SPRING VALLEY, Minn. – USRA Stock Cars shared the spotlight Thursday night at Deer Creek Speedway as the Iron Man Challenge joined the co-sanctioned USMTS/USRA Modifieds for opening night of the 4th Annual World Modified Dirt Track Championship presented by Red Tail Tackle.
A wild 20-lap main event that saw drivers jockeying for positions throughout the tightly-bunched field ended with Lynn Panos holding off last year’s series champ Mitch Hovden for his first Iron Man victory of the 2014 campaign.
Tom Schmitt, who added an Iron Man title to his résumé in 2012 to go along with his pair of USRA Stock Car national championships, took the lead at the onset from the outside of the front row from polesitter Andy Altenburg.
While Schmitt settled in to a rhythm up front, the action was intense behind the leader with drivers challenging the high-banked clay oval three and, sometimes, four wide.
USMTS boss Todd Staley started tenth but found himself in second and chasing Schmitt near the halfway point of the race. After a quick caution, contact with another car left Staley’s left rear tire flat and his chance at his first USRA Stock Car win evaporated.
Shortly thereafter, Panos came charging to the front. He snuck by Schmitt with five laps to go and then cruised the rest of the way to the finish line to pocket the $750 top prize.
Shawn Peter followed Hovden beneath the checkered flags to finish third while Schmitt faded to fourth in the closing laps. Shay Curtin, Steve Jackson, 19th-starting Kevin Donlan, Ned Kalis, Brian Webb and Danny Sacquitne rounded out the top 10.
Lynn Panos, Mitch Hovden, Shawn Peter, Tom Schmitt, Shay Curtin, Steve Jackson, Kevin Donlan, Ned Kalis, Bryan Webb, Danny Sacquitne, Andy Altenburg, Jake Ludeking, Luke Sathoff, Casey Sebastian, Brandon Vogt, Philip Wernert, Arlen Hoy, Todd Staley, Kevin Vogt