The Casey’s Hunt for the USMTS National Championship blasted off Thursday night at the 81 Speedway with another instant classic produced by C. Ray Hall’s 3/8-mile dirt oval outside of Wichita.
After following six spectacular qualifying events, the 40-lap feature race was fierce and fast from the waving of the green flag until the checkered flag waved for Terry Phillips, but just barely.
With Dereck Ramirez breathing down his neck for the last half of the race, Phillips nearly saw it slip away in the final turn when Ramirez made a bold move to pass the leader with one left-hand turn to go.
But the 53-year-old veteran from Springfield, Missouri, crossed back under Ramirez and the pair drag-raced to the finish line with Phillips taking the win by a mere two-one-thousandths of a second over Ramirez.
“That surprised me there,” Phillips said of the slide job by Ramirez. “I slowed down a little bit because I had a couple lapped cars in front of me and didn’t want to run over them, so I was just being cautious, but, hey, that’s what this bunch brings you. They’re all good racers and Dereck always races me clean and we’re good friends.