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March 3, 2012
Hughes fires opening shot, wins USMTS National Championship Series opener


BAYTOWN, Texas -- Start Jason Hughes deep in the field of a USMTS main event and he is still a favorite to win on any given night at any given track, but put him on the front row on a racetrack where he has won more time than any other driver and he borders on unbeatable.

Friday night at the Royal Purple Raceway, Hughes started on the front row of the 40-lap “A” Main and that was as close as anybody got to the 2010 USMTS National Champion as led every lap en route to a $4,000 victory on the second night of the 3rd Annual Texas Spring Nationals.

Defending USMTS National Champion Ryan Gustin got by polesitter Stormy Scott after a restart with seven laps to go and claimed the runner-up spot while Scott settled for third.

John O Whittington, who won here a year ago, was fourth and nine-time USMTS National Champion Kelly Shryock rounded out the top 5 finishers.

“We got lucky and drew the front row outside and kind of cruised around and saved our equipment,” Hughes said following the win. “I saw Stormy show his nose a time or two so I’d gas it up and go on a little bit and then kind of cruised it to save my tires a little bit.

“I didn’t want to abuse my equipment and get passed on the last lap.”

Unlike Thursday night’s race where weather played havoc with the track and made for a bumpy racing surface in some areas, Friday’s feature provided a smooth slick surface but still plenty of action.

“Last night after 35 laps I could hardly breathe when we got done,” Hughes said. “But tonight we had a lot smoother race track. They’ve worked on the track, I figure they’ll work on it some more and it’ll be event better tomorrow like it was last year.”

The win was number 105 for his USMTS career and gave Hughes his sixth triumph at the quarter-mile clay oval in Baytown, Texas. It also put the 37-year-old from Watts, Okla., in the driver’s seat in his quest to claim the USMTS National Championship and the $30,000 check that awaits the champion.

Clyde Dunn Jr. earned a sixth-place finish Friday night to give Hughes Racing Chassis three of the first six to cross the finish line. Chris Henigan, Rodney Sanders, Steen Whiteaker Jr. and Johnny Scott completed the top 10.

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