the checkered flag.
“Now we can just relax for a couple of nights and watch some racing,” Hughes said following his 115th career USMTS feature win. “The track suited us pretty good. I was just trying to keep it up there in the moisture.”
Schott followed Hughes across the stripe to finish second and punch his ticket to the big dance two nights from now.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Schott said. “I’m just happy to be in the show Saturday.”
A thrilling four-car battle for third came to the finish line with Cummins powering around the outside of Mike Sorensen for third while Steve Wetzstein bested Joey Jensen by a little more than a bumper’s-length for fifth.
Jason Hughes, Lucas Schott, Jason Cummins, Mike Sorensen, Steve Wetzstein, Joey Jensen, Brandon Jensen, Nate Wasmund, Johnny Scott, Dan Bohr, Keith Foss, Chris Brown, Chris Theodore, Jordan Grabouski, Jacob Gallardo, Kelly Shryock, Jake Hartung, Steve Whiteaker Jr., Chad Mahder, Corey Dripps, Ron Jones, Dan Fetters, Bob Gierke, Craig Thatcher, Zack VanderBeek, Brad Dierks, Bob Timm, Thomas Tillison Jr.