Mississippi Thunder Speedway’s Mod Nationals was one of the most highly anticipated events of 2016 for Modified racers across the country. Although the three-day show was scheduled the same weekend as the IMCA Super Nationals, there were still plenty of big names gunning for the top prize.
After Thursday night’s preliminaries, Friday’s show was surrendered to Mother Nature. Instead of moving the final two days to Saturday/Sunday, officials decided to run a double header on Saturday. The “Friday portion” of the show began at noon with the “Saturday portion” to follow immediately after. Track owner Bob Timm explained to fans that they did not want to hold them over until Sunday night.
The move was not unprecedented though. Earlier in the week the IMCA Super Nationals booked a double header day and raced until after 5 a.m. So long as the show keeps moving and the action is good, race fans will be a loyal bunch. Just like those in attendance at Boone earlier in the week, fans at MTS would stick around and be rewarded with a feature for the ages.
With over 200 cars in two divisions (A Mods and B Mods) there was plenty to be decided during the Friday portion of the event. Track crews worked feverishly between races to keep the track in fine condition with breaks for water. Their mission was to keep as much moisture as possible in the track while it was subject to the sunlight and 70 degree temperatures. Eventually the Friday portion ended just after 9 p.m.
After the conclusion of the Friday portion, fans cleared the stands, purchased tickets (or presented previously purchased tickets) for the Saturday show and made their way back in. Track crews also took some time for track maintenance and officials reshuffled the lineups. Despite the length of the event, the fans did not leave. Aside from breaks to head back to the campground for a nap, or to the car to charge a cell phone, the loyal race fans were fixated on the event. When the Saturday portion began around 11 p.m. the stands were at near capacity.
The first A Main hit the track around 2 a.m. Mike Truscott held strong at the front of the field and picked up the win in the B Mod 40-lap feature, which paid $20,000 to win.
After Truscott’s celebration, the A Mod 60-lap A Main rolled out. The field featured many of the best Modified drivers from around the country and even a couple of Late Model stars in Scott Bloomquist and Jimmy Owens. Rodney Sanders seized early control of the feature until he surrendered the lead to Ryan Gustin. Gustin solidified his lead in the second half of the race, but eventually was chased down by Bloomquist.
In the final five laps Bloomquist looked to the inside of Gustin, and was side-by-side with him at the white flag, bringing the still-full grandstand to its feet. However, Gustin took charge on the outside of turn four on the final lap and beat Bloomquist by half a car length with the checkered flag flying just after 4:35 a.m.