Posted on March 20th, by Bob Stephens

The United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS) made their 9th Annual Winter Speedweeks swing through Mississippi this past weekend for events at Jackson Motor Speedway, Whynot Motorsports Park and Magnolia Speedway. Magnolia’s race fell victim to Mother Nature’s inclement weather while Whynot’s ran under a continued threat of rain in the area.

Having raced with the USMTS pro’s on several occasions in the past, Ben felt this would be a great opening for his 2018 season. The track surfaces for Friday and Saturday night’s events couldn’t have been more different. Jackson was rough, rutted and dusty while Whynot’s “House of Hook” lived up to it’s reputation of being glassy smooth and wide open. Jackson’s ten caution flags before the A-Main’s 40-lap mid point left many competitors with broken suspension components, deflated tires and bent sheet metal. Whynot on the other hand was hammer down and caution free for the full 40-lap A-Main.

Ben’s Friday night began with a 3rd place starting position in the 5th heat race and a 4th place finish at the checkers. Chassis adjustments and tire changes preceded his B-Main lineup in the 4th starting slot. He was running in 3rd when two cars bobbled in the ruts ahead of him causing a near-major tangle coming off turn four. He lost a few spots, fought his way back to 5th at the checkers but they only transferred four to the A-Main. Friday’s A-Main may have been a good one to miss as the caution flag waved more than Old Glory. Jason Hughes broke an axle, Terry Phillips rolled a tire off the rim and sheet metal damage was a plenty.

Ben worked most of the day Saturday checking his Elite chassis for obvious damage and making significant setup changes for Whynot’s wide momentum corners. Although the threat of rain diminished throughout the day, isolated showers rolled out of the west as the sun set. Only a few sprinkles fell as the cars took the track for the A-Main.

Ben faired better in Saturday’s drawing for heat race starting positions with an outside front row slot in heat #2. The nine drivers in this heat race, showing just how strong the touring series is, represented seven states. At the drop of the green Ben ran with some of the best in the modified business but couldn’t fend off the likes of Jason Krohn, Lucas Schott and Stormy Scott to take 4th at the checkers.

Chassis adjustments were made, tires were prepped and heads were scratched in preparation for the first B-Main and five transfer spots. Ben started 4th and at the drop of the green showed he could compete with the best in the nation for 15 laps. In only his second night of the season, Ben ran wheel-to-wheel with Johnny Scott, Terry Phillips and Curt Meyers. He finished 4th and was on his way to the A-Main.

Ben started 19th in the 40-lap Main event that would eventually go caution-free! He found the high side to his liking and started a steady advance around the outside wall. Just past the race mid-point Ben was as high as 13th before engine woes sidelined him for the night. A disappointing finishing to a promising start against some of the nation’s best modified drivers. Ben returned to his trailer with what he thought was a blown powerplant. Further inspection revealed a broken rotor inside the distributor. A $15 repair compared to a $15,000 replacement.

We are extremely thankful for all of our sponsors in 2018. We would like to announce K1 RaceGear as Ben’s new safety equipment supplier. His new custom driver’s suit, gloves and shoes should arrive in time for Ben’s next race. Ben’s new racecar wrap is provided by Lookout Graphics.

We truly appreciate all the help and contributions from our loyal sponsors.