Wednesday, March 22, 2017
The FAST® Power Rankings Presented by COMP Cams® USMTS/USRA Power Rankings
The FAST® Power Rankings Presented by COMP Cams® USMTS/USRA Power Rankings
The 2017 race season swings into high gear with this weekend's Seventh-Annual King of America (KOA) from Humboldt Speedway in Humboldt, Kansas, and this can only mean one thing, it's time for the first edition of USMTS/USRA FAST® Power Rankings Presented by COMP Cams!
It's hard to believe, 2017 marks the Fifth Anniversary of the RacinDirt.com Power Rankings. We want to pause just for a moment and thank everyone for making these exclusive rankings such a resounding success!
Last year's final rankings served as the "Driver of the Year" edition in which Jason Hughes earned the honors on the wings of his third-career USMTS title. Hughes got off to a great start again in 2017 and already has two wins to his credit, upping his career-wins total to 148 victories heading into the KOA! However, there's a bevy of young talent lurking and ready to challenge the veteran for the championship. How did everyone fare in the first rankings of 2017? Let's have a look!
On the heels of his 5 USMTS victories in the first 15 events of the year, Robeline, Louisiana's Cade Dillard returns to the top of the list. Dillard drove to his first victory of the year on February 18 at Shady Oaks Speedway in Goliad, Texas. He then reeled off two more straight victories in Mississippi, but he wasn't done yet! When the tour returned to his stomping grounds at Ark-La-Tex Speedway, Dillard claimed wins on the final two nights of the Cajun Clash to bring his wins total to five, more than any other driver this season. Dillard last ruled over the rankings in early November, just before Jason Hughes edged him for the title.
Blasting up the rankings from number 10, Chandler, Arizona's Ricky Thornton, Jr., sits in the number two position this week, his highest-ever ranking and first time to appear in the top five. Like Dillard, Thornton is also a multiple-time winner this season with three victories to his credit at Shady Oaks Speedway, Greenville Speedway in Mississippi, and more recently at Southern Oklahoma Speedway in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Additionally, Thornton drove to three Wild West Shootout victories to earn that title at Arizona Speedway in early January.
Slipping from number one on the final rankings of 2016, Watts, Oklahoma's Jason Hughes lands at number three this week. With new teammate Ryan Gustin, Hughes' year got off to a solid start as his team landed in victory lane in the first two events of the season with Hughes claiming night two at Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas. The three-time USMTS champion added to his win total again at Shady Oaks Speedway in mid February. Hughes, is a former KOA champion and will be one of the favorites this weekend as he tries to become the first repeat winner of the crown jewel event.
Ryan Gustin moves up two notches this week and returns to the top five on the strength of his early season track record with a victory to open the 2017 campaign at Cotton Bowl Speedway on February 9th. Gustin so far has racked up and five runner-up finishes. Gustin is also a former champion of the KOA and heads into the event in the best position he's been in for several years to claim a second crown.
Rounding out the top five this week is two-time 2017 USMTS winner Johnny Scott, who seems to have experienced a shot of adrenaline so far this season. Scott recorded consecutive-weekend victories at Ark-La-Tex Speedway and Southern Oklahoma Speedway. Scott's move from the number 11 position on the last rankings to number five this week marks the first time since last July that he was ranked in the top five. J Scott also drove to victory lane on night two of last weekend's Short Track Shootout at Southern New Mexico Speedway.
Texan Chris Brown blasts back onto the rankings and lands at number six this week. Brown recorded a USMTS win at Cotton bowl Speedway earlier this year and has ran consistently in the first 15 events of the year to put himself in the conversation of prospective KOA winners. Stormy Scott rebounds to number seven this week after posting 12 top-ten finishes in the first 15 USMTS events this year. Like Brother Johnny, Stormy claimed a victory in last weekend's Short Track Shootout.
At number eight this week is Rodney Sanders. The former number one has one victory to his credit, which came at Southern Oklahoma Speedway. In victory lane, Sanders indicated he wasn't sure of his plans for the KOA but has been vocal about spending more time in his late model this year, where he already has one victory in MARS DIRTcar competition.
Zack VanderBeek debuted his new VanderBuilt race cars on the tours opening trek and has three podium finishes to his credit as he heads into the KOA as defending winner. Rounding out the top ten is Mitch Keeter, who turned heads in his new GRT at Humboldt Speedway in NASCAR Modified action claiming two of three victories during Battle at the Bullring support class events. Keeter then added to the early season win column by securing another win at the 'Hummer again last week. His number 10 ranking marks the highest position Keeter has ever been on the rankings.
Elsewhere on the rankings, Minnesota's Travis Sauer leads the Grant Junghan's Rookie of the Year (RoY) standings on the strength of his performances so far this season with a season-best finish of third with USTMS. The number 12 ranking is the highest ranking ever for Sauer. Fellow RoY contender R.C. Whitwell lands at number 14 on this week's top 20, also his highest-ever peek position. Whitwell's highest finish so far is a seventh-place outing at Shady Oaks Speedway. Early season winners Jake Timm and Philip Houston also join the top 20 this week along with the first Touring Outlaw Modified Series (TOMS) winner of the season, Troy Taylor.
We'll return with an all-new top 20 next week after this weekend's seventh annual KOA from Humboldt Speedway. Don't forget, if you can't make it in person, RacinDirt.com has you covered and will broadcast all three nights' worth of action with multiple cameras and announcers, commentary, breaking news, stats, and instant replay! Also, be sure to check out RacinDirt.com's vast library of video from events so far this season. We've got everything from Late Model events, including early season MARS action and all USMTS action from the first 15 events of the season!
Each week, RacinDirt.com's hand-selected racing insiders rank drivers based on United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS), United States Racing Association (USRA), and similar car-type results. Voter opinions do not reflect the thoughts as a whole of RacinDirt.com. Voting inquiries may be addressed to staff member Sam Stoecklin at firstname.lastname@example.org
|No questions asked, the best in the business right now with 5 USMTS wins and the Southern Region points lead. Easy choice. Cade has been the guy to beat with 5 wins and rarely finishing outside the top so far on the USMTS circuit in 2017.|
|2||10||Ricky Thornton, Jr.|
|Guy is bad fast … 3 USMTS wins -Wild West Shootout Points Champion ... off to a good start. Ricky reeled off 3 Wild West Shootout wins (out of 4 starts) and already has 3 USMTS wins this year as well. He is the perfect fit for Gressel Racing moving forward.|
|Hughes isn't performing at the "next level" like he was last season, but he is still a king of consistency with 14 top 10's in 15 races so far. Last year's top ranked driver at the end of 2016 has 2 wins so far in 2017 but needs to pick up some speed to jump over Dillard. Two wins and USMTS 4th in the Southern Region with 14 TOP 10s.|
|Ryan has gotten up to speed quickly in 2017 with 1 victory and what seems like endless 2nd place finishes so far. He hasn't gone completely cold, but he certainly cooled off after that masterful win on opening night… however, we all know the Reaper can quickly get on a power roll.|
|Johnny has raced to a pair of USMTS victories and just won one of the nights at the Short Track Shootout in New Mexico as well. Although he's stifled a little deeper in points due to some DNF's I think Johnny Scott is one of the hottest drivers right now with two recent W's on the tour and one win this past week at SNMS.|
|Probably the most controversial driver in USMTS but it has propelled him to one win during the opening weekend at Cotton Bowl and a 3rd place standing in the points. Brown kicked off 2017 with a USMTS victory and has been battling in the top 5 nearly every USMTS event.|
|Has still yet to make a mark in the USMTS "W" column this season but went back home and scored the opening night win at SNMS. Twelve top 10s with USMTS.|
|Rodney started off sluggish in his Modified, but does have a USMTS victory this season. With focusing on his Late Model in 2017, will he run enough Modified events to remain in the top 20 this year?|
|A trio of 3rd place finishes (Greenville, Vivian, and Ardmore) highlight a successful debut for VanderBeek's VanderBuilt Race Cars, and he's really starting to pick up speed right in time to defend his crown at the KoA. Zach's VanderBuilt Race Cars have performed well this season with a handful of top fives so far. Patience with the new chassis - still lands in the top 10 almost every night.|
|Three wins in 4 starts with his only non-victory being a 10th to 2nd place run at Humboldt's opener. On track to make some noise in the MO-KAN region this season.|
|Ramirez has been close in a few, but remains just one tick behind again this season. Dereck looks to be having a better start than he did in 2016 with several top 5 USMTS finishes during the early stages of the season.|
|Leads the Rookie of the Year Points, posted 9 Top 10s. Hands-down Saurer is the strongest USMTS RoY contender at this point with a podium finish that highlights a solid start to the year. Running the 1s for the Red Headed Rebel Scott Bintz should put up some good finishes.|
|Jake has only raced his newly numbered G3 car three times and has a $5,000 win, a 2nd, and a 3rd place finish to show for it. Win along with 2 other top 3s at Southern New Mexico. Winner of the SNMS Short Track Shootout finale, and is sure to be dominant on the Western front again this season.|
|Second in Rookie of the year Points with Top 10s. Will be interesting to see his results this season.|
|Was poised to win the opener at Humboldt only to have a mechanical failure while leading. Then some back luck struck or he may have won multiple times already. Angst couldn't shake the hard luck at the Battle at the Bullring but managed a runner-up finish by the final day.|
|The stated plan for 2017 is local Late Model racing. However, Crazy rolled into I-35 Speedway and logged an early USRA win Also planning to attend the KoA, so we will have to wait and see how it plays out.|
|Humboldt's opening night winner in his new MB Custom. He is poised to have a great season behind the wheel of his #49.|
|Philip raced to a USRA win in Wichita Falls and was the TOMS hard charger at Battlegrounds. He is chasing his first TOMS Series title in 2017.|
|Picked up the opening night TOMS victory at Battlegrounds over a solid field.|
|Had some "under the radar" runs for Barnett at SNMS. Schott is sure to be a factor once he is back in his own equipment again. The defending USRA National Champ should have another great year in 2017.|