TAMPA, Fla. (February 8, 2023) – For the second night in a row, a new winner emerged with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series as Ryan Gustin picked up his first career series victory. The 32-year-old Iowa native scored the win in the 47th Annual Wieland Winternationals - presented by Lucas Oil at East Bay Raceway Park.
Gustin’s win followed that of Ashton Winger’s on Tuesday night as first-time victors with the series. Tyler Erb, who won Monday night’s race finished in second followed by Kyle Bronson. Brandon Sheppard was fourth with Jonathan Davenport rounding out the top five drivers.
Gustin grabbed the lead at the start of the 40-lap A-Main with Bronson and Tyler Erb in tow. After a lap six restart, Gustin still held the point with Erb and Bronson keeping him within their sights. Erb yielded the second spot to Bronson on the eighth lap as Gustin was starting to pull away. A timely caution flew on lap 15 as Gustin was about to pick up the tail end of the field.
On the restart Gustin still led Bronson and Erb at the halfway mark of the race as another caution came out with 21 laps scored. The restart would see Bronson slide underneath Gustin for the lead but exiting turn two on the 23rd lap Gustin powered back around Bronson on the outside to regain the top spot.
The trio of drivers then caught traffic as Erb would gain the second spot on lap 36. The final caution with two laps to go allowed both Erb and Bronson to have one last shot at Gustin, but he held his line to pick-up his first ever Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory.
Gustin’s win makes him the 88th different winner in Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series history and the seventh different winner in nine races thus far in 2023. “This is awesome. Once Kyle [Bronson] got underneath me there man I thought I just messed this up. Luckily, we had a good enough car under us to roll through the middle and got back by him. We got to the lapped cars and I felt like it started to cleanup and those cars were dirtying it up so I had to get back down to the bottom.”
“I just wanted to win this for my guys they have been working their tails off,” Gustin added. The only reason we are standing here tonight is because of them. Our car is really, really good when you can roll the middle like that just like that B-Main the other night everybody was circling around the bottom and we were just able to move out and run through there better. I think we have a team that can contend every night. We’ve got a great race car, a great owner, and a great crew chief. I am just the lucky one who gets to drive it. I love East Bay.”
Erb who finished second 1.330 seconds behind Gustin at the finish had one last shot at the end as a caution flag set up a green-white-checkered finish. “He [Gustin] was pretty good. He got me on the start. I just stayed out there on the top of three and four for a long time trying to make something happen. It was fun. We qualified good and everybody’s working hard so we needed to be a little bit better to beat Ryan there. If we would have stayed in traffic I might have had a better chance at him. It was awesome and another good run for us and now must get ready for tomorrow.”
Bronson, who led one lap during the race came home in third for his first Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series podium finish of the season. “Our car has been good here. The first day we kind of missed it on the feature set-up and last night I felt like we had a winning car and tonight we passed for the lead. It kind of streaked up through the middle there and he [Gustin] got back by me.”
The winner’s David Steine, Tri-Star Promotions-owned, Rocket Chassis is powered by a Clements Racing Engine and sponsored by Mahle Pistons, Tri-Star Engines and Transmissions, Penske Racing Shocks, and VP Fuels.
Completing the top ten were Brandon Overton, Tanner English, Spencer Hughes, Devin Moran, and Earl Pearson Jr.
Story - Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
Photo - Heath Lawson