Jason Hughes in Hunt County Raceway victory lane. (Tyler Rinken Photo)

Hughes Banks $5,000 USMTS Check

GREENVILLE, Texas — The Summit USMTS National Championship presented by RacinDirt lit the fuse Friday night with opening night of the Ninth Annual Summit USMTS Texas Winter Nationals at the Hunt County Raceway.

Four-time USMTS national champion Jason Hughes set the pace for the 40-lap nightcap but Dan Ebert jumped to lead when the green flag waved and led the first six laps before Hughes muscled his way into the lead with seven laps complete.

Four months after breaking a long drought by winning two of the final three feature races last year, Hughes led for just five laps before Carlos Ahumada Jr. motored into the lead using the shortest way around the smooth clay oval.

Ahumada then led 22 laps while surviving multiple cautions and a swarm of chasers on his tail, including Hughes, Tyler Davis, Jake Timm, Timothy Culp and A.J. Hoff.

But once the field was finally able to string together multiple green-flag laps, Hughes pounced and claimed the top spot with seven laps remaining. He was untouchable from there as he screamed to his 158th career USMTS triumph.

“It’s hard for me to see getting into turn three down here. My eyes ain’t that great anymore and it makes it hard to see, a smiling Hughes told RacinDirt pit reporter Trenton Berry in Victory Fuel Victory Lane.”

His margin of victory was less than one second in a race that lasted more than 34 minutes and saw nine Gorsuch Performance caution flags during the $5,000-to-win 40-lapper.

“I tried to be a little patient once I got back to second. It’s close up there on the top so I was trying to be a little cautious but you still have to be pretty aggressive and finally I started driving a little harder because I know I had to in order to win,” Hughes said.

“It’s one of the more technical race tracks. It’s pretty tight racing out there. It gets tight coming off the corners, and it’s real close on the top so you had to be on your toes.”

Ahumada remained close but had to focus on holding back a determined Tyler Davis for the runner-up spot.

“I thought we were good on the bottom,” Ahumada said. “Late in the race I started catching the bottom wrong, caught the rut and got tight and then that let Jason get by me, but it was a good race and if I was going to lose to anybody I’d want it to be my car builder.”

Davis tried moving to the high line like Hughes, but found lesser success than the 25-year USMTS veteran.

“We had our shot there,” Daivs admitted. “Carlos hit that rut and we were kind of three wide down the front stretch, but probably should have moved around a little faster. But a pretty good run for us.”

Behind the Featherlite Trailers podium finishers, Timm scored a fourth-place finish and collected the FK Rod Ends Hard Charger Award by passing nine of his competitors to get there.

Feature Finish (40 Laps)

1. (1) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla., 2. (5) 65X Carlos Ahumada Jr., El Paso, Texas, 3. (4) 65 Tyler Davis, Haysville, Kan., 4. (13) 49 Jake Timm, Winona, Minn., 5. (2) 60 Dan Ebert, Lake Shore, Minn., 6. (14) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas, 7. (12) C8 Timothy Culp, Prattsville, Ark., 8. (17) 12H Mike Hansen, Dickinson, N.D., 9. (24) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo., 10. (23) 4R Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla., 11. (11) 55H A.J. Hoff, Mantorville, Minn., 12. (15) 58X Gary Christian, Broken Bow, Okla., 13. (3) 7G Gabe Hodges, Lebo, Kan., 14. (19) 24C Jim Chisholm, Osage, Iowa, 15. (8) 69 Lucas Schott, Chatfield, Minn., 16. (6) 32 D.J. Shannon, Merced, Calif., 17. (22) 7S Sean Gaddis, Diana, Texas, 18. (9) 457 Boone Evans, Bullard, Texas, 19. (16) 47 Jack Sartain, Royse City, Texas, 20. (7) 02 Tanner Mullens, Wichita, Kan., 21. (20) 21K Kyle Brown, Madrid, Iowa, 22. (21) 15W Alex Williamson, Rushford, Minn., 23. (10) 12J Jason Ingalls, Longview, Texas, 24. (18) 54T Matthew Day, Farmersville, Texas