Johnny Scott: 2018 Casey’s General Stores USMTS National Champion, Summit USMTS Southern Series Champion
The 20th anniversary season for the United States Modified Touring Series featured a points fund of more than $160,000 highlighted by a record top prize of $50,000 for the 2018 USMTS National Champion. In all, more than $1.25 million was doled out to USMTS competitors throughout the course of the 2018 campaign between event purses and points funds.
The USMTS Hunt for the Casey’s Cup, which initially included 43 points races at 37 of America’s most popular dirt ovals, wound up with 37 nights of racing and determined the points tally with several non-points crown jewel events on the calendar as well.
With events in Arkansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, the Summit Racing Equipment USMTS Southern Series also had it’s own lucrative points fund and crowned a champion at season’s end after 14 points races.
By November 3, both titles and all of the bragging rights went home to Las Cruces, N.M., with Johnny Scott who recently turned 29 years old in December. He’s just the seventh driver in 20 seasons to win the title.
It doesn’t make him the youngest champion, however. Ryan Gustin claimed his first of two straight titles in 2011 just before his 21st birthday and Rodney Sanders netted the first of his back-to-back championships in 2013 at the age of 24.
The 2018 crown for Scott ended a three-year reign for Jason Hughes, who claimed his first USMTS national championship in 2010 at the age of 36 before securing his last of three straight in 2017 at 43 years of age. Kelly Shryock, who owns nine USMTS titles, won his first of eight straight in 1999 at the age of 34. His last came in 2009 at the age of 44. In between, Jason Krohn (2007) and Tim Donlinger (2008) claimed the USMTS national championship—both at 36 years of age.
Scott served notice early, sweeping both nights of the season-opening USMTS Winter Speedweeks doubleheader at the South Texas Speedway in Corpus Christi. That put him atop the Summit USMTS Southern Series points lead. He never trailed again.
After a lackluster result at his hometown Southern New Mexico Speedway in April, Jake O’Neil used a pair of wins over the course of three nights to steal the USMTS Hunt for the Casey’s Cup points lead away from Scott, but with a runner-up effort on June 7 at the 81 Speedway in Park City, Kan., Scott leap-frogged O’Neil by three points to regain the top spot. He never trailed again.
The USMTS Hunt for the Casey’s Cup concluded at the Deer Creek Speedway during the Featherlite Fall Jamboree, and Scott conquered the main event for his 12th win during ‘The Hunt’ and 15th overall. Starting sixth on the 32-car grid, Scott chased down early leader Brandon Davis of Medford, Minn., in just four laps, and then survived four cautions without breaking a sweat to score a $6,200 victory over his older twin brother, Stormy Scott, who started 17th. In the 103rd USMTS main event staged at popular facility in Spring Valley, Minn., Johnny Scott picked up his career-first victory on the high-banked 3/8-mile clay oval.
While the weather in 2018 was unpredictable, the performance of Scott was not. He ended his national championship season by winning the last two races in the USMTS Hunt for the Casey’s Cup to secure his first title with a dominating run that left his competition scratching their collective heads.
On Halloween night, teams gathered at the Kennedale Speedway Park in Kennedale, Texas, for the inaugural Summit Racing Equipment USMTS Southern Nationals and the finale for the Summit USMTS Southern Series. With the national championship secured and the southern crown already locked in, Johnny Scott moved into the second position in just 12 laps after starting tenth in the main event. Following a lap-17 restart, Johnny Scott snuck underneath leader Terry Phillips but that was when the skies opened up and drivers were told to head to their pit area.
The rain was thick, steady and poured down in buckets. Officials were forced to call off the remainder of the race, and with this being the final event of the season the running order became official and Phillips took home the winner’s share of the prize money.
After 20 seasons of USMTS competition, Shryock tops the charts in both championship rings and career wins. Shryock has 182 feature victories with Hughes sitting second with 155 wins. Gustin is third with 94, Sanders is fourth with 86 and Stormy Scott is fifth with 48 career triumphs. Sixth through tenth on the all-time wins list are Zack VanderBeek (47), Johnny Scott (45), Tommy Myer (42), Jon Tesch (36) and Jason Krohn (33). Overall, 127 different drivers have visited victory lane.
While leading 482 feature race laps in 2018, Johnny Scott also helped VanderBuilt Race Cars claim the USMTS Manufacturers Championship and the USMTS Engine Builder of the Year Award for Durham Racing Engines. He was also the most proficient in the FK Rod Ends Hard Charger Award, passing 173 cars in main events during the 2018 season and added the season-long Eibach Spring Forward Award to his list of accomplishments.
Johnny Scott pocketed more than $150,000 during the 2018 campaign, including event purses and points funds. He’ll also garner contingency awards from Alpinestars, American Racer Racing Tires, Argo Manufacturing, CP-Carrillo, Fast Shafts, Eibach Springs, Jerovetz Motorsports Racing Parts, KSE Racing Products, MSD Performance, Summit Racing Equipment, VP Racing Fuels, AFCO Racing Products, Allstar Performance, Beyea Custom Headers, BSB Manufacturing, Champ Pans, E3 Spark Plugs, Edelbrock, Forty9 Designs, Genesis Racing Shocks, Keyser Manufacturing, RacerWebsite.com, Real Racing Wheels, Sybesma Graphics and Wehrs Machine & Race Products.
Other companies contributing to event purses and year-end points funds include Casey’s General Stores, Chevrolet Performance, Deatherage Opticians, Leaf Racewear & Safety Equipment, Malvern Bank, Mesilla Valley Transportation, Pace Performance, Nitroquest Media, RacinDirt.com, S&S Fishing & Rental, Arizona Sport Shirts, ASi Racewear, Boubin Tire & Automotive, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Duvall Electric, Eagle Moon Farm, ElbowsUp.com, Evolution Powersports, Oreo, PBM Performance Products, Production Jars, Rancho Milagro Racing, River’s Edge Scrap Management, Snickers, Spike Hardcore Energy, Top of the World Ranch, YouDirt.com, 905 Ink, Brown & Miller Racing Solutions, FK Rod Ends, GRT Race Cars, Holley Performance Products, Hooker Harness, Integra Shocks & Springs, Maxima Racing Oils, Mr. Gasket, Out-Pace Racing Products, Quick Time, RHRSwag.com, Simpson Performance Products, Swift Springs, Tire Demon and Wilwood Disc Brakes.
Johnny Scott made his first USMTS start on May 2, 2008, at the Southern Oklahoma Speedway.
The USMTS will celebrate the drivers, crew members, sponsors and their families at the annual USMTS Awards Banquet on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, at the Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City, Mo. This year’s party will once again be a joint effort for both the USMTS and United States Racing Association (USRA). A record crowd of nearly 300 people attended last year’s gathering. Fans and members of the media are invited to attend too.
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