Atkinson Secures First USMTS Victory At Summersota Nationals

Landon Atkinson scored his first USMTS victory Friday night at the I-94 Raceway in Fergus Falls, Minn., during the 5th Annual Casey’s General Stores Summersota Nationals presented by QA1.

“This is something right out of a dream,” said the 22-year-old from Little Falls, Minn. “Last night I was sitting at home doing tires and I was thinking to myself ‘What if… What if I just show up, put it out there and I win the bitch?’ And I did.”

Atkinson was impressive from beginning to end. He made a last-lap pass of Zack VanderBeek to win his heat race and lead all drivers in passing points, and then redrew the pole position.

Sitting alongside Atkinson on the front row for the start of the 40-lap main event was current USMTS national points leader Rodney Sanders who was seeking his third straight victory and 93rd of his career.

Despite the pressure, Atkinson was up to the task and led every lap en route to a $2,500 payday and a place in the USMTS record books.

“There is nothing like it. These guys are the best in the country and there’s a reason why they do what they do. Anytime you get a chance to run with these guys—just run with them let alone run up front—is always fun.

“I think the biggest thing is just to make sure you know he’s just another guy. Although it is Rodney Sanders—and he’s probably one of the best modified drivers to ever do it—you can’t really get too psyched out and you just gotta show up and put everything out there. If you don’t win, you don’t win, but sometimes you get the right end of the stick.”

It looked like a quick caution on lap 2 would be the only slowdown of the night, but when Ryan Gustin slowed and was unable to get his Spike Hardcore Energy machine completely off the racetrack, the yellow flag waved one last time with just four laps to go.

It wiped out a six-car-length lead Atkinson enjoyed over Sanders, but it was Dereck Ramirez making a bid for the top spot on the restart. Despite his best efforts, Ramirez came up short and had to settle for the second-place ribbon for the fourth straight event.

VanderBeek also slipped past Sanders in the closing laps while Blake Jegtvig charged from 15th on the grid to finish fifth and earned the FK Rod Ends Hard Charger Award.

Hunter Marriott, Brady Gerdes, Terry Phillips, Austin Arneson and Travis Saurer rounded out the top ten. To connect with the United States Modified Touring Series, visit usmts.com.

OFFICIAL RESULTS: United States Modified Touring Series
5th Annual Casey’s General Stores Summersota Nationals presented by QA1
I-94 Speedway, Fergus Falls, Minn. Friday, Aug. 9, 2019

Showing finishing position, starting position in parentheses, car number, driver, hometown, chassis/engine builder, laps completed and money won. The top 16 in heat race passing points advance to the Casey’s General Stores “A” Main.

SIMPSON PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS HEAT RACE #1 (8 laps): 1. (2) 49jr Jake Timm, Minnesota City, Minn., 2. (3) 52 Jason Thoennes, Garfield, Minn., 3. (5) 23 Adam Kates, Tonganoxie, Kan., 4. (6) 48 Brent Dutenhoffer, Watertown, S.D., 5. (7) 7j Cory Jones (R), Zimmerman, Minn., 6. (1) 13x McKenzie Gerdes (R), Villard, Minn., 7. (4) 88x Delray Dykstra (R), Litchville, N.D.

FAST SHAFTS HEAT RACE #2 (8 laps): 1. (4) 18a Landon Atkinson (R), Little Falls, Minn., 2. (2) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa., 3. (1) 88 Randy Klein, Lisbon, N.D., 4. (3) 10 Austin Arneson, Fargo, N.D., 5. (7) 19sb Lance Mari, Imperial, Calif., 6. (5) 51 Tim Thomas, West Fargo, N.D., 7. (6) 5x Scot Danzeisen, Herman, Minn.

EDELBROCK HEAT RACE #3 (8 laps): 1. (4) 62 Hunter Marriott (R), Brookfield, Mo., 2. (2) 2x Brady Gerdes, Villard, Minn., 3. (7) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla., 4. (3) 2j Blake Jegtvig, Hawley, Minn., 5. (5) 21x Travis Saurer, Elizabeth, Minn., 6. (6) 15x Blake Boelens (R), Garfield, Minn., 7. (1) 26g Ryan Gierke (R), Villard, Minn.

MSD PERFORMANCE HEAT RACE #4 (8 laps): 1. (3) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas, 2. (5) 19r Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa, 3. (2) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo., 4. (4) 1tpo Tyler Peterson, Hickson, N.D., 5. (6) 42 Paul Niznik, Medford, Wis., 6. (1) 17 Mike Striegel (R), Wheatland, Mo., DNS – 0 Justin Remus (R), New Ulm, Minn.

REAL RACING WHEELS “B” MAIN (15 laps, top 6 advance): 1. (4) 21x Travis Saurer, Elizabeth, Minn., 2. (2) 19sb Lance Mari, Imperial, Calif., 3. (1) 7j Cory Jones (R), Zimmerman, Minn., 4. (3) 42 Paul Niznik, Medford, Wis., 5. (8) 17 Mike Striegel (R), Wheatland, Mo., 6. (7) 15x Blake Boelens (R), Garfield, Minn., 7. (5) 13x McKenzie Gerdes (R), Villard, Minn., 8. (10) 26g Ryan Gierke (R), Villard, Minn., 9. (9) 88x Delray Dykstra (R), Litchville, N.D., MBCustoms/Dakota, $75., 10. (6) 51 Tim Thomas, West Fargo, N.D., MBCustoms/G-Force, $75., 11. (11) 0 Justin Remus (R), New Ulm, Minn., Medieval/Bruns, $75., DNS – 5x Scot Danzeisen, Herman, Minn., Perfect/Danzeisen, $75.

CASEY’S GENERAL STORES “A” MAIN (40 laps): 1. (1) 18a Landon Atkinson (R), Little Falls, Minn., Lethal/Sower, 40, $3000., 2. (3) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla., Hughes/Cornett, 40, $1800., 3. (7) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa, VanderBuilt/Stoen, 40, $1100., 4. (2) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas, MBCustoms/Hatfield, 40, $800., 5. (15) 2j Blake Jegtvig, Hawley, Minn., Hughes/Sturdy, 40, $700., 6. (8) 62 Hunter Marriott (R), Brookfield, Mo., Rage/KSE, 40, $650., 7. (9) 2x Brady Gerdes, Villard, Minn., SSR/Stoen, 40, $400., 8. (12) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo., GRT/Durham, 40, $550., 9. (14) 10 Austin Arneson, Fargo, N.D., VanderBuilt/ChevPerf, 40, $350., 10. (17) 21x Travis Saurer, Elizabeth, Minn., MBCustoms/ChevPerf, 40, $450., 11. (4) 52 Jason Thoennes, Garfield, Minn., MBCustoms/Tim’s, 40, $300., 12. (10) 23 Adam Kates, Tonganoxie, Kan., LG2/Speedway, 40, $400., 13. (11) 88 Randy Klein, Lisbon, N.D., MBCustoms/Tim’s, 40, $250., 14. (19) 7j Cory Jones (R), Zimmerman, Minn., MBCustoms/Tim’s, 40, $350., 15. (23) 13x McKenzie Gerdes (R), Villard, Minn., SSR/Stoen, 39, $225., 16. (22) 15x Blake Boelens (R), Garfield, Minn., MBCustoms/Sturdy, 39, $225., 17. (24) 26g Ryan Gierke (R), Villard, Minn., SSR/Tim’s, 39, $225., 18. (5) 19r Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa, Hughes/TriStar, 36, $300., 19. (20) 42 Paul Niznik, Medford, Wis., Lazer/Niznik, 36, $300., 20. (6) 49jr Jake Timm, Minnesota City, Minn., MBCustoms/OFI, 31, $300., 21. (18) 19sb Lance Mari, Imperial, Calif., MRT/Yeoman, 19, $300., 22. (21) 17 Mike Striegel (R), Wheatland, Mo., GRT/Driskell, 3, $300., 23. (16) 1tpo Tyler Peterson, Hickson, N.D., BlackWidow/ProPower, 0, $300., 24. (13) 48 Brent Dutenhoffer, Watertown, S.D., Hughes/Stoen, 0, $225.

(R) = Grant Junghans USMTS Rookie of the Year contender

Lap Leader: Atkinson 1-40.

About the author

USMTS Admin

The United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS) is a fast growing and very popular open-wheel dirt Modified touring series in the United States.
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