Shryock Snaps 15-Month Dry Spell
GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. – Snapping a 15-month dry spell, nine-time USMTS National Champion Kelly Shryock stole the feature win from Johnny Scott Thursday night in a thriller for the ages at the Valley Speedway.
Shryock started the 40-lap main event on the outside of the front row, but it was polesitter Steve Whiteaker Jr. who got the advantage at the drop of the green flag.
While Whiteaker worked the middle and bottom lanes, Shryock pounded the cushion on the high side of the 3/8-mile clay oval with Johnny Scott, Rodney Sanders and Jeremy Payne in hot pursuit.
Shryock beat Whiteaker to the stripe to lead the third lap, but Whiteaker battled back and regained the point at the end of the fourth lap.
One lap later, Shryock bobbled in the first turn and nearly lost control of his familiar #3 Skyrocket. By the time he was back up to speed, he found himself mired back in fourth place.
Using the same high line, Scott took control from Whiteaker on lap 6. Again Whiteaker fought back and snagged the lead for laps 8-10 before Scott took over for the final time with 11 laps in the books.
Three cautions throughout the middle of the race kept the field tightly bunched while Scott continued to out-duel Whiteaker with each passing lap. Meanwhile, Payne found his way into third and began to mix it up with the leaders while Shryock slid back as far as eighth place on lap 18.
Payne pressured Scott for the top spot for the middle-to-late portion of the race, but Whiteaker was able to get back around on a restart with 12 laps to go. The race’s final caution waved with six laps remaining and Shryock found himself back up to fourth for the final restart.
Shryock scooted underneath both Payne and Whiteaker in consecutive laps, and then pulled alongside Scott to challenge for the lead with three to go.
Scott held a two-car-length advantage over Shryock as they streaked below the white flag, and appeared to be on his way to his second win during the Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s Cup.
Shryock made up ground down the back-stretch and dove in low in turn 3. Halfway through the turn, Scott’s machine jumped over the cushion and he had to briefly lift off the gas pedal. It was enough for Shryock to inch ahead as they exited the final turn.
As they approached the finish line, Scott closed the gap and the two took the checkered flag in a dead heat. The naked eye may have missed it, but the transponders told the tale of the tape with Shryock taking the victory by two-one-thousandths of a second.
I can’t tell you how much this means,” an elated Shryock said in victory lane. “People don’t realize how much goes into this deal and how much work it takes to be on top of it night in and night out.
“We went back to the shop this week and tore this thing apart. We had it on the jig and found a bunch of stuff we needed to fix, and we even threw some other things at it to try and make it work. It feels good to run good.”
Thursday night’s triumph was the 179th of Shryock’s career and earned him a $3,200 paycheck for his efforts.
Scott, who came into the event as the points leader in the Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s Cup, was candid about the mistake that cost him the win, but satisfied with a good points night to keep himself atop the rankings.
“I went into turn three pretty hard and just jumped the cushion,” Scott admitted. “There’s no two ways about it, I just messed up and Kelly was right there to take advantage. My hats off to those guys, though. They really needed this.”
Payne, who has been in the redraw for eight of the ten ‘Hunt’ races, drew the eighth starting spot for the sixth time but found his way onto the podium with a third-place result.
USRA Modified national points leader Terry Schultz held off Rodney Sanders for the fourth spot while Whiteaker, Chris Brown, Trevor Hunt, Terry Phillips and Tanner Mullens rounded out the top 10.