By DAVID SMITH JR.
Special to The Hays Daily News
Park City, Kansas - April 14, 2014 - Thomas Tillison, Jr. and Ryan Gustin were the big winners as the 2014 season opener for the National Championship Racing Association of Park City, Kansas presented by Precise Racing Products modified division kicked off with the second annual modified "Spring Scramble" at 81 Speedway in Park City. This unique format climaxed an eventful two day format which saw two sets of heat races on Friday night and "C," "B," and two, twenty-five lap "A" features paying $2500 to win on this Saturday night.
The first twenty-five lap feature saw outside front row starter Tillison get the jump on Gustin entering turns one and two to take the lead. Tillison ran the top of the three-eighths mile while Gustin's preferred line was down low. Three-time and defending tour champion Marc Hurd, Jon Allen and tour rookie of the year contender Chris Pitts chased early with the leader hold a five car length lead.
Gustin was beginning to reel in the leader on lap nine when the first of three caution flags fell on when Josh Lanterman came to a stop at the top of turns one and two with a flat right rear tire.
On the restart, Tillison took off and remained in the lead while Allen and Brian Franz made their way past Gustin into positions second and third with Gustin falling to fourth. Tillison built a fifteen car length advantage at the races midway point over Allen before the second caution flag fell when Jason McGehee spun at the bottom of turns three and four.
One lap after the restart the final caution flew when Ross Shipman, Casey McClaseky and "D" feature transfer Joe Adams got together in turn three.
The final double file restart saw Allen poke the front of his car underneath Tillison entering turns one and two but Tillison would hold the advantage and by lap seventeen open a half stretch lead. He approached lapped traffic with just two laps to go but Allen was unable to capitalize allowing Tillison to go on to his second career NCRA victory, his first coming in the now defunct modified south division.
Allen settled for second while Gustin got back around Franz late to take home third. Brenden Gemmill worked his way up from his seventeenth starting position to round out the top five.
Amarillo driver Gene Weaver, a former NCRA modified south champion, earned the races Kaotic Wraps "hard charger" award as the transferred from the "D," "C," "B," into the twin features and would finish seventh in this first segment.
Earlier in the afternoon it was announced that Logan's Landscape and Tree Service would put up $1000 and challenge the winner of the first twin feature to start last (24th) and if he would win the second feature would claim the money. Tillison would accept the challenge during trophy presentation.
The second twenty-five lap feature saw Pitts and McClaskey start on the front row with McClaskey getting by Pitts to take the lead exiting turn two. Pitts, fourth starting Jason McGehee, Joshua Everhart and Don Hodge gave chase. Everhart would make his way up into the second position on lap five while back up front, McClaskey would open up a ten car length lead.
Behind the front runners, all eyes were on Tillison as he began to work his way up through the field and by lap seven had worked his way up into seventh position. However his run and luck would come to an abrupt end as he got into a tangle with Bill Siemers and Ross Shipman at the bottom of turns three and four to bring out the only caution of the feature.
On the double file restart it was McClaskey, Everhart and thirteenth starting Tanner Mullens your top three and they made it that way heading into the backstretch exiting turn two. Mullens got the better end of the deal and took the lead entering turns three and four.
Behind them, 20th starting Gustin had made his way up through field and on lap ten took over the third position. "The Reaper" made his way past Everhart for the runner up position and by lap fifteen began pressuring Mullens for the lead. He would take over the lead using the high side entering turns one and two and quickly pulled away from the field.
Gustin would not be challenged the rest of the way and would go on to take the $2500 victory in what will be his final modified event until October as he will be focusing on his late model ride. Mullens settled for an impressive second place finish while 21st starting Allen worked his way up through the field for a strong third place finish. Everhart came home fourth while Gemmill eighteenth starting Gemmill rounded out the top five.
The National Championship Racing Association would like to thank Logan's Landscape and Tree Service and Kaotic Wraps for their added participation in this very successful second annual event.
The next event for the series modified division will take place next Saturday night, April 19th, at the famed Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson for a special $2000 to win event. Also competing will be the series sprint division and the season opener for the late model tour.
81 Speedway/Park City, Kansas
April 12, 2014
D Feature: 1) Robbie Simmons, 2) Gene Weaver, 3) Cecil Dymond, 4) Mike Lawrence, 5) Greg Burt, 6) Grant Junghans, 7) Johnny Whitmore, 8) Rodney Chaffin, 9) Gary Kilbourn, 10) Chris Purkey, DNS) Richie Wilson, Richard Wilson
C Feature: 1) Dan Powers, 2) Tyler Shearbod, 3) Jon Thompson, 4) Kirby Robe 5) A.J. Brochu, 6) Casey McClaskey, 7) Gene Weaver, 8) Joe Adams, 9) Briar Oelkers, 10) Dean Brungardt, 11) Dustin Johnson, 12) Robbie Simmons, 13) Cecil Dymond, 14) Grant Junghans, 15) Johnny Whitmore, 16) Greg Burt, 17) Rodney Chaffin, 18) Mike Lawrence, 19) Gary Kilbourn, DNS) Justin Rexwinkle
B Feature: 1) Jason McGehee, 2) Tanner Mullens, 3) Brenden Gemmill, 4) Paden Phillips, 5) Dan Powers, 6) Casey McClaskey, 7) Jon Thompson, 8) Joe Adams, 9) Kirby Robe, 10) Gene Weaver, 11) A.J. Brochu, 12) Jason Hilliard, 13) Justin Moler, 14) Briar Oelkers, 15) Dean Brungardt, 16) Culyer Calkin, 17) Tyler Davis, 18) Tyler Shearbod, 19) Jimmie Hobbs, DNS) Van Gemmill
1st A Feature: 1) Thomas Tillison, 2) John Allen, 3) Ryan Gustin, 4) Brian Franz, 5) Brenden Gemmill, 6) Marc Hurd, 7) Gene Weaver, 8) Paden Phillips, 9) Stephen Muilenburg, 10) Tanner Mullins, 11) Dustin Belcher, 12) Bill Siemers, 13) Nic Baalman, 14) Dan Powers, 15) Josh Lanterman, 16) Joh Thompson, 17) Joshua Everhart, 18) Tanner Mullens, 19) Jason McGehee, 20) Don Hodge, 21) Casey McClaskey, 22) Chris Pitts, 23) Joe Adams, 24) Ross Shipman
2nd A Feature: 1) Ryan Gustin, 2) Tanner Mullens, 3) John Allen, 4) Joshua Everhart, 5) Brenden Gemmill 6) Jason McGehee, 7) Stephen Muilenburg, 8) Gene Weaver, 9) Paden Phillips, 10) Casey McClaskey, 11) Dan Powers, 12) Brian Franz, 13) Jon Thompson, 14) Josh Lanterman, 15) Marc Hurd, 16) Dustin Belcher, 17) Nic Baalman, 18) Bill Siemers, 19) Kirby Robe, 20) Chris Pitts, 21) Don Hodge, 22) Thomas Tillison, Jr., 23) Ross Shipman, 24) Joe Adams