Sorensen Rules Masters Opening Night

Jimmy Mars (4/4) leads Dustin Sorensen during Thursday's Masters opener at Cedar Lake Speedway. (Tyler Rinken Photo)
Jimmy Mars (4/4) leads Dustin Sorensen during Thursday's Masters opener at Cedar Lake Speedway. (Tyler Rinken Photo)

NEW RICHMOND, Wis. – Dustin Sorensen raced to victory Thursday during the opening night of the 20th annual Masters presented by Allstar Performance at Cedar Lake Speedway.

The 40-lap main event saw Jimmy Mars steal the lead from Dereck Ramirez just shy of the halfway point and Sorensen rip the win from Mars’ hands with two laps to go.

Ramirez, who started next to Sybesma Graphics Pole Award winner Clayton Wagamon on the front row, took control at the waving of the green flag and stayed out front for the first 17 laps while Wagamon, Mars and Zack VanderBeek grappled for second place.

Finding the high side to his liking, Mars powered around the outside of Ramirez to assume the lead position with 18 laps in the books, and continued to set a torrid pace on a smooth racing surface that produces multiple racing lines on the high-banked three-eighths-mile of clay.

Meanwhile, tenth-starting Sorensen went around VanderBeek for third and then disposed of Ramirez three laps later and nestled up behind the rear bumper of Mars.

The final 19 laps left were breathtaking as the 2018 National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame inductee who has thousands of laps logged at the New Richmond, Wis., speed palace, had to fight to keep the 18-year-old from Rochester, Minn., in his rear view mirror.

Sorensen was noticeably faster than Mars, bobbling once on lap 30 and then making back up eight car-lengths in a span of two laps. But the experience of Mars wouldn’t allow much room to make a pass.

Finally, Sorensen began peeking at the extreme high side of turns three and four, looking to the outside of Mars for a way around. He gave it a shot on lap 36 but was forced to hit the brake pedal when Mars filled the gap before Sorensen could fill it.

A quick learner, Sorensen drove hard the the same corner the next go around, and this time he was able to get wheel to wheel with Mars as they exited the corner.

That was all she wrote.

From there, Sorensen pulled away and crossed beneath the checkered flag with his third career USMTS victory and first away from his hometown track.

“That was the most fun I’ve ever had in a racecar,” Sorensen told the crowd during his victory lane celebration. “This is the happiest I’ve ever been after a race, passing a guy like Jimmy. I kind of look up to him.”

Sorensen, whose Memorial Day Weekend win in 2018 made him the youngest ever USMTS feature winner, drives an MB Customs chassis, built by none other than Mars.

“I didn’t think I was going to get him there, and then he started running a little lower in (turns) three and four and, I just went for it.”

It was the third USMTS win for Sorensen, who trails his father Mike Sorensen by two in the career wins tally, and it was worth $3,000 to kick off the Masters weekend.

Meanwhile, Mars held on for runner-up honors with Ramirez trailing him across the finish line in third and VanderBeek claiming the fourth spot.

Defending Masters champion Rodney Sanders, who started 17th on the grid, rounded out the top five.

The finish:

Dustin Sorensen, Jimmy Mars, Dereck Ramirez, Zack VanderBeek, Rodney Sanders, A.J. Diemel, Jake Timm, Hunter Marriott, Michael Truscott, Darrell Nelson, Austin Arneson, Terry Phillips, Jacob Bleess, R.C. Whitwell, Darron Fuqua, Adam Kates, Chris Oertel, Cory Crapser, Ryan Gustin, Nic Bidinger, Jake O’Neil, Tyler Wolff, Adam Hensel, Clayton Wagamon, Lucas Schott, Grant Southworth.