CRESCO, Iowa – Jason Hughes scored his second straight victory in the Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s Cup Sunday night at the Cresco Speedway to set up a three-way showdown heading into the points finale on opening night at the Featherlite Fall Jamboree on Sept. 19.
The 39-year-old drew the pole for the 40-lap main event and, based on his recent performances, most would think it was over at that point. However, Jason Krohn sat to his right for the start of the race with two-time defending USMTS National Champion Ryan Gustin and Jeremy Payne filling the second row.
Hughes grabbed the lead when the green flag waved while Krohn settled into the second spot. Using the extreme high side of the 4/10-mile oval, Gustin got by Krohn one lap later and set his sights on Hughes.
A string of three back-to-back caution flags plagued the next lap, however, and kept the field close together.
Gustin challenged for the lead on lap 6 but Hughes took the line away and maintained the top spot as the two began to pull away from the pack.
Hughes and Gustin raced side by side on lap eight and Gustin took command at lap 9 with Krohn nearly a full straight-away back in third ahead of Johnny Scott and Rodney Sanders.
Gustin stretched his lead out to about six car-lengths over Hughes as they raced through heavy lapped traffic. With 17 laps down, Hughes charged back up behind Gustin and regained the lead as they completed the 19th lap while Sanders moved by Krohn for third after disposing of Scott two lap earlier.
With 29 laps complete, the yellow flag waved again and gave the pursuing Gustin, Sanders, Krohn and Scott some hope.
One final caution flag delayed the restart, and simply delayed the inevitable as Hughes nailed a perfect restart and drove away from the field to win by more than three seconds.
It was the fifth win for Hughes during ‘The Hunt’ and put another $5,000 winner’s share of the prize money in his wallet.
‘The Reaper’ held on for the runner-up finish ahead of Sanders, Scott and Krohn. Craig Thatcher, Kelly Shryock, Lucas Schott, Brandon Davis and Steve Whiteaker Jr. completed the top 10.