Payne Doubles Up In Baytown
BAYTOWN, Texas – Jeremy Payne has had a season of personal firsts, and Saturday night at the Royal Purple Raceway he will have a shot at a first for the United States Modified Touring Series.
After winning the $2,000-to-win opening night feature Thursday, the 27-year-old from Springfield, Mo., mirrored that feat with a $3,000 triumph Friday evening at the sixth annual USMTS Texas Winter Nationals presented by Ron Craft Cadillac-Chevrolet.
The 40-lap Swan Energy “A” Main began with drivers searching high and low for the fastest way around the three-eighths-mile clay oval nestled in the Gulf Coast region. But with every passing lap, the low side of the racing surface became more and more popular with most of the field hugging the inside by the end of the race.
2010 USMTS national champion Jason Hughes started on the pole and set a strong pace for the first 13 laps until lapped traffic slowed his momentum. With Hughes stuck behind a slower car, Payne jumped to the outside and took the lead as the leaders completed lap 15.
Just like last night, just one caution slowed the main event – this time it was last night’s runner-up, Chris Brown, who suffered a flat tire with 11 laps remaining. Just like last night, the caution gave Payne a clear track in front of him and he sailed the rest of the way to his fifth win of the season and tenth of his USMTS career.
“The car was just awesome again tonight. I’m beginning to really like this place,” Payne said in victory lane. “I knew the track was probably going to take a little bit of rubber there in one lane, so I was trying to do my work early.
“Hughes got hung up behind a lapped car there after it did take some rubber. I was close enough to take advantage of it. I’m just thrilled to take two in a row here against these guys with 81 cars here. It’s awesome.”
Hughes withstood an early challenge from Ryan Gustin and a late-race charge by Jason Krohn to hold on for a second-place finish. Krohn, Gustin and Stormy Scott rounded out the top five finishers. Sixth through tenth were John O Whittington, Mark Noble, Corey Babbitt, Dereck Ramirez and Zack VanderBeek.
Noble, who started 19th, earned the Mesilla Valley Transportation Hard Charger Award.