CASA GRANDE, Ariz. — After wiring the field on Friday night, R.C. Whitwell upped his game with an even more dominant performance in Saturday’s second leg of Central Arizona Speedway’s sixth annual Desert Thunder Nationals by romping to IMCA Modified victory lane in a non-stop 25-lapper.
Whitwell wasn’t the only one to make it two-for-two in the three-race set with Cody Thompson besting the IMCA Sport Modifieds again and Zach Tate repeated in the Bombers. R.J. Johnson and J.W. Henderson were victorious in Power 600 Micro Sprint Non-Wing and Restricted “A” Class competition, respectively.
Whitwell, Thompson and Tate will each vie for a three-race sweep of the Desert Thunder Nationals finale that fires off Sunday at 1 p.m.
After drawing the front row outside for Friday night’s preliminary feature, Whitwell landed on the pole of Saturdays’ 25-lap IMCA Modified feature. “My cousin has been drawing for me, and she has done pretty well,” Whitwell said.
With Tucson’s Whitwell on the pole, he jumped out front at the drop of the green flag and never looked back in the caution-free event.
Whitwell reached traffic prior to the midway point and was able to successfully navigate his way through it to a straightaway victory over Chaz Baca, Jr.
“We tried a bunch of different stuff from yesterday,” Whitwell commented. “It was a lot better. Lapped traffic was pretty treacherous at times, but it was a great race track that you could really move around on.”
While Baca, Jr., settled for runner-up honors for the second night in a row, Christy Barnett claimed the show position with Mike Wedelstadt and Jason Noll rounded out the top five as only ten cars remained on the lead lap as the checkered flag flew.
After winning Friday night’s opener, Sioux City, Iowa’s Cody Thompson had to work harder to make it two in a row on Saturday night but ultimately made it happen.
Thompson spent the early portion of the race chasing Ty Weidner before finally slipping past for the lead at the midway point of the 20-lapper. Thompson ultimately slipped away to secure the triumph.
“I tried once earlier to slide him (Weidner) for the lead and it didn’t work,” Thompson said in victory lane. “Fortunately, I was able to get back to him and get by.”
Cole Carver briefly battled past Weidner for second only to slip off the track, with Weidner reclaiming second all the way to the stripe with tenth-starter Cory Hemphill, Dixon Tipton and Jimmy Terstriep rounding out the top five.
Coolidge’s Zack Tate saved the best for last in the 20-lap Bomber feature, pulling alongside race-long leader Nick Posey as the white flag flew and edging ahead to make it two wins in as many nights by only 0.041 seconds. Posey settled for second with Aaron Collier on the podium as well in third.
In the Power 600 Non-Wing Micro Sprint feature, Sprint Car ace shook off Micro rust of approximately 10 years to edge Friday winner Colton Hardy at the line with Dale Eliason Jr., while fellow Phoenix shoe J.W. Henderson topped the Power 600 Restricted “A” Class Micro Sprints ahead of Cali racer Brandon Reveira and Grant Schaadt.
Feature (25 Laps): 1. 96t-R.C. Whitwell, 2. 75jr-Chaz Baca, 3. 44-Christy Barnett, 4. X-Mike Wedelstadt, 5. 44n-Jason Noll, 6. 5m-Zachary Madrid, 7. 18k-Jacob Pace, 8. 5T-Jeff Taylor, 9. 44k-Kelsie Foley, 10. 27-Mark Carrell, 11. 71az-Tyler Mecl, 12. 82w-Eston Whisler, 13. 75-Spencer Wilson, 14. 26-Trevor Miller, 15. 14a-Chase Alves, 16. 71s-Brent Schlafmann, 17. 82-Sherman Barnett, 18. 28-Jim Whisler, 19. 10g-Don Geist, 20. 85T-Roy Meeks, 21. 36-Bill Miller, 22. 1x-Don Earven, 23. 98-Alex Stanford, 24. 271-Chris Carroll, 25. 292-Tony Martin.