CASA GRANDE, Ariz. — R.C. Whitwell put on a clinic at Central Arizona Speedway on Friday night, leading all 25-laps of the IMCA Modified feature to top the opening leg of the sixth annual Desert Thunder Nationals atop the three-eighths-mile clay oval.
While Whitwell whipped the Modifieds in the opening leg of the three-race set, other Friday night winners included Cody Thompson in IMCA Sport Modified action, Zack Tate in the Bombers, Colton Hardy in the Power 600 Non-Wing Micro Sprints and Dylan Schaadt in the Power 600 Restricted Micro Sprints.
Whitwell made the most of a front row starting position in the Modified feature by gunning into the lead at the outset and racing on to a convincing victory on a lightning-fast racetrack after several days of rain.
“That was the toughest race I’ve had all year,” Whitwell said afterward. “I was lucky to draw the number two to start up front and then I was just hanging on.”
Whitwell took the checkered flag ahead of Chaz Baca with Zachary Madrid working his way forward from ninth to fill out the podium in third. Jason Noll was fourth with pole starter Derek Huggins rounding out the top five.
In the IMCA Sport Modified feature, Sioux City, Iowa’s Cody Thompson raced from the fourth row outside to capture the win.
“I think I can be a little better, we’re still a little tight,” Cody Thompson explained in victory lane.
Thompson led an Iowa sweep of the podium with Michael Soboski and Cole Carver in second and third, respectively, with Shelby Frye and Cory Hemphill rounding out the top five.
Coolidge’s Zach Tate battled into the lead early on in the Bomber feature and fended off the duo of Cory Jarbeau and Nick Posey to snare the victory.
Bouncing back from heat race issues, Phoenix shoe Colton Hardy picked up the win in the Power 600 Non-Wing Micro Sprint feature from eighth ahead of Dale Eliason, Jr., and Austin Torgerson while Dylan Schaadt rallied from 12th to top the Restricted “A” Class feature ahead of pole starter Hayley Aragon and Ayden Hamblin.
Feature (25 Laps): 1. 96T-R.C. Whitwell, 2. 75jr-Chaz Baca, 3. 5-Zachary Madrid, 4. 44n-Jason Noll, 5. 39-Derek Huggins, 6. 09-Kelly Hayes, 7. 2x-Roy Poeling, 8. 271-Chris Carroll, 9. 10g-Don Geist, 10. 6tc-Taylor Center, 11. 8m-Doug Meeks, 12. 18k-Jacob Pace, 13. 1x-Don Earven, 14. 292-Tony Martin, 15. 36-Bill Miller, 16. 75-Spencer Wilson, 17. 28-Jim Whistler, 18. X-Mike Wedelstadt, 19. 44-Christy Barnett, 20. 71az-Tyler Mecl, 21. 0-Jake O’Neil, 22. 25-Trevor Miller, 23. 5k-Austin Kuehl, 24. 27-Mark Carrell, 25. 44k-Kelsie Foley.