Sanders Collects Trophy At USMTS Banquet
NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Drivers clashed more than 70 times last year to compete in the United States Modified Touring Series at nearly 40 of the premier dirt ovals in America.
Friday night at the Harrah’s Casino & Hotel in North Kansas City, Mo., the best of the best in the USMTS traded in their driver suits for dress suits as they gathered with crew members, sponsors, family and fans to celebrate the 2013 racing season and honor the elite class of their peers at the series annual awards banquet.
Top points earners, regional champs, rookies, crew chiefs and manufacturers were celebrated throughout the night which was capped off by the presentation of the championship trophy and awards to 2013 USMTS National Champion Rodney Sanders of Happy, Texas.
After 36 regional events comprising the USMTS Casey’s Cup Series, 28 drivers came into the Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s National Championship with a shot at becoming the champ.
Entering the final points race in the 17-race grind, three competitors remained in contention and when the checkered flag waved for the last time the last man standing was Sanders.
Sanders entered the final feature to determine the title sitting third in points. He finished second in the race behind two-time defending USMTS national champion Ryan Gustin, but it was enough to secure the championship over Johnny Scott and Jason Hughes.
‘The Rocket’ was a model of consistency during the Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s Cup and throughout the entire season too. Of the 48 times he rolled onto the track in a USMTS contest, he cashed a top-five paycheck 34 times.
During ‘The Hunt,’ he finished outside the top 10 just once and was a top-five finisher in 13 events en route to claiming the championship.
“I have to give all the credit to my team and our sponsors,” said Sanders, who turned 24 just two weeks after clinching the crown. “There is just no way we could possibly have the success that we’ve had without my car owner, Brandon Davis, Swan Energy and the support that my family and fans give me.”
Sanders’ first USMTS national championship was worth $15,000 and is the first for chassis builder MB Customs and engine builder Geddes Racing Engines, and the first for a driver from the Lone Star State in the 15-year history of the USMTS.
Johnny Scott finished just seven points behind Sanders in the final standings while Hughes was 11 markers short of capturing his second USMTS crown.
The rest of the top 10 in the final 2013 USMTS Casey’s Cup Series points were Stormy Scott, Jeremy Payne, Zack VanderBeek, Gustin, Kelly Shryock, Lucas Schott and Dereck Ramirez.
Grant Snider, who turned wrenches for Sanders and the No. 20 Swan Racing team during the 2013 campaign, was awarded the CPD Racing Tools Crew Chief of the Year Award.
Prior to Sanders being presented with his accolades by master of ceremonies Lon Oelke, USMTS president Todd Staley took the microphone to make a special announcement that was made public for the first time Friday night.
First, Staley revealed to the banquet attendees that the organization has began work on the creation of the USMTS Hall of Fame. Staley continued by adding that just one person – nine-time USMTS national champion Kelly Shryock – was being inducted into the USMTS Hall of Fame for 2013.
“This is really a great honor and there are so many people to thank, but my wife, Dawn, would be first as she has been there through thick and thin the entire way,” Shryock told the audience. “So many people have helped us along the way, I don’t know where to begin. It’s incredible thinking back to where it all started and now looking at these young guns we race against night in and night out-they’re so talented and fast that it makes it tough for an old man to keep up.”
Shryock accepted the induction award to a standing ovation from the banquet attendees. In addition to his nine USMTS national titles, Shryock also won the USMTS Southern Series championship in 2007. He second-generation racer from Fertile, Iowa, has competed in more than 800 USMTS events with an astounding 180 career wins.
Now in the planning stages, an official announcement with complete details about the USMTS Hall of Fame will be revealed this summer, added Staley, who is the only person to have attended more USMTS events in his lifetime than Shryock.
Three regional champions were honored Friday night, including Jeremy Payne, who captured the Arbor Masters Central Region presented by Day Motor Sports.
Despite the Scott brothers winning four of the first six races in the region, Payne put the hammer down and won his first of five features in the region on April 19 at the Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., and then tacked on four more wins in the next eight races to earn the $5,000 points title.
Rounding out the top 10 in the final standings were Hughes, Johnny Scott, VanderBeek, Shryock, Stormy Scott, Thomas Tillison Jr., Sanders, Trevor Hunt and Austin Siebert.