Sanders Is Deer Creek USMTS Star

Rodney Sanders in victory lane. (USMTS photo)
Rodney Sanders in victory lane. (USMTS photo)

SPRING VALLEY, Minn. — Magical things just seem to happen between the walls of the Deer Creek Speedway when the United States Modified Touring Series is in town, and the racing gods bestowed yet another badass blessing on the race fans Friday during the second night of the 21st annual Featherlite Fall Jamboree.

When considering the amount of sheer excitement throughout the evening’s 40-lap main event, perhaps the best move of the night took place when Jake Timm, Blake Arndt and Kyle Brown climbed from their destroyed race cars after a frightening crash on the opening lap.

Jason Hughes and Arndt made contact near the end of the backstretch while battling in the middle of the pack. Arndt shot up the track into a helpless Timm who then smacked the concrete wall and went into a series of end-over-end flips, nearly exiting the track.

Brown, who used a provisional in the USMTS Hunt for the Casey’s Cup to get the 30th starting spot, was also collected in the melee. Ultimately, after a few tense moments, all three racers emerged from the twisted metal without serious injury.

On the restart, cars became bunched up coming to the flagstand which forced one car off the track and brought about the race’s second slow-down before a single lap could be completed.

Finally under green, Dustin Sorensen took control from the pole position and proceeded to set a blistering pace around the extreme high side of the high-banked three-eighths-mile clay oval with Austin Siebert and Jake O’Neil challenging the second-generation speedster.

USMTS national points leader Rodney Sanders joined the fray and O’Neil used the occasion to grab second place from Siebert as they raced three-wide behind Sorensen.

With Sorensen, O’Neil and Sanders dragging each other around the top of the track, the caution flew on lap 13 just as the leaders had caught the back of the field.

When the green flag returned, Sanders took advantage and slipped by O’Neil for second while 14th-starting Jacob Bleess took fourth away from Hunter Marriott.

A slight bobble in turn two was all that Sanders needed to make a run on Sorensen, and the two-time USMTS national champ slid past the 18-year old for the lead on lap 24.

The final 16 laps were nothing short of incredible.

While Sanders continued to hold serve, O’Neil followed in his tire tracks with Sorensen right behind and Marriott trailing in fourth. Meanwhile, Thursday night winner Dereck Ramirez (from 24th) and Zack VanderBeek (from 22nd) had cracked the top 10 and battling to get into the top five.

Lapped cars gain became a factor with 10 laps remaining. Sanders and O’Neil broke away slightly and waged a hearty battle through traffic when suddenly the yellow lights came on and caution flew over the speedway with just two laps to go.

On the restart, O’Neil was a bit slow to fire but caught Sanders by the time they reached back-stretch while Sorensen tip-toed his way around the low side of the racing surface and Ramirez tried to squeeze in through the middle.

Entering the final corner coming to the checkered flag, O’Neil shot to the low side and began a huge slide up the track but was restrained enough to give Sanders a car’s width to squirt around the top and speed past to take the win.

As O’Neil tucked in behind Sanders, Sorensen snuck underneath for second while Ramirez passed 20 of his fellow competitors en route to a fourth-place finish and VanderBeek drove by 17 cars to register his second top five in as many nights.

The finish:

Rodney Sanders, Dustin Sorensen, Jake O’Neil, Dereck Ramirez, Zack VanderBeek, Hunter Marriott, Brandon Davis, Jacob Bleess, Jason Hughes, Lucas Schott, Josh Angst, Terry Phillips, Joe Duvall, Austin Siebert, Travis Saurer, John Doelle, Keith Tourville, Tony Schill, Cory Crapser, Erik Kanz, Joel Alberts, Chris Oertel, Chet Atkinson, R.C. Whitwell, Adam Hensel, Ethan Dotson, Brad Waits, Jake Timm, Blake Arndt, Kyle Brown.