Gustin finds redemption with Sharon with a WoO triumph

Reapers Redemption Jacynorgaard photo

Ryan Gustin felt a weight lift from his shoulders as he visited the victory lane at Sharon Speedway. (WoO photo)

HARTFORD, Ohio — Ryan Gustin felt a sense of deja vu as laps concluded at Sharon Speedway on Saturday — it was a position he knew all too well.

Nine months ago at the same venue, “The Reaper” battled 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Champion Kyle Larson for the lead, ultimately settling for second place that night.

By Saturday night there were only 12 laps left at that point and he found himself in second place again.

This time, however, he wasn’t going to let this nine-month heartbreak last any longer.

As Race Director Shane Clanton finished Lap 48, Gustin swung his Rocket Chassis under the “Georgia Bulldog” and even pulled out of Turn 2.

That’s when the driver from Marshalltown, Iowa saw his chance to pass the former champion.

Gustin dove under Clanton at Turn 3 and used every ounce of momentum he could to swing in front of the 2015 Series Champion and take the lead – one he wasn’t about to give up.

He broke away in the final 10 laps and secured his first career win in the $20,000 World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series.

Gustin’s confidence soared as he watched Sharon Speedway get back on schedule this year, knowing this could be his best shot at victory.

“It feels great, man,” said Gustin. “I definitely didn’t want to wait that long, but it definitely feels good to win especially 20 grand.

“I knew if we had a chance anywhere, it would happen [Sharon Speedway]. We were really good last year and we put on a 100 percent identical setup and [the car] tonight was good too. I think we definitely figured something out about this place.”

A warning with 22 laps to go in the feature allowed Gustin to get closer to Clanton, who almost had a full lead right off the bat.

As the yellows squeezed the field back together, Gustin wasn’t sure what was going to happen in the last third of the race.

“I knew we just had to give her hell there,” Gustin said. “There weren’t many laps left and we had to go.”

Clanton settled for second place, his third top-5 in his last four World of Outlaws races. The Zebulon, Georgia rider believes he’s getting closer to his first straight win of the season.

“Our confidence has increased,” Clanton said. “Our cars are good. We’re just taking it race by race and hopefully picking up one or two.”

Four-time series champion Josh Richards was third, in his fourth podium finish in the last five races. The Houston, Ohio rider took the lead from Max Blair early in the race before a caution nullified the pass.

However, Richards wasn’t sure he could have held out.

“I felt like I was pushing Max in [Turn 3] for the lead,” Richards said. “I don’t know if we could have held out or not. I struggled to steer in [Turn 1] a little, so it ended up being a handful.

“Shane and Ryan both did a great job as they were able to turn better and maintain their speed through the stuff. But we’re still happy with the night we had and with the year we’ve had we’ll take it. We have to build on that.”

Series leader Dennis Erb Jr. finished fourth, extending his points lead to 106 points over Max Blair, who finished sixth.

The finish continues Erb’s consistent runs on a night he felt track position was crucial.

“The track situation meant a lot there,” said Erb. “I had a few chances to get in there but we didn’t make it. We just take what we have here and move on to the next one.”

Devin Moran rounded out the top five.

Ryan Gustin felt a weight lifted from his shoulders in Victory Lane, a necessary breakthrough on his journey to World of Outlaws. He hopes the win will be a sense of déjà vu to return to many times throughout his career.

CASE construction function (60 rounds): 1. 19R-Ryan Gustin[4]; 2. 25-Shane Clanton[5]; 3. 1-Josh Richards[2]; 4. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[3]; 5. 9-Devin Moran[8]; 6. 81E-Tanner English[14]; 7. 111V-Max Blair[1]; 8. 22-Greg Satterlee[6]; 9. 29- Darrell Lanigan[7]; 10. B1 – Brent Larson[10]; 11. 9Z-Mason Zeigler[16]; 12. 11-Gordy Gundaker[13]; 13. 99B-Boom Briggs[9]; 14. 48-Colton Flinner[22]; 15. 3RK-Daryl Charlier[12]; 16. J4-John Garvin Jr[18]; 17. 45 Kyle Hammer[17]; 18. 17-point dohm[19]; 19. 1*-Döbel Frank[11]; 20. X3 – Wyatt Scott[20]; 21. 22B-Darrell Bossard[24]; 22. 1C-Alex Ferree[21]; 23. 58-Michael Norris[15]; 24.0-Ryan Scott[23].

FOX FACTORY HARD CHARGER: Tanner English [+8].

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