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Motorsports notebook: Hughes looking to stay hot at Deer Creek

May 27, 2017

The United States Modified Touring Series is just that -- a touring series.

But if the USMTS has a home track, Deer Creek Speedway would have to be considered its home base.

The series, featuring some of the best dirt-track open-wheel Modified drivers in the country, will make its annual Memorial Day weekend stop at the track near Spring Valley on Saturday for the 15th annual Southern Minnesota Spring Challenge.

Saturday’s event will mark the 97th time the USMTS has raced at Deer Creek.

It will also be just the third race of the season in the USMTS Northern Region, following a race last Friday at Fergus Falls and tonight’s scheduled event at Mississippi Thunder Speedway in Fountain City, Wis.

USMTS veteran Jason Hughes of Westville, Okla., won the Northern Region opener at Fergus Falls last week. It marked his 150th career USMTS victory. Coincidentally, Hughes has 14 USMTS wins at Deer Creek, the most of any driver.

In addition to the USMTS drivers, USRA Iron Man Stock Cars will also race on Saturday, as will USRA B-Modifieds and Wissota Midwest Modifieds. Pit gates open at 2 p.m., with the grandstand gates set to open at 2:30 p.m. Racing is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

Tonight’s stop at Mississippi Thunder will mark the first time many of the USMTS drivers have visited the track since last fall’s USRA Modifieds Nationals. USMTS star Ryan Gustin won that event, pocketing $40,000.

Gustin is off to a strong start this season, posting two victories, with 12 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s in 22 starts on the series. He holds the USMTS record with three wins at Mississippi Thunder since the track took on its current configuration in 2009. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. tonight.

The series will round out its three-day holiday weekend swing with an event at Upper Iowa Speedway in Decorah on Sunday.

Alex Martin 2nd after Round 1 of Motocross tour

Millville native Alex Martin got his outdoor season off to a strong start last Saturday, finishing fourth in both 250cc motos at Hangtown in Sacramento, Calif., and finishing second overall with 36 points. He trails leader Zach Osborne by 14 points.

“I am happy to be up here, healthy and will build on this for next week,” Martin said on the podium following the second moto at Hangtown.

Martin finished as the national runner-up last season, the best finish of his career.

His younger brother Jeremy finished sixth last season. The two-time national champion got off to a rocky start this season on his Geico Honda. He was in the top 10 after the start of the first moto at Hangtown, but a reported electrical issue with his bike caused him to pull off the track and not earn any points.

He rebounded in the second moto to finish third, passing his brother late in the race to earn a top-three finish, leaving him 11th overall in the standings.

Osborne won both motos at Hangtown to take the early lead in the standings. Eli Tomac won both 450cc motos and sits in first place.

Round 2 of the 2017 AMA Pro Motocross championship is scheduled for Saturday at Glen Helen Motorcycle Park in San Bernardino, Calif. The series comes to the Martins’ home track, Spring Creek MX Park in Millville, on July 22.

Refunds available for North Star Nationals

Rain and cold temperatures wiped out the first big event of the season at Deer Creek last Saturday when the Lucas Oil Late Model Series’ North Star Nationals were canceled.

The event will not be made up this season, though series officials said they already have a date at Deer Creek locked in for 2018.

“The entire staff at Deer Creek Speedway have worked very hard to make this event possible,” Rick Schwallie, Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Director said. “Unfortunately, with an outdoor sport, you’re at the mercy of the elements and we simply had too much rain. We look forward to returning to Deer Creek Speedway in 2018.”

Tickets for the North Star Nationals can be refunded by calling the Deer Creek Speedway office at (507) 754-6107. If you purchased tickets with cash or check, please mail your tickets to the Deer Creek Speedway office at: P.O. Box 591, Grand Meadow, MN 55936. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Tickets will not be refunded without calling the office or mailing with self-addressed, stamped envelope. No refunds will be issued after June 30.

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