LAS VEGAS – R.C. Whitwell captured the IMCA modified title during the 22nd Duel in the Desert at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday night.
Cody Thompson did the same in the IMCA Northern Sport Mod division.
Whitwell made the right decision at the right time, leading to his $7,777.77 win in the 40-lap finale. Tom Berry Jr. led the first 29 laps while Whitwell ran second the entire time.
Ethan Dotson was third initially until Cody Laney used a low line drive out of turn four on lap 13 to take that spot. The track turned into a low line preferred surface and Whitwell would close on Berry, then drop back, close again, never quite having the speed to make a pass.
On lap 29 Whitwell used a top line drive out of turn four to build momentum and nearly had the lead at the line. When the duo came upon a lap car into turn one, Whitwell correctly chose the top side while Berry tried to drive under the slower car. Berry made contact and spun, creating a yellow and a trip to the back.
Whitwell led on the restart and was in control during the remaining laps to win the race with fellow Tucson resident Jake O’Neil finishing second. Laney was third ahead of Tim Ward and a charging Jason Hughes in fifth
Of the top-four, only Californian Laney did not come from Arizona.
In the Northern Sport Mod 25-lap championship race, Bakersfield, Calif., driver Michael Johnson dominated the race until Sioux City, Iowa star Thompson picked up the pace and pressured the leader.
Running a still productive top line around the half-mile, Thompson closed on Johnson on lap 17 and used a top shelf drive through turn four to take the lead on lap 19.
Thompson then showed why he finished just two points out of the National Championship in his division by pulling away from Johnson to receive the $1,777.77 winning check.
Johnson finished second and Brandon Schmitt traded third many times with Kevin Johnson before finishing in the final podium spot. Matthew Looft followed K. Johnson across the line for fifth.
In special event racing, Slade Pitt won the Wild West Modified Tour race for Northern Sport Mod drivers in that series and Zane DeVilbiss took the modified main for that series’ regulars.
The 19 and under young guns race went to Dylan Thornton and Christy Barnett was the winner in the legends 55 and over race.