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Mullens best of the best in 25th Anniversary USMTS Silver Jubilee finale

August 19, 2023  |  by Jeff Nun

It was a magical day and night at the Mason City Motor Speedway on Saturday as fans, racers, sponsors and their families joined officials from the United States Modified Touring Series to celebrate a quarter-century of the best of the best in dirt modified racing.

The 25th Anniversary USMTS Silver Jubilee took place over four days from Wednesday through Saturday, culminating with the long-awaited $25,000-to-win championship main event that featured 33 starters going 78 laps for a record-setting feature prize pool.

When the dust settled after more than 100 hours of festivities at North Iowa’s Action Track, it was 30-year-old Tanner Mullens of Wichita, Kan., standing in victory lane with his family and crew members and celebrating with the most sought-after winner’s trophy in the history of the Summit USMTS National Championship presented by RacinDirt.

Three of the strongest competitors at the high-banked 1/3-mile oval the past two seasons filled the front row for the start of the main event which took the green flag three-wide and eleven rows deep.

Dereck Ramirez, who earned the Sybesma Graphics Pole Award by virtue of his efforts on Wednesday, jumped out front followed by Jim Chisholm and Mullens, who won Thursday’s preliminary feature.

Chisholm, who captured his career-first USMTS win last year in Mason City, plucked the top spot away from the 2020 USMTS National Champion to lead the opening lap, but Ramirez fought back to lead lap two.

A humid night helped keep moisture in the track surface, making for an incredibly fast racetrack with a dominant edge-of-disaster high line and a sticky low line around the high banks.

Two caution flags dotted the first ten laps and kept the leaders from reaching lapped traffic. With the second slow-down, Mullens crept into second place over Chisholm while four-time USMTS national champ Rodney Sanders snuck into the top ten after starting 21st on the grid, and then moved to eighth on lap 15, but Ramirez and Mullens were checked out while Chisholm and fast-moving Darron Fuqua tried to narrow the gap behind the lead duo.

With 21 laps complete, Jake Timm’s top-five effort stalled when he suffered a flat right rear tire, leaving Jake O’Neil in fourth followed by Fuqua, Dan Ebert, Sanders, Dallon Murty, Dylan Thornton and Jason Hughes.

On the restart, Chisholm and Mullens made bold moves and split Ramirez to create a three-car tussle for the top spot, but as they approached the flagstand Ramirez and Chisholm banged wheels with Chisholm getting the advantage.

Two laps later, the yellow waved as Ramirez suffered an engine failure to go along with his bent front suspension.

“I wasn’t going to win anyway, so I just went for it,” Ramirez revealed, smiling despite coming up short of his goal Saturday night. “My motor was laying down a few laps before that last caution and by the time we restarted I only had about ten pounds of oil pressure. But I remember Ed Gressel used to say, ‘If you think the engine’s going to blow, just keep going,’ so I did.”

Two more cautions came quickly—one on lap 28 for Tyler Davis’s flat tire and another on lap 32 when Fuqua’s tire went down.

That set up the scheduled fuel stop for all drivers, with crews able to add fuel and add tear-offs to the drivers’ face shields.

Five minutes later, the green flag was displayed again with 46 orbits remaining and Chisholm continuing to set the pace until the youngster from nearby Osage, Iowa, jumped the cushion in turn three just before he completed the 48th lap.

Mullens saw the door open and the 2020 Grant Junghans USMTS Rookie of the Year stepped in to take control while Chisholm fell to third behind Sanders.

A handful of cautions over the final 30 laps kept the track mostly open for Mullens as he had to contend with a minimal number of back-markers as he galloped to the checkered flag.

Mullens raced beneath the flagstand and scored the tenth USMTS win of his career with a 1.545-second margin over Ebert, who had to cross back underneath hard-charging O’Neil’s slide job in the final turn to get the $12,000 second-place paycheck.

“I could tell (Chisholm) was getting tight,” Mullens said of his pass for the lead. “He was trying to enter a little lower and shoving the nose there, but I don’t know that I ever would’ve gotten by him if he wouldn’t have messed up. I was entering lower, trying to prevent what he did. We just managed to hang on there until the end.

Driving his familiar pink No. 02, Mullens said that despite being the winner, his car still could have been better.

“It wasn’t as good as what we were here Thursday night, but it was really good. Man, this is crazy. This is it here. It’s a lot of money Todd (Staley) put up and all the sponsors and I can't thank him enough. This helps us get up and down the road so much and it supports my entire family.”

Behind the top three podium finishers, Sanders held on for a fourth-place paycheck while Clayton Wagamon had a successful night coming from 18th on the gird to complete the top five.

Not to be outdone, Chad Wheeler took home $4,000 for his sixth-place effort, and also earned the FK Rod Ends/KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Awards after passing 20 of his fellow competitors from the 26th starting spot.

Dylan Thornton bounded back from a couple of brush-ups to salvage a solid seventh-place finish with Dallon Murty crossing the finish line in eighth to complete his first-ever weekend with the USMTS.

Former USRA Modified National Champion Lucas Schott earned $3,000 for ninth and Gary Christian, who scored his first USMTS win on Friday night, rounded out the top ten.

When all the prize money is distributed, including the winner’s share of the purse, lap leader bonuses and $2,500 for running Real Racing Wheels on all four corners, Mullens will add more than $33,000 to his bottom line.

Tens of thousands of dollars in contingency awards and cash—even a brand new USMTS spec motor built by Stoen Race Engines and valued at more than $20,000—were doled out to drivers, auction bidders, raffle ticket buyers and more.

Lap sponsorships were $1,000 each and all spots were sold, adding $78,000 to the weekend fun.

Earlier in the day, USMTS officials hosted a luncheon for former drivers and their families. At the dinner, 13 new inductees were made into the USMTS Hall of Fame.

Special thanks to AFCO Racing Products, ARMI Contractors, Boomtest Well Service, KS Engineering, KSE Racing Products, RacinDirt, Rancho Milagro Racing and Real Racing Wheels for their support of the event.

For its Silver Anniversary season, the Summit USMTS National Championship presented by RacinDirt currently features racing at some of America’s premier dirt track racing venues. The winners of those events are set to earn more than $300,000 with nearly $2 million in purses and prize money earmarked for the 2023 campaign.

Watch every USMTS event online live and on-demand from anywhere on any device with RacinDirt. Download the app at Roku, Amazon Fire, iOS, Apple TV or on Google Play.

Visit usmts.com for schedules, points, photos, souvenirs, videos and more. Follow our social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Click here to get USMTS news delivered to your inbox.

United States Modified Touring Series
Summit USMTS National Championship presented by RacinDirt
25th Anniversary USMTS Silver Jubilee – Night 4 of 4
Mason City Motor Speedway, Mason City, Iowa
Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023

Showing finishing position, starting position in parentheses, car number, driver, hometown and money won. Lineups were determined by qualifying on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

EDELBROCK “E” FEATURE (12 laps, top 12 advance):
1. (1) 98M Mitchel Madery, Kasson, Minn.
2. (3) R Ron Ver Beek, Oskaloosa, Iowa
3. (2) 22A Alan Bohlman, Isanti, Minn.
4. (8) 1 Blake Arndt, Brownsdale, Minn.
5. (6) 17X Jon Plowman, Woodbine, Iowa
6. (7) 29H Joe Horgdal, Mantorville, Minn.
7. (10) 4M Bobby Malchus, Red Oak, Texas
8. (4) 57 Duke Erickson, Sioux Falls, S.D.
9. (9) 11N Gene Nicholas, Lowell, Ark.
10. (11) 25 Adam Bohlman, Princeton, Minn.
11. (5) 14M Brian Mahlstedt, Ionia, Iowa
12. (12) 60X Tyler Wirtjes, Mason City, Iowa
DNS – 81 Cody Simpson, Quinlan, Texas, $700.
DNS – 17 Lee Beemer, Fairmont, Minn., $700.
DNS – D21 Daniel Drury, Iowa Falls, Iowa, $700.
DNS – 747 Colton Eck, Goddard, Kan., $700.
DNS – 65D Dustin Brown, Clear Lake, Iowa, $700.

FAST SHAFTS “D” FEATURE (12 laps, top 12 advance):
1. (1) 7X Chris Dawson, Lubbock, Texas
2. (6) 51W J.T. Wasmund, Pine Island, Minn.
3. (2) 94JR John Doelle, Arcadia, Wis.
4. (3) 5D Devon Havlik, Waterloo, Iowa
5. (5) 83 Kylie Kath, Claremont, Minn.
6. (12) 44K Kelsie Foley, Otis, Kan.
7. (9) 36K Jayden Larson, Mankato, Minn.
8. (8) 23 Darwin Karau, Kasson, Minn.
9. (14) R Ron Ver Beek, Oskaloosa, Iowa
10. (19) 4M Bobby Malchus, Red Oak, Texas
11. (10) 22B Rick Beebe, Shawnee, Kan.
12. (21) 11N Gene Nicholas, Lowell, Ark.
13. (15) 22A Alan Bohlman, Isanti, Minn., $1000.
14. (22) 25 Adam Bohlman, Princeton, Minn., $975.
15. (20) 57 Duke Erickson, Sioux Falls, S.D., $950.
16. (23) 14M Brian Mahlstedt, Ionia, Iowa, $925.
17. (24) 60X Tyler Wirtjes, Mason City, Iowa, $900.
18. (4) 98 Kevin Stoa, Albert Lea, Minn., $900.
19. (16) 1 Blake Arndt, Brownsdale, Minn., $900.
20. (11) 21D David Brown, Kellogg, Iowa, $900.
21. (13) 98M Mitchel Madery, Kasson, Minn., $900.
22. (17) 17X Jon Plowman, Woodbine, Iowa, $900.
23. (7) 30 Josh Ruby, Lakota, Iowa, $900.
24. (18) 29H Joe Horgdal, Mantorville, Minn., $900.

SIMPSON RACING PRODUCTS “C” FEATURE (15 laps, top 12 advance):
1. (1) 99L Steve Lavasseur, River Falls, Wis.
2. (3) 10B Brandon Givens, Wichita, Kan.
3. (2) 90 Ryan Wetzstein, West Concord, Minn.
4. (6) 22 Austen Becerra, Carthage, Ill.
5. (5) 4TW Tim Ward, Harcourt, Iowa
6. (7) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
7. (10) 65 Tyler Davis, Haysville, Kan.
8. (9) 15W Alex Williamson, Rushford, Minn.
9. (8) 95 Keith Foss, Winona, Minn.
10. (11) 75M Gunner Martin, Sugar Creek, Mo.
11. (17) 83 Kylie Kath, Claremont, Minn.
12. (15) 94JR John Doelle, Arcadia, Wis.
13. (14) 51W J.T. Wasmund, Pine Island, Minn., $1200.
14. (16) 5D Devon Havlik, Waterloo, Iowa, $1100.
15. (21) R Ron Ver Beek, Oskaloosa, Iowa, $1075.
16. (18) 44K Kelsie Foley, Otis, Kan., $1050.
17. (20) 23 Darwin Karau, Kasson, Minn., $1025.
18. (12) 96 Taton Hansen, Spicer, Minn., $1000.
19. (22) 4M Bobby Malchus, Red Oak, Texas, $1000.
20. (24) 11N Gene Nicholas, Lowell, Ark., $1000.
21. (23) 22B Rick Beebe, Shawnee, Kan., $1000.
22. (13) 7X Chris Dawson, Lubbock, Texas, $1000.
23. (19) 36K Jayden Larson, Mankato, Minn., $1000.
24. (4) 13J Triston Dycus, Maypearl, Texas, $1000.

REAL RACING WHEELS “B” FEATURE (15 laps, top 12 advance):
1. (1) 55 Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa.
2. (2) 58X Gary Christian, Broken Bow, Okla.
3. (3) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas.
4. (7) 10C Cayden Carter, Oskaloosa, Iowa.
5. (6) 55H A.J. Hoff, Mantorville, Minn.
6. (11) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.
7. (12) 3 Kelly Shryock, Fertile, Iowa.
8. (10) 88 Chad Wheeler, Muskogee, Okla.
9. (17) 4TW Tim Ward, Harcourt, Iowa.
10. (9) 16 Austin Siebert, Grandview, Mo.
11. (5) 4 Jeremy Nelson, Alexandria, Minn.
12. (23) 83 Kylie Kath, Claremont, Minn.
13. (19) 65 Tyler Davis, Haysville, Kan.
14. (21) 95 Keith Foss, Winona, Minn., $1500
15. (24) 94JR John Doelle, Arcadia, Wis.
16. (18) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo., $1300
17. (14) 10B Brandon Givens, Wichita, Kan., $1200.
18. (22) 75M Gunner Martin, Sugar creek, Mo.
19. (8) 7 Al Hejna, Clear Lake, Iowa., $1200.
20. (20) 15W Alex Williamson, Rushford, Minn., $1200.
21. (4) 24 Joe Chisholm, Osage, Iowa., $1200.
22. (16) 22 Austen Becerra, Carthage, Ill., $1200.
23. (15) 90 Ryan Wetzstein, West Concord, Minn., $1200.
24. (13) 99L Steve Lavasseur, River Falls, Wis., $1200.

1. (2) 02 Tanner Mullens, Wichita, Kan., $25,000.
2. (7) 60 Dan Ebert, Lake Shore, Minn., $12,000.
3. (8) 0 Jake O'Neil, Tucson, Ariz., $8000.
4. (21) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas, $6000.
5. (18) 14W Clayton Wagamon, Ramsey, Minn., $5000.
6. (26) 88 Chad Wheeler, Muskogee, Okla., $4000.
7. (14) 38T Dylan Thornton, Orcutt, Calif., $3500.
8. (5) 21X Dallon Murty, Chelsea, Iowa, $3200.
9. (17) 69 Lucas Schott, Chatfield, Minn., $3000.
10. (20) 58X Gary Christian, Broken Bow, Okla., $2900.
11. (10) 65X Carlos Ahumada Jr., El Paso, Texas, $2800.
12. (9) 87 Darron Fuqua, Mayetta, Kan., $2775.
13. (12) 33Z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa, $2750.
14. (29) 4 Jeremy Nelson, Alexandria, Minn., $2725.
15. (3) 24C Jim Chisholm, Osage, Iowa, $2700.
16. (6) 50III Brandon Davis, Hayfield, Minn., $2675.
17. (23) 55H A.J. Hoff, Mantorville, Minn., $2650.
18. (4) 49 Jake Timm, Winona, Minn., $2625.
19. (28) 16 Austin Siebert, Grandview, Mo., $2600.
20. (25) 3 Kelly Shryock, Fertile, Iowa, $2590.
21. (31) 65 Tyler Davis, Haysville, Kan., $2580.
22. (27) 4TW Tim Ward, Harcourt, Iowa, $2570.
23. (16) 4W Tyler Wolff, Fayetteville, Ark., $2560.
24. (24) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla., $2550.
25. (13) 19SB Lance Mari, El Centro, Calif., $2540.
26. (15) 21K Kyle Brown, Madrid, Iowa, $2530.
27. (1) 4R Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla., $2520.
28. (32) 75M Gunner Martin, Sugar Creek, Mo., $2510.
29. (22) 10C Cayden Carter, Oskaloosa, Iowa, $2505.
30. (11) K9 Will Krup, Mt. Carmel, Ill., $2500.
31. (33) 94JR John Doelle, Arcadia, Wis., $2500.
32. (30) 83 Kylie Kath, Claremont, Minn., $2500.
33. (19) 55 Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa, $2500.

Lap Leaders: Jim Chisholm 1, Ramirez 2-21, Jim Chisholm 22-47, Mullens 48-78.
Total Laps Led: Mullens 31, Jim Chisholm 27, Ramirez 20.
Margin of Victory: 1.545 seconds.
Time of Race: 57 minutes, 7.168 seconds (11 cautions).
Provisional Starters: none.
Emergency Provisionals: none.
FK Rod Ends/KSE Racing Products Hard Charger: Wheeler (started 20th, finished 6th).
Entries: 71.
Next Race: Sept. 21-23, Deer Creek Speedway, Spring Valley, Minn..
Summit USMTS National Championship Points: TBD.
Grant Junghans USMTS Rookie of the Year Points: TBD.
FK Rod Ends USMTS Hard Charger Points: TBD.
Miller Welders USMTS Manufacturers Championship Points: TBD.
Callies/JE Pistons USMTS Engine Builder of the Year Points: TBD.

Contingency Awards:
Aero Race Wheels – Eck.
American Racer – TBD.
Beyea Custom Headers – Sanders.
BigDeal Car Care – Mullens, O’Neil.
Bryke Racing – Jim Chisholm.
BSB Manufacturing – T. Davis.
Carquest – TBD.
Champ Pans – Wagamon.
Collins Brothers Towing – Jim Chisholm.
Deatherage Opticians – Erickson.
Edelbrock – Lavasseur.
Fast Shafts – Dawson.
FK Rod Ends – Wheeler.
Hooker Harness – Fuqua.
Integra Racing Shocks & Springs – Timm.
Keyser Manufacturing – Christian.
KSE Racing Products – Wheeler.
MD3 – Mullens.
Mel Hambelton Racing – Ebert.
Mesilla Valley Transportation – Dawson, Dycus, Malchus, Simpson.
Midwest Wrap Co. – Ward.
MSD Performance – O’Neil.
Penske Racing Shocks – VanderBeek.
PEM Racing Gears & Drivetrain – TBD.
Performance Bodies – Hoff.
QA1 – Fuqua.
Quarter Master – Murty.
RacerWebsite.com – Beemer, D. Brown, Eck, Simpson, Wirtjes.
Real Racing Wheels – Mullens.
Salty’s BBQ & Catering – O’Neil.
Simpson Race Products – Madery.
Summit Racing Equipment – Doelle, Drury, Malchus, Plowman, Wagamon.
Super Clean – Mullens.
Swift Springs – Mullens, Murty.
Sybesma Graphics – Ramirez.
VP Racing – Mullens.
Wehrs Machine & Racing Products – Drury.
Willy's Carb & Dyno Shop – Schott.
Wilwood Disc Brakes – Thornton.

USMTS OFFICIAL SPONSORS: American Racer Racing TiresBeyea HeadersCallies Performance ProductsChevrolet PerformanceFast ShaftsFK Rod EndsKSE Racing ProductsMalvern BankMesilla Valley TransportationNitroquest MediaPEM Racing Gears & DrivetrainRacinDirtSummit Racing EquipmentSuper CleanVP RacingWieland.

USMTS PARTICIPATING SPONSORS: ARMI ContractorsBoomtest Well ServiceBoubin Tire & AutomotiveBrodix Cylinder HeadsCollins Brothers TowingD&T Marriott Enterprise, LLCDAY MotorsportsDuvall ElectricGunshepherd.comHacienda MechanicalKenny's TileMel Hambelton RacingMidwest Wrap Co.Miller WeldersPBM Performance ProductsRancho Milagro RacingS&S Fishing & RentalSalty's BBQ & CateringShocker HitchShop Quik StoresYouDirt.com.

USMTS CONTINGENCY SPONSORS: AERO Race WheelsAFCO Racing ProductsAllstar PerformanceBigDeal Car CareBryke RacingBSB ManufacturingChamp PansDeatherage OpticiansEdelbrockHooker HarnessHypercoIntegra Racing Shocks and SpringsJE PistonsK1 RaceGear by Ryan Bowers MotorsportsKeyser ManufacturingMD3MSD PerformancePenske Racing ShocksPerformance Bodies & PartsQA1Quarter MasterRacerWebsite.comReal Racing WheelsSimpson Performance ProductsSwift SpringsSybesma GraphicsWehrs Machine & Racing ProductsWilly’s Carb & Dyno ShopWilwood Racing.

USMTS RACETRACKS: 81 Speedway, Ark-La-Tex Speedway, Arrowhead Speedway, Cedar Lake Speedway, Deer Creek Speedway, Fayette County Speedway, Hamilton County Speedway, Humboldt Speedway, I-70 Speedway, Lakeside Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track, Lucas Oil Speedway, Mason City Motor Speedway, Ogilvie Raceway, Rocket Raceway Park.