Last-Second Heroics Propel VanderBeek Into USMTS Winner’s Circle

Photos by Tyler Rinken.

For the second time this year, Rodney Sanders had the checkered flag in his sights but didn’t get there first, and for the second time this year Zack VanderBeek was in second place when he entered the final turn but found a way to win as the Tri-State Speedway hosted a spectacular main event for the overflow crowd in attendance Saturday night.

Terry Phillips took control of the 40-lap main event when the green flag was displayed, and then paced the early laps around the high-banked 3/8-mile clay oval before Sanders snuck by in lapped traffic on lap 18.

For the next 18 laps, Sanders stretched his lead on occasion while some mind-blowing action was happening behind him throughout the field, but five cautions—including two in the final five laps—kept the field close to his rear bumper.

While some were running low and others high, VanderBeek found a comfort zone by entering the middle of the turns and drifting up to catch some moister mud. After picking off Phillips, he narrowed the gap between himself and Sanders with less than ten laps remaining.

Despite pulling even with the two-time USMTS national champion on a few occasions, VanderBeek was never able to put Sanders behind him. The race’s final caution on the final lap set up a green-white-checkered finish with VanderBeek getting one final shot following the single-file restart.

With both Sanders and VanderBeek charging hard into the final corner, Sanders remained on the lower half of the racing surface while VanderBeek powered in deep. A slight bobble from Sanders forced him into the outside lane and VanderBeek took advantage with a cross-over move coming out of the final corner.

Sneaking underneath Sanders in the final couple hundred feet, VanderBeek won the drag race to the finish line to register his 45th career USMTS victory.

“(Running the high side) is not really my character but the car was working good tonight, it was steering good… it was all good,” an elated VanderBeek said during his post-race interview. “I was really too tight down on the bottom. I was just rodeoing down there and almost lost it a couple times and just decided to kind of maintain and roll through the middle and just keep it one piece. It all turned out good.”

By leading only the final orbit, VanderBeek has now paced 41 laps during the 2018 campaign. Forty of those came in a wire-to-wire win two weeks ago, one happened Saturday night. His other win this year was inherited after the apparent winner failed post-race technical inspection.

“We’ve had kind of a rough start,” VanderBeek admitted. “We got a win earlier in the year and had that one given to us in Jackson—the guy didn’t make tech. Overall we just got to keep staying consistent. There’s a lot of racing left and I think we can do that.”

For Sanders, it was the second near-miss where he was the leader at the final left-hander but wound up with the runner-up paycheck. Two months ago at the Kennedale Speedway, Sanders suffered mechanical problems in the final corner and slipped to second at the finish line while Ethan Dotson claimed his career-first USMTS win.

“He’s probably one of the cleanest, if not the cleanest racer out here so I knew he was going to race me clean,” Sanders said of Vanderbeek. “Them yellows at the end… I was trying to get off (turn) two on the bottom but it was so rough I had to kind of go up and come across, and I knew I was giving up a lot of speed.

“We had a right front shock break there at the end and I had my hands full. We’re happy with second but just a little bit short.”

Jake O’Neil is proving he’s no one-hit wonder either. The current USMTS Hunt for the Casey’s Cup national points leader was involved in a caution on the second lap and had to restart at the tail of the 26-car field, but by the end of the feature he had clawed his way to the front and went home with a third-place finish.

Phillips finished fourth and garnered an extra $500 from GRT Race Cars as the highest-finishing driver in one of their chassis, and defending USMTS national champ Jason Hughes didn’t miss a beat, rolling from 11th on the grid to fifth at the checkered flag.

Ryan Gustin followed Hughes across the stripe, Stormy Scott was seventh, Johnny Bone Jr. netted an eighth-place finish, ninth went to Johnny Scott and “Big Daddy” Joe Duvall was the final driver to score a top-ten.

 

 

To learn more about the United States Modified Touring Series, visit www.usmts.com online or call 515-832-7944.

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OFFICIAL RESULTS
United States Modified Touring Series
Summit USMTS Southern Series powered by Production Jars
USMTS Hunt for the Casey’s Cup powered by Summit
Tri-State Speedway, Pocola, Okla.
5th Annual Event powered by MSD
Saturday, May 5, 2018

Showing finishing position, starting position in parentheses, car number, driver, hometown, chassis/engine builder, laps completed and money won. The top 12 in heat race passing points advance to the Summit Racing Equipment “A” Main with the top 8 redrawing for the first 8 starting spots.

SIMPSON PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS HEAT RACE #1 (8 laps):
1. (3) 4w Tyler Wolff, Fayetteville, Ark.
2. (6) 49jr Jake Timm, Winona, Minn.
3. (9) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla.
4. (5) 24z Zane Ferrell (R), Hermitage, Ark.
5. (8) 11n Gene Nicholas, Lowell, Ark.
6. (7) 3g Scott Glover, Hackett, Ark.
7. (2) 6 Jason Payton, Fort Smith, Ark.
8. (1) 15 George Martin, Fort Smith, Ark.
9. (4) 8c Chris Clark, Jackson, Wyo.

FAST SHAFTS HEAT RACE #2 (8 laps):
1. (6) 0 Jake O’Neil (R), Tucson, Ariz.
2. (2) 27L Trevor Latham (R), Rogers, Ark.
3. (1) 19sb Lance Mari (R), Imperial, Calif.
4. (7) 88 Chad Wheeler, Muskogee, Okla.
5. (4) 10 Kyle Schmidt, Lowell, Ark.
6. (5) 34 Noah Daspit, Kiln, Miss.
7. (8) 10h Randall Henson, Alma, Ark.
8. (9) 17L James White, Mena, Ark.
9. (3) 24t Larry Bratti, Springdale, Ark.

EDELBROCK HEAT RACE #3 (8 laps):
1. (5) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
2. (4) 19r Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa.
3. (9) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa.
4. (8) 12b Johnny Bone Jr., Pea Ridge, Ark.
5. (6) 31m Travis Mosley (R), Bearden, Ark.
6. (7) 55 Nathan Hagar (R), Adair, Okla.
7. (2) 23 Adam Kates, Tonganoxie, Kan.
8. (1) 17 Brent Holman, Rogers, Ark.
9. (3) 92 Bradley Busch, Mena, Ark.

MSD PERFORMANCE HEAT RACE #4 (8 laps):
1. (1) 2s Stormy Scott, Las Cruces, N.M.
2. (2) 1st Johnny Scott, Cameron, Mo.
3. (7) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.
4. (8) 69 Lucas Schott, Chatfield, Minn.
5. (4) 127 Andy Morris, Fort Gibson, Okla.
6. (3) 1t Ryan Taylor, Muldrow, Okla.
7. (5) 27 Dan Morris, Fort Gibson, Okla.
8. (6) 9d Kyle Davis, Siloam Springs, Ark.

VP RACING FUELS HEAT RACE #5 (8 laps):
1. (5) 20 Rodney Sanders, Worthington, Minn.
2. (6) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla.
3. (2) 33 Stephen Muilenburg, Sparta, Mo.
4. (7) 26 Brian Williams, Fayetteville, Ark.
5. (3) 23 Logan Robertson, Shamrock, Texas.
6. (4) 75 Kyle Ledford, Greenwood, Ark.
7. (1) 8 Jeremy Vaughn, Pocola, Okla.
8. (8) 89 Tate Cole, Muskogee, Okla.

REAL RACING WHEELS “B” MAIN #1 (11 laps, top 5 advance):
1. (1) 1st Johnny Scott, Cameron, Mo.
2. (2) 69 Lucas Schott, Chatfield, Minn.
3. (3) 26 Brian Williams, Fayetteville, Ark.
4. (6) 10 Kyle Schmidt, Lowell, Ark.
5. (12) 8 Jeremy Vaughn, Pocola, Okla.
6. (4) 33 Stephen Muilenburg, Sparta, Mo., TRE/Eagle, $75.
7. (5) 11n Gene Nicholas, Lowell, Ark., Hughes/Kelly, $90.
8. (8) 55 Nathan Hagar (R), Adair, Okla.
9. (9) 1t Ryan Taylor, Muldrow, Okla., Extreme/C&C, $75.
10. (7) 23 Logan Robertson, Shamrock, Texas.
11. (10) 10h Randall Henson, Alma, Ark., TRE/Mullins, $75.
12. (15) 8c Chris Clark, Jackson, Wyo.
13. (11) 23 Adam Kates, Tonganoxie, Kan., VanderBuilt/Speedway, $90.
14. (13) 15 George Martin, Fort Smith, Ark., GRT/Dillard, $75.
15. (14) 9d Kyle Davis, Siloam Springs, Ark., TRE/Parker, $75.
16. (16) 92 Bradley Busch, Mena, Ark., Shaw/Bush, $75.

REAL RACING WHEELS “B” MAIN #2 (11 laps, top 5 advance):
1. (1) 12b Johnny Bone Jr., Pea Ridge, Ark.
2. (3) 19sb Lance Mari (R), Imperial, Calif.
3. (5) 31m Travis Mosley (R), Bearden, Ark.
4. (2) 88 Chad Wheeler, Muskogee, Okla.
5. (9) 75 Kyle Ledford, Greenwood, Ark.
6. (4) 24z Zane Ferrell (R), Hermitage, Ark.
7. (14) 89 Tate Cole, Muskogee, Okla., Hughes/BMS, $75.
8. (11) 27 Dan Morris, Fort Gibson, Okla., GRT/BMS, $75.
9. (7) 3g Scott Glover, Hackett, Ark., Extreme/C&C, $75.
10. (12) 17L James White, Mena, Ark., TRE/White, $75.
11. (15) 24t Larry Bratti, Springdale, Ark., TRE/Yeoman, $75.
12. (8) 34 Noah Daspit, Kiln, Miss., Hughes/Wall2Wall, $75.
13. (6) 127 Andy Morris, Fort Gibson, Okla., GRT/BMS, $75.
14. (10) 6 Jason Payton, Fort Smith, Ark., MBCustoms/PerfAuto, $75.
15. (13) 17 Brent Holman, Rogers, Ark., Shaw/Hatfield, $75.

CASEY’S GENERAL STORES “A” MAIN (40 laps):
1. (6) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa, VanderBuilt/Sput’s, 40, $3000.
2. (5) 20 Rodney Sanders, Worthington, Minn., MBCustoms/Hatfield, 40, $1700.
3. (8) 0 Jake O’Neil (R), Tucson, Ariz., LG2/Cornett, 40, $1490.
4. (1) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo., GRT/Durham, 40, $1000.
5. (11) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla., Hughes/Mullins, 40, $800.
6. (10) 19r Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa, Hughes/Mullins, 40, $700.
7. (9) 2s Stormy Scott, Las Cruces, N.M., VanderBuilt/Mullins, 40, $875.
8. (14) 12b Johnny Bone Jr., Pea Ridge, Ark., Shaw/Yeoman, 40, $450.
9. (13) 1st Johnny Scott, Cameron, Mo., VanderBuilt/Durham, 40, $720.
10. (3) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla., MBCustoms/ChevPerf, 40, $665.
11. (25) 24z Zane Ferrell (R), Hermitage, Ark., MBCustoms/ASI, 40, $375.
12. (20) 88 Chad Wheeler, Muskogee, Okla., MBCustoms/Durham, 40, $350.
13. (17) 26 Brian Williams, Fayetteville, Ark., Hughes/Mullins, 40, $275.
14. (21) 8 Jeremy Vaughn, Pocola, Okla., Hughes/BMS, 40, $250.
15. (24) 8c Chris Clark, Jackson, Wyo., GRT/Cornett, 40, $300.
16. (26) 55 Nathan Hagar (R), Adair, Okla., Shaw/Rev’s, 37, $300.
17. (4) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla., Hughes/Cornett, 34, $560.
18. (12) 27L Trevor Latham (R), Rogers, Ark., Hughes/BCD, 34, $300.
19. (16) 19sb Lance Mari (R), Imperial, Calif., MRT/Yeoman, 33, $300.
20. (19) 10 Kyle Schmidt, Lowell, Ark., GRT/Mullins, 31, $250.
21. (2) 4w Tyler Wolff, Fayetteville, Ark., MBCustoms/Hatfield, 28, $300.
22. (15) 69 Lucas Schott, Chatfield, Minn., MBCustoms/Hill, 20, $555.
23. (22) 75 Kyle Ledford, Greenwood, Ark., Extreme/C&C, 19, $250.
24. (7) 49jr Jake Timm, Winona, Minn., MBCustoms/Sput’s, 15, $550.
25. (23) 23 Logan Robertson, Shamrock, Texas, MBCustoms/Knowles, 7, $500.
26. (18) 31m Travis Mosley (R), Bearden, Ark., GRT/Mullins, 3, $300.

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

Lap Leaders: Phillips 1-17, Sanders 18-39, VanderBeek 40.
Total Laps Led: Sanders 21, Phillips 17, VanderBeek 1.
Margin of Victory: 0.222 second.
Time of Race: 28 minutes, 38.701 seconds (5 cautions).
Provisional Starters: Robertson, Ferrell, Clark, Hagar.
Eibach Spring Forward Award: Ferrell (advanced 13 positions).
FK Rod Ends Hard Charger: Wheeler (started 20th, finished 12th).
Entries: 43.

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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