WEST PLAINS, Mo. (May 5) – With 176 career wins, there’s not many race tracks on the United States Modified Touring Series schedule that Kelly Shryock hasn’t won at.
One of those tracks was the West Plains Motor Speedway where the USMTS Modifieds paid their first visit in the series’ 14-year history Saturday night, and now the nine-time USMTS National Champion can add the legendary 3/8-mile red clay oval to his rÉsumÉ.
Although he started on the pole and led all 40 laps of the USMTS National Championship Series main event Saturday night, Shryock’s series-best 177th USMTS victory didn’t come easy as he had to fight back the challenges of hard-charging Terry Phillips in the closing laps to seal the deal.
Phillips, who started on the outside of the sixth row, methodically worked his way to the front and got up to challenge Shryock’s teammate Chris Brown near the halfway point of the race. Cautions on laps 24 and 32 helped keep the field tight, and Phillips eventually got by Brown and set his sights on the leader.
With Phillips closing in, Shryock adjusted his line to take away Phillips’ preferred route. In doing so, however, the bottom groove opened up for Brown and he took full advantage of the clear track in front of him to challenge for the lead himself.
But the veteran from Fertile, Iowa, was flawless over the final handful of laps and held on to cross the finish line ahead of Phillips and Brown. The win – Shryock’s first of the year- was worth $5,000 which included a $1,000 bonus from Hanson Tire Service.
With his runner-up finish, Phillips also collected a $500 bonus from Hanson Tire Service as the hard charger of the race.
2007 USMTS National Champion Jason Krohn finished fourth for the second straight night, and Ryan Gustin passed ten cars competitors en route to a fifth-place finish. Sixth through tenth went to Zack VanderBeek, Dereck Ramirez, Brandon Ball, Mike Sorensen and West Plains resident Jason Hughes.
The other Jason Hughes in attendance – the 2010 USMTS National Champion from Watts, Okla. – followed up his win on Friday night in La Monte, Mo., with a disappointing last-place finish when he suffered a flat tire on lap 5 after contact from another car.
USMTS Casey’s Cup points leader Rodney Sanders wound up eleventh – his first finish outside of the top-10 in the first fourteen USMTS points races so far this season.
Next weekend, the series heads back to the Lone Star State for a tripleheader on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 10-12. On Thursday, the USMTS Modifieds return to the Heart O’ Texas Speedway in Elm Mott for the second straight year, and then on Friday it’s on to Crandall, Texas, for the first-ever event at the RPM Speedway. The weekend wraps up Saturday at the Cowtown Speedway in Kennedale.
One driver could walk away with more than $10,000 during the 50-hour stretch. Friday’s event at the RPM Speedway will be a $2,000-to-win USMTS Casey’s Cup Series race sandwiched between two USMTS National Championship Series shows paying $4,000 to win each.
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 and follow us on Twitter.