Jake O’Neil in victory lane with family at 81 Speedway. (Tyler Rinken Photo)

USMTS Gressel Memorial Goes To O’Neil Again

PARK CITY, Kan. — Jake O’Neil turned his luck around, turned his season around and took a second Ed Gressel Memorial trophy back to Tucson, Ariz., after leading all 40 laps of Saturday’s finale for the Summit USMTS National Championship presented by RacinDirt at the 81 Speedway.

Now the two-time defending event champion and winner of four of the last eight USMTS feature races at the three-eighths-mile clay oval, O’Neil held off challenges by Dereck Ramirez and points leader Jake Timm in the last ten laps to garner the $10,000 winner’s share of the prize money.

“It’s been trying times — not just this year but last year too,” O’Neil said. “We’ve been digging hard. We’ve had good cars. We’ve just been shy on luck, sometimes shy on skill and shy on speed. Everybody’s gotten faster and it’s just hard to do.”

The last of four Gorsuch Performance Cautions happened with just three laps to go. A miscue by O’Neil on the restart almost opened the door for Timm to pounce, but the 32-year-old driver of the No. 0 LG Race Car sponsored by Red Eye Radiator held on for the win.

“These guys are fast and you can’t make any mistakes. I about gave it away there,” he added.

Timm held off New Mexico’s Mark Smith for second-place money and Rodney Sanders — who boasts a series best six career wins here — clawed his way from 21st on the starting grid to fourth at the finish line, picking up the FK Rod Ends Hard Charger Award.

In his last hurrah, Ramirez would up fifth with Jim Chisholm, Cayden Carter, Jason Hughes, Lance Mari and Tyler Davis completing the top 10.

The Gressel Racing “Brass Balls” Award took the accumulated points from each driver’s heat race passing points and total points, A-Main points (including lap leader bonus points), and three points per car passed in the A-Main from the original starting spot each night.

O’Neil wound up the winner, scoring the most points over two nights and taking home a one-of-a-kind trophy plus $5,000 cash on top of his $10,000 for winning the main event.

Feature Finish (40 Laps)

1. (2) 0 Jake O’Neil, Tucson, Ariz., 2. (1) 49 Jake Timm, Winona, Minn., 3. (3) 2SS Mark Smith, Anthony, N.M., 4. (21) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas, 5. (8) 4R Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla., 6. (7) 24C Jim Chisholm, Osage, Iowa, 7. (11) 10C Cayden Carter, Oskaloosa, Iowa, 8. (16) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla., 9. (20) 19SB Lance Mari, El Centro, Calif., 10. (17) 65 Tyler Davis, Haysville, Kan., 11. (15) 01 Jacob Hobscheidt, Plattsmouth, Neb., 12. (18) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo., 13. (14) 60 Dan Ebert, Lake Shore, Minn., 14. (6) 21K Kyle Brown, Madrid, Iowa, 15. (13) 99L Steve Lavasseur, River Falls , Wis., 16. (19) 7R Reece Solander, Emporia, Kan., 17. (25) 58X Gary Christian, Broken Bow, Okla., 18. (27) 15WX Wyatt Gaggero, Wichita, Kan., 19. (9) 02 Tanner Mullens, Wichita, Kan., 20. (12) 10B Brandon Givens, Wichita, Kan., 21. (10) 51W J.T. Wasmund, Pine Island, Minn., 22. (26) 26S Steven Glenn, Hamilton, Mo., 23. (24) 7G Gabe Hodges, Lebo, Kan., 24. (4) 4W Tyler Wolff, Fayetteville, Ark., 25. (23) 15W Alex Williamson, Rushford, Minn., 26. (22) 55H A.J. Hoff, Mantorville, Minn., 27. (5) 19R Chris Kratzer, Haysville, Kan.