Thornton Conquers "The Cage"
Twenty-six days of silence was broken Thursday night when the USMTS Casey’s Cup powered by S&S Fishing & Rental invaded the Atchison County Raceway and refired the engines for the 2nd Annual “Cage Match.”
The Scott brothers—Johnny and Stormy—filled the front row for the start of the 50-lap MSD Central Region main event, and Stormy Scott jumped out to lead the first 13 laps until the race’s first caution flag waved for a slowing car with a flat tire.
But Stormy Scott had a flat tire of his own. He ducked into the pits under caution and never returned to rejoin the field, giving Johnny Scott the point for the restart.
With Cade Dillard and Chase Junghans tucked in behind, Rodney Sanders snuck into third on lap 14 and the top four reeled off another six 12-second orbits around the high-banked 1/5-mile oval until the next yellow waved with 20 laps complete.
At the halfway mark, Johnny Scott continued to lead Dillard around the high side of the track with Sanders, Ricky Thornton Jr. and Josh Blumer filling the rest of the top five spots.
Hard contact on the short back-stretch between Sanders, Darron Fuqua and Dereck Ramirez. Although the green flag remained out, the incident caused crippling to the Modifieds of Sanders and Ramirez.
With the laps winding down, Thornton began to search around the middle of the track and found a spot to slide up in front of Johnny Scott to lead the 45th circuit, but Thornton crawled over the cushion two laps later and allowed Scott to regain the position.
Thornton again got by Scott on lap 48 which saw the final caution come out to set up a two-lap, green-white-checkered dash to the finish.
While Thornton cruised the final two laps to register the victory, 10th-starting Zack VanderBeek nudged in front of Scott to take the runner-up position while Joe Duvall, who started 15th, wrestled fourth away from Dillard in the final two laps.
Fuqua rolled the top side to beat Dillard to the finish line for fifth, Tyler Wolff snagged seventh, Kyle Prauner earned an eighth-place paycheck in his USMTS debut with fellow Nebraska racer Mike Densberger ninth and Sanders rounding out the top 10.
Thornton took a $3,000 payoff back to the Gressel Racing pit for his fourth triumph of the 2017 campaign.
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