INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (April 22) – Richie Gustin is glad he reconsidered his plans Saturday.
After initially expecting to take the night off from racing, Gustin decided to make the trip to Independence Motor Speedway for the Deery Brothers Summer Series for IMCA Late Models.
By night’s end, he was standing in victory lane celebrating the first series win of his career.
Gustin made his way past race-long leader Justin Mitchell with 11 laps to go in the 40-lapper to drive to the milestone victory.
Pole-sitter Mitchell assumed command early with Gustin in tow. The leader reached slower traffic after just 10 laps with Gustin remaining in pursuit the entire time.
Gustin stuck with him and was eventually able to work the low side past Mitchell exiting turn two on lap 29. He led the rest of the way to secure the $2,000 payday ahead of Mitchell.
Travis Denning, Luke Goedert and Curt Martin completed the top five in the caution-free feature.
Tyler Bruening crossed the line third, however his rearend axle housing failed post-race inspection.
Gustin became the fourth different winner in as many series events this season and the 98th different feature winner in the 31-year history of the Late Model tour.
Thirty-five Late Models signed in to compete Saturday night.
Gustin, Goedert, Rick Wendling and Cayden Carter earned $50 each from Malvern Bank for their heat race wins.
Goedert was also the winner of the $250 Sunoco Race Fuels feature qualifier drawing.
The series visits Dubuque Speedway Sunday, April 23 for a $2,000-to win event to conclude the Highway 20 Triple Crown weekend.
Heading into the final installment of the Triple Crown, Gustin holds a two point lead over Carter.
Feature results – 1. Richie Gustin, Gilman; 2. Justin Mitchell, Cedar Rapids; 3. Travis Denning, Sterling, Ill.; 4. Luke Goedert, Guttenburg; 5. Curt Martin, Independence; 6. Jake Neal, Omaha, Neb.; 7. Cayden Carter, Oskaloosa; 8. Jesse Sobbing, Malvern; 9. Rick Wendling, Hazleton; 10. Joel Callahan, Dubuque; 11. Matt Ryan, Davenport; 12. Jeremiah Hurst, Dubuque; 13. Luke Pestka, Robins; 14. Kyle Hinrichs, Swisher; 15. Darrel DeFrance, Marshalltown; 16. Jeff Tharp, Sherrill; 17. Jay Johnson, West Burlington; 18. Chad Holladay, Muscatine; 19. Paul Conrad, Colo; 20. Troy Hovey, Decorah; 21. Rob Toland, Colona, Ill.; 22. Jeff Aikey, Cedar Falls; 23. Curt Schroeder, Newton; DQ Tyler Bruening, Decorah.
1st heat (top three) – 1. Wendling; 2. Hinrichs; 3. Mitchell; 4. Schroeder; 5. Sobbing; 6. Hovey; 7. Sean Johnson, Independence; 8. Bryce Carey, Ionia; 9. Ben Seemann, Waterloo.
2nd heat – 1. Goedert; 2. Callahan; 3. Jay Johnson; 4. Hurst; 5. Conrad; 6. Toland; 7. Brian Hunter, Independence; 8. Brunson Behning, Davenport; 9. Gary Webb, Blue Grass.
3rd heat – 1. Carter; 2. Denning; 3. Martin; 4. DeFrance; 5. Ryan; 6. Rory Metcalf, Iowa City; 7. John Emerson, Waterloo; 8. Kyle Krampe, Baxter; 9. Jon Passick, Waterloo.
4th heat – 1. Gustin; 2. Neal; 3. Pestka; 4. Bruening; 5. Andy Eckrich, Oxford; 6. Aikey; 7. Holladay; 8. Tharp.
1st “B” feature (top five) – 1. Sobbing; 2. DeFrance; 3. Ryan; 4. Schroeder; 5. Hovey; 6. Metcalf; 7. Emerson; 8. Sean Johnson; 9. Krampe; 10. Seemann; 11. Carey; 12. Passick.
2nd “B” feature – 1. Hurst; 2. Bruening; 3. Conrad; 4. Toland; 5. Aikey; 6. Eckrich; 7. Holladay; 8. Tharp; 9. Behning; 10. Webb.