Phillips Dominates Night One of 14th Annual USRA Fall Nationals

Woodward, Oklahoma pilot Dereck Ramirez and Chandler, Arizona racer Ricky Thornton Jr. paced a star studded field of USRA Modifieds to the green in the 30 lap preliminary feature event on the Thursday night portion of the 14th annual USRA Fall Nationals at an immaculately prepared Southern New Mexico Speedway in Las Cruces, NM.

Ramirez jumped to the lead and lead the first six laps of the a main with Thornton Jr and Chris Dawson challenging for the top spot early until Thornton Jr was able to blast by on the cushion for the top spot on lap seven. Once Thornton got out front he took command, he began to stretch his advantage over the next ten laps, while defending champion Terry Phillips was making steady progress forward from his 7th starting spot. Phillips appeared in third on lap 12 and snuck by Ramirez into second just before the half way point of the non-stop event. Phillips then turned up the wick and began to pressure Thornton as the leaders began to see the back of the field. Phillips swept by Thornton into the lead on lap 17 and held the top spot through the event’s only caution, which flew on lap 19 for a spin in turn four.

Phillips took back off out front on the restart and cruised the remaining 11 laps for the victory, putting his #75 on the pole for the $10,000 to win 50-lap Fall Nationals championship main event, which is being held for the first time ever under the lights on Saturday night.

Thornton Jr held off a charging Rodney Sanders, who started 15th for second, while 16th starting Jacob Gallardo nipped his dad Fito at the line for fourth on the final circuit. All five drivers are locked in to Saturday’s main event, but do have the opportunity to try to re-qualify on Friday night to better their feature starting position on Saturday.

Feature: Terry Phillips, Ricky Thornton Jr., Rodney Sanders, Jacob Gallardo, Fito Gallardo, Dereck Ramirez, Johnny Scott, Stormy Scott, Philip Houston, Jake O’Neil, Wayne Brooks, Bumper Jones, Johnny Bone Jr., Josh Cain, Terry Tipton, Royal Jones, Alan Sharpensteen, Nick O’Neal, Mike Petersilie, Zane DeVilbiss, Robbie Chiles, Chris Dawson, Max Sadler, Rick Beebe

B-main 1: B. Jones, Sanders, Beebe, J. O’Neal, DeVilbiss, Bone Jr., Dana Fite, Josh Cain, Lee Heiligenthal, Jimmy Ray, Dusty Riggs, Luigi Truden, Donovan Ooley, Christy Georges, Duane Murphy, Jay Rosales, Butch Reid

B-main 2: S. Scott, J. Gallardo, Cain, Sharpensteen, Chiles, Petersilie, Austin Bonner, Rick Gallardo, John Calvert Jr., Roy Don Mason, Chris Sims, Jared Perez, Nick Herrera, Tom Georges, Scott Logston, Austin Adams, Sherman Barnett

Heat 1: Dawson, J. Scott, Chiles, J. Gallardo, Ray, Cain, J. O’Neal, Logston, Fite, Sims

Heat 2: Tipton, Sadler, R. Jones, B. Jones, Beebe, Bone Jr., Sanders, C. Georges, Perez, Murphy

Heat 3: F. Gallardo, O’Neal, Phillips, Adams, Rosales, Harper, Petersilie, Mason, Falco

Heat 4: Ramirez, Thornton Jr., Heiligenthal, Bonner, Sharpensteen, T. Georges, R. Gallardo, Riggs, Barnett

Heat 5: Brooks, Houston, S. Scott, Reid, DeVilbiss, Calvert Jr., Truden, Herrera, Ooley