SPRING VALLEY, Minn. -- Zack VanderBeek of New Sharon, Iowa, had the other 55 drivers seeing pink Wednesday night as the USMTS Casey’s General Stores National Tour powered by Swan Energy stormed into the Deer Creek Speedway to join the World of Outlaws Late Model Series for the 32nd Annual NAPA Gopher 50.
VanderBeek announced earlier this week that his #33z Skyrocket would be embellished with the pink and black colors in support of the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure to fight and find a cure for breast cancer, and he may want to keep the colors for a little while longer as he notched his second win in a row after going winless for the first half of the year.
From the outside of the front row, Jon Tesch of Watertown, S.D., grabbed the lead at the drop of the green flag to start the 40-lap WIX Filters “A” Main, but AFCO Pole Award winner Mike Steensma wrestled the lead away the next time around.
Looking for his second career USMTS victory, Steensma kept Tesch and VanderBeek at bay for the next 19 laps despite four cautions that kept his pursuers within striking distance.
Meanwhile, Ryan Gustin was giving the fans a show back in the pack. After struggling in his heat race and missing the main event cut by one spot in the third Real Racing Wheels “B” Main, ‘The Reaper’ was forced to use a provisional to give him the 27th and last starting spot on the grid.
But after just 17 laps, Gustin was already up to eighth and had the leaders in his crosshairs while Steve Wetzstein was up to fourth after starting in the 18th position.
The race’s fifth yellow flag on lap 20, however, gave VanderBeek the opportunity he was looking for and the 26-year-old from New Sharon, Iowa, blasted around the high side to snare the top spot away from Steensma.
Two more cautions quieted the engines during the last half of the race.
The first occurred when a radiator hose broke on Tesch’s machine and spewed steam and water onto the racing surface with 28 laps in the books.
With just five laps to go, the final caution waved with Wetzstein and Gustin now running second and third behind VanderBeek, but ‘The Z-Man’ was flawless on the restart and during the final five orbits as he sailed to a $3,050 payday, including a $1,000 bonus from NAPA Auto Parts.
With an advantage of 1.860 seconds at the finish line, it was the 20th win of VanderBeek’s USMTS career which started in 2004 when he captured the USMTS Rookie of the Year Award.