CASA GRANDE, Ariz. (Jan. 18, 2024) – Chaz Baca loaded up the momentum he found at Cocopah Speedway and raced to the opening night Friesen Performance IMCA Modified feature win at Central Arizona Raceway’s Ernie Mincy Early Thaw.
A two-time winner during the second week of the season-opening IMCA.TV Winter Nationals, the series and defending national champion got the best of a star-filled field Thursday at Casa Grande.
Baca was side-by-side battling for the lead at midway with 2020 national champ Tom Berry before taking the $1,000 checkers ahead of 2021 national king Jeff Larson.
“It was definitely a tough one,” said Baca, who nonetheless stretched his lead to six car lengths before Larson cut into that advantage. “Right now everything is just going very well for us and we’re hoping we can keep up the momentum for the rest of the season.”
The 20-lapper can caution-free following a yellow on the initial start and the third-starting Baca ran at or near the front every circuit, working the lower line in the first set of turns and the top groove in the second.
Ricky Alvarado and Michael Leach completed the top four in a main event represented by drivers from 11 states.
“We enjoyed the win but we’re already looking ahead to tomorrow night,” said Baca, already Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational qualifying eligible. “You’ve always got to keep looking forward.”
North Dakota’s Trent Grager escaped the cold weather back home to win his first IMCA Sunoco Stock Car start of the season, earning $750 and becoming eligible to qualify for the B & B Racing Chassis All-Star Invitational.
Home state speedsters Bo Partain and Chris McCurdy Sr. were next across the stripe while hard charger Mike Albertsen, another Midwesterner enjoying the Arizona weather, took fourth.
And Iowan Cam Reimers was the Friesen Performance IMCA Northern SportMod winner, collecting his third victory of the young 2024 IMCA Speedway Motors Weekly Racing season.
“Things have been going pretty good,” summarized Reimers, who chipped away at Mark Martini’s advantage up front before taking the lead with seven laps left.
Taylor Kuehl ended in second, 1.7 seconds off Reimers’ winning pace. Tyler Johnson was third, Martini fourth.
Night two of the Ernie Mincy Early Thaw is Friday and will be broadcast by IMCA.TV.