EL PASO, TX – With the weekend’s biggest prize on the line Saturday night at the El Paso Speedway Park, Rodney Sanders found a way to stop the Austin Arneson freight train and found himself in victory lane with a $4,000 paycheck at the 2nd Annual “Ice Breaker” presented by El Luchador.

“We were pretty good in the heat race and felt we were pretty close, but we changed a lot of things for the feature,” Sanders said in victory lane. “He (Arneson) has been the class of the field all weekend, so hats off to those guys.”

Sanders started on the front row Friday but was unable to keep Arneson behind him and finished third behind the USMTS rookie contender and Dereck Ramirez.

On Saturday, Sanders drew the eighth starting spot while Arneson began the 50-lap main event from the outside of the front row.

Arneson took off at the drop of the green flag with polesitter Terry Phillips and Ramirez in tow while Sanders quickly advanced four positions to the fourth spot.

Midway through the race, the trio of pursuers began to reel in Arneson. With a bold move on lap 24, Sanders snuck by Phillips for third and then got around Ramirez four laps later to move into second.

The two-time defending USMTS National Champion caught Arneson on lap 30 and then scooted past on the inside as they crossed the line to complete the 32nd lap.

Sanders never got far from Arneson, but never relinquished the lead again as he roared to his first win of the season and 46th overall in his United States Modified Touring Series career.

“The track was real good tonight,” Sanders added. “It was slick and smooth and it was a real good night for us. It feels good to get a win here.”

For Arneson, his bid for a sweep of the weekend’s events came up one spot short with his second-place finish while Zack VanderBeek ended a frustrating week on a high note as he was able to maneuver past 15 cars en route to a third-place finish.

Jake Gallardo went to the tail of the field after bringing out the race’s first yellow flag on lap 4 when he tagged the tire barrier on the inside of turn 4, but bounced back to claim the fourth spot ahead of Ramirez.

Rookie of the Year contenders Jesse Sobbing and Ben Kates were sixth and seventh at the end of the 50-lapper, with Royal Jones, Joe Duvall and Philip Houston rounding out the top 10.

With eight of eleven races in the books for the MVT Gulf Coast Border Region presented by Day Motor Sports, the tireless USMTS titans head to Las Cruses, N.M., next week for the 21st Annual Winter Meltdown at the Southern New Mexico Speedway.

To learn more about the United States Modified Touring Series, visit www.usmts.comonline or call 515-832-7944. You can also like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/usmts, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/usmts or subscribe to our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/usmtstv.

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OFFICIAL RESULTS
United States Modified Touring Series
USMTS Casey’s Cup Series powered by S&S Fishing & Rental – MVT Gulf Coast Border Region presented by Day Motor Sports
2nd Annual “Ice Breaker” presented by El Luchador – Night 3 of 3
El Paso Speedway Park, El Paso, Texas
Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015

Showing finishing position, starting position in parentheses, car number, driver, hometown, chassis/engine builder, laps completed and money won. The top 16 drivers in passing points accumulated in the heat races were locked into the “A” Main, with the top 8 re-drawing for starting positions 1-8.

MSD HEAT RACE #1 (8 laps):
1. (5) 2 Grant Junghans, Manhattan, Kan.
2. (4) G17 Fito Gallardo, Las Cruces, N.M.
3. (6) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
4. (1) 2x Gene Weaver (R), Amarillo, Texas.
5. (2) 22d Daniel Hilsabeck, Adel, Iowa.
6. (9) 71 Philip Houston, Odessa, Texas.
7. (8) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa.
8. (3) 28 Tom Georges, El Paso, Texas.
9. (7) 131 Royal Jones, Las Cruces, N.M.
10. (10) 65 Carlos Ahumada Jr., Canutillo, Texas.

HEAT RACE #2 (8 laps):
1. (3) 99 Jesse Sobbing (R), Glenwood, Iowa.
2. (2) 1* Adam Penn, Shreveport, La.
3. (5) 44 Christy Georges-Barnett, El Paso, Texas.
4. (4) 07 Donavon Flores (R), Las Cruces, N.M.
5. (7) J17 Jake Gallardo, Las Cruces, N.M.
6. (1) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla.
7. (6) 38 Ronnie Gould III (R), Seminole, Okla.
8. (8) 19 Donovan Ooley, El Paso, Texas.
9. (9) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.

EDELBROCK HEAT RACE #3 (8 laps):
1. (2) 10 Austin Arneson (R), Fargo, N.D.
2. (3) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas.
3. (1) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla.
4. (4) 97 Cade Dillard, Robeline, La.
5. (6) 23k Ben Kates (R), Tonganoxie, Kan.
6. (5) 2 Casey Arneson (R), Fargo, N.D.
7. (8) 9 Jimmy Ray, Las Cruces, N.M.
8. (9) 7d Austin Theiss (R), Hockley, Texas.
9. (7) 85 Austin Adams (R), El Paso, Texas.

REAL RACING WHEELS “B” MAIN #1 (12 laps, top 6 advance):
1. (2) 2 Casey Arneson (R), Fargo, N.D.
2. (3) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa.
3. (1) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla.
4. (4) 9 Jimmy Ray, Las Cruces, N.M.
5. (6) 7d Austin Theiss (R), Hockley, Texas.
6. (10) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.
7. (7) 28 Tom Georges, El Paso, Texas.
8. (5) 38 Ronnie Gould III (R), Seminole, Okla.
9. (9) 131 Royal Jones, Las Cruces, N.M.
10. (11) 85 Austin Adams (R), El Paso, Texas.
11. (8) 19 Donovan Ooley, El Paso, Texas, AOS/AOS, $80.
12. (12) 65 Carlos Ahumada Jr., Canutillo, Texas, LG2/BMS, $80.

MESILLA VALLEY TRANSPORTATION “A” MAIN (50 laps):
1. (8) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas, MBCustom/Geddes, 50, $4000.
2. (2) 10 Austin Arneson (R), Fargo, N.D., GRT/Durham, 50, $2700.
3. (18) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa, LG2/Sput’s, 50, $1800.
4. (13) J17 Jake Gallardo, Las Cruces, N.M., LG2/AOS, 50, $1200.
5. (9) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla., LG2/Cornett, 50, $900.
6. (6) 99 Jesse Sobbing (R), Glenwood, Iowa, MBCustom/Sput’s, 50, $800.
7. (14) 23k Ben Kates (R), Tonganoxie, Kan., Harris/Mullins, 50, $700.
8. (25) 131 Royal Jones, Las Cruces, N.M., GRT/Klein, 50, $600.
9. (19) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla., MBCustom/Mullins, 50, $550.
10. (15) 71 Philip Houston, Odessa, Texas, MBCustom/PPE, 50, $500.
11. (10) 2x Gene Weaver (R), Amarillo, Texas, GRT/PPE, 50, $450.
12. (4) 1* Adam Penn, Shreveport, La., Hughes/Mullins, 50, $425.
13. (17) 2 Casey Arneson (R), Fargo, N.D., GRT/Durham, 50, $400.
14. (22) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla., Hughes/Mullins, 50, $400.
15. (20) 9 Jimmy Ray, Las Cruces, N.M., AOS/AOS, 50, $350.
16. (16) 22d Daniel Hilsabeck, Adel, Iowa, Hilsabeck/Mullins, 50, $350.
17. (11) 07 Donavon Flores (R), Las Cruces, N.M., LG2/Dynamic, 50, $350.
18. (21) 7d Austin Theiss (R), Hockley, Texas, MBCustom/Mullins, 50, $350.
19. (24) 28 Tom Georges, El Paso, Texas, AOS/TNT, 50, $350.
20. (26) 85 Austin Adams (R), El Paso, Texas, Shaw/ARE, 50, $350.
21. (3) G17 Fito Gallardo, Las Cruces, N.M., LG2/Dynamic, 39, $350.
22. (1) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo., GRT/Durham, 39, $350.
23. (7) 2 Grant Junghans, Manhattan, Kan., MBCustom/Sput’s, 38, $400.
24. (12) 97 Cade Dillard, Robeline, La., LG2/Geddes, 28, $400.
25. (5) 44 Christy Georges-Barnett, El Paso, Texas, GRT/Barnett, 21, $350.
26. (23) 38 Ronnie Gould III (R), Seminole, Okla., Hughes/Mullins, 1, $350.

(R) = Rookie of the Year contender.

Lap Leaders: A. Arneson 1-31, Sanders 32-50.
Total Laps Led: A. Arneson 31, Sanders 19.
Margin of Victory: 2.180 seconds.
Provisional Starters: Gould, Georges, Jones (track), Adams (track).
Sybesma Graphics Pole Award: Junghans.
Hard Charger: VanderBeek (started 18th, finished 3rd).
Entries: 28.
Next Race: Thursday-Saturday, March 5-7, Southern New Mexico Speedway, Las Cruces, N.M.
MVT Gulf Coast Border Region Points: A. Arneson 694, Ramirez 688, Hughes 663, Sobbing 627, Houston 611, VanderBeek 576, Dillard 575, J. Gallardo 562, C. Arneson 523, Junghans 522.
Rookie of the Year Points: A. Arneson 694, Sobbing 627, Kates 540, C. Arneson 523, Theiss 472.
COMP Cams Engine Builder of the Year Points: Durham 60, Mullins 60, Cornett 58, Sput’s 55, Geddes 50.
Manufacturers Championship Points: GRT 70, LG2 68, Hughes 63, MBCustom 63, Harris 38.

Story & Photo: USMTS PR

Look out! Sanders Picking Up Steam Again Early in 2015