EL PASO, TX – Coming from deep in the field, Austin Arneson notched his second straight United States Modified Touring Series victory in thrilling fashion Friday at the El Paso Speedway Park during the second night of the 2nd Annual “Ice Breaker” presented by El Luchador.
It was an instant classic… one that online viewers and the brave souls who withstood sub-freezing temperatures will talk about for years to come.
The 23-year-old from Fargo, N.D., charged from 17th on the starting grid, took the lead from Dereck Ramirez with two laps to go and sailed to his third win of the young 2015 season and a $3,000 paycheck.
“I never wanted one so bad,” an elated Arneson said after the race. “It was just one of those nights where everything fell into place. I got a caution (on lap 19) and it put me in about seventh or eighth, and then I was just banging the chip down the straight-away and the back-stretch. I was giving it her all and I couldn’t give her any more.”
Arneson’s march through the field may have been overlooked by most.
For the first 28 laps the fans and viewers on the live broadcast were witness to a spectacular battle up front between defending USMTS National Champion Rodney Sanders, Dereck Ramirez and last year’s USRA Modified National Champion, Fito Gallardo.
In fact, from lap 9 through lap 32 the top three cars were never separated by more than a second on the electronic timing and scoring sheets.
Gallardo sat on the pole but Sanders gained control when the green flag waved, stretching out to a six-car-length lead in the first five laps. But Gallardo reeled in Sanders and pulled alongside as they completed lap 12.
Ramirez joined the fracas the next time around and a three-car battle ensued for the next seven laps. With two lapped cars in their path, the trio split the back-markers and nearly went five-wide before Sanders settled back into the top spot with Ramirez and Gallardo hot on his heels.
Racing down the back-stretch on lap 15, Sanders slipped too high over the embankment which allowed Ramirez to rocket past on the inside. He remained in control and kept Sanders at bay until the race’s only caution came out with 19 of 40 laps complete.
On the restart, the lead group resumed their battle but it was now obvious that Arneson’s white and blue No. 10 machine was on the move. He got by Philip Houston, Jake Gallardo and Cade Dillard on successive laps, and then slipped by Jesse Sobbing for fourth with 12 laps to go.
Flying around the high side of the high-banked clay oval, Arneson got around Sanders with six laps to go, passed Fito Gallardo with three to go and then screamed by Ramirez underneath the flagstand with just two orbits remaining.
“I didn’t think it was really happening. It was kind of unbelievable,” Arneson exclaimed. “I didn’t lift in (turns) one and two, and there wasn’t much lifting in three and four either. It was going pretty good.”
Ramirez settled for the runner-up finish, coming four car-lengths shy of registering his third win of the 2015 campaign, while Sanders, Fito Gallardo and Sobbing completed the top five.
Sixth through tenth were Jake Gallardo, Dillard, Grant Junghans, Houston and Jason Hughes.
Hughes came into the night as the points leader in the MVT Gulf Coast Border Region presented by Day Motor Sports, but dropped to second behind Ramirez after Friday. Arneson remains third with the top three separated by a mere eight points going into Saturday’s show. Sobbing sits fourth in the standings, followed by Houston, Dillard, Zack VanderBeek, Jake Gallardo, Junghans and Casey Arneson.
The tripleheader weekend wraps up on Saturday with a $4,000 top prize up for grabs to the winner of the 50-lap main event. Gates open at 3 p.m. with racing at 6. Grandstand admission is $15 with kids ages 10 and under admitted free. Pit passes are $40.
Limited X-Mods, Mini-Sprints and Casa Nissan Legends Cars will also be in action for the third straight night.
For those race fans unable to attend the 2nd Annual USMTS “Ice Breaker” presented by El Luchador, don’t miss this one. Every lap will be carried live online via pay-per-view at www.SpeedShift.tv.
The El Paso Speedway Park is a 3/8-mile semi-banked clay oval located 6.0 miles east of FM 375 on US 62, then 0.5 mile north on Krag St., then east on Tangerine Ave. For more information call 915-791-8749 or visit www.epspeedwaypark.com online. You can also find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ElPasoSpeedwayPark or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ElPasoSpeedway.
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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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 1 of 2
El Paso Speedway Park, El Paso, Texas
Friday, Feb. 27, 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. (1) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas.
2. (4) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla.
3. (10) 1st Johnny Scott, Las Cruces, N.M.
4. (5) 23k Ben Kates(R), Tonganoxie, Kan.
5. (3) 38 Ronnie Gould III(R), Seminole, Okla.
6. (8) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla.
7. (2) 7d Austin Theiss(R), Hockley, Texas.
8. (9) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
9. (6) 9 Jimmy Ray, Las Cruces, N.M.
10. (7) 65 Carlos Ahumada Jr., Canutillo, Texas.
HEAT RACE #2 (8 laps):
1. (1) 97 Cade Dillard, Robeline, La.
2. (2) G17 Fito Gallardo, Las Cruces, N.M.
3. (5) 99 Jesse Sobbing(R), Glenwood, Iowa.
4. (4) 2 Casey Arneson(R), Fargo, N.D.
5. (7) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.
6. (3) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa.
7. (6) 44 Christy Georges-Barnett, El Paso, Texas.
8. (9) 85 Austin Adams(R), El Paso, Texas.
9. (8) 19 Donavon Ooley, El Paso, Texas.
EDELBROCK HEAT RACE #3 (8 laps):
1. (1) J17 Jake Gallardo, Las Cruces, N.M.
2. (2) 2 Grant Junghans, Manhattan, Kan.
3. (4) 71 Philip Houston, Odessa, Texas.
4. (6) 131 Royal Jones, Las Cruces, N.M.
5. (8) 2x Gene Weaver, Amarillo, Texas.
6. (3) 07 Donavon Flores(R), Las Cruces, N.M.
7. (7) 22d Daniel Hilsabeck, Adel, Iowa.
8. (9) 10 Austin Arneson (R), Fargo, N.D.
9. (5) 28 Tom Georges, El Paso, Texas.
REAL RACING WHEELS “B” MAIN (12 laps, top 6 advance):
1. (8) 10 Austin Arneson (R), Fargo, N.D.
2. (1) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa.
3. (5) 22d Daniel Hilsabeck, Adel, Iowa.
4. (6) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
5. (3) 7d Austin Theiss (R), Hockley, Texas.
6. (9) 9 Jimmy Ray, Las Cruces, N.M.
7. (11) 28 Tom Georges, El Paso, Texas.
8. (4) 44 Christy Georges-Barnett, El Paso, Texas.
9. (10) 19 Donavon Ooley, El Paso, Texas, AOS/AOS, $70.
10. (7) 85 Austin Adams (R)), El Paso, Texas, Shaw/ARE, $90.
11. (2) 07 Donavon Flores (R), Las Cruces, N.M., LG2/Dynamic, $90.
12. (12) 65 Carlos Ahumada Jr., Canutillo, Texas, LG2/BMS, $70.
MESILLA VALLEY TRANSPORTATION “A” MAIN (40 laps):
1. (17) 10 Austin Arneson (R), Fargo, N.D., GRT/Durham, 40, $3000.
2. (4) 4r Dereck Ramirez, Woodward, Okla., LG2/Cornett, 40, $1700.
3. (2) 20 Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas, MBCustom/Geddes, 40, $1200.
4. (1) G17 Fito Gallardo, Las Cruces, N.M., GRC/Dynamic, 40, $1000.
5. (5) 99 Jesse Sobbing (R), Glenwood, Iowa, MBCustom/Sput’s, 40, $800.
6. (8) J17 Jake Gallardo, Las Cruces, N.M., LG2/AOS, 40, $700.
7. (7) 97 Cade Dillard, Robeline, La., LG2/Geddes, 40, $600.
8. (6) 2 Grant Junghans, Manhattan, Kan., MBCustom/Sput’s, 40, $550.
9. (9) 71 Philip Houston, Odessa, Texas, MBCustom/PPE, 40, $500.
10. (14) 12 Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla., Hughes/Mullins, 40, $450.
11. (13) 2 Casey Arneson (R), Fargo, N.D., GRT/Durham, 40, $400.
12. (11) 23k Ben Kates (R), Tonganoxie, Kan., Harris/Mullins, 40, $375.
13. (18) 33z Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa, LG2/Sput’s, 40, $400.
14. (21) 7d Austin Theiss (R), Hockley, Texas, MBCustom/Mullins, 40, $325.
15. (16) 91 Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla., MBCustom/Mullins, 39, $325.
16. (19) 22d Daniel Hilsabeck, Adel, Iowa, Hilsabeck/Mullins, 39, $325.
17. (23) 28 Tom Georges, El Paso, Texas, AOS/TNT, 39, $325.
18. (15) 38 Ronnie Gould III (R), Seminole, Okla., Hughes/Mullins, 39, $325.
19. (3) 1st Johnny Scott, Las Cruces, N.M., Hughes/Mullins, 37, $325.
20. (10) 131 Royal Jones, Las Cruces, N.M., GRT/Klein, 20, $325.
21. (20) 75 Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo., GRT/Durham, 17, $325.
22. (22) 9 Jimmy Ray, Las Cruces, N.M., AOS/AOS, 16, $325.
23. (12) 2x Gene Weaver (R), Amarillo, Texas, GRT/PPE, 16, $325.
24. (24) 44 Christy Georges-Barnett, El Paso, Texas, GRT/Barnett, 14, $325.
(R) = Rookie of the Year contender.
Lap Leaders: Sanders 1-15, Ramirez 16-38, A. Arneson 39-40.
Total Laps Led: Ramirez 23, Sanders 15, A. Arneson 2.
Margin of Victory: 1.477 seconds.
Provisional Starters: Georges, Georges-Barnett.
Sybesma Graphics Pole Award: Scott.
Hard Charger: A. Arneson (started 17th, finished 1st).
Next Race: Saturday, Feb. 28, El Paso (Texas) Speedway Park.
MVT Gulf Coast Border Region Points: Ramirez 604, Hughes 599, A. Arneson 596, Sobbing 546, Houston 539, Dillard 525, VanderBeek 485, J. Gallardo 475, Junghans 471, C. Arneson 457.
Rookie of the Year Points: A. Arneson 596, Sobbing 546, Kates 462, C. Arneson 457, Theiss 416.
COMP Cams Engine Builder of the Year Points: Mullins 55, Cornett 52, Durham 51, Sput’s 47, PPE 40, Geddes 40.
Manufacturers Championship Points: GRT 61, LG2 60, Hughes 57, MBCustom 53, Hilsabeck 32.