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Snow Problem for Sanders on Winter Meltdown Night One

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March 11, 2022  |  by Chris Stepan

The 24th annual Rancho Milagro Winter Meltdown weekend kicked off on Friday night, March 11th and saw Rodney Sanders best the field of USRA Modifieds in the $2,000 to win, 30-lap feature event to cap off a wild 12 hours at the Vado Speedway Park.

A freak, early morning snowstorm left the entire facility blanketed with a fresh 2 inches of snow, but the track crew were determined to forge ahead with the program and worked tirelessly all day to prepare the facility for racing action just hours later.

After the track was race ready and qualifying events were completed, the Hulsey Racing INEX Legends were first on track for their 20-lap feature event, which saw Zach Rodriguez and Caleb Stelzig share the front row. Stelzig, in a Josh Jackson-owned #37 for the night jumped to the lead at the drop of the green and never looked back, surviving several caution flags and challenges from Rodriguez and Dave Smith for the top spot, but Stelzig was able to hold them off and race into Rio Grande Waste Services Victory Lane for the first time in 2022. Smith topped a very entertaining battle with Rodriguez, Kyle Burnette and Jacob Masterson for second when the checkered flag flew with Rodriguez rounding out the top three finishers.

The Hacienda Carpet and Tile USRA B-Mods were up next for their 20-lapper with double duty racer Justin Allen on the pole. Allen took control when the green flag flew with Jesse Haynie sneaking by Eric McNutt into second on lap one. Haynie pressured Allen early until he was able to get by into the top spot and begin to put distance between himself and the rest of the field. As Haynie was streaking away from the pack, Allen, Donavon Flores and Aasa Flores were in a tussle for second. Both Donavon and Aasa were able to overhaul Allen and began a spirited battle for second with Allen just behind. Haynie continued his dominance and raced to his first win of the season behind the Rick Hall-owned #x15 as Donavon bested Aasa for second at the line.

Up next were the S&J Automotive USRA Stock Cars for their 20-lapper and it was the best race of the night. Wyatt Loveland and rookie Daniel Sanchez Jr. sat on the front row and after the start was called back for a jump, Sanchez moved to the pole and Dustin White inherited the outside of the front row for the second attempt. On the restart, White got the lead with Rob Moseley working into second early. A wild six car skirmish for the lead took place for the next 10 laps between White, Moseley, Loveland, Jason Josselyn, Jonathan Burton and Sanchez which kept the hearty fans on the edge of their seats. Once the race settled out a bit Moseley took command and began to stretch his legs a bit out front, while Bryan Bennett, who started 16th was quickly into the top five and battling up front as well. As the laps wound down, Bennett began to pressure Moseley for the lead, but Mr. Rob was up to the challenge and raced away for his first career Stock Car victory. Bennett completed a great charge from the tail to 2nd with Burton edging White at the line for third.

The final event of the night, the $2,000 to win, 30-lap Rancho Milagro USRA Modified main event was up with Philip Houston and Jimmy Ray set to lead the field to green from row one. At the drop of the green, Ray got the jump and paced the field on lap one until a quick caution flew keeping the field bunched up for the Delaware restart. On the restart, Ray again took the lead with Houston, Kollin Hibdon and Rodney Sanders in tow. The foursome began to battle for the top spot, while Carlos Ahumada Jr cracked the top five. The race for the lead was hotly contested, while Fito Gallardo and 15th starting Nick Rivera were just outside of the top five on the move forward. Sanders was able to take advantage of a great midrace restart and take the lead on the backstretch and quickly put distance on the field, while Ray, Houston, Hibdon and Ahumada Jr were engaged in a good battle just behind. Jake Gallardo was making his presence felt after rallying from the tail as well, while Sanders continued to pull away. Things got a bit tense as Houston and Ahumada Jr made contact in turn four, eliminating Houston with a flat tire and causing Ahumada Jr to slide through the infield, forcing him to lose several spots. The race continued and Sanders raced to his first Winter Meltdown title in impressive fashion with Hibdon chasing him to the line in second. Rivera completed the 15th to 3rd run at the checkered with Fito Gallardo, from 14th to 4th and Jake Gallardo from the tail to finish 5th when all was said and done.

The Vado Speedway Park will be back in action on Tuesday, March 29th when the Greatest Show on Dirt, the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series invades VSP for the first time ever with the USRA Modifieds in support. Pits open at 3pm with the grandstands opening at 5. Hot laps are scheduled for 6:30pm with qualifying to follow and racing set to begin at 7:30pm. Tickets can be purchased at www.WorldOfOutlaws.com.

For fans not able to attend in person, all events held during the 2022 season at the Vado Speedway Park will also be live streamed online by PayPerView at www.WatchFYE.tv.

For upcoming schedule information and tickets, visit www.VadoSpeedwayPark.com.


A Feature 1 (20 Laps): 1. X15-Jesse Haynie[3]; 2. 07-Donavon Flores[8]; 3. 05-Aasa Flores[7]; 4. 12-Justin Allen[1]; 5. 23B-Israel Ortega[5]; 6. 65-Dustin Smith[6]; 7. 24X-Xavier Ortega[11]; 8. 47-Mingo Jauregui[10]; 9. 23H-Hector Barraza[14]; 10. 11-Lucas Ward[13]; 11. 96-Victor Barraza[15]; 12. 17-Peyton Gallardo[18]; 13. 8840-Ruben Ortega[19]; 14. 45-Jay Hill[16]; 15. 44D-Troy Philllips[17]; 16. (DNF) 14X-Tom Conner[9]; 17. (DNF) 5M-Eric McNutt[2]; 18. (DNF) 3-Dickie Gorham[4]; 19. (DNF) 3S-Sal Gomez[12]; 20. (DNS) 7G-Gabriel Hodges

Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. X15-Jesse Haynie[2]; 2. 12-Justin Allen[7]; 3. 05-Aasa Flores[6]; 4. 3S-Sal Gomez[4]; 5. 11-Lucas Ward[1]; 6. 45-Jay Hill[3]; 7. (DNF) 7G-Gabriel Hodges[5]

Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 5M-Eric McNutt[3]; 2. 3-Dickie Gorham[5]; 3. 14X-Tom Conner[4]; 4. 47-Mingo Jauregui[6]; 5. 8840-Ruben Ortega[7]; 6. 96-Victor Barraza[1]; 7. 17-Peyton Gallardo[2]

Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 23B-Israel Ortega[1]; 2. 65-Dustin Smith[3]; 3. 07-Donavon Flores[6]; 4. 24X-Xavier Ortega[2]; 5. 23H-Hector Barraza[5]; 6. 44D-Troy Philllips[4]


A Feature 1 (30 Laps): 1. 20-Rodney Sanders[4]; 2. A-Kollin Hibdon[3]; 3. 8N-Nick Rivera[15]; 4. G17-Fito Gallardo[14]; 5. J17-Jake Gallardo[11]; 6. 131-Royal Jones[5]; 7. 65X-Carlos Ahumada Jr[8]; 8. 99-Terry Tipton[10]; 9. 44JT-Jaime Torres[16]; 10. 28-Tom Georges[13]; 11. 29X-Justin Allen[12]; 12. 54-Carlos Ahumada Sr[19]; 13. (DNF) 9-Jimmy Ray[2]; 14. (DNF) 71-Philip Houston[1]; 15. (DNF) 3J-Josh Cain[7]; 16. (DNF) 24-Rick Ortega[9]; 17. (DNF) 85-Austin Adams[6]; 18. (DNF) 3-Tim Tharp[18]; 19. (DNS) 3S-Sal Gomez; 20. (DNS) J7-Jake Boles

Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. A-Kollin Hibdon[2]; 2. 71-Philip Houston[7]; 3. 65X-Carlos Ahumada Jr[5]; 4. J17-Jake Gallardo[1]; 5. G17-Fito Gallardo[3]; 6. 3S-Sal Gomez[6]; 7. 3-Tim Tharp[4]

Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 20-Rodney Sanders[2]; 2. 85-Austin Adams[1]; 3. 24-Rick Ortega[3]; 4. 3J-Josh Cain[7]; 5. 28-Tom Georges[6]; 6. 44JT-Jaime Torres[4]; 7. 54-Carlos Ahumada Sr[5]

Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 131-Royal Jones[1]; 2. 9-Jimmy Ray[6]; 3. 99-Terry Tipton[3]; 4. 29X-Justin Allen[2]; 5. 8N-Nick Rivera[4]; 6. (DNS) J7-Jake Boles


A Feature 1 (20 Laps): 1. M17-Rob Moseley[4]; 2. 10-Bryan Bennett[16]; 3. 00-Jonathan Burton[12]; 4. 2-Dustin White[3]; 5. 0-Jeramy Hughes[11]; 6. 74-Jason Josselyn[5]; 7. 97-Wyatt Loveland[1]; 8. 3-Josh Reynolds[6]; 9. 5X-Russell Allen[9]; 10. 11JR-Daniel Sanchez Jr[2]; 11. 11SR-Daniel Sanchez[8]; 12. 87-Les Gibson[7]; 13. (DNF) 25-Jeremy Bradley[10]; 14. (DNS) 5-Shane McNutt; 15. (DNS) 1I-Daniel Blaeser; 16. (DNS) 46-Devon Jobin; 17. (DNS) 37-Fred Gibson

Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 97-Wyatt Loveland[6]; 2. 11JR-Daniel Sanchez Jr[8]; 3. 74-Jason Josselyn[2]; 4. 11SR-Daniel Sanchez[3]; 5. 25-Jeremy Bradley[5]; 6. 5X-Russell Allen[9]; 7. 0-Jeramy Hughes[7]; 8. 00-Jonathan Burton[1]; 9. (DNF) 10-Bryan Bennett[4]

Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. M17-Rob Moseley[1]; 2. 2-Dustin White[5]; 3. 3-Josh Reynolds[2]; 4. 87-Les Gibson[6]; 5. (DNF) 5-Shane McNutt[4]; 6. (DNF) 1I-Daniel Blaeser[7]; 7. (DNF) 46-Devon Jobin[3]; 8. (DNS) 37-Fred Gibson


A Feature 1 (20 Laps): 1. 37-Caleb Stelzig[2]; 2. 11D-Dave Smith[3]; 3. 48Z-Zach Rodriguez[1]; 4. 32-Kyle Burnette[4]; 5. 0-Jacob Masterson[5]; 6. 65-Mike Money[12]; 7. 22-Justin Lasiter[6]; 8. 37T-Sean Salazar[7]; 9. 15-Todd Robertson[10]; 10. 3-Drew Cassidy[13]; 11. 6-Angel Garcia[15]; 12. 34-Steven Mathe[14]; 13. (DNF) 77-Eric LaCroix[8]; 14. (DNF) 95-Cale Riggs[9]; 15. (DNF) 27G-RJ Garay[11]

Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 48Z-Zach Rodriguez[3]; 2. 11D-Dave Smith[4]; 3. 0-Jacob Masterson[5]; 4. 37T-Sean Salazar[6]; 5. 15-Todd Robertson[1]; 6. 27G-RJ Garay[7]; 7. 3-Drew Cassidy[2]; 8. (DNS) 6-Angel Garcia

Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 37-Caleb Stelzig[1]; 2. 32-Kyle Burnette[4]; 3. 22-Justin Lasiter[2]; 4. 77-Eric LaCroix[5]; 5. 95-Cale Riggs[6]; 6. 65-Mike Money[3]; 7. 34-Steven Mathe[7]