Sanders finds his happy place with 113th USMTS triumph
With a flawless performance from the 16th starting spot, Rodney Sanders needed just 18 laps to secure the lead and eventually his 113th career Summit USMTS main event win on Thursday during the 20th Annual LRS Waste Services USMTS Southern Minnesota Spring Challenge at the Deer Creek Speedway.
The high-banked 3/8-mile clay oval nestled in the rolling hills of Spring Valley, Minnesota, delivered once again as it has so many times with a night full of high-speed ups and downs, capped off by a thrilling finish.
The 33-year-old native of Happy, Texas—now residing about a half hour away in Kasson, Minnesota—worked the high side of ‘The Creek’ to perfection. He got a little help from his unfortunate friends at the front of the field just past the halfway point, and then fought back the challenges from Jim Chisholm to net the $3,000 winner’s paycheck.
“It feels good. It seems like a long time since we won one,” said Sanders whose last win happened last August in the series debut at the I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Missouri. “We’ve been close and I feel like we’ve been knocking on the door here for a while, but you know it feels good… coming from 16th it means a lot.”
The USMTS returns to the I-70 Speedway for the 2nd Annual Bushwhacker on August 3. While this time was a bit shorter, his win there last year also broke a winless drought of more than a year.
A stout battalion of 28 competitors took the green flag for Thursday’s 30-lap feature race for the Summit USMTS National Championship presented by RacinDirt, and the drama kicked in just as quickly as adrenaline.
Dan Ebert used the Sybesma Graphics Pole Position to take the lead when the green flag waved, but after a few position swaps and slide jobs with Terry Phillips on the opening lap it was Phillips taking charge the next time around.
Searching for his sixth career win here, Phillips remained out front and set the pace through lap 17. Meanwhile, Tyler Wolff was marching from his fourth-row spot on the starting grid and stole the position from Phillips as they completed the 18th lap.
Entering the first turn, Phillips moved to the low side and slid up to retake the lead, but the pair made contact and both drivers came crashing to a stop. As the yellow flag waved, third-running Ebert was unable to avoid the melee and Al Hejna, who was fourth at the time, also clipped the accident scene but continued moving.
That gave the veteran Hejna the pleasure to leading the pack back to the green flag, but damage from the earlier crash left ‘The A-Train’ with a less competitive machine and he slipped back several spots in the first corner.
That opened the door even wider for Sanders. Running sixth when the hullabaloo began with 12 laps to go, he wasted no time when racing resumed and bolted into the lead using the high side of the perfectly-prepped racing surface.
However, Sanders had his hands full with Jim Chisholm—a two-time USMTS winner at Deer Creek and the track’s winningest driver over the last four years—with Chisholm clinging to the short way around the racetrack.
Despite his best efforts, Chisholm followed Sanders to the checkered flag as ‘The Rocket’ recorded his 113th career victory and 12th at the Deer Creek Speedway.
“I felt like that top was getting a long way around and I was kind of skating on entry, but I felt like I had straight-away speed,” Sanders added. “I went pretty hard early and I didn’t know what I had left for my tire. There’s a lot of tread on it, but I feel like I got it pretty hot and the car didn't want to stick as good at the end.”
Next month will mark the 14th anniversary of Sanders’ first USMTS victory on June 26, 2009, at the LA Raceway in La Monte, Missouri.
While Chisholm had to settle for the runner-up honors, Alex Williamson held his ground and finished third—right where he started. Points leader Jake O'Neil—a five-time winner at Deer Creek along with Phillips and Brandon Davis.
Looking to capture his first USMTS points crown, O’Neil sprinted from the 22nd starting spot to finish fourth and held on to his points lead by a mere three points over Sanders who is seeking his fifth USMTS title.
Not to be outdone, Davis rebounded from problems in his heat race, came through a Real Racing Wheels “B” Main and then came from 23rd in the “A” Main to garner the final spot in the top five.
Jake Timm, Tanner Mullens, Tom Berry Jr., Brandon Givens and defending series champ Dustin Sorensen rounded out the top 10.
Chisholm and Williamson were the only finishers among the top 10 that started the 30-lapper inside the top 10. Just another incredible night at the Deer Creek Speedway.
Action continues with a $5,000-to-win feature on Friday and a $10,000 top prize for Saturday’s winner. The Memorial Day Weekend swing of four events culminates Sunday with the 10th Annual Super Clean War in West Union and another $10,000-to-win battle at the Fayette County Speedway in West Union, Iowa.
For its Silver Anniversary season, the Summit USMTS National Championship presented by RacinDirt currently features 45 nights of racing at 15 of America's premier dirt track racing venues in nine states. The winners of those events are set to earn more than $300,000 with nearly $2 million in purses and prize money earmarked for the 2023 campaign.
Visit usmts.com for schedules, points, photos, souvenirs, videos and more. Follow our social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Click here to get USMTS news delivered to your inbox.
United States Modified Touring Series
Summit USMTS National Championship presented by RacinDirt
20th Annual LRS Waste Services Southern Minnesota Spring Challenge – Night 1 of 3
Deer Creek Speedway, Spring Valley, Minn.
Thursday, May 25, 2023
Showing finishing position, starting position in parentheses, car number, driver and hometown. Heat race lineups are determined via group qualifying. The top 12 in heat race passing points advance to the Summit Racing Equipment “A” Main.
SIMPSON PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS HEAT RACE #1 (8 laps):
1. (3) 24C Jim Chisholm, Osage, Iowa
2. (4) 45 Chase Holland, Success, Miss.
3. (1) 21K Kyle Brown, Madrid, Iowa
4. (5) 28S Dustin Sorensen, Rochester, Minn.
5. (7) 33Z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa
6. (6) 11X Tom Berry Jr., Des Moines, Iowa
7. (2) 19 Joe Chisholm, Osage, Iowa
8. (9) 58X Gary Christian, Broken Bow, Okla.
9. (8) 7 Cory Crapser, Chippewa Falls, Wis.
10. (10) 29D Brad Dierks, Clarence, Iowa
FAST SHAFTS HEAT RACE #2 (8 laps):
1. (1) 15W Alex Williamson, Rushford, Minn.
2. (3) 10C Cayden Carter, Oskaloosa, Iowa
3. (2) 4TW Tim Ward, Harcourt, Iowa
4. (6) 4 Jeremy Nelson, Alexandria, Minn.
5. (4) 19SB Lance Mari, El Centro, Calif.
6. (8) 25C Cody Thompson, Sioux City, Iowa
7. (5) 21 Jacob Bleess, Chatfield, Minn.
8. (7) 38T Dylan Thornton, Orcutt, Calif.
9. (9) 96 Taton Hansen, Spicer, Minn.
EDELBROCK HEAT RACE #3 (8 laps):
1. (2) 95 Keith Foss, Winona, Minn.
2. (1) 65 Tyler Davis, Haysville, Kan.
3. (5) 60 Dan Ebert, Lake Shore, Minn.
4. (3) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.
5. (6) 28 Parker Hale, Grand Meadow, Minn.
6. (7) 99L Steve Lavasseur, River Falls, Wis.
7. (4) 4R Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla.
8. (8) 90 Ryan Wetzstein, West Concord, Minn.
DNS – 30 Dalton Kirk, Edgerton, Kan.
WIELAND HEAT RACE #4 (8 laps):
1. (2) 777 Al Hejna, Clear Lake, Iowa
2. (3) 51W J.T. Wasmund, Pine Island, Minn.
3. (6) 4W Tyler Wolff, Fayetteville, Ark.
4. (7) 10B Brandon Givens, Wichita, Kan.
5. (8) 98M Mitchel Madery, Kasson, Minn.
6. (9) 16B Randy Brown, Chowchilla, Calif.
7. (1) K9 Will Krup, Mt. Carmel, Ill.
8. (5) 99 Josh Angst, Winona, Minn.
9. (4) 50III Brandon Davis, Hayfield, Minn.
VP RACING HEAT RACE #5 (8 laps):
1. (1) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
2. (2) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas
3. (3) 2 Tanner Mullens, Wichita, Kan.
4. (5) 69 Lucas Schott, Chatfield, Minn.
5. (6) 49 Jake Timm, Winona, Minn.
6. (8) 65X Carlos Ahumada Jr., El Paso, Texas
7. (4) 0 Jake O'Neil, Tucson, Ariz.
8. (9) 90B Daniel Bargender, Menomonie, Wis.
9. (7) 87 Darron Fuqua, Mayetta, Kan.
REAL RACING WHEELS “B” MAIN #1 (15 laps, top 5 advance):
1. (4) 2 Tanner Mullens, Wichita, Kan.
2. (3) 10B Brandon Givens, Wichita, Kan.
3. (6) 33Z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa
4. (2) 65 Tyler Davis, Haysville, Kan.
5. (16) 50III Brandon Davis, Hayfield, Minn.
6. (9) 99L Steve Lavasseur, River Falls, Wis.
7. (5) 21K Kyle Brown, Madrid, Iowa
8. (11) 19 Joe Chisholm, Osage, Iowa
9. (8) 65X Carlos Ahumada Jr., El Paso, Texas
10. (10) 4R Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla.
11. (15) 7 Cory Crapser, Chippewa Falls, Wis.
12. (13) 90 Ryan Wetzstein, West Concord, Minn.
13. (12) 90B Daniel Bargender, Menomonie, Wis.
14. (14) 96 Taton Hansen, Spicer, Minn.
15. (7) 19SB Lance Mari, El Centro, Calif.
DQ – (1) 69 Lucas Schott, Chatfield, Minn.
REAL RACING WHEELS “B” MAIN #2 (15 laps, top 5 advance):
1. (1) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas
2. (3) 4TW Tim Ward, Harcourt, Iowa
3. (5) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.
4. (10) 0 Jake O'Neil, Tucson, Ariz.
5. (9) 99 Josh Angst, Winona, Minn.
6. (7) 25C Cody Thompson, Sioux City, Iowa
7. (13) 38T Dylan Thornton, Orcutt, Calif.
8. (12) K9 Will Krup, Mt. Carmel, Ill.
9. (15) 87 Darron Fuqua, Mayetta, Kan.
10. (2) 28 Parker Hale, Grand Meadow, Minn.
11. (11) 58X Gary Christian, Broken Bow, Okla.
12. (4) 98M Mitchel Madery, Kasson, Minn.
13. (16) 29D Brad Dierks, Clarence, Iowa
14. (14) 30 Dalton Kirk, Edgerton, Kan.
15. (6) 16B Randy Brown, Chowchilla, Calif.
DQ – (8) 21 Jacob Bleess, Chatfield, Minn.
SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT “A” MAIN (30 laps):
1. (16) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas
2. (6) 24C Jim Chisholm, Osage, Iowa
3. (3) 15W Alex Williamson, Rushford, Minn.
4. (22) 0 Jake O'Neil, Tucson, Ariz.
5. (23) 50III Brandon Davis, Hayfield, Minn.
6. (14) 49 Jake Timm, Winona, Minn.
7. (15) 02 Tanner Mullens, Wichita, Kan.
8. (13) 11X Tom Berry Jr., Des Moines, Iowa
9. (17) 10B Brandon Givens, Wichita, Kan.
10. (12) 28S Dustin Sorensen, Rochester, Minn.
11. (8) 95 Keith Foss, Winona, Minn.
12. (24) 99 Josh Angst, Winona, Minn.
13. (19) 33Z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa
14. (20) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.
15. (11) 51W J.T. Wasmund, Pine Island, Minn.
16. (27) 87 Darron Fuqua, Mayetta, Kan.
17. (2) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
18. (1) 60 Dan Ebert, Lake Shore, Minn.
19. (25) 4R Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla.
20. (9) 4 Jeremy Nelson, Alexandria, Minn.
21. (4) 7 Al Hejna, Clear Lake, Iowa
22. (18) 4TW Tim Ward, Harcourt, Iowa
23. (10) 10C Cayden Carter, Oskaloosa, Iowa
24. (28) 58X Gary Christian, Broken Bow, Okla.
25. (5) 45 Chase Holland, Success, Miss.
26. (26) K9 Will Krup, Mt. Carmel, Ill.
27. (7) 4W Tyler Wolff, Fayetteville, Ark.
28. (21) 65 Tyler Davis, Haysville, Kan.
Lap Leaders: Ebert 1, Phillips 2-17, Wolff 18, Sanders 19-30.
Total Laps Led: Phillips 16, Sanders 12, Ebert 1, Wolff 1.
Margin of Victory: 0.662 second.
Time of Race: 21 minutes, 57.762 seconds (3 cautions).
Provisional Starters: Ramirez, Krup.
Emergency Provisionals: Fuqua, Christian.
FK Rod Ends Hard Charger: O’Neil (started 22nd, finished 4th).
Next Race: Friday-Saturday, May 26-27, Deer Creek Speedway, Spring Valley, Minn.
Summit USMTS National Championship Points: O'Neil 1191, Sanders 1188, Ebert 1132, Hughes 1114, Jim Chisholm 1086, Ramirez 1077, Berry 1074, Phillips 1070, Wolff 1068, Fuqua 1058.
Grant Junghans USMTS Rookie of the Year Points: Berry 1074, Krup 1044, Christian 909, Nelson 890, Holland 775.
FK Rod Ends USMTS Hard Charger Points: O'Neil 75, Sanders 61, Givens 57, Joe Chisholm 54, Hughes 46.
Miller Welders USMTS Manufacturers Championship Points: MBCustoms 107, Mullens 103, Hughes 84, LG2 83, VanderBuilt 74.
Callies/JE Pistons USMTS Engine Builder of the Year Points: Cornett 112, Mullins 109, Stoen 100, Hatfield 94, ProPower 78, KSE 78.
Aero Race Wheels – B. Davis.
American Racer – Mullens.
Beyea Custom Headers – O’Neil.
BigDeal Car Care – Sanders, B. Davis.
Bryke Racing – Wasmund.
BSB Manufacturing – Hejna.
Champ Pans – B. Davis.
Collins Brothers Towing – Wolff.
Deatherage Opticians – Angst.
Edelbrock – Foss.
Fast Shafts – Williamson.
FK Rod Ends – O’Neil.
Hooker Harness – Angst.
Hyperco – Wolff.
Integra Racing Shocks & Springs – Ebert.
Keyser Manufacturing – Sorensen.
KSE Racing Products – O’Neil.
MD3 – Phillips.
Mel Hambelton Racing – Jim Chisholm.
Mesilla Valley Transportation – R. Brown.
Midwest Wrap Co. – Ward.
MSD Performance – Williamson.
Penske Racing Shocks – VanderBeek.
PEM Racing Gears & Drivetrain – Dierks.
QA1 – Jim Chisholm.
Quarter Master – Givens.
RacerWebsite.com – Holland.
Salty’s BBQ & Catering – B. Davis.
Simpson Performance Products – Jim Chisholm.
Summit Racing Equipment – Angst, B. Davis, Dierks, Kirk, Hale.
Super Clean – Sanders.
Swift Springs – Berry, Williamson, Sanders.
Sybesma Graphics – Ebert.
VP Racing – Sanders.
Wehrs Machine & Racing Products – Dierks.
Willy's Carb & Dyno Shop – Berry.
Wilwood Disc Brakes – Mullens.
USMTS OFFICIAL SPONSORS: American Racer Racing Tires, Beyea Headers, Callies Performance Products, Chevrolet Performance, Fast Shafts, FK Rod Ends, KSE Racing Products, Malvern Bank, Mesilla Valley Transportation, Nitroquest Media, PEM Racing Gears & Drivetrain, RacinDirt, Summit Racing Equipment, Super Clean, VP Racing, Wieland.
USMTS PARTICIPATING SPONSORS: ARMI Contractors, Boomtest Well Service, Boubin Tire & Automotive, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Collins Brothers Towing, D&T Marriott Enterprise, LLC, DAY Motorsports, Duvall Electric, Gunshepherd.com, Hacienda Mechanical, Kenny's Tile, Mel Hambelton Racing, Midwest Wrap Co., Miller Welders, PBM Performance Products, Rancho Milagro Racing, S&S Fishing & Rental, Salty's BBQ & Catering, Shocker Hitch, Shop Quik Stores, YouDirt.com.
USMTS CONTINGENCY SPONSORS: AERO Race Wheels, AFCO Racing Products, Allstar Performance, BigDeal Car Care, Bryke Racing, BSB Manufacturing, Champ Pans, Deatherage Opticians, Edelbrock, Hooker Harness, Hyperco, Integra Racing Shocks and Springs, JE Pistons, K1 RaceGear by Ryan Bowers Motorsports, Keyser Manufacturing, MD3, MSD Performance, Penske Racing Shocks, Performance Bodies & Parts, QA1, Quarter Master, RacerWebsite.com, Real Racing Wheels, Simpson Performance Products, Swift Springs, Sybesma Graphics, Wehrs Machine & Racing Products, Willy’s Carb & Dyno Shop, Wilwood Racing.
USMTS RACETRACKS: 81 Speedway, Ark-La-Tex Speedway, Arrowhead Speedway, Cedar Lake Speedway, Deer Creek Speedway, Fayette County Speedway, Hamilton County Speedway, Humboldt Speedway, I-70 Speedway, Lakeside Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track, Lucas Oil Speedway, Mason City Motor Speedway, Ogilvie Raceway, Rocket Raceway Park.