CASA GRANDE, Ariz. (Jan. 26, 2024) – Ricky Alvarado raced to his 115th IMCA feature win on the same night Tyler Johnson raced to his IMCA first.
Popular visitor Ken Schrader had the Central Arizona Raceway crowd on its feet as well on Friday, night five of the Ernie Mincy Early Thaw.
Alvarado, from Hotchkiss, Colo., led every lap in topping the caution-free Friesen Performance IMCA Modified main, earning $1,000 and Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational qualifying eligibility while the 14-year-old rookie Johnson led the distance in the $750 to win feature for Friesen Performance IMCA Northern SportMods.
Schrader’s first IMCA Sunoco Stock Car checkers were good for $750 and made him eligible to qualify for the B & B Racing Chassis All-Star Invitational.
“We raced here 11 years ago – it’s been a long time – and I ran second and third that weekend in one of Tommy Fain’s Modifieds,” recalled Alvarado, who pitted next to his Stock Car driving friend from Abilene, Texas, at Casa Grande. “This has been a good start to the year for us.”
“It’s good any time you can get away from the cold, run with good competition and get a win.”
Alvarado had a coupe third-place finishes in the first half of the Early Thaw, then caught a flight and worked three days in Bakersfield, Calif.
After a fifth place run on Thursday, he won ahead of Jeff Taylor and Spencer Wilson.
From Laveen, Johnson weathered a couple early restarts, held off the mid-race challenge from Boddie Parker and then pulled away from the pack in a one-lap shootout to the checkers.
“I started on the pole and protected from there. It was kind of crazy,” said Johnson, a former micro sprint driver at home track Central Arizona. “We got a handful of starts in this class last year and I definitely like the challenge of driving a SportMod. The setup is very different than a micro sprint.”
Parker was second, Clay Erickson third.
A former IMCA Modified and IMCA Late Model winner, Schrader made a rare Stock Car start pay off with his first victory in The Class Too Tough To Tame.
Runner-up was Jason Rogers and hard charger Bo Partain motored from 16th starting to third.
“It feels good,” Schrader said post-race. “We won here once before but that was a long time ago. I love coming out here.”