It was a sign of things to come on Feb. 21 when the first night of the USMTS Texas Spring Nationals powered by Lecolift was too wet for racing, pushing back the season opener to the next day and shortening the event to two nights.
Since then, seven additional nights of racing have been lost or postponed due to rain or snow, including the King of America III Modified Nationals. That event was postponed one week and forced officials to move two other dates in order to accommodate the change.
Most recently, the first three events in the Farm Boy BBQ Northern Region presented by Day Motor Sports scheduled for this past weekend, May 2-4, were all wiped off the calendar due to Mother Nature.
Even when event promoters have been able to keep the gates open, track preparation has seemed fruitless as the off-season’s settling and early-year saturation of the soil has produced several rough racing surfaces.
It’s always darkest before the dawn, so here’s to more checkered flags than rain falling in May and some of the best racing ever to offset one of the most annoying winters ever.
SCOTT TWINS ON A ROLL
Although clouds have filled the skies for a majority of the first quarter of the year, there have been numerous bright spots on the track during the first dozen completed events on the USMTS Casey’s Cup Series schedule.
One of those bright spots—or two in this case—has been the success of Stormy Scott and Johnny Scott.
The 23-year-old twin brothers from Las Cruces, N.M., have been racing since they were inside the womb, and their sibling rivalry continues today on the United States Modified Touring Series campaign.
Although Stormy beat Johnny by a few minutes to greet the world more than two decades ago, Johnny was the first to tackle the USMTS touring titans when he came on the scene in 2010. Since then, he has won 16 times including the last two races this season.
Stormy, however, made up for lost time in 2012 with a season that trumped the career records of most of his peers. In addition to taking down the Rookie of the Year title, Stormy first turned heads when he won the King of America II Modified Nationals at the Humboldt Speedway, and then came up just a bit short in his quest for the USMTS national championship.
In a little over 13 months, the elder Scott has 12 wins on his résumé. Of the pairs combined 28 feature wins, seven of them have happened during the first 12 races so far this season.
Although Stormy has four wins in 2013 to Johnny’s three, consistency has put Johnny atop the Arbor Masters Central Region points standings and second behind Rodney Sanders in the Allgayer, Inc. Southern Region. He has yet to finish outside of the top 10 this season.
Johnny also holds a slim advantage over his big brother on this year’s money list with $22,150 earned to date in 2013. Stormy is just a few pennies back with $21,390 in total winnings.
‘REAPER’ ROLLS IN BIG-DOLLAR CONTESTS
Although Ryan Gustin has just two victories thus far in 2013, it’s not accurate to say that ‘The Reaper’ has been struggling. In fact, the 22-year-old from Marshalltown, Iowa, has seven top-5 finishes in his eight starts.
And when the big money has been on the line, the two-time defending USMTS national champion Ryan Gustin has answered the call. His two wins came on the two nights where first-place money has been the most.
Gustin captured the final night of the USMTS Texas Spring Nationals powered by Lecolift at the Royal purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas, on Feb. 23, and pocketed $6,000 for his efforts. A little more than a month later, he held off Chris Brown in the closing laps to capture the King of America III Modified Nationals at the Humboldt (Kan.) Speedway to take home the $10,000 top prize.
Despite competing in four fewer races than the Scott brothers, Gustin sits atop the money list with $23,250 in earnings this year. Rodney Sanders is fourth with $18,250 and Chris Brown has taken $13,600 home to Spring, Texas, this year.
‘BIG DOGS’ HIT THE JACKPOT IN FIRST QUARTER
Back in January, USMTS officials announced a new program called the “Big Dog Buy-In” which give competitors the opportunity to up their ante for a shot at taking home an extra $2,000 at every USMTS points race.
USMTS Casey’s Cup Series events pay a minimum $2,000 to win while all races during the season-ending Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s Cup are worth no less than $3,000 to the winner.
But for drivers who know ‘tonight is my night’ and want to take a gamble, they can pay an additional $100 on top of their entry fee and be eligible for an additional $2,000 to win.
The payout doesn’t change for second-place on back, but drivers who participate will be racing for $4,000 to win an advertised $2,000-to-win show and $5,000 for an event that normally pays $3,000 to win. The bonus will be in effect whether just one driver takes part or every driver in the field joins the party.
In 12 points races so far this season, a ‘big dog’ has taken the big money home. The only driver who did not partake in the program was Chris Henigan, who captured his career-first USMTS checkered flag at his hometown Ark-La-Tex Speedway in Vivian, La., on March 16.
Since that night, Henigan has won four straight Modified features at Gene Boyter’s high-banked red clay oval and remains undefeated there in 2013.
SANDERS, SCOTT ATOP USMTS STANDINGS
With two wins to his credit, Rodney Sanders of Happy, Texas, leads the points in the Allgayer, Inc. Southern Region presented by Day Motor Sports. Johnny Scott trails ‘The Rocket’ by just 14 markers with Zack VanderBeek, Kelly Shryock and Jason Hughes completing the top 5.
In the Arbor Masters Central Region presented by Day Motor Sports, Johnny Scott is on top with Jeremy Payne 22 points back in the runner-up spot. Third through fifth are Stormy Scott, Hughes and Thomas Tillison Jr.
While they have been shut out of the winners circle so far this season, consistency has placed several USMTS standouts in the top 10 of both regions.
Still winless in 2013, but challenging in each event and ranked on the top 10 of both regions are nine-time USMTS national champion Kelly Shryock, 2010 USMTS national champion Jason Hughes and 2004 Rookie of the Year Zack VanderBeek.
Between the three of them, they have 310 USMTS feature wins—but none in 2013 … yet.
POINTS STANDINGS THROUGH MAY 5, 2013
Allgayer, Inc. Southern Region presented by Day Motor Sports:
1. 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas … 700
2. 1st Johnny Scott, Las Cruces, N.M. … 686
3. 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa … 646
4. 3 Kelly Shryock, Fertile, Iowa … 620
5. 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla. … 618
6. 21 Chris Brown, Spring, Texas … 603
7. 88xxx Clyde Dunn Jr., Sunnyvale, Texas … 523
7. 89 Steve Whiteaker Jr., Corpus Christi, Texas … 523
9. 2s Stormy Scott, Las Cruces, N.M. … 486
10. 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla. … 471
Arbor Masters Central Region presented by Day Motor Sports:
1. 1st Johnny Scott, Las Cruces, N.M. … 449
2. 186 Jeremy Payne, Springfield, Mo. … 427
3. 2s Stormy Scott, Las Cruces, N.M. … 420
4. 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla. … 417
5. 85 Thomas Tillison Jr., Wellston, Okla. … 378
6. 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa … 373
7. 3 Kelly Shryock, Fertile, Iowa … 369
8. 01 Joey Galloway, Manor, Sask., Canada … 328
9. 99h Trevor Hunt, Kearney, Mo. … 320
10. 16 Austin Siebert, Grandview, Mo. … 317
All drivers finishing in the top-10 are eligible to compete in the season-ending Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s Cup Series. In addition, any other drivers with perfect attendance in any of the three regions also qualifies. As of now, that list includes Ryan Gustin, Philip Houston, Casey Penn, Tracy Denby Jr., Shane Sprinkle, Jeff Allgayer, Masen Big Eagle, Jeff Conner and Joe Duvall.
WHAT’S ON TAP?
After a two-week break, the next event on the USMTS calendar is Thursday, May 16, at the Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Mo., where fans are hoping the third time’s the charm after two weather-related postponements in March and April.
The next night will find the USMTS Modifieds at the LA Raceway in La Monte, Mo., and then at the West Plains Motor Speedway in West Plains, Mo., on Saturday, May 18, to round out an Arbor Masters Central Region tripleheader.
The month of May will wrap up with four stops at four tracks along the I-90 corridor during Memorial Day Weekend.
On Wednesday, May 22, the series visits the I-35 Speedway in Mason City, Iowa, and then heads to the Fairmont (Minn.) Raceway on Thursday, May 23.
The Chateau Raceway will host the USMTS Modifieds on Friday, May 24, before the quadrupleheader comes to a close on Saturday, May 25, at the Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn.
All four events will award points in the Farm Boy BBQ Northern Region presented by Day Motor Sports.
To learn more about the United States Modified Touring Series, visit www.usmts.com online or call 515-832-7944. You can also like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/usmts, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/usmts or check out our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/USMTSTV.
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