HARTFORD, S.D. — Saturday night found the USMTS Casey’s Cup powered by Swan Energy at the I-90 Speedway for the first time in the 16-year history of the series.
But despite racing in unfamiliar territory, the final box score showed a familiar face in victory lane as defending USMTS National Champion Rodney Sanders rolled to his third win in four nights, bringing his total rake to $7,000 in the last 72 hours.
The first half of the race was a fierce battle with Rookie of the Year contender Jeremy Houle in control at the start and leading the first nine laps before Johnny Scott took command on lap 10 following a restart for a crash on lap nine that sidelined four cars.
Sanders powered ahead of Scott on lap 18, but Scott fought back and tried to recapture the top spot. Nearly making contact with Sanders, Scott spun and was forced to tag the rear of the field.
Sanders blasted off and disappeared from the field after that, eventually taking the checkered flag at the end of the 40-lapper with nearly a seven-second cushion over second-place finisher Jon Tesch, who came from 15th in impressive style.
No less impressive was Houle who had a miscue of his own earlier in the contest and returned from the back of the pack to score a career-best third.
But the Mesilla Valley Hard Charger Award went to Zack VanderBeek for the sixth time this year. Friday night’s winner in Rock Rapids, Iowa, VanderBeek sliced his way from 18th on the starting grid to finish fourth and get his seventh top five in eight Farm Boy BBQ Sauce Northern Region starts.
Joey Jensen completed the top five with Scott making his way back to the front and finishing sixth as the final car on the lead lap with Sanders.
Sanders’ win was the 26th of his USMTS career, tying him on the all-time list with Stormy Scott, whose feature race was cut short after a tangle on the ninth lap.
Rodney Sanders, Jon Tesch, Jeremy Houle, Zack VanderBeek, Joey Jensen, Johnny Scott, Don Gerritsen Jr., Clayton Wagamon, Scott Hansen, Trevor Anderson, Pat Graham, Jim Mathieson, Chris Moore, Dereck Ramirez, Bob Gierke, Mike Stearns, Casey Arneson, Kelly Shryock, Nate Wasmund, Austin Arneson, Stormy Scott, Daniel Hilsabeck, Bryan Rowland.