Lucas Schott may not be old enough to gamble, but he won big in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
The 19-year-old from Chatfield, Minn., survived an eventful Duel in the Desert to earn a Vegas-style check for $7,777.77 at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The first time was a charm for Schott in the 18th annual staging of the 40-lap IMCA Modifieds event.
"This is awesome," said Schott, who began racing modifieds when he was 13. "I knew we were capable of making the show, and I've got to give credit to Kody Scholpp and his dad for everything they do and for giving me good cars to drive. I was able to pull it off."
Schott started from the pole and led early before giving up the race lead to Jordan Grabouski of Beatrice, Neb., on lap 14. Grabouski pulled away from Schott before suffering right-front suspension damage, allowing Schott to regain the lead with 11 laps remaining.
Grabouski eventually ended up in the garage and finished 19th after Hunter Marriott collected him in a fender-bender between turns one and two on the next lap. Defending and three-time Duel champion Terry Phillips had a good run going early, but was taken out in a turn-three crash with Jesse Sobbing on the 12th lap.
Schott knew Lady Luck played a part in his victory.
"I was just hoping (Grabouski) would mess up, and it looked like he had something wrong with his front suspension. I got the lucky bounce there. It all worked out for us."
Scott Drake of Joplin, Mo., finished a distant second to Schott, with R.C. Whitwell of Bakersfield, Calif., taking third.
Tyler Frye of Belleville, Kan., pulled away in the final nine laps of the IMCA Northern SportMod 25-lap Main Event to secure career win No. 157, with Clay Money of Penokee, Kan., holding on for second just ahead of the Bakersfield, Calif., tandem of Nick Spainhoward and Chris McKellar. Frye won the 2015 IMCA Northern SportMod national title and said his team will work to move up to the Modifieds division next year.
"This car is absolutely awesome," said Frye, the winningest SportMod driver in IMCA history. "It's awesome to finally get this win. I'd like to thank my wife, my whole family and my crew guys who decided to come all the way out to Las Vegas with me. It's been a dream season, and this is an awesome way to cap it off."
In the Young Guns race for drivers 19 and younger, Masen Big Eagle of Manor, Saskatchewan, Canada, led from start to finish to easily win the 10-lap feature. His brother, Jett, finished second, roughly half a turn behind, to make it a Canadian family sweep.
"I'm pretty fired up, and I've been dreaming about winning this particular race ever since I started racing and ever since Riley Emmel did it," Masen Big Eagle said. "It feels pretty good. I wasn't sure I could pull it off tonight after my performance in that last-chance race, but Joey (Galloway) gave me a quick tip in the pits, we changed it back and it turned out pretty well."
In the IMCA Modifieds Legends feature, for drivers 55 and older, race leader Steven Noland of Terra Bella, Calif., got locked up with Jerry Schram of Vancouver, Wash., in the final turn, opening the door for Rex Merritt of Billings, Mont., to slide by and take the checkered flag. Lawrence O'Connor of Port Hardy, B.C., Canada, also benefited from the final-turn melee, taking second behind Merritt, who was happy to receive the gifted victory.
"I really want to thank those two guys for taking each other out," said Merritt, who began racing modifieds in 1983. "I didn't think that would ever happen. I'd really like to thank (car owner) Paul Stone for letting me race the car, and I didn't tear too much up on it."
18th annual Duel in the Desert
IMCA Modified Duel in the Desert Main Event 40-lap feature
1. Lucas Schott, Chatfield, Minn.; 2. Scott Drake, Joplin, Mo.; 3. R.C. Whitwell, Bakersfield, Calif.; 4. Ryan Ruter, Kanawha, Iowa; 5. Dylan Smith, Osceola, Neb.; 6. Kyle Strickler, Mooresville, N.C.; 7. John Hansen, Brush, Colo.; 8. Jeff Taylor, Cave City, Ark.; 9. Ken Schrader, Concord, N.C.; 10. Ethan Dotson, Bakersfield, Calif.; 11. Jeremy Payne, Nixa, Mo.; 12. Jason Wolla, Ray, N.D.; 13. Travis Hagen, Williston, N.D.; 14. Chad Anderson, Fort Calhoun, Neb.; 15. Joey Galloway, Manor, Saskatchewan, Canada; 16. Lance Mari, El Centro, Calif.; 17. Rodney Sanders, Happy, Texas; 18. Benji LaCrosse, Green Bay, Wis.; 19. Jordan Grabouski, Beatrice, Neb.; 20. Hunter Marriott, Brookfield, Mo.; 21. Johnny Saathoff, Beatrice, Neb.; 22. Rob VanMil, Barnesville, Minn.; 23. Kody Scholpp, Esevan, Saskatchewan, Canada; 24. Cody Lane, Torrance, Calif.; 25. Zane DeVilbiss, Farmington, N.M.; 26. Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.; 27. Bobby Hogge IV, Salinas, Calif.; 28. Jesse Sobbing, Malvern, Iowa.
IMCA Northern SportMod Main Event 25-lap feature
1. Tyler Frye, Belleville, Kan.; 2. Clay Money, Penokee, Kan.; 3. Nick Spainhoward, Bakersfield, Calif.; 4. Chris McKellar, Bakersfield, Calif.; 5. Rick Diaz, Los Banos, Calif.; 6. Kevin Johnson, Bakersfield, Calif.; 7. Jorddon Braaten, Central Point, Ore.; 8. Tony Konold, Clear Lake, S.D.; 9. Jason Nation, Bakersfield, Calif.; 10. Brian Cooper, Yuba City, Calif.; 11. Fred Ryland, Brentwood, Calif.; 12. Luke Krogh, Dickinson, N.D.; 13. Nick Sylvester, Bakersfield, Calif.; 14. Varion Hetle, Underwood, N.D.; 15. Chase Rudolf, Norwalk, Iowa; 16. Wayne Dotson, Bakersfield, Calif.; 17. Kyle Smith, Yuma, Ariz.; 18. Michael Johnson, Bakersfield, Calif.; 19. Adam Armstrong, Beatrice, Neb.; 20. Ryan Wolla, Williston, N.D.; 21. Robert Elliott, Clinton, Okla.; 22. Chris Toth, Holtville, Calif.; 23. Ron Tex Jr., Papillion, Neb.; 24. Brylon Holder, Bakersfield, Calif.
IMCA Modified Legends 10-lap feature
1. Rex Merritt, Billings, Mont.; 2. Lawrence O'Connor, Port Hardy, B.C., Canada; 3. Chris Clark, Jackson, Wyo.; 4. Christy Barnett, El Paso, Texas; 5. Joe Carr, Petaluma, Calif.; 6. Stephen Streeter, Madera, Calif.; 7. Joey Price, Great Falls, Mont.; 8. Steve Simpson, Kingman, Ariz.; 9. Mike Meazell, Gilroy, Calif.; 10. Steven Noland, Terra Bella, Calif.; 11. Jerry Schram, Vancouver, Wash.; 12. Sherman Barnett, El Paso, Texas; 13. Roger Bonneville, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; 14. Mickey Stubbings, Helper, Utah; 15. Rick Spangler, Grand Junction, Colo.; 16. Ken Schrader, Concord, N.C.; 17. Delos Haugen, Burlington, N.D.
IMCA Modified Young Guns 10-lap feature
1. Masen Big Eagle, Manor, Saskatchewan, Canada; 2. Jett Big Eagle, Manor, Saskatchewan, Canada; 3. Ethan Dotson, Bakersfield, Calif.; 4. Zachary Madrid, Phoenix; 5. John Parmeley, Phoenix; 6. Dylan Sherfick, WaKeeney, Kan.; 7. Bricen James, Albany, Ore.; 8. Tanner Black, Albert, Kan.; 9. Mitchell Niemi, Lakeside, Calif.; 10. Jeff Stafford Jr., New River, Ariz.