MASON CITY, Iowa — Tanner Mullens capped off a heart-stopping four nights of action for the Summit USMTS National Championship fueled by Casey’s with a victory Sunday evening at Mason City Motor Speedway.
Iowa’s reshaped and reborn action track lived up to its name with a wild main event that saw Mullens lead 39 of the 40 circuits but never was allowed to take a breath as several challengers forced the 28-year-old from Wichita, Kansas, to maintain his focus the entire distance.
After garnering the pole, Mullens first had to shake fellow front-row starter Jake O’Neil but a miscue exiting the first corner saw O’Neil bobble and plummet to ninth place by the time the field completed the opening lap.
Then, third-starting Rodney Sanders applied pressure to Mullens for a few laps before a hard-charging Brooks Strength flew around the outside to claim the lead at the end of the fifth lap.
Mullens kept the lead change brief as he muscled past Strength in the following turn to regain the top spot.
Strength and Sanders both took shots at Mullens, and although the hairy high side of the former I-35 Speedway was the most preferred line, drivers were able to utilize every inch of the racing surface.
By the halfway point of the race, O’Neil had rebounded to become a factor at the front of the field and was fourth behind Mullens, Strength and Sanders when the race’s first caution occurred with 17 laps in the books.
The yellow flag waved for the third and final time with just three laps to go with Sanders choosing the inside lane for the double-file restart behind the leader.
That left third-running O’Neil with the outside groove which he used to snag second away from the four-time and defending USMTS national champ.
He could not, however, make a run at Mullens who crossed beneath the checkered flag with just under a one-second advantage to improve his yearly earnings by $5,000.
Sanders held on for third while Lucas Schott rebounded from a lap-18 pit stop to garner the fourth spot.
Tanner Mullens, Jake O’Neil, Rodney Sanders, Lucas Schott, Dan Ebert, Dereck Ramirez, Dustin Sorensen, Chase Rudolf, Jason Hughes, Landon Atkinson, Alex Williamson, Brooks Strength, Al Hejna, Jacob Bleess, Carlos Ahumada Jr., Zack VanderBeek, Terry Phillips, Brandon Givens, Tyler Davis, Tyler Wolff, Curt Myers, Josh Angst, Jayson Good, Darron Fuqua, Lance Mari.