Rodney Sanders in victory lane at Tri-State Speedway. (USMTS photo)

Sanders Gets Another USMTS Trophy

POCOLA, Okla. — Rodney Sanders has led countless laps with the Summit USMTS National Championship since his first win in 2009, and Saturday night he added one more as he won a legendary race that will be remembered for years to come.

In the past, the Tri-State Speedway has produced some beauties for USMTS drivers and fans. Saturday’s ninth annual USMTS Juggernaut was something to behold.

Longtime racer Bret Holman got the hole shot and pulled away to lead the opening lap with series points leader Jake Timm and Grant Junghans USMTS Rookie of the Year points leader Jacob Hobscheidt in hot pursuit.

While Holman remained faithful to the shortest lane around the three-eighths-mile red clay oval, Timm and Hobscheidt used every inch of the racing surface to search for a way to catch the leader.

Meanwhile, the thrilling battle at the front of the field was so good that many likely missed the incredible run toward the front by Tyler Wolff and Dan Ebert, along with the fierce four-car fight between Tanner Mullens, Jason Hughes, Sanders and Darron Fuqua.

Fuqua climbed from 21st on the starting grid to eighth by the halfway point of the race, but had mechanical trouble and wound up back in 21st on the final score card.

Timm found the high line to his liking and tracked down Holman, finally snagging the top spot with 19 laps complete and 21 remaining.

Lapped traffic was no problem for Timm as he extended his lead to five car lengths in less than a minute. Back-markers spelled trouble for Holman, however, as Wolff used a lapper to his advantage to claim the second spot.

The yellow flag was displayed on the first lap, but the yellow didn’t appear again until lap 29 when Mike Hansen stopped on the racetrack with his Hughes Racing Chassis engulfed in smoke.

That pause bunched the field with Timm in control for the restart and the usual suspects hot on his heels, but Timm remained the one pursued through the 30th orbit.

The rest of the race was a blur with eight lead changes among three drivers—and those were just the ones at the flagstand. Many more took place around the track.

After a near-spin by Timm it gave Wolff the top spot on lap 31. He led just two laps. Timm regained the lead for a single lap. Wolff took it back and set the pace through lap 37.

Again, Timm edged in front at the start-finish line to officially lead lap 38, but Wolff was the leader when they took the Hochatown Saloon White Flag with Sanders nudging past Timm to make it a three-car fight for the $5,000 top prize.

With Wolff uncharacteristically hugging the low line, Sanders blasted around the track near the outside wall. At the checkered flag, Sanders inched ahead and beat Wolff to the line by a mere 0.130 of a second (about a bumper).

“I knew we had a good car all along and I just got caught up with some cars, but Tyler got up there quick,” Sanders said. “If I’m going to beat anybody at the line I hate it to be him. We’re really good friends and them guys help me out a lot.”
After leading just the final 50 feet of the race, Sanders scored his 118th career win with the USMTS, but first of the year as his defense of his fifth USMTS title.

Despite having to settle for second-place, Wolff smiled with the knowledge he had a good MBCustoms Race Car with a lot of speed.

“I was just trying to stay calm and finish the race,” Wolff revealed. “I was just trying to hit my marks, and on the last lap I thought about moving up to block and Rodney but I’m proud of Rodney and proud of our team. We had we had a lot of speed and had a good finish finally so we’ll just carry on with this rest of summer. We have we should be in pretty good shape.”

Timm finished third, followed by Ebert and Hobscheidt.

The finish:

Rodney Sanders, Tyler Wolff, Jake Timm, Dan Ebert, Jacob Hobscheidt, Jason Hughes, Tanner Mullens, Kyle Brown, Alex Williamson, Jake O’Neil, Gary Christian, Jim Chisholm, Lance Mari, Trevor Hughes, Dereck Ramirez, Jeremy Vaughn, Terry Phillips, Brent Holman, Gabe Hodges, Steven Glenn, Darron Fuqua, A.J. Hoff, Mike Hansen, Joe Duvall, Chris Kratzer, Tyler Davis, D.J. Shannon.