Fuller tops Gustin, wins Winter Extreme thriller
By Joshua JoinerDirtonDirt.com staff writer
TUCSON, Ariz. (Jan. 17) — Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., survived Ryan Gustin’s furious late charge in Friday’s Winter Extreme main event to claim a $3,000 victory in a thrilling 30-lap feature at Tucson International Raceway.
The third-starting Fuller inherited the lead when race-long leader R.C. Whitwell fell out of the race on lap 22 and later pulled ahead of a side-by-side battle with Gustin on the final lap to claim his second-career victory in Tucson’s annual six-race miniseries. | Complete Winter Extreme coverage
“He run a great race, but I wasn’t giving up,” said Fuller, who was slowed in the closing laps by damage from contact with an infield tire marker. “When he pulled up on the outside of me, I was amazed because (the track) was so black.
“When you’re leading the biggest thing is trying to not to hit the tires. You’re scrubbing them every lap. I just had to get in there good and accurate, and I knew if I could just get the right rear in the brown a little bit, I could launch off of four.
Gustin of Marshalltown, Iowa, settled for second in the National Dirt Racing League non-points event. He charged from the seventh starting spot and pressured Fuller through the final seven laps, only to push high after inching ahead in the final corner.
Polesitter Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., who claimed his 12th-career Arizona victory in Wednesday’s third-round feature, ran among the top three for the entire distance of Friday’s race but was never a serious contender in settling for third.
Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., charged from 17th to claim his fourth top-five finish in four events on the week, while fourth-starting Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., rounded out the race’s top five finishers.
After taking second from Moyer early, Fuller kept pace with Whitwell for most of the race’s first 20 laps and made multiple looks under the high-running leader. Fuller twice inched ahead of Whitwell in turns one and two, but Whitwell powered the high side of turns three and four to twice pull back out front.
Fuller assumed the lead after Whitwell dropped out on lap 22, but he soon had to deal with Gustin. The two drivers ran side-by-side for most of the race’s final three laps before Gustin inched ahead with a hard charge into turn three on the final circuit.
The track’s slight cushion couldn’t hold Gustin’s momentum, and he pushed high exiting turn four. Fuller remained steady on the bottom to pull ahead for the victory.
“I just messed up there that last corner,” said Gustin, who notched his first top-five finish of the week. “I should’ve cracked it a little more instead of trying to drive in there wide open and carrying too much momentum, hit the cushion and push. That’s on the driver tonight, but these guys did a great job getting the car going.”
Whitwell, the Tucson driver who on Saturday became the first home-state racer to win during Arizona’s annual stretch of January special events, turned back multiple challenges from Fuller and Moyer through the first half of the race and began inching away from Fuller just before lap 20.
But his hopes of becoming the week’s first repeat winner were dashed when sparks flew from beneath his car and he slowed in turn four just before completing lap 23. He was pushed to the pit area and settled for a disappointing 19th-place finish.
“It’s a bummer. You don’t get many chances to start up front in these races,” Whitwell said. “We had all our ducks in a row and had a perfect group and perfect (qualifying) session. Everything was just going perfect tonight, and that’s why we got to the front. You got to have awesome luck, and we did until that point.”
The race was slowed by three cautions. Spins by Donny Schatz (lap five) and Mason Zeigler (lap 13) caused the first two cautions, while Whitwell’s misfortune caused the final caution on lap-22.
Notes: Fuller drives a Clements-powered Capital Race Car for Kennedy Motorsports with sponsorship from Core Construction, Kennedy Partners, Keyser Manufacturing, Regeneration Finance, IronCo Enterprises, B3 Architecture and Signature Paving. ... Moyer, Mars and Diemel are the only three drivers to make all four Winter Extreme features. ... Travis Dickes of Madison, Neb., was leading the sixth heat race before slamming the turn-three wall midway through. ... Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., was the fastest qualifier in group six but didn’t make the main event after dropping out of his heat race. ... NASCAR Truck Series driver Matt Crafton of Tulare, Calif., made his appearance of the week but was caught up in a consolation race wreck that collected Lonnie Parker Jr. ... Parker of El Mirage, Ariz., also made his first appearance of the week. ... Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., won the modified feature. ... The Winter Extreme continues Saturday afternoon with round five of the six-race miniseries. DirtonDirt.com is providing live video coverage of all the Winter Extreme action.
Winter Extreme (Jan. 17): (1) Tim Fuller, (2) Ryan Gustin, (3) Billy Moyer, (4) Jimmy Mars, (5) Shane Clanton, (6) Tony Jackson Jr., (7) A.J. Diemel, (8) Garrett Alberson, (9) Ricky Weiss, (10) Chris Simpson, (11) Jordan Yaggy, (12) John Blankenship, (13) Jason Hughes, (14) Justin Asplin, (15) Max Blair, (16) Tony Toste, (17) Clay Daly, (18) Jason Papich, (19) R.C. Whitwell, (20) Kent Robinson, (21) Robert Sanders, (22) Nick Bartels, (23) Mason Zeigler, (24) Donny Schatz. Fast qualifier (among 56 cars): Schatz, 15.487 seconds. Heat winners: Clanton, Jackson, Moyer, Fuller, Weiss, Whitwell. Consolation winners: Blankenship, Sanders, Simpson.
Row 1: Billy Moyer, R.C. Whitwell
Row 2: Tim Fuller, Shane Clanton
Row 3: Tony Jackson Jr., Ricky Wiess
Row 4: Ryan Gustin, Garrett Alberson
Row 5: Kent Robinson, Jordan Yaggy
Row 6: A.J. Diemel, Justin Asplin
Row 7: Jimmy Mars, Mason Zeigler
Row 8: Max Blair, Tony Toste
Row 9: Jason Hughes, Clay Daly
Row 10: John Blankenship, Rob Sanders
Row 11: Chris Simpson, Donny Schatz
Row 12: Nick Bartels, Jason Papich
Consolation race results
Top two finishers transfer to main event
First consolation: John Blankenship, Donny Schatz, Billy Moyer Jr., Brandon Sheppard, Will Vaught, Terry Phillips, 23w, Zach McMillan, Tyson Turnbull, Dana Fite. Did not start: Don Shaw, Bucky Andrews.
Second consolation: Rob Sanders, Nick Bartels, Lance Matthees, Morgan Bagley, Justin Kay, William Thomas, Dave Smith, James Laing, Bill Bartels, Kyle Beard.
Third consolation: Chris Simpson, Jason Papich, Trevor Glaser, Chase Junghans, Pat Doar, Dean Moore, Mike Balcaen, Lonnie Parker Jr., Matt Crafton.
Consolation race lineups
Top two finishers transfer to main event
Row 1: John Blankenship, Donny Schatz
Row 2: Brandon Sheppard, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 3: Will Vaught, Brad Williams
Row 4: Zach McMillan, Terry Phillips
Row 5: Tyson Turnbull, Dave Deetz
Row 6: Dana Fite, Bucky Andrews
Row 7: Don Shaw
Row 1: Lance Matthees, Rob Sanders
Row 2: Nick Bartels, Jason Krohn
Row 3: Dave Smith, Joey Moriarty
Row 4: Morgan Bagley, James Laing
Row 5: William Thomas, Bill Bartels
Row 6: Rick Ortega, Kyle Beard
Row 7: Justin Kay
Row 1: Chris Simpson, Matt Crafton
Row 2: Jason Papich, Trevor Glaser
Row 3: Pat Doar, Steven Pfeifer
Row 4: Lonnie Parker Jr., Chase Junghans
Row 5: Sean Bray, Travis Dickes
Row 6: Dean Moore, Mike Balcaen
Heat race results
Top three transfer to main event
First heat: Shane Clanton, Ryan Gustin, Jimmy Mars, John Blankenship, Brandon Sheppard, Will Vaught, Zach McMillan, Dana Fite, Tyson Turnbull, Bucky Andrews.
Second heat: Tony Jackson Jr., Garrett Alberson, Mason Zeigler, Donny Schatz, Billy Moyer Jr., Terry Phillips, Brad Williams, Dave Deetz.
Third heat: Billy Moyer, Kent Robinson, Max Blair, Lance Matthees, Nick Bartels, Dave Smith, Morgan Bagley, William Thomas, Rick Ortega, Kyle Beard.
Fourth heat: Tim Fuller, Jordan Yaggy, Tony Toste, Rob Sanders, Jason Krohn, Joey Moriarty, James Laing, Bill Bartels, Justin Kay.
Fifth heat: Ricky Weiss, A.J. Diemel, Jason Hughes, Chris Simpson, Jason Papich, Pat Doar, Lonnie Parker Jr., Sean Bray.
Sixth heat: R.C. Whitwell, Justin Asplin, Clay Daly, Matt Crafton, Trevor Glaser, Steven Pfeifer, Chase Junghans, Travis Dickes. Did not start: Mike Balcaen.
Heat races start straight up from qualifying
Ryan Gustin (19r), Marshalltown, Iowa 15.731
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga. 15.996
John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va. 16.068
Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis. 16.108
Will Vaught (1v), Crane, Mo. 16.391
Brandon Sheppard (b5), New Berlin, Ill. 16.404
Zach McMillan (14z), Gladewater, Texas 16.497
Dana Fite (40f), Tucson, Ariz. 16.664
Tyson Turnbull (10), Estevan, Saskatchewan 17.707
Bucky Andrews (23), Tucson, Ariz. 18.308
Donny Schatz (15), Fargo, N.D. 15.487
Tony Jackson Jr. (56), Lebanon, Mo. 15.909
Garrett Alberson (43), Las Cruces, N.M. 16.124
Don Shaw (42), Ham Lake, Minn. 16.178
Brad Williams (23), Tucson, Ariz. 16.562
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark. 16.583
Terry Phillips (75), Springfield, Mo. 16.807
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa. 17.540
Dave Deetz (98D), Las Cruces, N.M. no time
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark. 15.492
Nick Bartels (27), El Segundo, Calif. 15.798
Max Blair (111), Titusville, Pa. 15.828
Lance Matthees (90), Winona, Minn. 16.071
Dave Smith (06), Edmonton, Alberta 16.087
Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ind. 16.136
Morgan Bagley (14m), Longview, Texas 16.447
William Thomas (19), Phenix City, Ala. 16.557
Rick Ortega (24), Las Cruces, N.M. 16.941
Kyle Beard (86), Trumann, Ark. no time
Tim Fuller (19), Watertown, N.Y. 15.698
Jordan Yaggy (77), Rochester, Minn. 15.835
Tony Toste (91t), Pismo Beach, Calif. 15.884
Justin Kay (15k), Wheatland, Iowa 15.972
Joey Moriarty (51), Phoenix, Ariz. 15.980
Rob Sanders (10n), Bakersfield, Calif. 16.002
Jason Krohn (7k), Slayton, Minn. 16.077
Bill Bartels (77), Marina Del Ray, Calif. 17.110
James Laing (89), Tucson, Ariz. 19.111
A.J. Diemel (58), Elk Mound, Wis. 15.756
Ricky Weiss (7), Winnipeg, Manitoba 15.792
Jason Hughes (12), Westville, Okla. 15.797
Jason Papich (91p), Nipomo, Calif. 15.833
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa 16.036
Pat Doar (11), New Richmond, Wis. 16.224
Dean Moore (14), Grand Junction, Colo. 16.299
Lonnie Parker Jr. (8p) El Mirage, Ariz. 16.356
Sean Bray (14), Tucson, Ariz. 17.804
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan. 15.550
R.C. Whitwell (5), Tucson, Ariz. 15.653
Travis Dickes (6), Madison, Neb. 15.739
Clay Daly (32b), Watsonville, Calif. 15.754
Justin Asplin (77A), Birch Tree, Mo. 15.788
Matt Crafton (88), Tulare, Calif. 15.991
Mike Balcaen (10), Winnipeg, Manitoba 16.070
Trevor Glaser (2), Tangent, Org. 16.112
Steven Pfeifer (11), Minot, N.D. 16.742