SPRING VALLEY, Minn. — Dereck Ramirez watched the monkey on his back grow old, but the 32-year-old from Woodward, Okla., finally laid it to rest Thursday on opening night of the 21st annual Featherlite Fall Jamboree.
Ramirez started on the outside of the front row and followed polesitter Joel Alberts for the first six laps of Thursday’s main event before powering to the front.
Besides Alberts, Ramirez was also challenged by Adam Hensel, Zack VanderBeek and Rodney Sanders during the first half of the 40-lapper but eventually he checked out with Sanders to settle it among themselves.
It seemed fitting since the pair are ranked first and second in both the Casey’s General Stores USMTS National Championship points battle and USMTS Hunt for the Casey’s Cup powered by Summit which wraps up with the conclusion of Saturday’s race.
Lapped traffic came into play during the final dozen laps, but despite his best efforts Sanders had to settle for the runner-up paycheck while Ramirez broke through for his third win of the season and eighth of his USMTS career.
In doing so, Ramirez also buried the hatchet with the Deer Creek Speedway.
“This is one of them places where in racing this is where you shine-Eldora for the late models; Deer Creek for the modifieds-and it’s so great to actually do it,” an emotional Ramirez said in victory lane. “I’ve struggled and struggled here, and I finally got something figured out. I think we got something to work with.”
Thursday’s event was the 108th United States Modified Touring Series race at the high-banked three-eighths-mile clay oval near Spring Valley, Minn. For Ramirez, it was his 80th attempt but first trip to the winner’s circle here.
“It was good,” he said of his Cornett-powered No. 4r Hughes Chassis. “I’m so happy to run good here. You’ve got probably the greatest fans in dirt track racing for us, and I just never ran good here. I never showed my true talent to these people and I’m glad it shined tonight.
“I usually don’t drink, but I think tonight’s the night I probably get drunk.”
While Ramirez avoided a 13th second-place finish this season and instead picked up his eighth career USMTS win, Sanders held off 2019 track champion Brandon Davis who clawed his way from 12th on the grid to finish third.
It ended a streak of seven straight wins at the track for Davis, including the Labor Day Weekend event which gave him his eighth career USMTS victory.
Dereck Ramirez, Rodney Sanders, Brandon Davis, Hunter Marriott, Zack VanderBeek, Dustin Sorensen, Rochester, Jake Timm, Joel Alberts, Jake O’Neil, Brad Waits, Travis Saurer, Terry Phillips, Lucas Schott, Jason Hughes, Cory Crapser, Josh Angst, Jacob Bleess, Joe Horgdal, Brady Gerdes, Jason Cummins, Adam Kates, Austin Siebert, Ryan Gustin, Adam Hensel, Kyle Brown, Ethan Dotson, Charlie Steinberg, Rick Beebe, Joe Duvall, Tony Schill.