Gustin Stops Hughes In Cajun Clash

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Ryan Gustin won Friday's USMTS modified feature at Ark-La-Tex Speedway.
Ryan Gustin won Friday's USMTS modified feature at Ark-La-Tex Speedway.
Ryan Gustin won Friday’s USMTS modified feature at Ark-La-Tex Speedway.

VIVIAN, La. — Ryan Gustin bested his car builder, Jason Hughes, in a hard-fought battle at the Ark-La-Tex Speedway Friday night to capture the win on the second night of the fifth annual USMTS Cajun Clash presented by Horseshoe Bossier City.

Gustin started on the pole for the 40-lap affair, but it was Hughes taking charge when the green flag waved. He led the first 24 laps before Gustin was able to slip by in traffic and lead the 25th circuit.

Hughes, the defending USMTS national champ, remained close behind ‘The Reaper’ as they danced through heavy lapped traffic for the remainder of the race, and briefly inched ahead to lead lap 36.

But Gustin powered back around the outside of the Hughes Racing Chassis purveyor one lap later and held him off to claim his third win in the first eight events of the 2016 campaign.

“It’s always nice to know the guy you’re running with will race you clean and give you room if you need,” Gustin said of Hughes after the race. “Jason’s one of the best there is, so you know you’ve done something when you can beat him.”

All of Gustin’s wins so far have come on Friday night of the USMTS Winter Speedweeks tripleheaders. This one, like the others, was worth $3,000 and brought his USMTS career wins total to 74.

With his runner-up effort, Hughes extended his points lead in the Production Jars Southern Region presented by Day Motor Sports while Rodney Sanders finished third to give the top three spots to the three drivers holding the last six USMTS national championship trophies.

Chris Brown fended off Sanders for most of the race and settled for fourth at the finish with Kyle Strickler continuing his strong weekend with a fifth-place finish.

The finish:

Ryan Gustin, Jason Hughes, Rodney Sanders, Chris Brown, Kyle Strickler, Todd Shute, Zack VanderBeek, Jason Ingalls, Steve Whiteaker Jr., Cade Dillard, Bobby Malchus, Jesse Sobbing, Austin Arneson, George Egbert IV, Jamie Burford, Lucas Lee, Austin Siebert, B.J. Robinson, Scott Drake, Billy Vogel, Thomas Tillison Jr., David Winslett, Ralo Pilkington, Terry Phillips, Josh Beckham, Casey Arneson.