GREENWOOD, Neb. — For Jason Hughes, the end of this week’s four-night swing for the United States Modified Touring Series ended much better than it began as he claimed victory in the 40-lap main event Sunday night at the I-80 Speedway.
On Thursday, he was leading at the white flag but saw his chances vanish in the first turn when contact with another car sent him spinning into the infield.
After Sunday’s feature, the 2010 USMTS National Champion drove into the infield and back to his pit stall with his 117th career victory and $5,000 richer.
From the outside of the front row, Hughes snagged the lead from the start, but third-row starter Jason Krohn quickly shot to the front and wrestled the lead away from him on the third lap. Rodney Sanders then moved in to challenge Hughes for the second spot.
“We were just driving around there and Krohn kind of snuck under me and checked out,” Hughes said. “It gave me an opportunity to search around-I kind of had to search around. Rodney (Sanders) forced me out there a little bit and made me find a line.”
Krohn tried to put distance between himself and the pack, but two early-race cautions kept the field close. Hughes fought back after a lap-nine restart but was unable to regain the position. The two raced virtually side by side for the next eight laps before Hughes crossed beneath the flag stand with a bumper-sized advantage on lap 18.
“I got to rolling around out there pretty good and got on the outside of Krohn,” Hughes said. “He seen it and moved up in that line and I had to move back down. We had a heck of a race up there.”
At the halfway mark, Krohn inched back ahead to lead the 20th lap but Hughes came roaring back again to retake the top spot with 21 down. He never gave the lead up again.
Two late-race cautions did not deter Hughes, but made for some exciting battles behind the Watts, Okla., veteran.
After the final restart with 10 laps remaining, Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s Cup points leader Johnny Scott executed a couple of slide-jobs and follow-up cross-over moves with Rodney Sanders with Scott getting the upper hand and the runner-up paycheck at the finish.
“It was a really good points night for us,” Scott said. “I was a little worried when we got here because I didn’t draw very good and had a tough heat. We started 10th in the A Main and before we rolled out I was just telling myself ‘Go out there and get a top five finish so we can keep that points lead.’”
Coming into the event with a one-point cushion over twin brother Stormy Scott, he extended his advantage 18 after four events in the championship chase.
Sanders, who swept both nights or racing here last month during the Silver Dollar Nationals, fended off a hard-charging Zack VanderBeek to take home the third spot while Krohn held on for a top-five finish.
Jason Hughes, Johnny Scott, Rodney Sanders, Zack VanderBeek, Jason Krohn, Jeremy Payne, Stormy Scott, Kelly Shryock, Chris Brown, Trevor Hunt, Ryan Gustin, Steve Whiteaker Jr., Johnny Saathoff, Daniel Hilsabeck, Casey Penn, Masen Big Eagle, Ryan Peckham, Jesse Dennis, Lucas Schott, Jordan Grabouski, Joey Galloway, Jeff Conner, Dereck Ramirez, Terry Phillips, Tommy Myer.