Home Open Wheel Modified News Gustin grinds one out for Grandpa D, outguns Dillard in Mississippi Thunder...

    Gustin grinds one out for Grandpa D, outguns Dillard in Mississippi Thunder thriller

    Ryan Gustin – Tyler Rinken Photo

    FOUNTAIN CITY, Wis. (May 26) — The worst part about the checkered flag waving at the conclusion of the USMTS main event Friday night at the Mississippi Thunder Speedway was that it had to end. The best part was that everybody in attendance was finally able to take a breath.

    Bob Timm’s reshaping and resurfacing of the Fountain City, Wis., oval during the off-season paid dividends with a 40-lap feature race that could have been called great even without the incredible hair-raising final five laps.

    But despite a new look and feel, victory lane felt just like old times with Ryan Gustin holding the winner’s paycheck. It was his fourth career USMTS win at the track, and second straight going back to last fall’s $40,000-to-win USRA Modified Nationals where Gustin edged Scott Bloomquist for the colossal payday.

    This one was different for Gustin though.

    On Monday, the patriarch of the DeFrance and Gustin families-Dale DeFrance-passed away at the age of 81. He was laid to rest yesterday.

    “I’ve never wanted to win a race so bad in my life,” an exhausted Gustin said after he climbed out of his winning mount. “This one’s for you, Grandpa. We love you.”

    It was the 82nd career USMTS win for Ryan Friday night.

    Cade Dillard was in command most of the way. After starting on the outside of the front row, this season’s winningest driver so far wrestled control away from polesitter Jake Timm, but the boss’s son applied heavy pressure to Dillard for the first couple of laps before settling into the third spot behind the leader and Gustin.

    While Dillard checked out slightly, Gustin and Timm waged a furious battle for second while Zack VanderBeek, who won the last race here for the Casey’s USMTS National Tour powered by S&S Fishing & Rental two years ago, began creeping up by taking the shortest route around the high-banked 1/3-mile dirt oval.

    Lapped traffic became a factor on lap 12 with the top four runners racing in close quarters, swerving and diving inside and outside of back-markers until the race’s first and only yellow flag waved on lap 17.

    On the restart, Gustin’s car faltered and that allowed both Timm and VanderBeek to slip past the two-time USMTS national champ. Gustin fought back with a vengeance, challenging VanderBeek around the bottom in one corner and rubbing elbows with Timm in the next.

    Gustin finally edged ahead of Timm for second with nine laps remaining, and VanderBeek snuck underneath Timm one lap later. With five laps to go, lapped traffic was again part of the equation and the fans in attendance got to witness an incredible finish.

    After splitting a lapped car, Dillard and Gustin raced side by side down the back-stretch and Gustin took advantage of the momentum shift with a full-throated ‘slider’ into turn three and up to the top of turn four. Dillard, however, was able to cross back underneath to remain the leader by a nose on lap 37.

    Dillard returned the favor in the ensuing turn and Gustin made the hard left turn to launch back underneath Dillard, taking the lead as they raced down the back-stretch. Dillard slid up in front of Gustin again in the next corner, and the next, before Gustin finally was able to shut the door with two laps to go.

    Meanwhile, while a raging storm was taking place in front of him, VanderBeek snuck up on the leaders as he calmly churned the shortest route around the track and Lucas Schott, who won his two previous USRA Modified starts here, crept into the picture after starting ninth on the grid.

    After taking the white flag, Gustin took control and left his three pursuers to fight it out for second. VanderBeek edged in front of Dillard as they exited turn two, and Schott threw one final slide-job at Dillard as they raced through the final left-hand turn.

    At the finish line, VanderBeek trailed Gustin by less than half a second while Dillard was able to minimize the damage with a cross-over move at the end to take back third from Schott. The top four crossed the stripe within less than a second of each other.

    Never out of it, Timm followed close behind in fifth. Dustin Sorensen, R.C. Whitwell, Jason Hughes, Travis Saurer and Cory Mahder rounded out the top ten.

    The Memorial Day Weekend is just getting started, and the stars and cars of the United States Modified Touring Series return to the scene of countless classic clashes as the 15th Annual A&A Electric Southern Minnesota Spring Challenge takes place on Saturday at the Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn.

    More than any other race track, it will be the 97th feature race for the USMTS at ‘The Creek.’

    Kelly Shryock won the first-ever race here on May 25, 2002, but since that night defending USMTS national champion Jason Hughes has a series-best 14 career victories at ‘The Creek.’

    Shryock is second on the all-time list with 10 wins here while Rodney Sanders has collected eight checkered flags. Tim Donlinger and Terry Phillips have five wins each. Ryan Gustin, Jason Cummins and Brad Waits have four apiece. Zack VanderBeek, Joey Jensen and Brandon Davis have each won three times.

    Two-time winners include Corey Dripps, Jason Krohn, Ryan Ruter, Stormy Scott and Lucas Schott. Drivers who have visited Deer Creek Speedway’s victory lane one time include Mark Noble, Steve Wetzstein, Darin Walker, Tony Fraise, Dan Daniels, Chad Kinder, Mark Burgtorf, Brad McEwan, Randy Timms, Dean Mahlstedt, Tommy Myer, Mike Sorensen, Mike Spaulding, Dan Chapman, Les Duellman, Mike Hejna, Steve Arpin, Jon Tesch, Jordan Grabouski, Jeremy Payne, Craig Thatcher, Cade Dillard and Tommy Weder Jr.

    The pit gate opens at 2 p.m. and grandstands open at 2:30. Slingshots race at 3 on Button Buck Speedway. Hot laps begin at 5:30 and racing starts at 6.

    The USMTS Modifieds will share the spotlight with the Iron Man Challenge featuring Holley USRA Stock Cars and Out-Pace USRA B-Mods plus WISSOTA Midwest Mods. Adult general admission tickets are $20 and kids ages 12 and under get in for $5.

    Race fans can pick up coupons good for $2 off adult admission at Casey’s General Stores locations in Austin, Blooming Prairie, Dodge Center, Hayfield, Mantorville, Oronoco, Preston, Rochester, Spring Valley and Stewartville plus stores in Cresco, Lime Springs, Osage, Riceville and St. Ansgar, Iowa. To find the location nearest you, visit

    The Deer Creek Speedway is a 3/8-mile high-banked clay oval is located 11.3 miles south of I-90 (exit 209) on US 63 (0.7 mile north of SR 16) in Spring Valley, Minn. For more info, call 877-327-7223 or (507) 346-2342 on race day or visit online.

    On Sunday, the 10th Annual Nordic Nationals presented by Weis Buick GMC takes place at the Upper Iowa Speedway in Decorah, Iowa, and will see the Iron Man Challenge featuring Holley USRA Stock Cars and Out-Pace USRA B-Mods plus USRA Hobby Stocks on the card.

    Zack VanderBeek collected his first of three wins at the Upper Iowa Speedway during his rookie campaign in 2005, and his most recent came in this event last year. Jon Tesch, Al Hejna and Ryan Gustin are two-time winners here. Jason Hughes and Johnny Scott have each made one appearance in the Winneshiek County Fairgrounds winners circle.

    The pit gate opens at 3 p.m., grandstands open at 4, hot laps start at 5:45 and the first heat race hits the track at 6. General admission is $20, juniors (ages 11-16) are $10 and kids ages 10 and under are free. Pit passes are $35.

    Race fans can pick up coupons good for $2 off adult admission at Casey’s General Stores locations in Clermont, Decorah, Ossian, Postville, Waukon and West Union. To find the location nearest you, visit

    The Upper Iowa Speedway is a semi-banked 1/4-mile dirt oval located 1.8 miles east of US 52 on SR 9, then 1.0 mile northwest on Montgomery St., then northeast on E. Main St. (at the Winneshiek County Fairgrounds). For more information, call (563) 382-0711 or visit online.

    Each of the three Memorial Day Weekend blockbusters will dole out $3,000 to the main event winner, with valuable points awarded to drivers in the USMTS Northern Region presented by Summit Racing Equipment.

    To learn more about the United States Modified Touring Series, visit online or call 515-832-7944. You can also like us on Facebook at, follow us on Twitter at and Instagram at or subscribe to our YouTube channel at Keep up to speed with everything USMTS by joining our email list at

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    United States Modified Touring Series
    USMTS Casey’s Cup powered by S&S Fishing & Rental – Northern Region presented by Summit Racing Equipment
    Mississippi Thunder Speedway, Fountain City, Wis.
    Friday, May 26, 2017

    Showing finishing position, starting position in parentheses, car number, driver, hometown, chassis/engine builder, laps completed and money won.

    1. (1) 19 Dustin Sorensen (r), Rochester, Minn.
    2. (2) 96 R.C. Whitwell (r), Tucson, Ariz.
    3. (3) 21 Jacob Bleess (r), Chatfield, Minn.
    4. (4) 21 Joey Jensen, Harris, Minn.
    5. (7) 91 Craig Thatcher, Knapp, Wis.
    6. (9) 99 Josh Angst, Winona, Minn.
    7. (6) 94jr John Doelle, Arcadia, Wis.
    8. (8) 6T7 Brian Albrecht, Winona, Minn.
    9. (5) 4b Cory Bruggeman (r), Stillwater, Minn.

    FAST SHAFTS HEAT RACE #2 (8 laps):
    1. (1) 97 Cade Dillard, Robeline, La.
    2. (9) 19r Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa.
    3. (2) 1m Curt Myers, Cameron, Wis.
    4. (3) 89x Tony Bahr, Haugen, Wis.
    5. (7) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla.
    6. (4) 73 Andy Jones (r), Princeton, Minn.
    7. (5) 81 Mike Densberger, Lincoln, Neb.
    8. (6) 07 Cory Crapser, Chippewa Falls, Wis.
    9. (8) 23 Adam Kates (r), Tonganoxie, Kan.

    EDELBROCK HEAT RACE #3 (8 laps):
    1. (1) 49jr Jake Timm, Winona, Minn.
    2. (2) 69 Lucas Schott, Chatfield, Minn.
    3. (7) 55 Cory Mahder (r), Eau Claire, Wis.
    4. (3) 1s Travis Saurer (r), Elizabeth, Minn.
    5. (6) 2s Stormy Scott, Las Cruces, N.M.
    6. (8) R1 Jay Richardson (r), Spring Valley, Wis.
    7. (4) 5k Kyle Prauner (r), Norfolk, Neb.
    8. (9) W Cory Williams, Spring Valley, Wis.
    9. (5) 14 Amanda Stiffler (r), Farmdale, Ohio.

    1. (2) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa.
    2. (8) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.
    3. (4) 05 Jake Hartung (r), Elmwood, Wis.
    4. (5) 4w Tyler Wolff (r), Fayetteville, Ark.
    5. (3) 4a Joel Alberts, Kasson, Minn.
    6. (6) 14 Scott Stiffler (r), Farmdale, Ohio.
    7. (1) 15 Steve Bangart, Auburndale, Wis.
    8. (7) 3f Cole Ferguson (r), Dexter, Iowa.
    9. (9) 5d Devon Havlik (r), Iowa Falls, Iowa.

    REAL RACING WHEELS “B” MAIN #1 (12 laps, top 5 advance):
    1. (3) 91 Craig Thatcher, Knapp, Wis.
    2. (4) 2s Stormy Scott, Las Cruces, N.M.
    3. (7) 94jr John Doelle, Arcadia, Wis.
    4. (10) 07 Cory Crapser, Chippewa Falls, Wis.
    5. (1) 4w Tyler Wolff (r), Fayetteville, Ark.
    6. (6) 73 Andy Jones (r), Princeton, Minn., Jones/J&J, $90.
    7. (11) 4b Cory Bruggeman (r), Stillwater, Minn., MBCustom/Tim’s, $90.
    8. (5) 4a Joel Alberts, Kasson, Minn., Rocket/Action, $90.
    9. (2) 89x Tony Bahr, Haugen, Wis., MBCustom/Mullins, $90.
    10. (8) 5k Kyle Prauner (r), Norfolk, Neb.
    11. (12) 14 Amanda Stiffler (r), Farmdale, Ohio, Taylor/HRE, $90.
    12. (9) W Cory Williams, Spring Valley, Wis., /RPM, $75.

    REAL RACING WHEELS “B” MAIN #2 (12 laps, top 5 advance):
    1. (2) 1s Travis Saurer (r), Elizabeth, Minn.
    2. (4) 99 Josh Angst, Winona, Minn.
    3. (1) 21 Joey Jensen, Harris, Minn.
    4. (3) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla.
    5. (5) R1 Jay Richardson (r), Spring Valley, Wis.
    6. (7) 81 Mike Densberger, Lincoln, Neb.
    7. (6) 14 Scott Stiffler (r), Farmdale, Ohio, Taylor/HRE, $90.
    8. (11) 23 Adam Kates (r), Tonganoxie, Kan., LG2/Speedway, $90.
    9. (8) 15 Steve Bangart, Auburndale, Wis., MadMan/Bangart, $75.
    10. (10) 3f Cole Ferguson (r), Dexter, Iowa, DirtHustler/Mullins, $90.
    11. (9) 6T7 Brian Albrecht, Winona, Minn., Shaw/Adams, $75.
    12. (12) 5d Devon Havlik (r), Iowa Falls, Iowa, Sidebiter/Johno’s, $90.

    1. (3) 19r Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa, Hughes/Mullins, 40, $3000.
    2. (5) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa, VanderBuilt/Sput’s, 40, $1700.
    3. (2) 97 Cade Dillard, Robeline, La., MBCustom/ASI, 40, $1200.
    4. (9) 69 Lucas Schott, Chatfield, Minn., MBCustom/Sput’s, 40, $1000.
    5. (1) 49jr Jake Timm, Winona, Minn., MBCustom/Sput’s, 40, $900.
    6. (4) 19 Dustin Sorensen (r), Rochester, Minn., MBCustom/Action, 40, $800.
    7. (7) 96 R.C. Whitwell (r), Tucson, Ariz., MBCustom/Hatfield, 40, $700.
    8. (6) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla., Hughes/Mullins, 40, $650.
    9. (14) 1s Travis Saurer (r), Elizabeth, Minn., MBCustom/Dakota, 40, $600.
    10. (8) 55 Cory Mahder (r), Eau Claire, Wis., MBCustom/Power Line, 40, $550.
    11. (17) 94jr John Doelle, Arcadia, Wis., Rocket/Sput’s, 40, $500.
    12. (10) 05 Jake Hartung (r), Elmwood, Wis., SSR/Scott’s, 40, $450.
    13. (12) 1m Curt Myers, Cameron, Wis., LG2/Sput’s, 40, $425.
    14. (16) 99 Josh Angst, Winona, Minn., MBCustom/Sput’s, 40, $400.
    15. (11) 21 Jacob Bleess (r), Chatfield, Minn., MBCustom/Sput’s, 40, $375.
    16. (20) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla., LG2/Cornett, 40, $350.
    17. (15) 2s Stormy Scott, Las Cruces, N.M., GRT/Mullins, 39, $325.
    18. (19) 07 Cory Crapser, Chippewa Falls, Wis., MBCustom/Troy’s, 39, $300.
    19. (23) 5k Kyle Prauner (r), Norfolk, Neb., Razor/GMPP, 39, $300.
    20. (22) R1 Jay Richardson (r), Spring Valley, Wis., SSR/MAS, 39, $250.
    21. (21) 4w Tyler Wolff (r), Fayetteville, Ark., MBCustom/Hatfield, 37, $300.
    22. (13) 91 Craig Thatcher, Knapp, Wis., GRT/TriStar, 30, $300.
    23. (24) 81 Mike Densberger, Lincoln, Neb., Jet/Speedway, 21, $300.
    24. (18) 21 Joey Jensen, Harris, Minn., MBCustom/Tim’s, 11, $300.

    (r) = Grant Junghans Rookie of the Year contender

    Lap Leaders: Dillard 1-37, Gustin 38-40.
    Total Laps Led: Dillard 37, Gustin 3.
    Margin of Victory: 0.497 second.
    Time of Race: 13 minutes, 41.470 seconds (1 caution).
    Provisional Starters: Densberger, Prauner.
    KSE Racing Products Hard Charger: Doelle (started 17th, finished 11th).
    Entries: 36.
    Next Race: Saturday, May 27, Deer Creek Speedway, Spring Valley, Minn. Northern Region Points: VanderBeek 190, Dillard 181, Hughes 177, Whitwell 154, Gustin 151, Saurer 146, Timm 142, Scott 142, Bleess 135, Hartung 132.
    Grant Junghans Rookie of the Year Points: Whitwell 1764, Saurer 1646, Wolff 1577, Kates 1240, Billy Vogel 982.
    Engine Builder of the Year Points: Mullins 244, Durham 197, ASI 192, Sput’s 181, Hatfield 151.
    Manufacturers Championship Points: Hughes 244, MBCustoms 234, GRT 214, VanderBuilt 185, LG2 162.

    Contingency Awards:
    Allstar Performance – Hughes.
    American Racer – Jones.
    Beyea Custom Headers – VanderBeek.
    BigDeal Car Care – Gustin.
    BSB Manufacturing – Wolff.
    Casey’s General Stores – Crapser.
    Chix Gear Racewear – Saurer.
    Day Motor Sports – Densberger, Jensen.
    Deatherage Opticians – Hartung.
    Dickson Racing Shocks – Bleess.
    E3 Spark Plugs – Dillard.
    Edelbrock – Timm.
    Fast Shafts – Dillard. – Angst, Prauner.
    Fuel Safe Racing Cells – Sorensen.
    GRT Race Cars – Thatcher.
    Hooker Custom Harness – Myers.
    Integra Shocks & Springs – Crapser.
    Jerovetz Motorsports Racing Parts – Scott.
    Keyser Manufacturing – Mahder.
    KSE Racing Products – Doelle.
    Out-Pace Racing Products – Ramirez.
    QA1 – Schott.
    Real Racing Wheels – all non-qualifiers.
    Simpson Performance Products – Sorensen.
    Sweet Manufacturing – Thatcher.
    Sybesma Graphics – Timm.
    Tire Demon – Doelle.
    Tyler Rinken Photography – Richardson.
    VP Racing Fuels – Gustin.
    Wehrs Machine & Racing Products – Gustin.
    Wilwood Engineering – Whitwell.

    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    USMTS OFFICIAL SPONSORS: American Racer Racing Tires, Argo Manufacturing, Casey’s General Stores, Chix Gear Racewear, CP-Carrillo, Deatherage Opticians, Fast Shafts, Intercomp, KSE Racing Products, Leaf Racewear & Safety Equipment, Malvern Bank, MSD, Pace Performance,,,, S&S Fishing & Rental, Summit Racing Equipment, The Joie of Seating, VP Racing Fuels.

    USMTS PARTICIPATING SPONSORS: Arizona Sport Shirts, ASi Racewear, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Duvall Electric,, Mesilla Valley Transportation, Oreo, Production Jars, Rancho Milagro Racing,,

    USMTS CONTINGENCY SPONSORS: 905 Ink, AFCO Racing Products, Allstar Performance, Beyea Custom Headers, BigDeal Car Care, BSB Manufacturing, Day Motor Sports, Dickson Racing Shocks, E3 Spark Plugs, Edelbrock, FK Rod Ends, Forty9 Designs, Fuel Safe, Genesis Racing Shocks, GRT Race Cars, Holley Performance Products, Hooker Custom Harness, Integra Shocks & Springs, Jerovetz Motorsports Racing Parts, Keyser Manufacturing, Out-Pace Racing Products, QA1 Precision Products, Real Racing Wheels, Simpson Performance Products, Sweet Manufacturing, Sybesma Graphics, Tire Demon, Wehrs Machine & Race Products, Wilwood Disc Brakes.

    Contact Info:

    Jeff Nun

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