Photo: Ryan Gillmore
Story By: Trenton Berry / RacinDirt.com
Ryan Gustin sat on the outside pole of the MARS DIRTcar Series sanctioned John Kuntz Memorial Saturday at Springfield Raceway. On the race's second attempt going green, he jumped out front and never looked back to earn his first ever Dirt Late Model win. "It's awesome man," exclaimed Gustin. "To be able to win our first late model race is a great feeling."
He wasn't without challenges though as he had to hold off runner up Terry Phillips on several occasions. "I gotta thank TP for giving me room there. He probably could have let 'er go, but he didn't." A twenty-nine lap green flag run made up the majority of Saturday's race and lap traffic was thick for the fornt runners. "I was actually glad to see one of the later yellows," said Gustin. The win for Gustin comes as he has less than ten Late Model starts in his career.
One of the key moments of the feature came on a lap 32 restart. Gustin had previously fired deep in turn four on the restarts. On the lap 32 green flag, he fired as he entered turn three and pulled several car lengths on Phillips. He talked about the approach following the race. "I figured they were going to be expecting me to fire late. I fired as early as I could, and cut it back down and caught that little bit of moisture." Phillips was also quick to credit Gustin for the move. "He got smart there," Phillips said. "He started early which had me in the marbles there cause we had to go around a hole. Pretty smart thinking on his end. He's a hell of a racer."
The night was good for Phillips and resulted in another second place finish at Springfield. "It wasn't a bad run," commented Phillips. "New dirt on the track, all the rain and stuff, it just got to where you couldn't pass. It was a pretty good race though."
Jesse Stovall, Brantlee Gotschall and Jason Bodenhamer rounded out the top five in an interesting night at the races. Early in the event, Mike Berger had trouble entering turn one, in the first heat, and got into the fence. The accident paused activities for approximately 45 minutes as officials tended to those close by. No serious injuries were reported on either side of the fence. Brad Looney got together with Shawn Knuckles on a restart late and ended up turning over in the middle of turns one and two. It marked the first time in his 24 year career he went wheels up in a race car.
MARS Late Model Results
John Kuntz Memorial A Feature (40 Laps): 1. Ryan Gustin 2. Terry Phillips 3. Jesse Stovall 4. Brantlee Gotschall 5. Jason Bodenhamer 6. Eric Turner 7. Justin Wells 8. Mark Dotson 9. Shawn Knuckles 10. Brandon McCormick 11. Patrick Johnson 12. Justin Asplin 13. Cole Wells 14. Tony Jackson Jr. 15. Dustin Walker 16. Leroy Johnson 17. Darrell Mooneyham 18. Chuck Comer 19. Chance Bishop 20. Brad Looney 21. Matt Brookshire 22. Brandon Morton
Heat Race Winners - Terry Phillips, Jesse Stovall, Ryan Gustin, Tony Jackson Jr.
B Main Winner - Jason Bodenhamer