Thornton captures Winter Challenge opener

By Lonnie Wheatley

PEORIA, Ariz. (Jan. 22) – Defending champion Ricky Thornton Jr. was the Xtreme Motor Sports IMCA Modified main event winner when the Winter Challenge opened Friday at Canyon Speed­way Park.

Thornton earned $1,250 by besting a loaded field. Forty-four Modifieds were entered in all.

Thornton led all 25 laps – the victory was his career 79th in the division – while keeping a host of challengers at bay. Jason Noll took runner-up honors while Lance Mari raced through the field from 21st to capture the show position.

Paul Stone and 18th-starter Hunter Marriott rounded out the top five.

Thornton was already a 2016 Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational ballot candidate.

Feature results ­– 1. Ricky Thornton Jr.; 2. Jason Noll; 3. Lance Mari; 4. Paul Stone; 5. Hunter Marriott; 6. Collen Winebarger; 7. Ethan Dotson; 8. Tim Ward; 9. Jesse Rogotzke; 10. Guy Nor­ton; 11. Anthony Roth; 12. George Fronsman; 13. Jeff Stafford; 14. Bryson Curry; 15. Zack Ma­drid; 16. Ross Statham; 17. Cody Laney; 18. Cole Peterson; 19. Kyle Strickler; 20. Joey Moriarty; 21. Bubba Stafford; 22. Steve Stultz; 23. R.C. Whitwell; 24. Brian Schultz.

1st heat ­– 1. Peterson; 2. Stultz; 3. Moriarty; 4. Jeff Sheppard Jr.; 5. Jesse Rogotzke; 6. Schultz; 7. William Slocum; 8. Mike Strobl; 9. Josh Rogotzke.

2nd heat – 1. Winebarger; 2. Stone; 3. Bubba Stafford; 4. Marriott; 5. Jeff Stafford; 6. Trent Gaust; 7. Chase Alves; 8. Garth Dushanek; 9. Dennis Smith.

3rd heat ­– 1. Laney; 2. Ward; 3. Fronsman; 4. Mari; 5. Strickler; 6. Curry; 7. Whitwell; 8. Gaylord; 9. Paul Nelson.

4th heat – 1. Norton; 2. Thornton; 3. Statham; 4. Steve Simpson Jr,; 5. Madrid; 6. Dotson; 7. Chaz Baca Jr.; 8. Austin Kuehl; 9. Justin Miller.

5th heat ­– 1. Noll; 2. Roth; 3. John Parmeley, 4. Brent Schlafmann; 5. Curt Lund; 6. Nate Warren; 7. Mark Stewart; 8. Marlyn Seidler.

1st “B” feature – 1. Dotson; 2. Schultz; 3. Mari, 4. Curry; 5. Stewart; 6. Sheppard; 7. Josh Rogotzke; 8. Parmeley, 9. Lund, 10. Baca; 11. Dushanek; 12. Miller; 13. Gaust; 14. Seidler.

2nd “B” feature ­– 1. Marriott; 2. Whitwell; 3. Jeff Stafford; 4. Jesse Rogotzke; 5. Strobl; 6. Simp­son; 7. Gaylord; 8. Kuehl, 9. Slocum; 10. Alves; 11. Warren; 12. Smith; 13. Schlafmann; 14. Nel­son.