BAYTOWN, Texas – The victory lane drought for Zack VanderBeek came to an end Friday as he topped a thrilling USMTS main event during the second night of the seventh annual Lecolift Texas Winter Nationals presented by 4s Motorsports.
Prior to taking the green flag in Friday night’s 40-lap Allgayer, Inc., “A” Main, VanderBeek’s last win in USMTS competition was July 13, 2011. That was 175 races ago.
But the 22nd career USMTS victory for the 29-year-old from New Sharon, Iowa, didn’t come easy.
After leading the first 22 laps, VanderBeek gave up the spot to Rodney Sanders in lapped traffic, and then had to fend off Chris Henigan for second before reeling Sanders back in and regaining the lead on lap 26.
The pair swapped the top spot two more times before Sanders took charge on lap 30 and appeared to be in control to pace the final 10 circuits. However, the race’s first and only caution occurred with four laps to go, giving VanderBeek another shot.
Despite faithfully running the low groove for most of the race, VanderBeek chose the outside line for the restart and turned a stout run when the green flag waved into a pass exiting the second turn.
Once he had Sanders cleared, VanderBeek shot back to the bottom of the racetrack where he stayed the rest of the way, holding off a late charge by Chris Brown to take the win.
“With Rodney running low, I really thought that if I chose the bottom on that restart that we were a second- or third-place car at best,” VanderBeek said. “I had to take a chance to have any chance of winning and it just worked out for us. We got a good restart and found some traction, but there probably wasn’t another good lap for us up there.
“Rodney drove us really clean the whole race, so hats off to him. It’s been a long time. This feels really good to get this win.”
Not only did ‘The Z-Man’ add $3,000 to his bank account for the effort, but it was also his first win behind the wheel of an LG2 Chassis.
Sanders held on for a third-place finish behind Brown, while Henigan claimed the fourth spot ahead of Shane Hebert. Stormy Scott, Thursday’s winner Clyde Dunn Jr., Jake O’Neil, Jeremy Payne and Kelly Shryock rounded out the top ten.
In the USRA Limited Mod main event, Tracy Denby Jr. wired the field in the 20-lap feature race to claim the $1,000 top prize.