Sanders Draws First Blood, Wins USMTS Opener At I-37 Speedway

Image credit: Tyler Rinken

As he did all of last year, Rodney Sanders will be sporting the fluorescent yellow Wrisco Points Leader spoiler on the trunk of his machine after winning the main event Friday at the I-37 Speedway in the Summit USMTS National Championship fueled by Casey’s lid-lifter. The first feature race of 2020 was 40 laps long and Sanders’ right rear tire only had that plus 200 feet of rubber in it.

“It was chattering and I couldn’t free in (entering the turns) and then after the checkered, I felt it blow out,” Sanders said in victory lane while standing next to his familiar No. 20 MB Customs USMTS Modified with a shredded right rear tire. “Early I was kind of sliding too much on (Calvin) Iverson. He was sliding up and I was trying to get the spot and I knew I was going too hard too quick.”

Iverson, who was the weekend’s Mesilla Valley Transportation Long Tow Award recipient after his 1,337-mile one-way trip from Eleva, Wis., to Pleasanton, Texas, had an impressive launch to his Grant Junghans USMTS Rookie of the Year campaign, leading the first 13 laps before giving way to the pressure from Sanders.

At that point, Sanders was off and running. Even a couple of late-race cautions were no help for his pursuers as he sped away each time, eventually taking the checkered flag just before his tire exploded. “Once I got the lead I was trying to slow my pace, but I figured those guys were right one me,” Sanders added. “It’s pretty cool to come out with a win. Obviously we had a lot of luck with the tire going flat after the race but I guess that’s part of it.”

Sanders collected $3,000 for his 98th career USMTS victory while Iverson, who also blew his right rear tire on the final lap, held on to take runner-up honors in the inaugural “Rustler” powered by CP-Carrillo. Last year’s top rookie, Hunter Marriott, chased Iverson around the semi-banked 1/4-mile dirt oval but was unable to find a way around and had to settle for third with four-time USMTS national champ Jason Hughes and Tyler Wolff trailing in fourth and fifth.

Another rookie contender, Casey Skyberg’s long haul from Rapid City, S.D., paid off with a sixth-place finish. Terry Phillips passed 13 cars en route to winding up seventh, Tyler Davis went from 17th to eighth, Dereck Ramirez nabbed the ninth spot and Adam Kates was the tenth driver to cross the finish line.

The hottest driver at the end of the 2019 season, Jacob Bleess ran sixth most of the race but got bottled up on the final lap and found himself in the infield before salvaging the 15th-place paycheck.

One down, 57 to go: The tireless touring titans roll on to the South Texas Speedway in Corpus Christi on Saturday. USMTS Modifieds last churned the clay at Steven Whiteaker Jr.’s racetrack to open the 2018 campaign. Johnny Scott swept both nights and eventually went on to capture his first USMTS title and $50,000.

The series debuted here in 2007 with Jason Hughes and David Horner taking the wins on the first two nights before rain thwarted the finale of the scheduled tripleheader. In 2014, it was 2007 USMTS national champion, Jason Krohn, getting the win on opening night and Stormy Scott winning the next.

To connect with the USMTS check out USMTS.com.

OFFICIAL RESULTS: United States Modified Touring Series, Summit USMTS National Championship fueled by Casey’s. Inaugural “Rustler” powered by CP-Carrillo. I-37 Speedway, Pleasanton, Texas, Friday, February 28, 2020

Showing finishing position, starting position in parentheses, car number, driver and hometown. The top 12 in heat race passing points advance to the Casey’s “A” Main.

SIMPSON PERFORMANCE PRODUCTS HEAT RACE #1 (8 laps): 1. (5) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas. 2. (9) 6 Casey Skyberg (R), Rapid City, S.D. 3. (1) 8 Wesley Summers, Wellington, Mo. 4. (2) 4M Bobby Malchus, Red Oak, Texas. 5. (3) 9C Dillon Hill (R), Eunice, N.M. 6. (8) 55G Dave Gaggero (R), Wichita, Kan. 7. (6) 55 Nathan Hagar (R), Adair, Okla. 8. (7) 20J Jason Ingalls, Longview, Texas.  9. (4) 24Z Zane Ferrell, Hermitage, Ark.

FAST SHAFTS HEAT RACE #2 (8 laps): 1. (2) 23 Adam Kates, Tonganoxie, Kan. 2. (1) 86 Dillon Tindall (R), LaGrange, Texas. 3. (7) 4R Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla. 4. (4) 71K Kevin Sustaire, Emory, Texas. 5. (5) 21 Jacob Bleess, Chatfield, Minn. 6. (3) 8G Greg Dinsmore (R), Kerrville, Texas. 7. (6) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo. DNS – 9 Jimmy Ray, Las Cruces, N.M.

EDELBROCK HEAT RACE #3 (8 laps): 1. (6) 62 Hunter Marriott, Brookfield, Mo. 2. (1) 5R Ryan Doyon (R), LaCoste, Texas. 3. (5) 33Z Zack Vanderbeek, New Sharon, Iowa. 4. (3) 65 Tyler Davis, Haysville, Kan. 5. (7) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla. 6. (4) 55D Michael Dotson, Lathrop, Mo. 7. (2) 49 Ryan Slott (R), New Waverly, Texas. 8. (8) 29 Jamie Campbell (R), La Vernia, Texas

MSD PERFORMANCE HEAT RACE #4 (8 laps): 1. (2) 27X Calvin Iverson (R), Eleva, Wis. 2. (6) 4W Tyler Wolff, Fayetteville, Ark. 3. (8) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla. 4. (4) 97 Cade Dillard, Robeline, La. 5. (1) 9R Kevin Rutherford, Flower Mound, Texas. 6. (3) 71 Philip Houston, Odessa, Texas. 7. (7) 7 Shayne Bailey, Lathrop, Mo. 8. (5) 137 William Pittaway, Corpus Christi, Texas

REAL RACING WHEELS “B” MAIN #1 (12 laps, top 5 advance): 1. (1) 4M Bobby Malchus, Red Oak, Texas. 2. (4) 21 Jacob Bleess, Chatfield, Minn. 3. (2) 65 Tyler Davis, Haysville, Kan. 4. (3) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla. 5. (11) 24Z Zane Ferrell, Hermitage, Ark. 6. (9) 20J Jason Ingalls, Longview, Texas. 7. (8) 49 Ryan Slott (R), New Waverly, Texas. 8. (7) 55 Nathan Hagar (R), Adair, Okla. 9. (6) 55D Michael Dotson, Lathrop, Mo. 10. (5) 55G Dave Gaggero (R), Wichita, Kan. 11. (10) 29 Jamie Campbell (R), La Vernia, Texas

REAL RACING WHEELS “B” MAIN #2 (12 laps, top 5 advance): 1. (2) 97 Cade Dillard, Robeline, La. 2. (1) 71K Kevin Sustaire, Emory, Texas. 3. (9) 9 Jimmy Ray, Las Cruces, N.M. 4. (7) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo. 5. (5) 8G Greg Dinsmore (R), Kerrville, Texas. 6. (6) 71 Philip Houston, Odessa, Texas. 7. (8) 7 Shayne Bailey, Lathrop, Mo. 8. (3) 9C Dillon Hill (R), Eunice, N.M. 9. (10) 137 William Pittaway, Corpus Christi, Texas. 10. (4) 9R Kevin Rutherford, Flower Mound, Texas

CASEY’S “A” MAIN (40 laps): 1. (3) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas. 2. (1) 27X Calvin Iverson (R), Eleva, Wis. 3. (5) 62 Hunter Marriott, Brookfield, Mo. 4. (6) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla. 5. (7) 4W Tyler Wolff, Fayetteville, Ark. 6. (8) 6 Casey Skyberg (R), Rapid City, S.D. 7. (20) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo. 8. (17) 65 Tyler Davis, Haysville, Kan. 9. (4) 4R Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla. 10. (2) 23 Adam Kates, Tonganoxie, Kan. 11. (19) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla. 12. (22) 8G Greg Dinsmore (R), Kerrville, Texas. 13. (9) 86 Dillon Tindall (R), LaGrange, Texas. 14. (10) 5R Ryan Doyon (R), LaCoste, Texas. 15. (15) 21 Jacob Bleess, Chatfield, Minn. 16. (13) 4M Bobby Malchus, Red Oak, Texas. 17. (18) 9R Kevin Rutherford, Flower Mound, Texas. 18. (24) 71 Philip Houston, Odessa, Texas. 19. (12) 8 Wesley Summers, Wellington, Mo. 20. (21) 24Z Zane Ferrell, Hermitage, Ark. 21. (23) 55 Nathan Hagar (R), Adair, Okla. 22. (11) 33Z Zack Vanderbeek, New Sharon, Iowa. 23. (16) 71K Kevin Sustaire, Emory, Texas. 24. (14) 97 Cade Dillard, Robeline, La.

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

Lap Leaders: Iverson 1-13, Sanders 14-40.
Total Laps Led: Sanders 27, Iverson 13.

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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