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Late Pass earns O’Neil his second USMTS Nordic Nationals title

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Jake O’Neil on Victory Road with his family. (USMTS photo)

DECORAH, Iowa — Jake O’Neil scored his second USMTS Nordic Nationals in three seasons Sunday at Winneshiek Raceway.

The hard-fought win was his fourth of the 2022 campaign and his 24th victory at the Summit USMTS National Championship presented by RacinDirt, breaking a tie with Al Hejna – also a two-time winner of that event – on the all-time wins list.

O’Neil started at the bottom of a stacked heat race and was only able to finish fifth. In doing so, he took the second Real Racing Wheels “B” Main, which he promptly won to secure 14th on the grid in the 40-lap main race.

Hoping for a winless drought since September 3, 2017, four-time USMTS National Champion Jason Hughes beat polesitter Darron Fuqua at the flag stand to lead the first lap, then raced for the next 16 laps before Fuqua found a way out on lap 18 to lead.

A trio of cautions between rounds 20 and 24 kept the field within striking distance for the final 16 laps, but it was the 30-year-old from Tucson, Ariz. who fought his way up the field with championship leader Dustin Sorensen, who started 15th, behind O’Neil forward.

Fuqua continued to charge for his first USMTS triumph of his career, completing Laps 18-35 before faltering at Turn 4 and handing the lead to Tanner Mullens on Lap 36.

O’Neil followed in second place and Mullens repeated Fuqua’s mistake, handing the lead to O’Neil, who rode the final three laps to his fourth win of the season and another $10,000 payday.

A half-inch of rain earlier in the day forced officials to spend the day getting the facility into prime racing condition.

Mullens edged out Fuqua in second while Sorensen crept into fourth place late in the race.

O’Neil’s final margin for victory was 1.127 seconds in the 20 minute affair.

The end:

Feature (40 rounds): 1st (14) 0 Jake O’Neil, 2nd (7) 02 Tanner Mullens, 3rd (1) 87 Darron Fuqua, 4th (15) 19 Dustin Sorensen, 5th (8) 49 Jake Timm, 6th (6) 4R Dereck Ramirez, 7th (19) 69 Lucas Schott, 8th (24) 10C Cayden Carter, 9th (3) 60 Dan Ebert, 10th (20) 19SB Lance Mari, 11th (10) 33Z Zack VanderBeek, 12 (17) 75 Terry Phillips, 13 (16) 4 Jeremy Nelson, 14 (21) 21 Jacob Bleess, 15 (23) 20 Rodney Sanders, 16 (9) 21K Kyle Brown, 17th (25) 8C Chris Clark, 18th (4) 45 Chase Holland, 19th (2) 12 Jason Hughes, 20th (11) 44S Shane DeVolder, 21st (13) 4W Tyler Wolff, 22nd ( 5) 55H AJ Hoff, 23rd (12) 65X Carlos Ahumada Jr, 24th (22) 7 Al Hejna, 25th (18) 1M Curt Myers

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