By Mike Spieker
SOMERTON, Ariz. (Feb. 16) – Round seven of the Karl Performance Arizona IMCA Modified Tour brought the series to Cocopah Speedway and defending champion Hunter Marriott remained untouchable during Friday night’s 25-lap, $1,500-to-win Winter Nationals main event.
Marriott led every trip around the 3/8-mile dirt oval, despite challenges from Casey Arneson and Jake O’Neil throughout the race.
“Tonight was one of the toughest races I have had to race in a long time,” Marriott said following his 10th 2018 Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational ballot qualifying victory. “I could hear those guys back there the whole time. I knew I had to keep my corner entry speed up or else they were going to eat me up. I straightened the car up after I saw that car on the outside of me and just hoped the right rear would stay up. I was burning it into the corner pretty hard.”
Marriott grabbed the race lead at the drop of the green flag from the pole position. The man on the move early was Arneson, who drove from sixth to second by lap three. Arneson continued his charge forward and challenged Marriott for the point on lap four.
With Marriott protecting the bottom, Arneson pulled alongside by rolling through the middle of the corners. The lead duo raced door-to-door for three consecutive laps before Marriott eventually prevailed.
The field was slowed on lap seven after Ricky Thornton Jr. spun and made contact with the turn three wall.
On the ensuing restart, round two winner Jake O’Neil, powered into the second position. O’Neil searched every inch of the oval trying to find enough speed to reel in Marriott. Around halfway, O’Neil found something around the high side of the speedway and began to close in on Marriott. However, O’Neil could never get within three car lengths of the leader as Marriott cruised to the win.
O’Neil, Cody Laney, Jason Wolla and Arneson rounded out the top five.
Bo Partain picked up his second Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMod win of the tour. Partain took the top spot away from Ethan Braaksma on lap six. Once out front, Partain didn’t look back and took the win over Austin Howes. Ben Chapman, Jimmy Davy and Chris Toth.
Feature results – 1. Hunter Marriott; 2. Jake O’Neil; 3. Cody Laney; 4. Jason Wolla; 5. Casey Arneson; 6. Anthony Roth; 7. Chris Abelson; 8. Jeff Taylor; 9. Aaron Turnbull; 10. Ryan Gaylord; 11. Lance Mari; 12. Tanner Black; 13. Dylan Goplen; 14. Ethan Dotson; 15. Kody Scholpp; 16. Tim Ward 17. Chad Andersen; 18. Marlyn Seidler; 19. Casey Skyberg; 20. Ed Turnbull; 21. Bob Moore; 22. Paul Stone; 23. Spencer Wilson; 24. Austin Kuehl; 25. Tripp Gaylord; 26. Ricky Thornton Jr.