Round 1: Marriott Charges to Opening Night Win at Arizona Speedway

Hunter Marriott

By Mike Spieker

QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. (February 9, 2018) – The highly anticipated Karl Performance Arizona IMCA Modified Tour got underway Friday night at Arizona Speedway with 88 IMCA Modifieds checked in for battle. Hunter Marriott of Brookfield, Mo. claimed the IMCA Modified feature win in thrilling fashion over Ricky Thornton Jr.

Marriott powered from the eighth starting position to battle defending IMCA Modified national champion, Jason Wolla, for the lead with four laps to go. Marriott placed a bid for the lead entering turn one as he attempted a slide job on Wolla amongst lapped traffic. Contact was made between Marriott and Wolla, which sent Wolla into the outside retaining wall and Marriott over the thick cushion.

“That happens on this kind of race track,” said Marriott of the pass for the lead on Wolla. “[Wolla] messed up exiting turn four and I had a run on him. I knew that would be a good shot to take the lead if I was going to win. We weren’t quite clear, but it was close though. I wasn’t going to lift and I knew he wasn’t going to either. If he’s not too happy, that’s too bad. That’s just racing.”

Wolla and O’Neil led the field of 24 IMCA Modifieds to the green flag with Wolla taking the point on the outside. Second row starter, Cody Laney, grabbed the second spot by the completion of lap one as O’Neil settled back into third.

The lap-12 restart helped propel Marriott from fifth to third as he got by Casey Arneson and Laney. Two laps later, Laney broke and pulled to the infield while Thornton assumed the fourth position.

Marriott’s pass for the lead on Wolla allowed O’Neil and Thornton to take second and third, respectively. On the final lap, Thornton wrestled the runner-up position away from O’Neil with a slide job of his own, which forced O’Neil over the cushion. By that time, however, Marriott had opened up nearly a full two-second lead.

Marriott cruised to his second career Karl Performance Arizona IMCA Modified Tour win as Thornton, Spencer Wilson, Chaz Baca Jr., and Ethan Dotson rounded out the top five.

O’Neil and Arneson, who finished third and fourth, respectively, were disqualified for covering suspension components.

On the cool down lap following the checkered flag, Wolla, who finished fifth, spun Marriott on the back stretch, which prompted a disqualification for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Ethan Braaksma drove from sixth to win the Karl Chevrolet IMCA Northern SportMod feature. Braaksma had the lead when the white flag flew, but the caution forced a green-white-checkered finish. Braaksma, unphased, pulled away from the field with Austin Howes in tow. Braaksma ran a smooth final lap to take the win by a half-second over Howes.

RESULTS:

IMCA Modifieds:

  1. Hunter Marriott, 2. Ricky Thornton Jr., 3. Spencer Wilson, 4. Chaz Baca Jr., 5. Ethan Dotson, 6. Lucas Rodin, 7. Shawn Strand, 8. Don Earven, 9. Zachary Madrid, 10. Tim Ward, 11. Jeff Larson, 12. Tyler Mecl, 13. Lance Mari, 14. Dylan Goplen, 15. Ryan Gaylord, 16. Russel Allen, 17. John Parmeley, 18. Kody Scholpp, 19. Bobby Hogge, 20. Cody Laney, 21. Austin Kuehl, DQ – Jason Wolla, DQ – Jake O’Neil, DQ – Casey Arneson

Photo by Melissa Coker.