STUART, Iowa — In its 22nd season of traveling the country, the Summit USMTS National Championship fueled by Casey’s made its first stop at Stuart Int’l Speedway Tuesday night.
Dereck Ramirez claimed his first USMTS victory of the season and ninth of his storied career moving him into the top 20 on the all-time wins list.
It wasn’t easy for Ramirez, but the 33-year-old from Woodward, Okla., was up to the task, leading the final 17 circuits in the feature. Ramirez also pocketed an additional two bonus points for leading the most lap in the Casey’s A-main.
Rodney Sanders started on the pole, but rookie Calvin Iverson took the early lead.
Iverson and Sanders swapped a couple of slide jobs during the first two laps before settling in nose to tail around the high side of the Stuart high banks. As it would several times during the race, lapped traffic slowed Iverson briefly — enough for Sanders to squirt past on lap nine.
On the same lap, Jason Hughes also got by Iverson but the two made contact with Hughes spinning but Iverson getting the blame and restarting at the rear of the field following the race’s first of two cautions.
Back under green, Hughes chased Sanders around the quarter-mile bullring as they danced dangerously close to the outer concrete wall. Following the last yellow flag on lap 12, Tanner Mullens made his way past Hughes on lap 13 and began threatening Sanders for the lead.
Maneuvering in and out of lapped traffic, Mullens was able to sneak by Sanders as they completed the 23rd lap. Seven laps later, Sanders careened off of a back-marker that was trying to knock down the wall in turn two.
Ramirez laid claim to second place and then used the uncharted middle of the racing surface to race by Mullens in front of the flag stand as they eclipsed the 34th orbit.
Mullens never lost sight of Ramirez but save for a momentary peek to the outside of a lapped car that Ramirez quickly had second thoughts about, the two remained that way to the finish line with Ramirez nabbing the $2,500 top prize and Mullens settling for the runner-up paycheck.
Kyle Brown, who started 12th on the 24-car grid, recorded a career-best third-place finish with four-time USMTS national champ Hughes and three-time USMTS national champ Sanders behind him in fourth and fifth.
Dereck Ramirez, Tanner Mullens, Kyle Brown, Jason Hughes, Rodney Sanders, Zack VanderBeek, Jacob Bleess, Hunter Marriott, Cayden Carter, Adam Kates, Dennis Elliott, Tyler Davis, Chase Rudolf, Randy Foote, Cory Sauerman, Tony Cox, Joe Duvall, John Davis, Calvin Iverson, Nathan Hagar, Josh Gilman, Cole Ferguson, Nick Roberts, Casey Skyberg.