Fifth USMTS title worth $100,000 for Sanders
With a series-best five wins during the 2023 campaign, Rodney Sanders has been crowned the champion of the Summit USMTS National Championship presented by RacinDirt.
Becoming just the second driver in the 25-year history of the USMTS to capture at least five titles, “The Rocket” will pocket $100,000 for his efforts to go along with the Leon Ramirez Trophy presented by S&S Fishing & Rental when the USMTS hosts their annual awards banquet this January in Kansas City.
Sanders notched 17 top-five and 27 top-10 finishes in his 34 starts. Three of his five wins happened at the Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn., while the other two happened at the Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo., and all-new Arrowhead Speedway in Colcord, Okla., where he clinched the crown despite losing the final weekend to rain.
After a slow start to the season where he finished inside the top five just twice in the first eight races, the 34-year-old went on a streak of eight straight top-five finishes that propelled him into the points lead.
Sitting 24th in points after the opening weekend at the Rocket Raceway Park in his home state of Texas, he didn’t even crack the top ten in points until the ninth race of the season.
On April 22, he was sitting fourth in points when he arrived at the Hamilton County Speedway in Webster City, Iowa, and left in third place. But after sweeping the first two nights at Deer Creek during the Memorial Day Weekend four-banger, Sanders found himself sporting the orange Weiland Points Leader spoiler.
At 19 years of age, the driver from Happy, Texas, earned his first USMTS win at the at the LA Raceway in La Monte, Mo., in 2009.
His most recent win in October was the 117th of his career—good enough for third on the all-time wins list behind Kelly Shryock (182) and Jason Hughes (157). He led the most laps in 2023 too, crossing the start-finish line in first-place on 177 occasions.
Behind the top three, fourth on the top ten career wins list for the USMTS are Ryan Gustin (103), Zack VanderBeek (51), Stormy Scott (48), Johnny Scott (45), Tommy Myer (42), Terry Phillips (40) and Jon Tesch (36).
Summit USMTS National Championship presented by RacinDirt
Final 2023 standings and statistics
1. 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas ... 2736 (5 wins)
2. 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla. ... 2587 (2 wins)
3. 24C Jim Chisholm, Osage, Iowa ... 2492 (2 wins)
4. 4R Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla. ... 2466 (1 win)
5. 02 Tanner Mullens, Wichita, Kan. ... 2460 (2 wins)
6. 0 Jake O'Neil, Tucson, Ariz. ... 2439 (2 wins)
7. 60 Dan Ebert, Lake Shore, Minn. ... 2358 (2 wins)
8. 4W Tyler Wolff, Fayetteville, Ark. ... 2325 (2 wins)
9. 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo. ... 2315 (2 wins)
10. 33Z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa ... 2278 (1 win)
11. 10C Cayden Carter, Oskaloosa, Iowa ... 2266 (2 wins)
12. K9 Will Krup, Mt. Carmel, Ill. ... 2170
13. 87 Darron Fuqua, Mayetta, Kan. ... 2121
14. 65X Carlos Ahumada Jr., El Paso, Texas ... 2120 (1 win)
15. 11X Tom Berry Jr., Des Moines, Iowa ... 2069 (2 wins)
16. 4 Jeremy Nelson, Alexandria, Minn. ... 2042
17. 58X Gary Christian, Broken Bow, Okla. ... 1838
18. 49 Jake Timm, Winona, Minn. ... 1835 (4 wins)
19. 21K Kyle Brown, Madrid, Iowa ... 1834
20. 10B Brandon Givens, Wichita, Kan. ... 1732
21. 99L Steve Lavasseur, River Falls, Wis. ... 1726
65 Tyler Davis, Haysville, Kan. (1 win)
50III Brandon Davis, Hayfield, Minn. (1 win)
19 Dustin Sorensen, Rochester, Minn. (1 win)
97 Cade Dillard, Robeline, La. (1 win)
In addition to his points fund earnings, Sanders will get more than $7,000 in cash, products and certificates from multiple sponsors including Fast Shafts, KSE Racing Products, PEM Racing Gears & Drivetrain, Summit Racing Equipment, Super Clean, Wieland, Allstar Performance, BigDeal Car Care, Bryke Racing, Champ Pans, Edelbrock, Gunshepherd.com, JE Pistons, Keyser Manufacturing, MD3, Mel Hambelton Racing, Penske Racing Shocks, Performance Bodies & Parts, Quarter Master, Sybesma Graphics and Willy’s Carb & Dyno Shop.
Shryock was the first USMTS National Champion and scored his first of eight straight titles in 1999. He bounced back to notch his ninth title in 2009 after Minnesota racers Jason Krohn and Tim Donlinger claimed the 2007 and 2008 crowns.
In 2010, Hughes earned his first USMTS National Championship. Three more followed in 2015, 2016 and 2017 for the legendary chassis builder whose shop is practically across the street from the Arrowhead Speedway.
Ryan Gustin recorded back-to-back national championships in 2011 and 2012 while Sanders did the same at the conclusion of the 2013 and 2014 campaigns. Sanders also took the titles in 2019 and 2020.
Johnny Scott had a dominating 2018 season to claim his first and only USMTS national championship—one that was worth a record $50,000 at the time.
After a pair of runner-up finishes behind Sanders in the 2019 and 2020 campaigns, Dereck Ramirez finally sealed the deal in 2021 and pocketed a record $70,000 for his team’s efforts.
Last year, Dustin Sorensen became the first driver to win "The Leon" and $100,000 for his first USMTS title.
Summit USMTS National Champions:
1999 - Kelly Shryock, Fertile, Iowa
2000 - Kelly Shryock, Fertile, Iowa
2001 - Kelly Shryock, Fertile, Iowa
2002 - Kelly Shryock, Fertile, Iowa
2003 - Kelly Shryock, Fertile, Iowa
2004 - Kelly Shryock, Fertile, Iowa
2005 - Kelly Shryock, Fertile, Iowa
2006 - Kelly Shryock, Fertile, Iowa
2007 - Jason Krohn, Slayton, Minn.
2008 - Tim Donlinger, Rochester, Minn.
2009 - Kelly Shryock, Fertile, Iowa
2010 - Jason Hughes, Westville, Okla.
2011 - Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa
2012 - Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa
2013 - Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas
2014 - Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas
2015 - Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.
2016 - Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.
2017 - Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.
2018 - Johnny Scott, Las Cruces, N.M.
2019 - Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas
2020 - Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas
2021 - Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla.
2022 - Dustin Sorensen, Rochester, Minn.
2023 - Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas
No title is more sought after in dirt modified racing than the Summit USMTS National Championship presented by RacinDirt. In fact, only nine drivers have done so in the 25-year history of the USMTS.
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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, Lakeside Speedway, Lucas Oil Speedway, Mason City Motor Speedway, Ogilvie Raceway, Rocket Raceway Park.