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Title Tilt at Tri-State: #FantasyDirt Primer for USMTS King of the Ring from Tri-State Speedway

Title Tilt at Tri-State: #FantasyDirt Primer for USMTS King of the Ring from Tri-State Speedway
USMTS A-Main 4-Wide from Mississippi Thunder 8th Annual End of Summer Bash (September 2, 2022)

Most of the #FantasyDirt Primers I've done have been on Late Model contests with a couple Sprint Car events sprinkled in as time permits. What I haven't done, until now, is try to put together something for Modifieds. Which is odd considering that I have been to more Modified and USMTS shows than just about any other class or series. In my personal rankings, Modifieds and Late Models are tied for my favorite class (don't worry though, Hornets are properly ranked). In no small part, my rankings are shaped by the top-notch WISSOTA and USRA Modified racing I can find at multiple tracks all within an hour or two of my home.

One of the issues I've run into whenever I consider writing a USMTS primer is that there just isn't a great place to find USMTS stats. Which is both frustrating and disappointing. The USMTS has a very solid and large class of series regulars. The racing is always top notch. Not to mention the amazing talent that swing through on their journey to the Late Model ranks. Despite all of that, there doesn't seem to be the buzz that you'd find with Late Models or Sprint Cars. Who knows, maybe these cold winter months will spur someone into action and we'll be able to find sortable and useful stats for the USTMS next season.

Until then, this is the best I can do. Hopefully, you'll find something useful in here, get a couple of chuckles, and subscribe (there is a floating pink button conveniently located on the bottom right) so you don't miss one of these works of art again.

As for the headline, this is the final weekend of USMTS action and Dustin Sorensen enters the weekend as the likely USMTS National Champion, needing only one top-5 finish in three races to lock up the title. Tanner Mullens enters the weekend as the only driver with a mathmatical chance to catch Sorensen. Mullens needs to win all three remaining races and have Sorensen basically finish 15th or worse all three nights. It's pretty hard to win an USMTS race, much less three in three races, so it's pretty fair to say Sorensen will be the 2022 USMTS Champion and take home an additional $100,000 with it.

Format: Passing Points (Is it normal for your body to deflate as you write those words?)

USMTS Passing Points Abacus

I firmly established that I love Modified racing, right? Perfect. I dislike the USMTS format sooooooooooooooo much. I mean, who doesn't love watching a heat race conclude and having no clue who actually transfers to the A-Main? Sure, the heat winner probably transfers but after that, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Anyway, here's how this whole thing works:
1. Group/Heat Qualifying: Drivers draw for Heats and then hit the track and qualify with their Heat. Oh yeah, these are their hot laps too!

2. Top-4 Invert: Qualified 4th in your heat? Well done, you're the polesitter for your heat! Fastest Qualifier in your heat? Shoulda been slower 'cause now you're starting 4th!

3. Top 12 in passing points transfer to A-Main following heats. I used to think it was top 2 point getters in each heat, but the rules read as though it's just the top 12 following heats, regardless of which heat they competed in. Of those twelve, the top 8 in passing points redraw for starting spots 1-8. Everyone else? B-Mains! If you're a sadist like me, I slapped the Passing Points Abacus above for your pleasure.

4. B-Main Mania! The second half of the field transfers through a B-Main. The B-Mains are lined up by passing points (you saw that coming). Mercifully, once the checkered flag waives on the B-Mains, the abacus can be put away cause were taking the top finishers! The amount of B-Mains we get depends on car count, but it is usually two (Top 6 transfer) or three (Top 4 transfer).

5. You get a provisional, you get a provisional, and you get a provisional! So we got our field of 24 cars after the B-Main, right? Wrong! There are two provisionals available to the drivers holding a USMTS National License (that's a whole 'nother deal, but figure it's the series regulars, mostly) that did not qualify for the A-Main. These two provisionals are awarded to non-qualifiers with the most USMTS National Points. But wait, there's more! Any driver with a USMTS license and perfect attendance can take up to 6 emergency provisionals over the course of the year.

6. A-Main: I've personally been to a couple of shows with close to 30 cars starting the A-Main. In fact, during the spring USMTS stop at Tri-State the A-Main had 30 cars. It can get pretty ridiculous. But hey, for our #FantasyDirt purposes that's just more bites at the apple. Thankfully, and to the driver's credit, these bloated fields can produce some truly interesting racing and lots of wild finishes.

Who to Watch: Reminder that the number following a driver's salary is where their salary ranks amongst all drivers. 1 = highest.

Tanner Mullens ($21,500) (5): Rolling with some soft factors for this one. First of all, Tanner needs to win to have a shot at the championship. Second, his car is one of my favorites. Hot Pink is my favorite color and the heart for a zero is pretty slick too. Third, Ol' Gal is quite fond of Tanner and his merch. Yeah, I know only one of those has any possible bearing on Tanner's performance, so what. Beyond those compelling factors, Mullens has a couple of 3rd places in USMTS actionat Tri-State in 2020 and 2021. Earlier this year, he also came home 8th in spring stop at Tri-State. Solid resume for the 5th-highest salary.

Tyler Wolff ($21,400) (6): If you've read a few of these before, you might notice that I don't dog on drivers. Plenty of other places to find that kind of stuff, if it's your jam. I will point out factors that could effect fantasy performance, however. Having said that, Wolff, in my opinion, always comes with substantial downside risk and I'll leave it at that. Nonetheless, I'm quite positive Tri-State is Wolff's home track and he's won 5 races there in 2022, including last Friday night. Additionally, he finished 5th in the 2021 and 6th in the previous 2022 USMTS stops at Tri-State.

Cayden Carter ($21,200) (8): Carter finished 2nd back on May 14, 2022 with the USMTS at Tri-State. That alone makes his salary look appealing. Throw in a win on the Friday of the USMTS Fall Jamboree at Deer Creak and 9 Top 10's since the begining of August (in 12 Modified Starts) and Carter starts to look quite appeal as candidate to deliver plus-value at his salary slot.

Derek Ramirez ($21,100) (9): In his last 3 starts at Tri-State, Ramirez has a win in 2021, a 2nd in 2019, and charged from 30th to 16th in 2022. That is an average finish of 6.33 over that span. Throw in Ramirez's 5th, 4th, and 4th place finished this past weekend in a loaded field at Vado Speedway Park for the Fall Nationals (quick note: The Fall Nationals was pretty close to a full USMTS field, so it's worth noting these performance), and it's hard to see why his salary is this low. Oh, yeah, and Ramirez is the 2021 USMTS National Champ. I'd keep Ramirez under heavy consideration tonight.

Jake Timm ($20,700) (11): Full disclosure: I'm a Jake Timm stan (everyone should be, actually). Nonetheless, this salary is pretty enticing. Timm finished 9th, 7th, and 5th this past weekend at Vado. He also has a 9th place finish in USMTS action at Tri-State this year. Finally, Timm has 2 wins and a fistful of top-5s and top-10s in limited USMTS starts this year. I already know he'll be in my lineup, but maybe he'll be in your too.

Jason Hughes ($20,300) (13): I swear, Hughes is always within $300, one direction or the other, of $20,000 every contest. As such, he's often under consideration when I'm putting together my lineup. That will especially be the case tonight. Hughes knows his way around Tri-State, having finished 2nd and 1st there this past weekend in USRA Modified action. Moreover, Hughes has a 4th (2019), 7th (2021), and 10th (2022) in the last three USMTS stops at the facility. Slotting in at the 13th-highest salary (or even lower, should Jake O'Neil, Cade Dillard, Joe Duvall, or others show-up) makes Hughes a strong candidate to provide plus value.

Lucas Schott ($20,100) (14):  Schott's last 10 finishes: 5th, 17th (USMTS), 1st, 1st, 1st (USMTS), 15th-B-Main (USMTS), 4th (USMTS), 1st, 1st. Oh, and he had another USMTS win back in May during the Dairyland Showdown. Schott came home 13th during the spring USMTS stop at Tri-State, as well. On the season, Schott has 37 entries, 7 wins, 18 top-5's, and 21 top-10's. You get all of that for just the 14th-highest salary. Lock it in.

Carlos Ahumada Jr. ($19,800) (16): Back in September, Ol' Gal and I went to the USMTS End of Summer Bash at Mississippi Thunder (that was a wild night that I've wanted to write about for a while now). Whenever I go into the pits, one of the first things I do is check out the track from the pit entrance or exit. I don't know why, it's not like I really have a damn clue what I'm looking for as it relates to track condition. Anyway, as I am doing this I notice a gentleman on a pit bike also checking out the track. In my head I'm thinking two things, one, don't be a pussy and just say something, and two, I bet he knows what he's looking for.  So I muster up the courage to speak and say "I bet you know what you're look for with the track!" We get to chatting and eventually exchange names. You'll never guess who it was! Terry Phillips! (it was Carlos Ahumada Jr., actually). Anyway, I just wanted to flex how hip and rad I am, so I included Carlos in the list.

Carlos Ahumada Jr. ($19,800) (16): Actually, Carlos is a legit contender for my roster. He has a win at Tri-State back on June 3rd of this year. He followed that up with a 3rd-place finish the following day. In the 2022 USMTS stop, Ahumada Jr. finished a solid 12th. All of that points to a plus value night for him tonight. Additionally, I have no way of verifying but, I am of the opinion he's achieved perfect attendance so far with USMTS and may have an Emergency Provisional available to him. He also sits 12th in USMTS Season Points, so may also factor into the standard provisional conversation. Essentially, I have think Carlos will make the field either through performance or provisional. Once in, he has a real chance to provide solid ROI at this salary.

Dan Ebert ($19,600) (18): Another Minnesota driver, who would've thunk! Ebert sits 7th in USMTS Season Points, which makes him a contender for either a provisional or emergency provisional. Again, I have to think he'll be in the feature tonight. In 72 races, of which it feels like I've been to atleast a quarter of, Ebert has 4 wins, 21 top-5's and 42 top-10's. My guy finishes in top-10 over half the time against some of the stiffest Modified drivers around (either USMTS or WISSOTA). For a sub-$20,000 salary, I'm like the upside!

Shane DeVolder ($19,300) (21): DeVolder is another series regular who may have a provisional available to him should he fail to race his way in. Beyond that, he did bring home a 14th place finish in the spring stop at Tri-State. He also took home a second this past weekend at Hamilton County Speedway racing agains guys like Kyle Brown, Jacob Bleess, Zack VanderBeek, and Dylan Thornton. That being said, it's pretty fair to say DeVolder's ceiling is somewhere in the top-10, with a mid-pack finish the most likely scenario. That's still plus-value given where he slots in for salary.

Unlisted but Potentially Racing:

Cade Dillard: Dillard took home 2 wins and a 6th last weekend at Vado Speedway Park in his own new CDR chassis. It wouldn't be too crazy to think he might make a pitstop in Oklahoma to keep the good times rolling. If Dillard does hit up the USMTS swing this weekend, I'd think he'd be a strong contender. If we get a salary outside the top-5, I'd seriously consider setting and forgetting him in my lineup.

Jake O'Neil: I'd have to think Jake is going to be in attendance. If he is, he'll have a hefty salary and rightfully so coming off a 2nd, 3rd, and 3rd at Vado and sporting an USMTS leading 9 wins (Jake doesn't run for the championship for some reason).

Chase Holland: I'm a big support of anyone racing and running a YouTube channel. #DirtContent is one of the few ways a team can generate income for their operation and not have it come directly from the fans pocket. Beyond that, we also get a chance to learn more about the drivers and teams and get a truer look at what it really takes to be a racer. Of all the guys making #DirtContent, Chase Holland is our family's favorite one. If you haven't, I'd recommend checking out the Chase Holland Racing Channel. But I'm not just a fan of Chase, he's a legitimate contender for our rosters. This past weekend, he pulled down the dub at the Coors Light Fall Classic from Whynot Motorsports Park. Chase also bagged a 16th, 16th, and 18th back in August with the USMTS and most recently had a 20th, 12th in the B-Main, and a 21st at the USMTS Fall Jamboree. Should we get a sub-$19,000 salary, I won't think twice about putting Chase in the lineup. It's more likely though, that we'll see a salary between $19,000 and $19,500 and I'll probably still put him in but would hesitate to recommend others to do the same.