By Mike Spieker
PEORIA, Ariz. (February 17, 2017) – Hunter Marriott claimed the inaugural IMCA Arizona Modified Tour championship in style Friday night as he topped the 29-car field to win the 25-lap main event. With the high probability of precipitation forecasted for the rest of the weekend, Arizona Modified Tour officials elected to scratch the remaining two rounds scheduled at Central Arizona Speedway.
Marriott drove his way from the fourth starting position to capture his first Arizona Modified Tour feature win.
“I really liked the car, we had some good runs and we’ve been trying hard all week. The races and tracks have been tough, but we prevailed on this one,” said Marriott in victory lane. “I’m just thankful to be here.”
Marriott used the second attempt at a lap nine restart to drive around the outside of Curt Lund to take the lead down the back straightaway. Once out front, Marriott withstood a couple late race restarts, holding off Cody Laney and round four winner Lucas Schott, to become the sixth different winner in as many races.
“I saw Lucas [Schott] get up [to the outside] once before and [Lund] slowed up going into turn one too much,” continued Marriott. “I was able to get down and take his line away and I figured after that I needed to back to the bottom and it worked out.”
On the first lap nine restart, the leaderboard was shaken up as Jimmy Gustin, Lund, and Jeff Taylor went three wide for the lead. As they exited turn four, Gustin was spun in front of the field, which caused several cars to get stacked up in the incident. As a result, Gustin was among five other drivers who were unable to continue due to the extent of damage to the machines.
Cody Laney was one of the big movers of the main event, advancing nine positions to finish second after starting 11th. After making his way into the top three on lap 12, Laney rode in the tire tracks of Schott, trying to size him up.
“I got to third and I saw Lucas was following [Marriott],” said Laney. “I was pretty good around the bottom and was able to get by Lucas. I could reel in Marriott a little bit, but then the corner started getting slick and I kept messing up my entry. But we had a really good car coming from 11th.”
Schott, Lund and Taylor rounded out the top five.
Marriott claimed the points championship by 25 markers over Spencer Wilson, followed by Schott.
Robbie Conway wheeled his way from 14th to take the lead at the halfway point of the 18-lap Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMod feature. Conway used lapped traffic to his advantage as he got by Miles Morris to take the lead out of turn two. Conway went on to take the win by over six seconds as Morris, Brady Bjella, Jason George, and Eric Folstad rounded out the top five.
After the race Brady Bjella was disqualified for an infraction regarding his serpentine belt. That handed the points championship over to Morris.
The Sunoco Stock Car main event was dominated once again by Brendon LaBatte. The Weyburn, Saskatchewan driver lead all 20 laps en route to his second consecutive feature win. He was followed to the line by Aaron Spangler, Troy Jerovetz, Jason Rogers and Elijah Zebenberger, who rounded out the top five.
With his fourth place finish, Jason Rogers secured the Stock Car points title.
Modifieds: 1. Hunter Marriott; 2. Cody Laney; 3. Lucas Schott; 4. Curt Lund; 5. Jeff Taylor; 6. Chase Allen; 7. Ethan Dotson; 8. Jason Wolla; 9. Josh McGaha; 10. Spencer Wilson; 11. Bryson Curry; 12. Ryan Roath; 13. Shawn Strand; 14. Jesse Williamson; 15. Paul Stone; 16. Tripp Gaylord; 17. Bricen James; 18. Ryan Gaylord; 19. Joey Price; 20. Trent Guest; 21. Norman Uptain Jr.; 22. Austin Kuehl; 23. Jason Briese; 24. Jimmy Gustin; 25. Troy Gemmill; 26. Jesse Sobbing; 27. Justin Zeitner; 28: Scott Sluka; 29. Tim Ward
Northern SportMods: 1. Robbie Conway; 2. Miles Morris; 3. Brady Bjella; 4. Jason George; 5. Eric Folstad; 6. Austin Kiefer; 7. Dwayne Melvin; 8. Mike Tanner; 9. Dylan Schriner; 10. Kyle Smith; 11. Mike Goodwin; 12. Dale Kunz; 13. Dennis Gates; 14. Cory Hemphill; 15. Terry Bahr; 16. Brian Roode; 17. Speedy Madrid; 18. David Harrington; 19. Tom Wyman; 20. Ron Poe
Stock Cars: 1. Brendon LaBatte; 2. Aaron Spangler; 3. Troy Jerovetz; 4. Jason Rodgers; 5. Elijah Zebenberger; 6. George Fronsman; 7. Cody Center; 8. Andrew Altenburg; 9. Race Fisher; 10. Tony Hill; 11. Manny Baldiviez; 12. Joe O’Bryan; 13. Jay Johnson; 14. Richard Veralrud; 15. Larry Brigner; 16. Jody York; 17. Lonnie Foss