Phillips Motors To Master Victory At Cedar Lake Speedway

Terry Phillips kept searching for more, kept improving as the weekend wore on and then found the sweet spot Saturday night as the 53-year-old from Springfield, Mo., captured the finale of the 21st Annual Masters at the Cedar Lake Speedway with a wire-to-wire effort.

It was the 31st time that the second-generation racer drove into victory lane following a Summit USMTS National Championship fueled by Casey’s event. The win was worth $10,000, and despite leading all 50 laps he earned every penny of it.

“I just tried to hit my line there at the end,” Phillips said. “It was a little rough around the bottom but we have a pretty good hot rod. You know, I trust this GRT but I’m like the only one here. I don’t understand it because we run pretty good.”

Phillips also got by with a little help from his friends.

“I need to thank Andy Durham for this bad ass engine. I borrowed it from Travis Siebert at Kenny’s Tile. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.”

After garnering the Sybesma Graphics Pole Award, Phillips took command right away in the main event. He had nearly a three-second lead when the yellow flag waved for the first time on lap 13 just as he reached the back of the field.

The melee that caused the caution happened right in front of Phillips. He made slight contact with one of the spinning back-markers but apparently suffered no damage and resumed his position at the front when the race returned to green-flag racing.

One night earlier, Phillips was “snookered” by Rodney Sanders and relinquished the lead with five laps to go in Friday’s 40-lap feature.

Sanders, however, was relegated to 20th on the starting grid for Saturday’s finale. Nonetheless, he found himself in sixth by the 20th lap but Phillips was long gone again.

Shane Sabraski kept Phillips in his cross-hairs but could never reel him in to make a bid for the lead. Meanwhile, he had his hands full with a pack on his tail that included Cade Dillard, Dereck Ramirez, Sanders, Jason Hughes and Jake O’Neil.

While Phillips ran his own race, the group behind him continued to jockey for positions inside the top five. Sanders was making the middle groove work to his liking and finally overtook Sabraski for second with 11 laps remaining but Phillips enjoyed more than a three-second cushion.

Sanders appeared to get the break he needed when O’Neil suffered a breakdown on lap 42 to bring about the race’s second caution. Another quick caution slowed the field before another lap could be completed but soon the field was ignited for an eight-lap dash to the finish.

What looked like it may be disaster for Phillips was anything but. Sanders was unable to fire off on the restart as well as Sabraski and slipped to third while Phillips pulled away.

The top three broke away from their chasers but Phillips was not denied this time and rode the final distance without a mistake despite the heat from behind.

“I wasn’t watching the scoreboard but I did on the caution and realized (Sanders) was in second there,” Phillips recalled. “I had a feeling where he was running and so just tried to hit my marks and not mess up too bad—not let him punk me again.”

Unsure if he had enough fuel to go the distance, Sabraski was able to hold on for a runner-up finish.

“We made her,” Sabraski said afterward. “It does feel really good. I came here just hoping to be competitive with these guys and then you’re making the feature and then you always want a little more so you keep digging and here we are. Would have been really cool to win but I’m super happy with a second place.”

For Sanders, a third-place finish and missing out on a weekend sweep was a little tougher to swallow.

“That yellow hurt us at the end I think,” Sanders said, “It was still a good weekend but a little disappointed.”

For passing 17 cars and 23 altogether during the evening, Sanders earned both the FK Rod Ends Hard Charger Award and Eibach Spring Forward Award.

Cade Dillard paid for his long two from Robeline, La., with a fourth-place paycheck while Dereck Ramirez rounded out the top five.

Lucas Schott passed 16 of his fellow competitors en route to a sixth-place finish, Jason Hughes was a solid seventh and 26th-starting Zack VanderBeek found his way to eighth. Jacob Bleess and Michael Truscott rounded out the top ten.

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