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Sanders Sizzles In Sooner Showdown Finale March 11, 2017

Sanders Sizzles In Sooner Showdown Finale

Rodney Sanders reeled in his first win of the season with a dominating wire-to-wire effort on the final day of the 5th Annual Production Jars Sooner Showdown Saturday at the Southern Oklahoma Speedway.

The 2012 and 2013 USMTS national champion had not led one of the previous 545 laps of feature racing this season, but he made up for it on a cold and wet day in Ardmore, Okla., by leading all 50 laps of the main event Saturday to earn a $4,000 check and his 76th career USMTS triumph.

Although the 27-year-old from Happy, Texas, led comfortably for most of the 50 laps around John and Nikki Webb’s 3/8-mile dirt oval, things got tense with about 15 laps remaining when thick lapped traffic allowed Dereck Ramirez to close in on the rear bumper of the leader.

In fact, Ramirez nosed ahead at one point while Sanders was working the high side to pick off back-markers, but Sanders was able to shut the door and hold the spot.

After that, Sanders found a new line to his liking and pulled away from the pack over the final ten circuits.

As Sanders took the checkered flag, a melee occurred in turn four which brought out the yellow flag and the rest of the field was scored as they finished lap 49.

Ramirez, Chris Brown, Zack VanderBeek and Jason Hughes claimed the rest of the top-five positions while Clyde Dunn Jr., Stormy Scott, Ricky Thornton Jr., R.C. Whitwell and Ryan Gustin rounded out the top ten.

For additional news visit www.usmts.com

Photo courtesy of www.usmts.com/Hix Photography

Bronson Collects Winter Shootout Win March 11, 2017

Bronson Collects Winter Shootout Win

Cochran, GA – Kyle Bronson of Brandon, FL became the first repeat winner of the 2017 season on the RockAuto.com Winter Shootout for the NeSmith Dirt Late Model Series with a $5,000 win at Cochran Motor Speedway on Saturday night March 11th. Bronson led the final four laps after getting by Riley Hickman, who had led laps 7-55, with a pass while racing amongst lapped traffic in his Brandon Collision/All Florida Real Estate sponsored Rocket Chassis #40B. The win makes Bronson the first two-time winner in 2017 on the RockAuto.com Winter Shootout for the NeSmith Dirt Late Model Series after picking up the Chevrolet Performance World Championship win at Bubba Raceway Park early this season.

42 entries made their way to Chris and Joni Martin’s 3/8th mile facility for the $5,000 to win event. Sunoco Race Fuels Pole Qualifying would determine the line-up for the 4 Chevrolet Performance Heat Races from which the top 3 finishers would transfer to the main event. Following Heat Races 2 RockAuto.com B-Mains would take the top 6 finishers from each to set the 24-car starting field. Loudon, TN driver Matt Henderson would top Sunoco Race Fuels Time Trials in his Terror Race Cars/Crowder Small Engine sponsored entry by setting a fast time of 14.685 seconds and putting himself on the pole of Chevrolet Performance Heat Race #1 which would determine the pole sitter for the feature event. Henderson would get out to an early lead and pick up the Heat Race win. Heat Race 2 went to fellow Tennessee driver Riley Hickman in the Hickman Manufacturing CVR. The third Heat Race win was claimed by Reddick, FL’s Devin Dixon in the Big Frog Motorsports/Dave’s Towing sponsored #58 Rocket Chassis. The fourth and final heat race win went to “Big Tree” Larry Harrod in his #27 Harrod Logging/EPA Photography sponsored machine. Two 15-lap RockAuto.com B-Mains would determine the final 12 starters for the main event. Commerce, GA’s 15- year old Payton Freeman picked up the win in B-Main 1 to lock his Freeman Plumbing/Price’s Septic sponsored mount in the big show. B-Main 2 win went to LaFayette, AL’s Chase Edge in the Edge’s Gas sponsored special.  

With the field set, the near capacity crowd at Cochran Motor Speedway roared to life when the green flag dropped for the 60-lap main event. The great fans at Cochran were treated to superb racing from the get go of the as the racing action was fierce and furious throughout the field, but especially so among the top 5 throughout the 60-lap feature. Matt Henderson would use his inside pole start position to jump out to the early lead heading into turn one, but the first of 6 caution flags would wave before the completion of lap 1 when contact between cars resulted in Jimmy Thomas #22 machine spun at the bottom of turn 4 setting up a complete restart. Once again Henderson was able to jump to a lead at the drop of the green flag, but Riley Hickman kept him in his sights. Hickman used the outside lane of the track to setup his assault on Henderson for the lead. After applying pressure and several failed attempts to clear Henderson, Hickman was able to get by him on the outside coming to complete lap 7. After secruring the lead the caution lights would once again come one as the #A19 Austin Trucking sponsored machine of John Ownbey slowed down the back straightaway.

Hickman settled into the lead for the restart and established a comfortable gap before caution would wave again on lap 10 for the spinning machine of Ryan Carter. Green flag waved again with fierce battles among the top 5 that would once again slow as one of the contenders at the front of the field, Larry Harrod, would slow with a flat tire on lap 12. Harrod would rejoin the field at the tail as the green lights lit with Hickman continuing to lead. Lap 17 would see the fifth caution when suspension issues would drop Walker Arthur’s Cecil B. Arthur Beef Farms machine from contention at the front of the field. Hickman again setup a lead as some of the most intense racing for position was taking place behind him amongst a contingent of Sunshine State drivers Whitener, Bronson, and Mark Whitener. The sixth and final caution would wave on lap 33 for Payton Freeman after his Freeman Plumbing machine slid to a stop off the top of turn 3.

The caution would stack the field up for what would be the final “dixie double file” restart. With Hickman out front he would once again take command of the lead with the fierce action continuing behind him. Slide jobs, lane swapping, and door-to-door action had the fans on the edge of their seat as laps began to wind down. Friday night’s winner and 18th place starter Mike Pegher Jr. looked as though he was going to join the party, but damage to the nose of his machine hindered his car’s handling dropping him from contention. The race among the top 5 got even better as lapped traffic was racing for position ahead of leader Hickman allowing the others to reel him in as laps wound down. Kyle Bronson and Whitener had used every possible line on the speedway to remain in the runner up position, but it was Bronson who was able to put his machine in position to pounce as he cleared Hickman on lap 55. From there it was Hickman who found himself among the battle for not only the lead but a top 5 finish. The race to catch Bronson would prove to be too much as they were able to keep him in their windows but not able to catch the driver who has now picked up the two largest paying events of the 2017 RockAuto.com Winter Shootout Season.

Thornton Throttles To Win In Sooner Showdown Opener March 9, 2017

Thornton Throttles To Win In Sooner Showdown Opener

The USMTS rolled into the Southern Oklahoma Speedway Thursday for the opening night of the 5th Annual Sooner Showdown presented by Production Jars, and Ricky Thornton Jr. walked out with his third win of the season.

The 26-year-old from Chandler, Ariz., garnered the Sybesma Pole Award and then led all 30 laps of the main event to earn the $2,000 top prize, but the win didn’t come as easy as his last one where he won by nearly a half-lap at the Greenville Speedway in Mississippi.

Five cautions dotted the first ten laps of the race which kept everybody in the 26-car field in contention for the first one-third of the race.

Thornton was able to stave off an early threat from Thomas Tillison Jr. as the battle behind him was intense from start to finish with Rodney Sanders, Ryan Gustin, Johnny Scott and Joe Duvall all trading blows in and around the top five.

While Thornton remained mostly committed to the lower and middle lanes of the semi-banked 3/8-mile clay oval, those behind him were continuously searching high and low for a faster way to catch the ‘Cactus Kid.’

Sanders pressured Thornton for the last half of the race, but even a sixth and final yellow flag waving with two laps to go could not give him the boost he needed to get his No. 20 past Thornton’s No. 20.

“Things have been really good lately,” Thornton said with a smile in victory lane. “I tried the top early because I really didn’t know where to go and Sanders just kind of went by me so luckily that yellow came out and gave us the lead back.”

The final yellow flag was good for Gustin too as he slid past Sanders to garner the runner-up finish, while Sanders Johnny Scott and Chris Brown rounded out the top five.

Points leader Cade Dillard came out of a Real Racing Wheels “B” Main to finish sixth, Jason Hughes was seventh, Stormy Scott passed nine cars to get eighth and Joe Duvall nabbed the ninth spot with his teammate, R.C. Whitwell, tucked in behind for tenth.

For additional news visit www.usmts.com

Photo courtesy of www.usmts.com/Hix Photography

Grabouski Gets Eighth Spring Nationals Win March 9, 2017

Grabouski Gets Eighth Spring Nationals Win

BEATRICE, Neb. (March 9) – The eighth time was every bit as good as the first Thursday night for Jordan Grabouski.

Grabouski won the opening night IMCA Modified feature at his hometown Beatrice Speedway’s Spring Nationals for a record eighth time, earning $2,500.

Kyle Brown, 13th starting Hunter Marriott, Jacob Murray and hard charger Dylan Smith rounded out the top five. Smith, a Spring Nationals winner in 2013, had started 18th.

Grabouski started inside the second row, passing Brown and Anthony Roth on his way to the front early on. He wasn’t challenged as the 30-lapper wound down.

“We had a lot of work to do before tonight. We’ve got a brand new GRT and being able to win tonight made all the late nights in the shop worth it,” said Grabouski, the defending and two-time IMCA national champion and already a 2017 Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational ballot candidate.

“I used to go to Spring Nationals every year when I was growing up and as a kid can remember drivers coming from all over to race here,” he added. “It’s kind of crazy that I could win this eight times. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Grabouski’s career-first Spring Nationals victory came in 2008.

For more news visit www.imca.com

Thornton Takes Down USMTS Victory February 26, 2017

Thornton Takes Down USMTS Victory

Ricky Thornton Jr. may need some new tin on the right side of his USMTS modified after Sunday night’s main event at the Greenville Speedway, but he has a $3,000 winner’s paycheck to help with the cost.

The fastest way around the “fastest track in the south” was the longest way around, but the 26-year-old from Chandler, Ariz., showed no signs of being intimidated by the outer concrete wall of the 1/4-mile dirt oval as he raced to an impressive seven-second win over Kyle Beard in the 40-lapper.

And his margin of victory was built in just seven laps after the last of nine cautions waved on lap 33.

From the outside of the front row, Stormy Scott grabbed the lead when the green flag waved and looked to have a strong car capable of winning his first of the season, but a flurry of seven yellow flags in the first dozen laps kept the field close.

Meanwhile, Thornton, who started 12th on the grid, found his way to Scott’s rear bumper with 16 laps in the books and then wrestled the spot away on lap 18.

Just two more cautions appeared during the final 22 laps, but that may have simply kept Thornton from lapping the entire field as his No. 20rt Gressel Racing Hughes Chassis rocketed away from the field.

The win was Thornton’s second in the young season’s first nine races. In addition to his winnings, last year’s Grant Junghans USMTS Rookie of the Year also walked away with awards from BigDeal Car Care, QA1, VP Racing Fuels, Wehrs Machine & Racing Products and a new tire from American Racer.

Dereck Ramirez, who started 10th, got the runner-up paycheck after Beard was disqualified during post-race technical inspection while Zack VanderBeek, 23rd-starting Tyler Wolff and Chris Brown rounded out the top five.

Timothy Culp, Travis Saurer, Joe Duvall, Jon Mitchell and Kyle Pleasant finished sixth through 10th, respectively.

After nine races in the Summit Racing USMTS Southern Region presented by Production Jars, Cade Dillard maintains the top spot in the points with a 27-point cushion (784 to 757) over Brown. Jason Hughes (746), Thornton (736), Stormy Scott (731), Ryan Gustin (706), Saurer (682), Ramirez (679), Johnny Scott (668) and VanderBeek (667) complete the top 10.

For more news visit www.usmts.com

Photo courtesy of www.usmts.com

Haers Is DIRTcar Nationals Victor February 24, 2017

Haers Is DIRTcar Nationals Victor

BARBERVILLE, F.L - Feb. 25, 2017 – The hot shoe out of Phelps, N.Y., Justin Haers, picked up his second career DIRTcar Nationals victory after holding off the 22nd starter, Matt Sheppard in Friday night’s 30-lap Super DIRTcar Series feature event at Volusia Speedway Park.

“We had a really good car from the drop of the green,” Haers said in Victory Lane. “It seemed like I’d get in the wrong part of the restart wanting to be on the bottom but kept restarting on top. I just found the [bottom groove] in turn three and four and I could just hook it really good. The car was was unbelievable, top, bottom, it didn’t matter where I wanted it.”

Mario Clair and Alan Johnson led the 26-car field to the green flag. Clair showed a dominant lead early on until Jimmy Horton started to put pressure on the No. 96c. Clair and Horton battled back-and-fourth for several laps until Clair suddenly fell off the pace, forfeiting the top spot to Horton on lap 21 due to a broken right-rear shock.

It wasn’t long until Haers was knocking on Horton’s back bumper. As Haers closed in on Horton, the No. 43 machine started to smoke tremendously with just five laps remaining.

Horton’s night expired after coming to a stop on the track on lap 27 due to a loose oil line, giving Haers the top spot.

“I give [Horton] credit. He ran the hell out of that thing,” said Haers. “The smoke was so bad I didn’t want to get behind him and have something break on the motor and come back and hit me or something. So I was trying to just stay below him a little bit.”

Sheppard, the defending Super DIRTcar Series champion, worked his way through the last chance showdown and started 22nd in the feature. With three laps remaining in the feature, Sheppard made his presence known and was soon knocking on Haers doors threatening for the win.

Haers was able to hold off Sheppard and pulled away to take home the first Super DIRTcar Series victory of 2017 during the DIRTcar Nationals.

“This is probably the coolest trophy that’s out there,” Haers said. “I’ve got [one gator] and now I’ve got another one to bring home.”

“These racecars are a matter of just getting some laps,” said runner-up finisher, Matt Sheppard. “Trying to get the track to slow down a little bit, it wasn’t looking good there for a long time. It seemed like the longer the race went the better we got. I thought I may have had a shot at Justin at the end but he was really good and we kind of ran out of tear-offs there but it was nice from where we started to come from the back and get second.”

The 2016 Super DIRTcar Series Rookie of the Year, Max McLaughlin showed his skills as he capped off the night with a podium finish.

“I kind of made a mistake setup wise but I’ll take the blame,” McLaughlin said. “The car was really good all night. I ran out of tear-offs with about five to go so I was driving blind. Luckily we ended up third and will go at it again tomorrow.”

For additional news visit www.superdirtcarseries.com

Photo courtesy of www.superdirtcarseries.com/GT Smith