O'Neil cops USMTS Casey's Clash at Hamilton County Speedway

WEBSTER CITY, Iowa (Aug. 22)--The Hamilton County Speedway hosted the 13th Annual USMTS Casey's Clash presented by AmericInn on Thursday night, and Jake O'Neil made himself at home in victory lane for the third time this season.

Hunter Marriott garnered the Sybesma Graphics Pole Award and led early on before giving way to Dereck Ramirez, who came from the sixth starting spot to the front in three laps.

Ramirez built a sizeable lead but a trio of early cautions slowed the pace-the most notable of which happened when Ryan Gustin's Spike Hardcore Energy mount erupted in a puff of smoke while battling for the top spot.

After Gustin's charge was extinguished, Marriot and O'Neil chased the leader while Lance Mari, Terry Phillips, Rodney Sanders and Zack VanderBeek were close behind.

While Ramirez ran through the middle of the corners, O'Neil searched for a faster line around the high side of the historic half-mile while VanderBeek was sneaking around the shortest way around the track with Marriott and Sanders still within striking distance.

With 21 of 35 laps in the books, Ramirez dove into the first turn somewhat lower than he had been, which opened the door for O'Neil and VanderBeek. Suddenly, Ramirez had O'Neil to his right and VanderBeek to his left as the three exited turn two.

The attempted three-wide drag race down the back-stretch failed miserably. O'Neil bounced off the outside concrete wall and into the right side of Ramirez's race car, and then Ramirez clipped the front end of VanderBeek's VanderBuilt chassis.

The incident, which had all of the makings of a major melee, left Ramirez spinning to a stop and the waving of the yellow flag for the fifth and final time.

"I just hate it," O'Neil said of the contact with Ramirez. "I think it was a racing deal. I just had a really good run to the outside. He didn't come all the way up to the top so I thought maybe he was just leaving a lane up there. I was all the way to his door and got stuck in the marbles up there and bounced off the fence, and then bounced off of him. I tried keeping it off of him."

The restart with 14 laps remaining had O'Neil setting the pace while Ramirez was relegated to the back of the pack.

As the laps wound down, O'Neil continued to lead while Sanders chipped away at his advantage and closed to within a car length as the two took the white flag, but Sanders got above the cushion and clobbered the concrete wall in turn one allowing O'Neil to cruise to a $2,500 payday.

Sanders held on for second with Phillips getting by VanderBeek in the closing laps to grab the third spot while Dustin Sorensen came from tenth to finish fifth.

Marriott, Kyle Brown, Mark Elliott, Al Hejna and Mari rounded out the top ten. Ramirez fought his way back to salvage an 11th-place finish.

The win was O'Neil's sixth USMTS triumph which moved him into a tie on the USMTS all-time wins list with Ron Jones and Joey Jensen.

Westward ho: On Friday, the series heads west as the Rapid Speedway in Rock Rapids, Iowa, hosts the 11th Annual Rapid Rumble presented by Wrisco. The Arnold Motor Supply Iron Man Challenge featuring American Racer USRA Stock Cars and Out-Pace USRA B-Mods will also be on tap along with Cook Racing Supplies USRA Hobby Stocks.

Fans witnessed a barn-burner last year when Johnny Scott limped home the final lap with a blown tire. In the nine previous USMTS events held at the Lyons County Fairgrounds, only Rodney Sanders has visited victory lane twice. Other former winners here include Cade Dillard, Cory Crapser, Zack VanderBeek, Jason Krohn, Jon Tesch and Kelly Shryock.

Tickets are $22 for adults, $5 for kids ages 7-14 and free for kids 6 and under. Pit passes will be $30 and you must be at least 12 years old to enter the pits. The pit gate will open at 4:30 and grandstands at 5:30. Driver registration will be cut off at 6:30 with hot laps at 7 and racing to follow.

Hunter Marriott will be greeting race fans at the Casey's General Store located at 709 1st Ave. in Rock Rapids from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Coupons good for $2 off adult admission are available at Casey's locations in Brandon, Canton, Harrisburg and Sioux Falls, plus George, Hull, Rock Rapids, Sheldon, Sibley and Sioux Center, plus Luverne in Minnesota. Go to caseys.com to find the location nearest you.

The Rapid Speedway is a semi-banked 3/8-mile dirt oval located 0.5 mile east of US 75 on SR 9, then 0.5 mile south on South Tama St. (400 S. Tama St., Rock Rapids, IA 51246). For more information, visit rockrapidsspeedway.com.

The USMTS ventures to the Nobles County Speedway in Worthington, Minn., on Saturday for the 9th Annual USMTS Summer Showdown presented by Beyea Custom Headers, and the four-day swing wraps up Sunday with the Sandy Benson Memorial and 10th Annual USMTS Summer Slam presented by Out-Pace Racing Products at the Casino Speedway in Watertown, S.D.

To connect with the United States Modified Touring Series, visit usmts.com. You can also like us on Facebook, visit us on Instagram, follow us on Twitter, connect with us on LinkedIn and watch us on YouTube. Keep up to speed, get it first and subscribe to USMTS e-News.

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United States Modified Touring Series
Casey's General Stores USMTS National Championship
Casey's USMTS Hunt for the Championship
13th Annual USMTS Casey's Clash presented by AmericInn
Hamilton County Speedway, Webster City, Iowa
Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019

Showing finishing position, starting position in parentheses, car number, driver, hometown, chassis/engine builder, laps completed and money won. All drivers advanced to the Casey's General Stores "A" Main with the top eight in heat race passing points redrawing for for the first eight starting spots..

1. (1) 23 Adam Kates, Tonganoxie, Kan.
2. (2) 19sb Lance Mari, Imperial, Calif.
3. (6) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa.
4. (4) 12 Mark Elliott, Webster City, Iowa.
5. (5) 21k Kyle Brown (R), Madrid, Iowa.
6. (7) 3j Josh Cain (R), Moriarity, N.M.
7. (3) 14e Chase Ellingson (R), Iowa Falls, Iowa.

1. (2) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas.
2. (3) 19r Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa.
3. (7) 62 Hunter Marriott (R), Brookfield, Mo.
4. (4) 22d Daniel Hilsabeck, Earlham, Iowa.
5. (6) 21 Ben Nading (R), Ankeny, Iowa.
6. (5) 21x Travis Saurer, Elizabeth, Minn.
7. (1) 57 Duke Erickson (R), Sioux Falls, S.D.

1. (1) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla.
2. (3) 0 Jake O'Neil, Tucson, Ariz.
3. (5) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
4. (7) 19 Dustin Sorensen, Rochester, Minn.
5. (2) 9 Jimmy Ray, Las Cruces, N.M.
6. (6) 777 Al Hejna, Clear Lake, Iowa.
7. (4) 29 Ron Ver Beek, Oskaloosa, Iowa.

1. (3) 0 Jake O'Neil, Tucson, Ariz., LG2/Cornett, $2500.
2. (8) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas, MBCustoms/Hatfield, $1500.
3. (9) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo., GRT/Durham, $1000.
4. (4) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa, VanderBuilt/Stoen, $800.
5. (10) 19 Dustin Sorensen, Rochester, Minn., MBCustoms/Action, $700.
6. (1) 62 Hunter Marriott (R), Brookfield, Mo., Rage/KSE, $600.
7. (14) 21k Kyle Brown (R), Madrid, Iowa, Harris/Tesar, $550.
8. (11) 12 Mark Elliott, Webster City, Iowa, Harris/Karl, $300.
9. (18) 777 Al Hejna, Clear Lake, Iowa, Rage/ChevPerf, $375.
10. (2) 19sb Lance Mari, Imperial, Calif., MRT/Yeoman, $400.
11. (6) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla., Hughes/Cornett, $375.
12. (5) 23 Adam Kates, Tonganoxie, Kan., LG2/Speedway, $350.
13. (17) 21x Travis Saurer, Elizabeth, Minn., MBCustoms/ChevPerf, $325.
14. (21) 29 Ron Ver Beek, Oskaloosa, Iowa, IROC/ChevPerf, $200.
15. (20) 57 Duke Erickson (R), Sioux Falls, S.D., Dominator/Hanson, $275.
16. (13) 21 Ben Nading (R), Ankeny, Iowa, VanderBuilt/Mullins, $200.
17. (15) 9 Jimmy Ray, Las Cruces, N.M., AOS/AOS, $250.
18. (19) 14e Chase Ellingson (R), Iowa Falls, Iowa, GRT/KSE, $200.
19. (12) 22d Daniel Hilsabeck, Earlham, Iowa, Hilsabeck/Mullins, $250.
20. (7) 19r Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa, Hughes/TriStar, $250.
21. (16) 3j Josh Cain (R), Moriarity, N.M., Baxter/Mullins, $300.

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

Lap Leaders: Marriott 1-3, Ramirez 4-21, O'Neil 22-35.
Total Laps Led: Ramirez 18, O'Neil 14, Marriott 3.
Margin of Victory: TBD.
Time of Race: TBD (5 cautions).
Provisional Starters: none.
Eibach Spring Forward Award: Hejna (advanced 9 positions).
FK Rod Ends Hard Charger: Hejna (started 18th, finished 9th).
Entries: 21.
Next Race: Friday, Aug. 23, Rapid Speedway, Rock Rapids, Iowa.
Casey's General Stores USMTS National Championship Points: Sanders 2827, Ramirez 2621, Marriott 2497, Phillips 2306, Gustin 2280, O'Neil 2190, VanderBeek 1799, Kates 1768, Mike Striegel 1706, Joe Duvall 1471.
Casey's Hunt for the USMTS National Championship Points: Sanders 945, Ramirez 916, Marriott 866, Phillips 855, O'Neil 620, Saurer 615, Kates 604, Gustin 593, Mari 566, Mike Striegel 544.
Grant Junghans USMTS Rookie of the Year Points: Marriott 2055, Mike Striegel 1571, Dustin Hodges 584, Carlos Ahumada Jr. 549, Nathan Hagar 415.
USMTS Manufacturers Championship Points: MBCustoms 259, Hughes 249, GRT 194, Rage 191, LG2 180.
USMTS Engine Builder of the Year Points: Hatfield 233, Cornett 222, KSE 167, Durham 159, Stoen 127.