WHEATLAND, MO. – Dereck Ramirez led all but the opening lap in picking up his fifth United States Modified Touring Series victory of the season on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Speedway.
Ramirez, bouncing back from some tough luck the previous two nights of the USMTS swing, held off Jason Hughes and Terry Phillips in the 11th annual Slick Mist Show-Me Shootout Presented by Foley Equipment.
“This means a lot. We’ve been working our butts off and figuring stuff out,” said Ramirez, who wound up 1.49 seconds in front of Hughes. “We’re getting better every day.”
Ramirez took over the lead on lap two and held it from there in a race filled with six cautions and big movers from back in the pack. Ironically, he was driving a Hughes chassis and that lessened the sting of finishing second-best for Hughes.
“Congratulations to Dereck and all them guys. They’ve done a hell of a job this year,” Hughes said. “I’m proud to be a part of that. I don’t like second, but I’ll take it every time when we get one of my cars up there.”
Polesitter Hughes led the opening lap before fellow front-row starter Ramirez traded positions with him on lap two. Ramirez had opened a one-second lead when a four-car tangle in turn one, on lap six, brought out a caution – which was foretelling of several to come.
Ramirez and Hughes remained 1-2 after the restart and had distanced third-place Tanner Mullens by two seconds when a caution flew on lap 14. RC Whitwell already had worked his way from 18th to fourth by this point with Tyler Davis fifth and 13th-starting Phillips in sixth.
On the restart, seven cars were involved in a turn-two accident that brought a red flag about to clean up the blocked track. By this point, nearly half the starting field of 29 were either done for the night or continuing with damage.
Once racing resumed, Ramirez opened a 1.4-second lead over Hughes when the race’s fifth caution, on lap 25, again stacked the field. Whitwell was running third, followed by Mullens and Phillips as action restarted with 15 circuits remaining.
Phillips moved into third behind Ramirez and Hughes when another caution appeared with nine to go. But that would be the final yellow, which was fine by Ramirez who admitted it was tough to stay patient through the many restarts as he cruised the high side of the track.
“I was a little wore out,” Ramirez said. “I didn’t know where to be in (turns) three and four. It was a little rough up there and I figured I was gonna give it away trying to run up there. But I knew that was the fastest way around and I was just trying to keep it on the race track – and we got it done.”
Action remained caution-free from there, with Ramirez gradually pulling away to prevail by 1.49 seconds. Hughes nipped Phillips for second with Whitwell fourth and Mullens fifth.
Ramirez claimed his 13th USMTS career victory.
Ramirez finished second on Thursday at 81 Speedway, losing the lead on the final lap. He had mechanical issues that knocked him from contention on Friday at Humboldt Speedway.
Hughes, of Watts, Oklahoma, said he was no match for the winner as he fought with his car over the final few laps.
“I was so tight I was trying to make that thing turn in there sideways and make it wide,” Hughes said, noting his battle with Phillips near the finish.
Phillips continued his consistent and strong swing with a third straight third-place finish.
“I just didn’t get it done in the heat race tonight, so had to start so far back,” Phillips said. “We made a little charge and put on a show on for the crowd, I guess.”
Whitwell finished fourth with Tanner Mullens, winner of the June 3 USMTS event at Lucas Oil Speedway, in fifth.
Also picking up feature wins on Saturday night’s program were Johnny Fennewald (O’Reilly Auto Parts Street Stocks), Kris Jackson (Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods) and Gary Donaldson (USRA Stock Cars).
1. 4R-Dereck Ramirez; 2. 12-Jason Hughes; 3. 75-Terry Phillips; 4. 96T-RC Whitwell; 5. 02-Tanner Mullens; 6. 20-Rodney Sanders; 7. 62-Hunter Marriott; 8. G17-Fito Gallardo; 9. 33Z-Zack VanderBeek; 10. 65X-Carlos Ahumada Jr; 11. 23-Adam Kates; 12. 9D8-Paden Phillips; 13. 2G-Brandon Givens; 14. 52-Mitch Keeter; 15. 21R-Rusty Skaggs; 16. J17-Jake Gallardo; 17. 56-Tony Jackson Jr; 18. 27X-Calvin Iverson; 19. 65-Tyler Davis; 20. 9-Evan Hubert; 21. 6-Casey Skyberg; 22. 4W-Tyler Wolff; 23. 134-Robert Heydenreich; 24. 227-Chase Domer; 25. 91T-Lance Town; 26. G3-Brendon Gemmill; 27. 91-Joe Duvall; 28. 292-Kyle Thompson; 29. 38C-Jason Pursley