If it’s true that “rubbin’ is racin’” then the final seven laps of Thursday’s main event at the Hamilton County Speedway provided some of the best racin’ of the year for fans of the Summit USMTS National Championship presented by RacinDirt.
When the green flag waved to start the 30-lap feature race, Dan Ebert beat polesitter Zack VanderBeek back to the flagstand to lead the opening lap around the historic half-mile dirt oval while Jim Chisholm, Tom Berry Jr. and Rodney Sanders moved ahead to pursue Ebert.
Riding the high side, Ebert remained in control through the next 20 laps before Berry began to pressure the leader. Eventually, Berry made a move for the lead at the bottom of turn 3 but he and Ebert made significant contact which sent Berry into first place while Sanders followed into second soon after.
Berry looked strong the final seven laps but back-to-back cautions forcing back-to-back green-white-checkered finishes changed the story.
Sanders struck first, racing wheel-to-wheel with Berry on the first restart before the yellow flag waved again for points leader Jake O’Neil’s idle race car at the bottom of turn 4.
Ebert found life on the second two-lap dash to the checkers, following Berry around the treacherous top side the first time around before diving to the low side after taking the white flag and then sliding up to take away Berry’s line.
Like earlier, the pair made hard contact but this time, according to Berry, the Grant Junghans USMTS Rookie of the Year points leader “got the short end of the stick,” and slid up and off the racetrack while Ebert sailed into the final turn and onto a $3,000 victory.
“That was a pretty wild race,” Ebert said in victory lane. “We were pretty decent to start with and then I just kind of was missing my line going into (turn) one here and then racing with Tom and Rodney there, and then I don’t know if Tom hit the hole or deliberately came across in front but I felt like I had a good run and he ran across my nose so I made sure that he knew I was there on that one. Coming to get the checker the last lap I had to make sure that I closed the deal.”
While Berry was relegated to a disappointing 18th-place result, the relative newcomer continued to impress with his ability to find the fastest way around racetracks he’s never seen before
“I followed and followed him and I feel like that slider was clean as you can get for the type of track we had,” Berry revealed afterward. “I got into him down here (turn 4) but hopefully he ain’t mad. As soon as I hit the hole I got on the gas we were together. I like racing everyone with respect and I think Zack’s (VanderBeek) mad at me too but he got tight going the first corner. I had nowhere to go so I mean if he’s going to be mad about that I don’t know, so maybe I got some mad people at me but they all know I race hard with respect.”
Meanwhile, Ebert held off Sanders by less than a half-second while Chisholm. Alex Williamson and Dereck Ramirez completed the top five. Ramirez picked up the FK Rod Ends Hard Charger Award after zipping past 14 cars from his 19th starting spot.
Sixth went to 12th-starting Jacob Bleess, 18th-starting Tim Ward secured seventh, 11th-starting Terry Phillips earned an eighth-place paycheck, 20th-starting Will Krup nabbed ninth and Jeremy Nelson, who started 17th, wound tenth at the finish line.
With his second triumph of the 2023 campaign and fourth of his career, Ebert moved into a tie on the USMTS all-time wins list with good company, joining four-time winners Austin Arneson, Justin Boney, Scott Drake, Mike Hejna, Steve Holzkamper, Dean Mahlstedt, Hunter Marriott and Brad Pinkerton.
Racing continues for two more nights at the Hamilton county Speedway with Summit USMTS Modifieds competing for $5,0000 to win on Friday and $10,000 to top Saturday night’s finale. USRA Stock Cars, USRA B-Mods, USRA Hobby Stocks and USRA Tuners will also be in action both nights.
For more information, check out the event FAST FACTS or visit HamiltonCoSpeedway.com.
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