Payne Finally Regains Modified Form
HUMBOLDT, Kan. – Jeremy Payne’s rebuilding season took a turn for the better Friday when he roared to his first United States Modified Touring Series win of the season in round twp of the Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s Cup at the Humboldt Speedway.
It was Payne’s first USMTS victory in more than a year. His last win came at the inaugural Silver Dollar Nationals at the I-80 Speedway and, more importantly, it was his first USMTS triumph since forming his own team at the end of 2011.
After a successful five-year partnership competing in both Modifieds and Late Models with Terry Phillips Racing, Payne set out last December to form his own team with his focus squarely on contending for a USMTS title.
“It’s been pretty tough,” Payne said of his baptism by fire as a young owner/driver this year. “I knew what it consisted of and that it would be a challenge. When you kind of struggle, that makes it more difficult. Probably a little more difficult than I thought.”
Just being in contention for the checkered flag this year has been a struggle for the 26-year-old from Springfield, Mo., let alone contending for a championship. But that all changed around 11 p.m. Friday night.
In his second night driving the #186 GRT Modified with new sponsor SLAP Energy Drinks, Payne was relentless in his pursuit of early leader Johnny Scott. He finally wrestled the lead away on lap 15 and led the remaining 25 laps to earn the $3,000 winner’s share of the prize money.
From the outside of the front row, Scott grabbed the lead from polesitter Jason Cummins at the drop of the green flag. By the second lap, fifth-starting Ryan Gustin was on Scott’s tail and challenged the leader for nine laps until Payne scooted underneath the defending USMTS national champion to take over second place.
Three laps later, Payne took control and was never challenged after that. Gustin got by Scott on laps 19, but could never get closer than two car-lengths to Payne, who notched his seventh career USMTS winner’s trophy.
Gustin added a runner-up finish to his win Thursday night in the opening event of the Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s Cup and remains the series points leader. Stormy Scott – a two-time winner this season at Humboldt – bested younger twin brother Johnny for the third spot while Jason Hughes rounded out the top 5 finishers.