Terry Phillips held off Gabe Hodges in a thriller to win the USRA Heartland Modified Tour feature Saturday night at Lucas Oil Speedway. (GS Stanek Racing Photography)

Phillips Hangs On For Lucas Oil Speedway Triumph

WHEATLAND, Mo. — Terry Phillips led all 30 laps, but it was a hard-fought battle to the finish as the veteran driver captured a USRA Heartland Modified Tour feature win Saturday night at Lucas Oil Speedway.

Phillips earned $2,000 for the victory, which also was the Arctic Food Equipment USRA Modified headliner of the Big Adventure RV Weekly Championship Series. Phillips held off Gabe Hodges by 0.209 seconds in a close battle that came down to the final turn, pitting the old pro against a young gun.

Other feature winners on Vietti Marketing Group Night at the Races were Justin Wells (Hermitage Lumber POWRi Late Models), William Garner (O’Reilly Auto Parts USRA Stock Cars) and J.C. Morton (Clear Creek Golf Cars USRA B-Mods).

A total of 115 cars checked into the pits, including 50 USRA Modifieds.

Phillips, in his own Bloodline Race Car, utilized the low groove around the track from start to finish in his first added-money win at Lucas Oil Speedway in quite some time.

“I love coming up here. I run pretty decent in my modified,” Phillips said, noting the extra-thrill of victory in front of fans who rarely get to see him race near home as he’s moved to top-level Modified racing full time in recent years.

Phillips started on the pole after the pre-race redraw and led the way as the 30-lap feature began. But five cautions through five completed laps prevented him from building a margin between himself and second-place Gabe Hodges.

As green flag laps finally were logged and the race started to get a rhythm — it remained green the final 25 laps — Phillips led Hodges by just under one second when he caught lapped traffic on lap 13 with Tyler Wolff running a close third.

Phillips hugged the low groove — as did the other contenders — until Hodges ducked to his inside in turn three on lap 19. Phillips was able to fend him off and Hodges moved up the track on lap 21 with Wolff putting the pressure on him. That allowed Phillips to extend his league to one second by lap 25.

The leaders hit heavy traffic at the white flag and Hodges closed in for one final charge. Phillips was able to hang on by a car length at the checkered flag with Wolff right behind.

Phillips said he felt the presence of Hodges throughout, especially in the late going.

“I was watching the ‘prompter’ down the back straightaway,” Phillips said of the video board overlooking turn three. “I’ve been doing this for a little while, Just as long as I didn’t get excited. I slowed down a little bit and made sure I hit my marks.

“He had a good run there, but our car felt good,” the 57-year-old Phillips added. “Instead of going forward, I just slowed down a little bit. An old-man tactic, I guess.”

Hodges, a 21-year-old from Lebo, Kan., said he thought he had a shot at passing Phillips on the final lap but wasn’t quite able to get it done.

“We were really good in the feature, we just got all clogged up down on the bottom,” Hodges said. “I wish I’d have went to the middle there a little sooner. I really thought I had it going on there that last lap, but just could quite get clear.”

Reigning track champ Ryan Middaugh finished fourth with Paden Phillips coming home in fifth.

Feature Finish (30 Laps)

 1. 75-Terry Phillips[1]; 2. 7G-Gabe Hodges[4]; 3. 4W-Tyler Wolff[11]; 4. 21-Ryan Middaugh[3]; 5. 10B-Brandon Givens[7]; 6. 65-Tyler Davis[18]; 7. 02-Tanner Mullens[19]; 8. 91-Joe Duvall[8]; 9. 4-Dan Powers[14]; 10. 38C-Jason Pursley[17]; 11. 511-Tanner Barnhart[2]; 12. 44T-Tanner Black[20]; 13. 3B-Nic Bidinger[10]; 14. 15W-Wyatt Gaggero[21]; 15. 88-Chad Wheeler[24]; 16. 127-Paden Phillips[6]; 17. 5-Robbie Reed[25]; 18. (DNF) 37D-Dakota Dale[12]; 19. (DNF) 87-Darron Fuqua[23]; 20. (DNF) 17-Henry Chambers[22]; 21. (DNF) 19R-Chris Kratzer[5]; 22. (DNF) 75M-Gunner Martin[13]; 23. (DNF) 75D-Tad Davis[9]; 24. (DNF) 73-Mickey Burrell[16]; 25. (DNF) 01-Jacob Hobscheidt[15]