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Auto Racing: Chatfield's Bleess is Fall Jamboree champion

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Bleess
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SPRING VALLEY — Jacob Bleess grew up at Deer Creek Speedway, first watching, then racing against some of the best Modified drivers in the country.

He has won heat races and feature races at the track before, but the 22-year-old from Chatfield drove perhaps the race of his life on Saturday.

Bleess took the lead at the drop of the green flag and he didn't let it go. He led all 50 laps to not only lock up his first-ever United States Modified Touring Series feature victory, but also win the annual three-day Featherlite Fall Jamboree championship for the first time. Bleess took home the biggest prize of his career, a $10,000 winner's check.

"I'm speechless right now. It feels good," Bleess told the crowd from Victory Lane. "We won here in the B-Mod like five years ago and it feels good to be back."

Bleess' victory was far from easy, though, going against a field of 31 other top Modified drivers from across the country.

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Local drivers dominated the qualifying races, as the starting front row for Saturday's A Main included Chatfield's Lucas Schott on the pole, Bleess on the outside, and track champion Brandon Davis in the middle.

Schott and Davis threatened the leader throughout the race and pulled alongside him several times. The front-row starters event went three-wide several times.

A pair of cautions put the field on Bleess' tail midway through the race, but the yellow flags were actually a good thing, Bleess said, as it took him out of lapped traffic and allowed his car to work better with clean air in front of him.

"I just stayed consistent and tried to keep the tires under it," Bleess said. "The yellows kind of helped me. I wasn't able to go through lapped traffic good.

"Pull a tear-off... Cool down... Clean track... Just hit my marks."

Davis — who was on a remarkable seven-race winning streak at Deer Creek coming into the three-day Jamboree — stayed right on Bleess' heels in the waning laps, pulling along side him a handful of times, but couldn't make a pass. Bleess officially beat Davis to the checkered flag by 9-hundredths of a second.

Multiple-time USMTS national champion Rodney Sanders, from Happy, Texas, finished third; Zack VanderBeek of New Sharon, Iowa, was fourth, and Schott placed fifth.

Sanders won Friday's Jamboree A Main, while Dereck Ramirez of Woodward, Okla., won Thursday's feature.

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In the USRA B-Modifieds division, Jim Chisholm of Osage, Iowa, won Saturday's A Main, followed by Parker Hale of Grand Meadow in the runner-up spot. Kadden Kath (Owatonna), Dan Hovden (Decorah, Iowa) and Cole Denner (New Hampton, Iowa) rounded out the top five.

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