WICHITA FALLS, Texas — On a cold and windy evening at the Monarch Motor Speedway on Friday, Rodney Sanders gave race fans a spectacular show as he captured the win in the first event for the new American Racer USRA Modified Series presented by Day Motor Sports.
Polesitter Nathan Smith of Anthony, New Mexico, grabbed the lead when the green flag waved at the quarter-mile semi-banked dirt oval outside of Wichita Falls, Texas, but fourth-starting Max Eddie Thomas of Quinlan powered into the lead on the third lap and paced the race for the next 16 circuits before Sanders took control.
Cautions plagued the main event between laps three and five with four yellow flags that included Smith going to the tail after contact on a restart with Kale Westover that saw Westover’s night end early, and a red flag after Kenny Gaddis performed a single roll-over after tagging the wall in turn three.
Tyler Davis found himself running third in just seven laps after rolling off 14th while Sanders, who hails from a town called Happy in West Texas, found himself starting 13th on the grid after a dismal heat race but slowly picked his way through the field as he advanced toward the front.
The four-time USMTS National Champion broke into the top-10 on the third lap and climbed all the way to fourth place by the seventh lap. He took third from Davis four laps later and snuck by Flower Mound’s Kevin Rutherford for second with 16 laps complete.
With two lapped cars separating Thomas and Sanders, the race’s sixth caution with nine laps to go erased a healthy advantage for the leader and Sanders capitalized on his good fortune. After searching for a way around the high-flying leader for three laps, Sanders slid by on lap 20 and battled Thomas back to the flag stand.
Sanders was able to hang on for the win and pocketed the $2,000 top prize plus an additional $500 from GPW Transportation of Belton, Texas, after passing 12 cars to earn hard charger honors. Originally earmarked for a $500-to-win dash, that race was scrapped in order to speed up the program with threatening weather forecasted for later in the evening.
Thomas took home a $1,500 consolation prize while Davis, who passed 11 cars, earned $1,000 for finishing third. Rutherford recorded a fourth-place finish and Midlothian’s Chris Huckeba completed the top five.
Smith rebounded to score a sixth-place paycheck with David Tanner, Sean Gaddis, Kevin Rowland and James McCreery rounding out the top 10.
Rutherford, Tanner and Casey Fowler pocketed an extra $100 each when their names were randomly drawn at the drivers meeting prior to hot laps. Beginning with the second event for the series, officials will draw three random names that will win a $100 cash bonus during the drivers meeting. The winning driver(s) must attend the drivers meeting and have competed in the previous series event.
In other Summit USRA Weekly Racing Series action Friday night, Trevor Foley collected the win in the USRA Limited Mod main event while Stephen Torrez found himself in the winners circle following the Sunoco USRA Factory Stock feature. Colton Mooney topped the 15-lap USRA Tuner nightcap.
Rodney Sanders, Max Eddie Thomas, Tyler Davis, Kevin Rutherford, Chris Huckeba, Nathan Smith, David Tanner, Sean Gaddis, Kevin Rowland, James McCreery, Ron Gould Jr., Mark Smith, Scott Edwards, Casey Fowler, Michael Walker, Kenny Gaddis, Kale Westover, John Henry.