Zack VanderBeek dominates USMTS at Fayette County Speedway

New Sharon driver defends home Iowa turf again Open Modifed tour

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WEST UNION — It’s a big deal, getting to race in your home state on the United States Modified Touring Series. Racers from all over the Midwest and South racing in the Open Modified tour, and when they go to familiar territory, the pride kicks up a notch.

So when USMTS returned to Eastern Iowa on Friday night, the Iowa guys in the field had a little something extra to prove. Last time USMTS came to the area, it was Zack VanderBeek who walked away victorious — and talked about how satisfying that win was.

Well, the New Sharon driver backed up that May performance at Upper Iowa Speedway with a dominant, statement-making USMTS Northern Region victory at Fayette County Speedway in West Union on Friday night.

“It just seems like when we come to Iowa (with USMTS) we turn up the wick,” VanderBeek said. “We loving racing in Iowa, the tracks are fun, and it feels like home.

“I felt really confident going in. The guys starting in front of me had good heat races and once we got them we just had to keep those fast cars behind us — the 20 (Rodney Sanders), the 12 (Jason Hughes) and the 97 (Cade Dillard). We’re just happy to be here and hopefully we can keep this going.”

VanderBeek had a so-so heat race, finishing third, and started the 42-lap, $3,000-to-win main event from fifth — but never was scored lower than third the whole race en route to his 33rd career USMTS win and fifth of the season. He dove to the bottom right from the drop of the green flag, and powered around the likes of pole-sitter Jacob Bleess, Masen Big Eagle and Cade Dillard.

He wasn’t bothered by a midrace restart in which Dillard and Northern Region points leader Jason Hughes made a brief run at him, either. Dillard said after the race if he could’ve cleared VanderBeek and gotten into clean air “we’d have been hard to pass, let’s put it that way,” but a loss in power hindered him in the second half of the race.

VanderBeek has dabbled in USMTS and IMCA Modified racing this season, running his LG2 chassis in the touring competition, and an Iroc Chassis in his local IMCA competition. His handful of wins in USMTS competition has been offset by some frustration when racing IMCA stuff — most recently evidenced by his not making the main event at the Hogan Memorial at Benton County Speedway in Vinton.

That made Friday night’s win all the more meaningful — and proved that special blend of satisfying and relieving.

“This is what we know. I’ve been doing this for 13 years now and it’s what I love to do — I love this Open racing; it’s more of a challenge,” VanderBeek said. “In that IMCA deal, the races are over before they start, it seems like to me. It’s just a different deal. We’re working on that new Iroc car, trying to get that going. A different car, different type of racing, different tire, less power, no spoiler — you just have to do one or the other, I think. And I think that’s what I’m going to lean toward, is racing more Open stuff with just a few IMCA shows.

“This is where my heart is.”

It wasn’t a large field of cars — 19 started the A-main Friday night — but it was a deep field. VanderBeek won ahead of Dillard, Hughes, Rodney Sanders, Stormy Scott and Malvern driver Jesse Sobbing.

VanderBeek’s fifth-place starting spot had him ahead of those guys right away, and he took full advantage. That, he said, is half the battle when racing a field like this. It makes defending home turf a little easier.

“It’s too bad we couldn’t get more cars, but it’s tough — we’re in IMCA country,” VanderBeek said. “Half the battle in these deals is having a good starting spot because everyone is so competitive and so fast. We felt good, ran our line, got through lapped traffic really clean and it ended up great for us.”

UNITED STATES MODIFIED TOURING SERIES

FAYETTE COUNTY SPEEDWAY RESULTS

1.33z Zack VanderBeek; 2. 97 Cade Dillard; 3. 12 Jason Hughes; 4. 20 Rodney Sanders; 5. 2s Stormy Scott; 6. 99 Jesse Sobbing; 7. 21 Jacob Bleess; 8. 1st Johnny Scott; 9. N81 Mike Densberger; 10. 99e Jeff Big Eagle; 11. 01 Joey Galloway; 12. 6 Brock Bauman; 13. 00 Mason Big Eagle; 14. 00j J.D. Auringer; 15. 45 Levi Nielsen; 16. 23b Brett Bumgardener; 17. 99b Martin Bennett; 18. 22 Nick Nevins; 19. 10 Kaleb Bentley.

l Comments: (319) 368-8884; jeremiah.davis@thegazette.com

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