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REAPING THE WIN: Ryan Gustin Wins Dairyland Showdown Thriller Over Bobby Pierce 

Ryan Gustin Win by Emily Schwanke

The Reaper wins his sixth career Feature and brings Todd Cooney his first World of Outlaws win as an owner

 

The conclusion of this year’s Dairyland Showdown at Mississippi Thunder Speedway announced the rise of a new empire. One led by Ryan Gustin and Todd Cooney Racing. 

Since joining forces at the beginning of 2024, Gustin and his new team have been collecting trophies throughout the first quarter of the season. And on Saturday night, they added their biggest one yet: a $25,000 Dairyland Showdown victory with the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models – Gustin’s sixth Series win and Todd Cooney Racing’s first. 

The Marshalltown, IA driver began the night setting a new track record (13.417 sec.) at the Fountain City, WI track – his first Simpson Quick Time Award of the year. Then, he followed that up by winning Heat 1. 

Gustin’s good fortunes continued by drawing the Bilstein Pole Award for the 50-lap finale – leading the field to the Gorsuch Performance green flag alongside New Waverly, TX driver Tyler Erb.

He commanded the field in the first half while a wave of cautions and a hornet’s nest of talented drivers traded positions across the top five that included Erb, reigning Series champion Bobby Pierce, Friday night Dairyland Showdown winner Nick Hoffman, and four-time Series champion Brandon Sheppard. 

The two fierce rivals in Erb and Pierce exchanged multiple slide-job moves on each other – with Pierce eventually clearing the driver of the #1T for the second-place spot. 

Halfway into the Feature, Pierce made his chance for the lead come to fruition – sliding his way by Gustin to take the lead. 

Lapped traffic played a heavy hand in deciding the night’s winner as the leaders attempted every inch of the 3/8-mile track to find clean air to navigate through the cars. The top two in Pierce and Gustin used these chances to try and one-up each other in the closing stages. 

With four laps to go in the $25,000-to-win competition, Gustin made his chance for the win on Pierce with a run down the front stretch. Using the lapped car of Daniel Hilsabeck as a pick, Gustin slid up through Turns 1 and 2 to take the lead with sparks flying off the back of the #19R from hitting the wall. 

Scurrying away from Pierce after the lead change, Gustin crossed under the flagstand to claim his first Dairyland Showdown Feature at a track that has seen him win five races previously with USMTS.  

Ryan Gustin celebrates with family and friends after winning on Saturday (Emily Schwanke Photo)

“Well, this big ol’ Jay Dickens engine showed out to keep the tires pretty good,” Gustin said. “I was trying to pace myself there in the first half of (the Feature), then I let Bobby get a big ol’ run on me and slide on me and I knew I had to get up, follow him, and hopefully he had to slide somebody and that’s how it all worked out. You win and lose by lap traffic, I’ve lost a fair share and I’m sure he has too, so that’s how it all goes. 

“Everybody at Wells Motorsports has been great to us and I gotta shoutout Brandon Overton for helping us at Smoky Mountain Speedway and this thing has been on rails. My guys at (Todd Cooney Racing) have been working extremely hard and I can’t thank everyone enough for that.” 

Pierce, in an attempt to catch Gustin on the final lap, slid up the track and smacked the Turn 2 wall. This opened the door for Hoffman to slide under “The Smooth Operator” to finish the night in second. 

“I knew I wasn’t gonna pass Bobby and Ryan on the cushion,” Hoffman said. “I made a little bit of speed in the middle of the track when I needed to get back to fourth at that point. Once the top began to slow down and getting right against the wall, that bottom-to-middle came back into play. That’s how I won last night and that’s what we were set for tonight. The racetrack had a little more grip with the rain we had, and the (track crew) did a fantastic job to give us a track where we could race all around.” 

“When they started sliding each other, it got me back to them. I was gonna settle for third, but Bobby hit the fence on the last lap. I tried biding my time, stayed in fifth for a while battling with the guys and it got the tires hot, but I had enough left towards the end and if we got a caution with a few laps to go, we could’ve won again. To win once and run second the next like Farmer City is badass.” 

Pierce’s costly mistake had him finish on the last spot of the podium – a move he knows could have been avoided in his efforts to chase the lead back from Gustin. 

“It was definitely a heartbreaker for us,” Pierce said. “I thought I had it in the bag, but I caught the lap traffic with awkward timing. The top was kind of getting slower, but yet, it was still there. The way those guys ahead of me raced mattered a lot and messed up the air there. Just did the dip when I should’ve made a dive and Gustin capitalized on it. I wish I held onto second, but of course tried to get the lead and jumped the cushion. I’ll be kicking myself in the butt for a while for that. But it’s just one of them deals and who knows what could’ve been.” 

Sheppard’s consistent run inside the top five rewarded the current Series points leader with a fourth-place finish, while Erb managed to save his tires to complete the Feature’s top five finishers. 

Sheppard continues to lead the Series’ standings with a 24-point lead over Hoffman. Gustin is now eighth in points with a 136-point deficit. 

An 11-place climb rewarded Winona, MN driver Jake Timm with Saturday’s FOX Factory Hard Charger Award. 

RECAP NOTES:
Dirt King Simulator Hottest Hot Lap of the Night Award Winner – Cade Dillard
Bilstein Pole Award Winner – Ryan Gustin
Simpson Quick Time Award Winner – Ryan Gustin
CASE Heat Winners – Gustin (Heat 1), Erb (Heat 2), Pierce (Heat 3), and Cade Dillard (Heat 4).
CASE Last Chance Showdown Winners – Dennis Erb Jr. and Sam Mars
FOX Factory Hard Charger Award Winner – Jake Timm 

UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws CASE Late Models return to racing in the month of May with a swing through Ohio and Pennsylvania in two weeks – beginning with Raceway 7 (May 16), Bedford Speedway (May 17), Marion Center Raceway (May 18), and Path Valley Speedway (May 19). For more information about each of the races and ticket options, CLICK HERE. 

If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch every World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model race live on DIRTVision. 

Feature Results 

CASE Late Model Feature (50 Laps): 1. 19R-Ryan Gustin[1]; 2. 9-Nick Hoffman[5]; 3. 32-Bobby Pierce[3]; 4. B5-Brandon Sheppard[9]; 5. 1-Tyler Erb[2]; 6. 19-Dustin Sorensen[12]; 7. 40B-Kyle Bronson[8]; 8. 16-Tyler Bruening[6]; 9. 3S-Brian Shirley[10]; 10. 49-Jake Timm[21]; 11. 22*-Max McLaughlin[15]; 12. B1-Brent Larson[22]; 13. 18-Shannon Babb[13]; 14. 97-Cade Dillard[4]; 15. 20TC-Tristan Chamberlain[25]; 16. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[17]; 17. 22P-Nick Panitzke[16]; 18. 28M-Sam Mars[18]; 19. 22-Daniel Hilsabeck[19]; 20. 30-Todd Cooney[23]; 21. 97C-Cody Overton[11]; 22. 14W-Dustin Walker[24]; 23. 77-Jordan Yaggy[20]; 24. 88-Chad Mahder[14]; 25. 44-Chris Madden[7] 

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