LAS VEGAS — Jeremy Payne won Saturday’s 40-lap Duel in the Desert modified feature at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The winner’s share was worth $7,777.
The Duel in the Desert once again set a new record for entries, with 253 IMCA modifieds (from 24 states and two Canadian provinces) and 55 sport modifieds. The previous record, 240, was set in 2011.
Jason Noll started from the pole position, flanked by Jay Noteboom, but Jeff Taylor grabbed the lead with an inside pass before the field recorded the first lap. The cars barreled four-wide into the first and third turns, with some hugging the bottom as others precariously rode the cushion. The exciting rhythm was interrupted on lap three when Scott Drake spun with a flat right-rear tire. It would be the only caution period of the 40-lap race.
As Taylor led the field, Noteboom ran the middle groove and Ricky Alvarado used every inch of the cushion.
Jeremy Payne took the lead in turn three on lap eight as Alvarado electrified the crowd with his wall-scraping heroics. But it was not Alvarado’s night as his car expired on lap 11 and retired to the infield.
Payne hugged the bottom as Noteboom worked the high lane in third place, just behind Taylor. Payne managed to build up a comfortable lead while Noteboom and Taylor battled for second.
With just 10 laps remaining, leader Payne was cruising along as John Hansen and Taylor battled for second place. Hansen tried the middle and high grooves but he could only watch from second place as Payne scored his third Duel in the Desert victory.
“It’s awesome that this is my third one,” said Payne. “It’s been such a long time since I won the last one (2005 and 2006). I had some bad luck here lately. It was a great race and my car was perfect. The car worked really good on the bottom in hot laps so I just stuck with that. I have to thank Jet Racing (Johnny Saathoff).”
Hansen finished second and Murray was third.
Steve Hayes was the surprise winner of the 25-lap sport modified feature. Matt Mueller started from the pole and led the first 23 laps until Tyler Frye, who was running in second place, made contact in turn one and he spun. Frye was black-flagged from the event and Hayes, running in third place, became the new leader.