WORTHINGTON, Minn. – Ever since Terry Philips nipped Dereck Ramirez by two one-thousandths of a second for the win on the first night of The Hunt three weeks ago, the racing in the United States Modified Touring Series has been nothing short of incredible.
Saturday night was more of the same.
After a riveting 39 laps of racing around the Nobles County Speedway, the winner’s paycheck at the ninth annual USMTS Summer Slam presented by Beyea Custom Headers came down to a pass for the lead on the 40th and final lap of the main event.
One of the hottest drivers in the sport during the month of August, Phillips took command at the start of the race and set the pace for ten laps but tagged the guardrail in turn two, allowing Jon Tesch to take over the top spot.
Tesch led the procession around the extreme high side of the quarter-mile clay oval for four circuits before he smacked the back-stretch wall and came to a stop at the top of turn three, ending his night and bringing out the race’s first caution.
That gave the lead back to Phillips with Jake O’Neil and Ryan Gustin trading punches for the runner-up spot behind the veteran racer.
O’Neil eventually gained a solid grip on second place, and let Phillips know on several occasions that he was not going away.
Battling heavy lapped traffic the final three laps, Phillips took the white flag with O’Neil on his rear bumper, and the scooted around the low side as O’Neil churned the dark cushion around the high side.
On their way out of turn two, O’Neil pulled alongside of Phillips and beat him in the race to turn three. That was all she wrote, as the Tucson, Ariz., native kept Phillips behind him for the last few hundred feet and collected his seventh career USMTS win.
The $3,000 triumph was also the fourth of the 2019 campaign and second of the weekend for the 27-year-old while Phillips had to settle for back-to-back runner-up finishes in this event.
Gustin held firm for third with Hunter Marriott and Dereck Ramirez completing the top five.
Jake O’Neil, Terry Phillips, Ryan Gustin, Hunter Marriott, Dereck Ramirez, Adam Kates, Don Gerritsen Jr., Kyle Brown, Travis Saurer, Daniel Hilsabeck, Duke Erickson, Jimmy Ray, Lance Mari, Rodney Sanders, Jon Tesch, Justin Remus.