SPRING VALLEY, Minn. — With his second win in as many nights, Jake O’Neil completed a dominant month of September at the Deer Creek Speedway with an impressive win at the 22nd annual Featherlite Fall Jamboree on Saturday night.
Thanks to a year turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Summit USMTS National Championship fueled by Casey’s show was cut from three to two days so O’Neil won’t get the opportunity to match the effort by Jason Hughes five years ago when he topped all three nights of the event.
However, a decisive win three weeks ago here in the J&S JCB USMTS Labor Day Duel gives the 28-year-old from Tucson, Ariz., the distinct honor of being the only USMTS racer to win every USMTS main event at ‘The Creek’ in a single season.
“I come here on a local night and I tried something I probably never tried on a race day,” O’Neil said. “For whatever reason, it worked and every time I come back I put the same setup on… I tell you what, this racecar I feel like anybody could drive it. If I can drive it, anybody could drive it.”
In scoring his 10th career USMTS victory, O’Neal pocketed $10,500 to increase his three-race loot to more than $20,000.
“Man, it’s just awesome. I don’t know what to say. This is very surreal. I didn’t really expect this. This weekend kind of went our way with our draws and being able to start up front and, man, I don’t know. It’s just a badass racecar.”
With the 32-car field starting three-wide, O’Neil started fourth on the inside of the second row. He was third by lap four, second one lap later and scooted underneath early leader Brad Waits to lead the eighth lap.
Following a lap-11 caution for Brandon Davis’s broken machine, O’Neil began to pull away from the field but Rodney Sanders moved into second on lap 13 and kept O’Neil within striking distance. Meanwhile, polesitter and defending Fall Jamboree champ Jacob Bleess was embroiled in an exciting three-way battle for third with Zack VanderBeek.
Fighting their way through thick lapped traffic, O’Neil and Sanders tip-toed away from the field when the second and final yellow flag waved for Dustin Sorensen with just five laps remaining. This gave hope to Jake Timm who found a daring line near the concrete wall to his liking and sat third when the race went back to green-flag racing.
Timm disposed of Sanders but could not muster the muscle to challenge O’Neil for the lead. The two Jakes crossed the finish line first and second with O’Neil taking the top prize while Timm settled for a $5,000 second-place paycheck.
“I knew I needed to get out there early and try to set the pace, but at the same time I was really worried about my tires,” O’Neil revealed. “At the end I was kind of hanging on there. I felt it vibrating and I thought a tire was going down, and I was doing everything I could to just hold on.”
Sanders held on for third with VanderBeek and Bleess finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
Jake O’Neil, Jake Timm, Rodney Sanders, Zack VanderBeek, Jacob Bleess, Tanner Mullens, Cory Crapser, Lucas Schott, Brooks Strength, Jason Hughes, Calvin Iverson, Dereck Ramirez, J.D. Auringer, Josh Angst, Alex Williamson, Brady Gerdes, Joe Duvall, Tyler Davis, Dustin Hodges, Lance Mari, Jared Russell, Kenny Gaddis, Mark Gartner, Casey Skyberg, Sean Gaddis, Dustin Sorensen, Jason Cummins, John Doelle, Terry Phillips, Brad Waits, Brennen Chipp, Brandon Davis.