Hughes, Alvarado visit victory lane at Duel in the Desert opening night
The 21st annual IMCA Duel in the Desert kicked off Thursday evening at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. With the largest number of pre-entries in five years, the IMCA Modifieds boasted a field of 206 drivers, while the IMCA SportMods came in at a record 97 entries.
Jason Hughes and Ricky Alvarado picked up wins in their respective IMCA Modified features. The first main event began with Hughes taking the lead from the pole position, but the race was quickly slowed on Lap 1 for a six-car pileup in Turn 1.
On the ensuing restart, Hughes led over Tom Berry Jr. and Peyton Taylor as Cody Laney slipped from second to fourth. R.C. Whitwell took advantage of the Lap-5 restart, moving by Laney for the fourth and final transfer position to Saturday night's A-main.
Whitwell applied heavy pressure on the Race For Hope 74 No. 01X of Taylor, but couldn't complete the pass. Hughes and Berry broke away from the rest of the field in the closing laps as Hughes went on to take the win.
"Everything worked out well for us tonight," Hughes said in victory lane. "We got a good draw for the heat race and made another good draw for the feature. I just had to run my race and try not to bog the car down in the corners."
Berry, Taylor and Whitwell rounded out the transfer positions. The second qualifying feature started out much like the first.
Nearly 10 cars stacked up on the low side of Turns 1 and 2 to bring out the caution. Simultaneously at the other end of the speedway, Justin O'Brien suffered a part failure and made heavy contact with the outside retaining wall.
Once the race resumed, Alvarado took command of the point, with Shane DeVolder running in second. Alvarado encountered lapped traffic with three laps to go, which allowed DeVolder and Alex Stanford to close in.
Alvarado remained patient, running the low side of the speedway and held on to take the win.
"I just had to stay patient," Alvarado said of the final laps in lapped traffic. "I just decided to stay in line and risk it. I knew the people behind me probably had to do the same thing I was doing. I just tried to stay as smooth as I could."
Along with Alvarado, DeVolder, Stanford and Jacob Hobscheidt all punched their ticket to the big show on Saturday. Cody Olsen of Omaha, Neb. raced his way to the IMCA SportMod feature win.
Olsen grabbed the lead on the opening lap from his outside front-row starting position with fourth-place starter Chase Alves in tow. Alves remained within one car length of Olsen in the early going, but couldn't find a way around Olsen's Hot Wheels throwback No. 777 as both drivers fought for the low side of the speedway.
Garrett Jernagan looked to the outside of Ty Rogers for third, but in doing so, got out of the groove and lost four positions. That slip put Jernagan back to the seventh spot and outside of a top-six transfer position to Saturday night's main event.
Olsen went on to lead all 20 laps and score the win. Alves, Rogers, Cody Thompson and Jason George rounded out the top five. Jason Nation picked up the final transfer spot.
The Duel in the Desert from the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway continues Friday and Saturday night. For fans who can't attend, they can watch every lap live on IMCA.TV.
21ST ANNUAL DUEL IN THE DESERT DAY 1 RESULTS
A Feature 1 (25 Laps): 1. Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.; 2. Tom Berry, Medford, Ore.; 3. Peyton Taylor, Batesville, Ark.; 4. R.C. Whitwell, Tucson, Ariz.; 5. Cody Laney, Torrance, Calif.; 6. D.J, Shannon, Merced, Calif.; 7. Justin Cady, Albany, Ore.; 8. Joe Duvall, Claremore, Okla.; 9. Darrell Hughes, Manteca, Calif.; 10. Blake Thornell, Apple Valley, Calif.; 11. Danny Lauer, Nipomo, Calif.; 12. Johnny Saathoff, Beatrice, Neb.; 13. Tim Ward, Chandler, Ariz.; 14. Mark Carrell, Redmond, Ore.; 15. Christy Barnett, El Paso, Texas; 16. Derick Young, Hines, Ore.; 17. Josh Most, Red Oak, Iowa; 18. Bricen James, Albany, Ore.; 19. Andy Obertello, Hollister, Calif.; 20. Ryan McDaniel, Olivehurst, Calif.; 21. Paris Archie, Sparks; 22. Brian Harding, Oakville, Wash.; 23. Trevor Miller, Chandler, Ariz.; 24. Dennis Schoenfeld, Van Buren, Ark.; 25. Austin Kuehl, Cave Creek, Ariz.; 26. Clint Reichenbach, Santa Maria, Calif.; 27. Zachary Madrid, Phoenix, Ariz.; 28. Jeff Thomas, Petaluma, Calif.; 29. Jeremy Richey, Medford, Ore.; 30. Dominic Ursetta, Arvada, Colo.
A Feature 2 (25 Laps): 1. Ricky Alvarado, Delta, Colo.; 2. Shane DeVolder, Pacifica, Calif.; 3. Alex Stanford, Chowchilla, Calif.; 4. Jacob Hobscheidt, Plattsmouth, Neb.; 5. Cory Sample, Winnemucca; 6. Collen Winebarger, Corbett, Ore.; 7. Kyle Brown, Madrid, Iowa; 8. Dylan Thornton, Santa Maria, Calif.; 9. Paul Stone, Winton, Calif.; 10. Scott Brown, Meriden, Kan.; 11. Jordan Grabouski, Beatrice, Neb.; 12. Lucas Schott, Chatfield, Minn.; 13. Gene Kay, Yerington; 14. Chaz Baca, Mesa, Ariz.; 15. David Murray Jr., Oberlin, Kan.; 16. Dustin Cady, Albany, Ore.; 17. Matthew Ratzlaff, Monte Vista, Colo.; 18. Ryan Porter, Atwater, Calif.; 19. Matthew Jenner, Vancouver, Wash.; 20. Eddie Belec, Arvada, Colo.; 21. Casey Skyberg, Rapid City, S.D.; 22. Ryan Gaylord, Lakewood, Colo.; 23. Ryan Roath, Peoria, Ariz.; 24. Jason Wolla, Ray, N.D.; 25. Steve Noland, Terra Bella, Calif.; 26. A.J. Sharpensteen, Amarillo, Texas; 27. Justen Yeager, Green River, Wyo.; 28. Jessie Hoskins, Longdale, Okla.; 29. Jeff Larson, Freeport, Ill.; 30. Joel Rust, Grundy Center, Iowa.
IMCA Northern SportMods A Feature (20 Laps): 1. Cody Olsen, Omaha, Neb.; 2. Chase Alves, Chandler, Ariz.; 3. Ty Rogers, Somerton, Ariz.; 4. Cody Thompson, Sioux City, Iowa; 5. Jason George, Laveen, Ariz.; 6. Jason Nation, Bakersfield, Calif.; 7. Luke Krogh, Dickinson, N.D.; 8. Kevin Johnson, Bakersfield, Calif.; 9. Arie Schouten, Blair, Neb.; 10. Nick Spainhoward, Bakersfield, Calif.; 11. Gary Dutton, Bakersfield, Calif.; 12. Lance Borgman, Beatrice, Neb.; 13. Fred Ryland, Brentwood, Calif.; 14. Mitch Bossel, Aurora, Colo.; 15. Bo Partain, Casa Grande, Ariz.; 16. Chris McKellar, Bakersfield, Calif.; 17. Keith Brown, Pittsburg, Calif.; 18. Robert Elliott, Clinton, Okla.; 19. Nick Hankins, Bennett, Colo.; 20. Craig Nieman, Reno; 21. Andrew Peckham, Grass Valley, Calif.; 22. Braxton Possinger, Medford, Ore.; 23. Jeremy Hoff, Copperopolis, Calif.; 24. Danny Concelman, Colorado Springs, Colo.; 25. Michael Johnson, Bakersfield, Calif.; 26. Michael Dean, Santa Maria, Calif.; 27. Shawn Harker, Nebraska City, Neb.; 28. Jorddon Braaten, Central Point, Ore.; 29. Garrett Jernagan, Bakersfield, Calif.; 30. Brady Bjella, Williston, N.D.