Baca Rebounds, Bests Arizona Dirt Track Tour

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CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – Chaz Baca Jr. bounced back from an opening-lap miscue to pocket Sunday afternoon’s $2,000 IMCA modified winner’s share as the fourth annual Arizona Dirt Track Tour stormed into the three-eighths-mile Central Arizona Speedway.

While Baca Jr. took the big check, Cody Thompson and Ricky Thornton Jr. cashed in as well, with $750 triumphs in IMCA Sport Modified and IMCA Stock Car action, respectively.

Ninety-three cars filled the pit area for the third of six Arizona Dirt Track Tour events.

Baca’s triumph in the 25-lap IMCA Modified main event came after getting an opening lap reprieve, in which he spun from the pole position in the opening corner.

With the series rule giving drivers back their original starting position after a caution on the initial start, Baca Jr. took full advantage by snaring the early lead and pacing the field all the way to take the win.

“That was a rough start, I didn’t want that to happen,” Baca Jr. noted in victory lane. “If they didn’t have the rule that everyone gets their spot back, I would have been at the back. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s still a win.”

After another pair of aborted starts to the feature, including one that sent outside front row starter Ethan Dotson spinning off the top of turn two, Baca Jr. gunned into the lead and held off early pressure from Tim Ward.

Ward chased throughout but was unable to mount a serious charge on Baca Jr. as the laps clicked off.

“He was hitting three a little better than me, I was struggling there,” Ward explained.

Ward settled for second behind Baca Jr., while Ricky Thornton Jr. recovered from a heat race off-track excursion to rally from 17th to claim the show position.

Thornton Jr. gained 11 positions in the opening pair of circuits and then scratched his way up to third, falling two positions shy of claiming two wins on the day.

Jeff Taylor took the Modified checkered flag in fourth, with Casey Arneson recovering from an early incident to round out the top five. Collen Winebarger, Mark Carrell, John Hansen, Marlyn Seidler and Alex Stanford completed the top ten.

Sioux City, Iowa’s Cody Thompson proved to be the class of the field in the 20-lap IMCA Sport Modified feature, sliding past early pacesetter Bo Partain to assume the point on the seventh round and leading the rest of the way to take the $750 winner’s share.

“I got a good run on the restart and pulled alongside door-to-door and caught the fast part of the track, then we were able to hold on the rest of the way,” Thompson said. “This place is a lot like my home track, that’s why I think I adapt to it pretty well.”

After slipping away from the field, Thompson weathered a pair of late-race restarts to preserve the victory ahead of Partain, with Tyler Soppe, Ty Rogers and 10th-starter Brian Osantowski rounding out the top five.

In the 20-lap IMCA Stock Car feature, Ricky Thornton Jr. took advantage of a second-lap miscue by Andrew Burg to take command and held the point the rest of the way for the $750 triumph.

Burg jumped into the initial lead only to slip off the top of the track entering turn three on the second circuit, handing the lead off to fourth-starter Thornton Jr.

“I think Burg kinda had the race there, I’m not sure what happened with him in three,” Thornton Jr. said afterward. “The track started to take a little rubber there, I was a little free at the start and then I was getting tight by the end.”

Behind Thornton Jr., Canada’s Brendon LaBatte took advantage of a lap-11 restart to take second away from Zach Madrid.

The Saskatchewan Roughrider guard held the runner-up position the rest of the way, with Madrid, Eric Lloyd and Aaron Hetrick rounding out the top five.

The finish:

1. 75jr-Chaz Baca Jr., 2. 4tw-Tim Ward, 3. 20rt-Ricky Thornton Jr., 4. 5-Jeff Taylor, 5. 2a-Casey Arneson, 6. C9-Collen Winebarger, 7. 27-Mark Carrell, 8. 8h-John Hansen, 9. 7-Marlyn Seidler, 10. 98-Alex Stanford, 11. 48k-Kollin Hibdon, 12. 19sb-Lance Mari, 13. 6-Casey Skyberg, 14. 45-Ryan Roath, 15. 23R-Russell Allen, 16. 5m-Zachary Madrid, 17. 18k-Jacob Pace, 18. 23n-Clay Norris, 19. 09-Kelsy-Ann Hayes, 20. 44n-Jason Noll, 21. 01a-Drew Armstrong, 22. 44-Christy Barnett, 23. 75-Spencer Wilson, 24. 175-Ethan Dotson.