By Ben Deatherage
SOMERTON, Ariz. (Jan. 4, 2023) – Wednesday was opening night of the 2023 IMCA.TV Winter Nationals at Cocopah Speedway and the 3/8-mile oval, known as the Diamond In The Desert, attracted over 230 race teams from across North America to compete in the winter extravaganza.
Arizona native Tim Ward won the Friesen Performance IMCA Modified feature and $1,000 while Minnesotan Jim Horejsi topped the IMCA Sunoco Stock Car feature and pocketed $750.
Defending Winter Nationals king Shane Paris took the $750 Friesen Performance IMCA Northern SportMod checkers, Thomas Daffern scored the $500 IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock victory and Kevin Reuter raced to the $250 Mach-1 IMCA Sport Compact win.
In Modified action, the 25-lap feature started with Brandon Beckendorf flexing his guns early and dominating before a lap eight caution bunched the field up. When the green flag was redisplayed, Ward put a power move on Brandon for the lead.
Despite a couple of cautions, Ward tamed the rest of the pack for his first career IMCA.TV Winter Nationals triumph along with Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational qualifying eligibility. Chris Zogg beat Beckendorf to the wire for second.
Curt Lund battled 2022 Arizona state champion Chris McCurdy Jr. in the opening sequence of the Stock Car 25-lapper, then held off challenges from Zachary Madrid.
Lund felt the heat from Horejsi around lap 14, and when it was all said and done following a lap 17 multi-car incident, Horejsi was the leader.
Once at the point, Horejsi cruised to the B & B Racing Chassis All-Star Invitational qualifying victory, his IMCA.TV Winter Nationals career third. Washington ‘shoe Chase Berkely charged from 17th starting to second and Mike Albertsen from 10th to third.
Ty Rodgers led early in the 25-lap Northern SportMod main before Paris came calling and took over up front on lap nine.
Cam Reimers then knocked on the door in a big way. Reimer and Paris duked it out before Reimers was scored the leader on the 13th circuit.
A pair of incidents kept the field close to each other and the last time the green flag dropped, Paris returned to work and coming to the white flag regained the lead for good for his second career IMCA.TV Winter Nationals win.
Reimers and Jacob Mallet Jr. were second and third, respectively.
Daffern was the third and final leader in the Hobby Stock 20-lapper. After taking over the front spot on the sixth circuit, the California speedster outran Zack Tate and Brandon Bombardo for IMCA.TV Winter Nationals career win number two.
And just a single caution slowed another Californian in the Sport Compact headliner as Reuter won from sixth starting. His career third IMCA.TV Winter Nationals checkers came ahead of Billy Foultz and D.J. Werkmeister.
The second round of the IMCA.TV Winter Nationals continues at Cocopah Speedway on Thursday, Jan. 5. All five divisions return to action and you can catch every lap on IMCA.TV.