Thornton caps off Arizona Mod Tour with Cocopah win
By Mike Spieker
YUMA, Ariz. (February 19, 2018) – The second annual Karl Performance Arizona IMCA Modified Tour came to a close with a Sunday afternoon matinee at Cocopah Speedway. With the Modified points title already awarded to Hunter Marriott, drivers vied for the feature win and the $1,500 payday that was to come with it.
By day’s end, Ricky Thornton Jr. topped the 26-car A-main grid to claim his second win of the 2018 tour.
Thornton grabbed the lead from the pole position on the opening lap as Aaron Turnbull, who started third, followed him into second. Thornton quickly pulled away from the field, opening his advantage to over two seconds by lap five.
The field stretched itself out throughout the first half of the race until Thornton reached the tail of the field with 13 of 25 laps completed. Mired in traffic, Thornton’s lead quickly evaporated to just a half second on Turnbull.
Turnbull, who was looking to pick up his second consecutive A-main win, closed to within two car lengths of Thornton until he was slowed by a lapped car. Thornton simultaneously over-drove turns one and two, which kept Turnbull within striking distance.
In clean track, however, Thornton hit his marks and cruised to the checkered flag.
“I kind of figured the groove was going to be right around the bottom. I knew Aaron was going to be good starting behind me so I knew I couldn’t make any big mistakes on the bottom through traffic,” said Thornton in victory lane. “With about three to go, I missed the bottom and I thought the race was over. Luckily we had a big enough lead.”
Turnbull, Tripp Gaylord, Marriott and Austin Kuehl rounded out the top five.
Marriott claimed the points title by 82 markers over Thornton. Casey Arneson, Ryan Gaylord and Ethan Dotson rounded out the top five in points.
Austin Howes picked up the IMCA Northern SportMod win in a feature plagued with cautions. Howes took the point with a pass to the inside of Nick Spainhoward in turns one and two with 15 of 20 laps to go. Howes held off the pack restart after restart. Howes got out to over a one second lead with under five circuits remaining and took the win unchallenged in the late stages.
Spainhoward, Chase Alves, Fred Ryland, and Arie Schouten rounded out the top five.
Howes also claimed the Northern SportMod points title. Fred Ryland finished in the runner-up spot, 36 markers behind Howes. Alves, Schouten, and Bo Partain rounded out the top five.
During the IMCA TV broadcast, the 2019 Karl Performance Arizona Modified Tour dates were announced. The tour will kick off Feb. 7-9 at Arizona Speedway, then head to Central Arizona Speedway for a pair of events Feb. 10-11. Canyon Speedway Park will play host Feb. 12-13 before wrapping things up at Cocopah Speedway Feb. 14-17.
Photos by Melissa Coker.
- Ricky Thornton Jr., 2. Aaron Turnbull, 3. Tripp Gaylord, 4. Hunter Marriott, 5. Austin Kuehl, 6. Ryan Gaylord, 7. Cody Laney, 8. Anthony Roth, 9. Chris Abelson, 10. Spencer Wilson, 11. Casey Arneson, 12. Jeff Taylor, 13. Chad Andersen, 14. Kody Scholpp, 15. Casey Skyberg, 16. Chaz Baca, 17. John Parmely, 18. Troy Morris, 19. Dylan Goplen, 20. Shawn Strand, 21. D.J. Shannon, 22. Tim Ward, 23. Marlyn Seidler, 24. Wade Taylor, 25. Alex Stanford, 26. Lucas Schott