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Zack nails down Central States Region title

MOBERLY, Mo. – It's been a long time coming for Michael Long, but the 27-year-old from Quincy, Ill., finally notched the first USMTS Casey’s General Stores National Tour win of his career Saturday night at the 24 Raceway in Moberly, Mo.

And none too soon as Saturday's event was the final race in the Central States Region — the last race before the start of the Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s General Stores National Championship on Tuesday where the going is sure to get tougher.

On Saturday, however, Long was the one too tough to tame as he grabbed the lead from Chase Junghans on lap 16, then paced the final 25 laps without challenge to pocket the $2,000 top prize.

Grant Junghans earned the AFCO Pole Award by scoring the most passing points during the five heat races, but it was his younger brother, Chase, who drew the pole position for the 35-lap Sunoco “A” Main while Grant unveiled the number 6 for his starting spot.

Trying to capitalize on his third pole draw in the last seven events, Chase grabbed the early lead on the big 4/10-mile high-banked clay oval and appeared to have the muscle to put his machine in victory lane.

While Ryan Dolan and Zack VanderBeek chased the younger Junghans, Long raced into fourth from his fifth starting spot. Long had the leader in his crosshairs by the time the field completed the 12th circuit, and made the pass for the lead on the 16th lap.

Caution slowed the pace on lap 25, but the ensuing restart offered no hope for his pursuers as Long pulled away to take the win in his 19th career USMTS start.

VanderBeek, who came into the night as the Central States Region points leader, left with an even bigger margin as he held on for the runner-up finish to secure his career-first regional crown.

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