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INDEPENDENCE — The Gustin family has won a lot of races across the country. Late Models and Modifieds alike, the Gustins have won at every level of competition.
So a first win of any kind these days is a rarity for any of them. Saturday night, though, saw a Gustin in Victory Lane for the first time in an IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series for Late Models main event.
Richie Gustin waited out Cedar Rapids driver Justin Mitchell at a slick but fast Independence Motor Speedway, made his move with around 15 laps to go and found his first Summer Series win.
Call it a monkey off his back or not, Gustin knocked off something that had been nagging at him for a few years.
“It’s a big deal,” Gustin said. “To not be able to win one of these yet was weighing on me. To finally get that one out of the way, hopefully they start coming a little easier now.”
Patience always is a factor in making a winning pass — or almost any pass, really — but the nature of the racing surface Saturday night meant walking a fine line and timing to make it happen.
Mitchell, primarily an Open Late Model racer the last several years, led by about a half straightaway for the first half of the race, while Gustin experimented with a few different corner entries and exits. Once they hit lapped traffic, Gustin was able to close the gap and start plotting his move.
Some drivers will tell you leading the race with a few laps to go can be the most stressful laps to make — owing to the phantom sounds a driver can hear or the dread of a late caution. But Gustin said the opposite.
For him, the stress was in the chase. It wasn’t until he cleared Mitchell that his mind was at ease.
“It felt like I had a couple opportunities (at the lead) but I didn’t take them,” Gustin said. “I didn’t want to make a move in lapped traffic because I wanted to do it in open track; I felt like that was a cleaner way to do it.
“It calms down for me, actually, when I get out into the lead. You’re not chasing anything. I’m more stressed in second trying to come up with a strategy. Once you get in the lead, it all slows down and calms down.”
Mitchell ended up second at the checkers ahead of Tyler Bruening, whose hard charge from 16th starting spot was erased when his rear-end axle housing failed post-race inspection. Travis Denning was then credited with third ahead of Luke Goedert and Curt Martin.
For Gustin, his win came on a night where he originally hadn’t planned on racing at all. A last-minute decision to go racing a night after a third-place finish in the Summer Series race at Farley Speedway paid off.
A win won’t change his plans too much further, though. While his brother Ryan runs almost exclusively with the USMTS Modifieds, Richie plans to go back and forth between his Late Model and IMCA Modified, chasing specials and big money shows — in line with the typical family custom, as brother Jimmy (IMCA Modified) and sister Jenae (IMCA/USRA Modified) do the same.
Regardless, Summer Series races will be a fixture, if not the main focus. The competitiveness is appealing, after all.
“The speed and the skill level is there; it’s nice to have this class that’s considered a next notch up, and it’s pretty cool to win a Late Model race,” Gustin said. “When it works out to do it at tracks that are good for me and I have some laps, I’ll be here. We’re busy man. It’s summer time. It’s fun to race with them when we get the chance.”
DROSTE TAKES THE $1,000
Waterloo driver Tyler Droste had spent the last few years bouncing back and forth between an IMCA Late Model and Modified, running the Summer Series races primarily and his Modified when he could.
This season, though, he moved back exclusively to Modified, preferring to chase the myriad money race opportunities and see some racetracks he hadn’t yet.
While the first big payday of the season came at a track he knows intimately, taking home the $1,000 at Independence Saturday night was enough confirmation of the decision already.
“We’ve had an awesome car, but we’ve had horrible luck before tonight,” Droste said. “Sometimes you’ve got to have a little luck on your side, too. It paid off tonight.
“It’s taken a little bit to get this car where we want it, but it’s pretty damn close right now.”
Droste won ahead of Troy Cordes — who nearly won the night before at Farley before a steering shaft broke. Hunter Marriott ended up third after racing from 17th starting position with no cautions. Jenae Gustin was fourth and J.D. Auringer was fifth.
INDEPENDENCE MOTOR SPEEDWAY RESULTS
IMCA DEERY BROTHERS SUMMER SERIES
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.
1. Tyler Droste, Waterloo; 2. Troy Cordes, Dunkerton; 3. Hunter Marriott, Brookfield, Mo.; 4. Jenae Gustin, Marshalltown; 5. JD Auringer, Evansdale; 6. John Emerson, Cedar Falls; 7. Darin Duffy, Urbana; 8. Scott Hogan, Vinton; 9. Jason Snyder, Dunkerton; 10. Brennen Chipp, Waterloo; 11. Chris Simpson, Oxford; 12. Adam Johnson, Independence; 13. Brandon Maitland, Waterloo; 14. Joel Rust, Grundy Center; 15. Ryan Maitland, Waterloo; 16. Ronn Lauritzen, Jesup; 17. Jeff Waterman, Quincy, Ill.; 18. Joel Callahan, Dubuque; 19. Mitch Morris, Long Grove; 20. Jason Morehouse, Evansdale; 21. Austin Emry, Grinnell; 22. Corey Dripps, Waterloo; 23. Vern Jackson, Waterloo; 24. Stephan Kammerer, Blue Glass.
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