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Sanders Sweeps Winter Meltdown Weekend

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March 12, 2022  |  by Chris Stepan

The 24th annual Rancho Milagro Winter Meltdown weekend wrapped on Saturday night, March 12th and saw Rodney Sanders best the field of USRA Modifieds in the $3,000 to win, 35-lap feature event to complete the weekend sweep at the Vado Speedway Park. 

A much warmer, sunnier day greeted racers and fans for the second day of the Rancho Milagro Winter Meltdown on Saturday, but Rodney Sanders proved that it didn’t matter if it was snowy like Friday, or sunny like Saturday – he was the man to beat and showed dominance en route to sweeping the USRA Modified portion of Winter Meltdown weekend. 

After 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 for the second night in a row. Stelzig got out front on the start and looked to be the dominant car for the second night in a row, but multiple cautions kept the field bunched together. Rodriguez, Eric LaCroix and Jacob Masterson stayed within striking distance of Stelzig after each restart, but Caleb was able to hold them off time after time. Sean Salazar and Kyle Burnette were in the mix as well during the second half of the event, but Stelzig was able to fend off his most serious challenge from Rodriguez and take the checkered, however he was light on the scales and disqualified, elevating Rodriguez to his first career feature victory. Masterson placed second with 12th starting Mike Garcia in third. 

The Hacienda Carpet and Tile USRA B-Mods were up next for their 20-lapper with double duty racer Justin Allen on the pole for the second night in row as well. He shared the front row with 2021 track champion Mingo Jauregui, but it didn’t take long for 5th starting Jesse Haynie to race by and into the lead early in the event. Once Haynie got out front he stretched it out as he did the night before, while Aasa Flores, Dustin Smith and both Xavier and Israel Ortega battled with Allen and Jauregui for a top five run. Multiple cautions filled this event as well, keeping the field close to Haynie’s #x15, but on each restart he was able to drive away and held off 11th starting Flores for his second straight victory. Flores beat Smith to the line for second when the checkered flag flew. 

Up next were the S&J Automotive USRA Stock Cars for their 20-lapper and for the second straight night, it was the best race of the night. Josh Reynolds and Jonathan Burton sat on the front row for this one and at the drop of the green it became an instant classic with three and four wide racing throughout the field during the entire main event. Reynolds led, then Burton lead then Rob Moseley, Bryan Bennett and Dustin White all threw their names in the ring for a shot at the lead, while Jason Josselyn sliced his way from the tail after a mid-race incident sent him to the back. As the laps wound down, fans were treated to a wild finish as Burton lead to the white flag, but jumped the cushion a bit in turn two, allowing Bennett and White to pull up three-wide for the lead with Josselyn in tow as the pack entered the final set of turns. White edged Burton and Bennett by 0.059 and .0084 respectively in a true photo finish to the checkered.

The final event of the night, the $3,000 to win, 35-lap Rancho Milagro USRA Modified main event was up with Fito Gallardo and Friday night winner Rodney Sanders on row one. Sanders took the lead on the start with Jake Gallardo racing from third into the second spot on the opening lap and trying to stay within striking distance of Sanders out front. Just behind the leaders Kollin Hibdon moved in on Fito Gallardo for third, while Carlos Ahumada Jr and Philip Houston were side by side for several laps for fifth. Sanders continued to pace the field out front with Gallardo continuing to stay several car lengths behind as the leaders worked through lapped traffic. Sanders was able to slice through traffic with ease, while Gallardo did the same and drew closer to the #20 as laps wound down. The final caution of the event was held on lap 20 and bunched the field again. Sanders took back off with Jake in tow, looking to challenge for the lead late in the race. Gallardo threw a few sliders at Sanders but Rodney answered each of them and continued to lead and eventually pull away for his second straight win on the weekend. Gallardo ran second with Hibdon third when the final checkered flag of the night flew over the field. 

Full results: vadospeedwaypark.com/results

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