Auto racing: Sanders has USMTS title all but locked up
Rodney Sanders has been a tough hombre to catch all season.When he drives his No. 20 Modified onto the track at Deer Creek Speedway Thursday night, he will become uncatchable.
Rodney Sanders has been a tough hombre to catch all season.
When he drives his No. 20 Modified onto the track at Deer Creek Speedway Thursday night, he will become uncatchable.
The 24-year-old from Happy, Texas, has powered through the United States Modified Touring Series' Hunt for the Casey's Cup over the past six weeks.
He has built a big enough lead that he needs only to take a green flag on Thursday, the opening night of the Featherlite Fall Jamboree, to clinch his second consecutive USMTS national championship. Sanders has 1,473 points with just one points race remaining, and a 129-point lead over Zack VanderBeek.
Sanders, nicknamed "The Rocket," has had the hottest foot on the USMTS tour since the start of the season, putting up historical numbers.
His 24 A-Main victories are tied for second-most in a season with another former national champion, Ryan Gustin, who did it in 2011. As the season winds down — the Jamboree runs Thursday through Saturday, with a practice session tonight from 6-9 p.m. — Kelly Shryock's record of 30 victories in a season, set in 2006, is out of reach.
While a national title is all but assured for Sanders, a victory this week is not. Nearly 80 drivers have pre-registered for the Jamboree, including eight of the top 10 in this season's Deer Creek points standings.
"We've had some success (at Deer Creek), some ups and downs there," Sanders said before racing at Deer Creek in July. "There are a lot of tough local guys there. The local drivers there as tough as any track in the U.S."
Sanders has 42 career USMTS wins, tying him with Blooming Prairie's Tommy Myer for fourth all-time. A win would give Sanders the fourth spot on that list all to himself.
Sanders isn't coming to Deer Creek simply to wrap up a championship.He has his sights set on capping a dominant season by earning more big paychecks.
The winner of the A Mains on Thursday and Friday will earn at least $5,000. Saturday's 50-lap Jamboree A Main champion will earn at least $10,000.
Sanders is no stranger to Victory Lane at Deer Creek; he won $20,000 in late July by winning the 100-lap A Main at the World Modified Dirt Track Championship.
"This is huge for our team," Sanders said after winning the WMDTC. "It's by far the biggest win I've ever had. It means a lot to us.
"It's been a really good year, the car has been awesome. I can't thank my crew enough."