Phillips Nips Ramirez In USMTS Instant Classic At 81 Speedway

Photo Credit: Tyler Rinken

The Casey’s Hunt for the USMTS National Championship blasted off Thursday night at the 81 Speedway with another instant classic produced by C. Ray Hall’s 3/8-mile dirt oval outside of Wichita.

After following six spectacular qualifying events, the 40-lap feature race was fierce and fast from the waving of the green flag until the checkered flag waved for Terry Phillips, but just barely.

With Dereck Ramirez breathing down his neck for the last half of the race, Phillips nearly saw it slip away in the final turn when Ramirez made a bold move to pass the leader with one left-hand turn to go.

But the 53-year-old veteran from Springfield, Missouri, crossed back under Ramirez and the pair drag-raced to the finish line with Phillips taking the win by a mere two-one-thousandths of a second over Ramirez.

“That surprised me there,” Phillips said of the slide job by Ramirez. “I slowed down a little bit because I had a couple lapped cars in front of me and didn’t want to run over them, so I was just being cautious, but, hey, that’s what this bunch brings you. They’re all good racers and Dereck always races me clean and we’re good friends.

“As he slid me, I’m like ‘Man, that’s a damn good move.’ I’m congratulating him and then I thought ‘Well, I better get going here.’ I made a cut and fortunately there was a little traction in the middle of the track so got in it and barely beat him.”

Ramirez had been stalking Phillips for the final ten laps or so, testing out the high side of turn 2 while Phillips was entering the firs turn down low. He got his chance on the final lap and pulled event with Phillips down the back-stretch as flagman Ryne Staley was reaching for the checkered flag.

“I was catching him down here in (turn) two, and figured if I get close enough I’ll pull a slider,” Ramirez said after the race. “I don’t like to dirty people up so I wanted to make sure it was clean.

“He got behind them lapped cars going down the back straight-away and kind of slowed down off of (turn) two and I had a big run and thought ‘You know what, I’m gonna try it.’ I just didn’t get in there far enough to hit the cushion and have the traction off. I showed him too early probably.”

For Phillips, the $2,500 triumph was the 28th of his USMTS career but first ever at the 81 Speedway. Meanwhile, Rodney Sanders, who has a series-best four victories here, followed Ramirez across the stripe in third while Hunter Marriott roared from 16th on the gird to finish fourth.

Polesitter Dan Powers of Wichita registered a solid fifth-place finish. R.C. Whitwell, Zack VanderBeek, Cody Schniepp, 24th-starting Darron Fuqua and Mike Striegel rounded out the top 10.

Whitwell looked to be in command of the race until going back to green after a caution on lap 20. A bobble over the cushion in turn 4 cost him five spots on the track while Phillips sped by into the lead on lap 21.

Long-time USMTS competitor John Allen paced the first six laps of the race. The last time he led a USMTS main event was in 2008 at the Belleville High Banks, which he won. To learn more about the United States Modified Touring Series, visit usmts.com.

OFFICIAL RESULTS: United States Modified Touring Series. 81 Speedway, Park City, Kansas
Thursday, August 1, 2019

Showing finishing position, starting position in parentheses, car number, driver, hometown, chassis/engine builder, laps completed and money won. The top 12 in heat race passing points advance to the Casey’s General Stores “A” Main.

SIMPSON PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS HEAT RACE #1 (8 laps): 1. (1) 21c Cody Schniepp (R), Wichita, Kan. 2. (5) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas. 3. (2) 87 Kenny Sweet, Wichita, Kan. 4. (3) 75 Tad Davis, Mount Hope, Kan. 5. (7) 21b Bryce Schniepp (R), Wichita, Kan. 6. (9) 62 Hunter Marriott (R), Brookfield, Mo. 7. (8) 87 Darron Fuqua, Mayetta, Kan. 8. (6) 11 Erick Chesterman (R), Wichita, Kan. 9. (4) 710 Davis Givens (R), Hutchinson, Kan.

FAST SHAFTS HEAT RACE #2 (8 laps): 1. (1) 98 John Allen, Chanute, Kan. 2. (7) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo. 3. (4) 17 Mike Striegel (R), Wheatland, Mo. 4. (6) 16 Austin Siebert, Grandview, Mo. 5. (3) 747 Colton Eck (R), Goddard, Kan. 6. (8) 2g Brandon Givens (R), Wichita, Kan. 7. (2) 44t Tanner Black (R), Otis, Kan. 8. (5) 0 Jake O’Neil, Tucson, Ariz.

EDELBROCK HEAT RACE #3 (8 laps): 1. (1) 4 Dan Powers, Wichita, Kan. 2. (2) 65 Tyler Davis, Haysville, Kan. 3. (8) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa. 4. (6) 02 Tanner Mullens, Wichita, Kan. 5. (3) 22h Dustin Hodges (R), Centralia, Mo. 6. (7) 19sb Lance Mari, Imperial, Calif. 7. (5) 9d8 Paden Phillips, Chanute, Kan. 8. (4) 19r Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa.

VP RACE FUELS HEAT RACE #4 (8 laps): 1. (6) 96t R.C. Whitwell, Tucson, Ariz. 2. (1) 21x Travis Saurer, Elizabeth, Minn. 3. (4) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla. 4. (8) 23 Adam Kates, Tonganoxie, Kan. 5. (2) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla. 6. (7) 3j Jake Nightingale (R), Wichita, Kan. 7. (3) 22d Daniel Hilsabeck, Earlham, Iowa. 8. (5) 86 Brian Franz, Halstead, Kan.

REAL RACING WHEELS “B” MAIN #1 (12 laps, top 5 advance): 1. (1) 87 Kenny Sweet, Wichita, Kan. 2. (2) 02 Tanner Mullens, Wichita, Kan. 3. (3) 21b Bryce Schniepp (R), Wichita, Kan. 4. (6) 19sb Lance Mari, Imperial, Calif. 5. (5) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla. 6. (7) 87 Darron Fuqua, Mayetta, Kan. 7. (8) 9d8 Paden Phillips, Chanute, Kan., BillsBuilt/KBS, $75. 8. (4) 747 Colton Eck (R), Goddard, Kan., GRT/Hillsboro, $75. 9. (9) 710 Davis Givens (R), Hutchinson, Kan., GRT/Hatfield, $75. DNS – 19r Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa., Hughes/TriStar, $90. DNS – 11 Erick Chesterman (R), Wichita, Kan., Skyrocket/Karl, $75.

REAL RACING WHEELS “B” MAIN #2 (12 laps, top 5 advance): 1. (1) 16 Austin Siebert, Grandview, Mo. 2. (3) 62 Hunter Marriott (R), Brookfield, Mo. 3. (2) 75 Tad Davis, Mount Hope, Kan. 4. (4) 22h Dustin Hodges (R), Centralia, Mo. 5. (5) 2g Brandon Givens (R), Wichita, Kan. 6. (10) 86 Brian Franz, Halstead, Kan. 7. (8) 22d Daniel Hilsabeck, Earlham, Iowa., Hilsabeck/Mullins, $90. 8. (6) 3j Jake Nightingale (R), Wichita, Kan., Mullens/Mullens, $75. 9. (7) 44t Tanner Black (R), Otis, Kan., Hughes/ChevPerf, $75. 10. (9) 0 Jake O’Neil, Tucson, Ariz.

CASEY’S GENERAL STORES “A” MAIN (40 laps): 1. (7) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo., GRT/Durham, 40, $2500. 2. (12) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla., Hughes/Cornett, 40, $1500. 3. (5) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas, MBCustoms/Hatfield, 40, $1000. 4. (16) 62 Hunter Marriott (R), Brookfield, Mo., Rage/KSE, 40, $900. 5. (1) 4 Dan Powers, Wichita, Kan., GRT/KBS, 40, $500. 6. (3) 96t R.C. Whitwell, Tucson, Ariz., Lethal/Mullins, 40, $600. 7. (8) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa, VanderBuilt/Stoen, 40, $550. 8. (4) 21c Cody Schniepp (R), Wichita, Kan., Mullens/Thiel, 40, $300. 9. (24) 87 Darron Fuqua, Mayetta, Kan., MBCustoms/Driskell, 40, $275. 10. (11) 17 Mike Striegel (R), Wheatland, Mo., GRT/Driskell, 40, $400. 11. (2) 98 John Allen, Chanute, Kan., GRT/TwoM, 40, $375. 12. (6) 65 Tyler Davis, Haysville, Kan., Hughes/Hatfield, 40, $200. 13. (22) 2g Brandon Givens (R), Wichita, Kan., Hughes/Mullins, 40, $200. 14. (25) 86 Brian Franz, Halstead, Kan., GRT/Shadow, 40, $200.
15. (18) 75 Tad Davis, Mount Hope, Kan., GRT/Mullins, 40, $200. 16. (9) 21x Travis Saurer, Elizabeth, Minn., MBCustoms/ChevPerf, 40, $250. 17. (17) 21b Bryce Schniepp (R), Wichita, Kan., Hughes/Mullins, 34, $200. 18. (13) 87 Kenny Sweet, Wichita, Kan., BillsBuilt/KBS, 32, $200. 19. (21) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla., MBCustoms/ChevPerf, 30, $250. 20. (14) 16 Austin Siebert, Grandview, Mo., MBCustoms/Durham, 28, $250. 21. (10) 23 Adam Kates, Tonganoxie, Kan., LG2/Speedway, 28, $250. 22. (20) 22h Dustin Hodges (R), Centralia, Mo., VanderBuilt/Crane, 27, $250. 23. (23) 0 Jake O’Neil, Tucson, Ariz., LG2/Cornett, 19, $250. 24. (15) 02 Tanner Mullens, Wichita, Kan., Mullens/Mullens, 17, $250. 25. (19) 19sb Lance Mari, Imperial, Calif., MRT/Yeoman, 15, $350.

(R) = Grant Junghans USMTS Rookie of the Year contender

Lap Leaders: Allen 1-6, Whitwell 7-20, Phillips 21-40.

About the author

USMTS Admin

The United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS) is a fast growing and very popular open-wheel dirt Modified touring series in the United States.
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