NEW RICHMOND, Wis. — Zack VanderBeek may not be thinking about what he’ll do with Saturday’s $50,000 winner’s share of the prize money, but he posted a convincing down payment worth $3,000 Thursday night to kick off Modified Masters weekend at the Cedar Lake Speedway.
The 32-year old from New Sharon, Iowa, drove away from the field at the start of Thursday’s RHRSwag.com USMTS Northern Region main event, survived three cautions-including one with 13 laps to go-and drove underneath the checkered flag with a nearly five-second cushion over runner-up Terry Phillips.
“We’ve really got a nice piece here,” VanderBeek said of his VanderBuilt Race Cars modified-a chassis creation of his own and J.D. Gresham they debuted back in February. “We made a few minor changes after the heat and the car was really good in the feature. No matter where we put it on the track, it responds well so that give us a lot of confidence out there.
“If we can avoid trouble and have some luck, I feel pretty confident going into Saturday.”
While the 40-lap main event put $3,000 in VanderBeek’s pocket, a win in Saturday’s 70-lap Modified Masters finale would pad that total by another $50,000. With two wins and nothing short of a fourth-place finish in the month of June, “The Z-Man” would be at the top of the Las Vegas odds-makers betting line.
While VanderBeek went uncontested the entire distance, Phillips and third-place finisher Rodney Sanders gave the fans their money’s worth with a spirited side-by-side battle that included a couple of slide jobs and lasted for most of the race.
Cade Dillard avoided disaster midway through the race when he checked up for a car in front of him and nearly spun.
Instead, Dillard powered through the infield and back to the racing surface without bringing out the yellow flag. He rebounded to finish fourth in front of polesitter Travis Saurer.
Zack VanderBeek, Terry Phillips, Rodney Sanders, Cade Dillard, Travis Saurer, Lucas Schott, Jason Hughes, Craig Thatcher, Darrell Nelson, Ryan Gustin, Shane Sabraski, Joey Jensen, Matt Leer, Cory Crapser, Chris Oertel, R.C. Whitwell, Brent Dutenhoffer, Tyler Townsend, Cory Mahder, Curt Myers, Johnny Scott, Zane DeVilbiss, Jake Timm, Mike Mashl, Tyler Wolff, Jacob Bleess.