Thornton, Looft are awesome, unbelievable in IMCA wins at Quarter Million Dollar Challenge

Ricky Thornton Jr. returned to the IMCA ranks and earned $16,667 for his convincing IMCA Sunoco Stock Car feature win Wednesday at Clay County Fair Speedway’s Quarter Million Dollar Challenge. (Photo by Jim Steffens)

SPENCER, Iowa (May 22, 2024) – “Awesome” and “unbelievable” were among the adjectives two of IMCA’s most accomplished drivers used in victory lane Wednesday night, following $16,667 feature wins at Clay County Fair Speedway’s Quarter Million Dollar Challenge.

Ricky Thornton Jr. made his return to IMCA pay off, dueling with Dallon Murty while leading from the drop of the green to the checkered in a 30-lap IMCA Sunoco Stock Car contest slowed only by two early cautions.

And Matthew Looft caught Jake Sachau after midway and led to the end of a fast-paced and caution-free Friesen Performance IMCA Northern SportMod 30-lapper

Two hundred and fifty cars saw action Wednesday at Spencer, including 104 Stock Cars and 101 Northern SportMods. Cory Probst was the $1,000 IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock winner and Tom Berry Jr.’s $1,500 Friesen Performance IMCA Modified victory came in the final race of the inaugural special.

Thornton, a four-time champion at the IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals fueled by Casey’s with nearly 200 sanctioned wins on his resume in three divisions and now racing out of Martinsville, Ind., drew the outside row one start for the Stock Car main and was out quickly ahead of Murty and Mike Albertsen.

Back-to-back cautions came on lap six but the race stayed green from there and Thornton pulled away from two-time Super Nationals champion Murty and Kelly Shryock from lap 11 on.

“The car was really good. I didn’t know if I needed to move down or not,” he said from victory lane. “Dallon kept getting under me and I was like ‘Man, I feel like the top is a little bit better through three and four.’ I figured if I moved down I’d be able to hold him off.”

“It’s awesome.”

Albertsen and Cayden Carter completed the top five. Thornton earned a guaranteed starting spot in the B & B Racing Chassis All-Star Invitational with the checkers.

Career win number 267 in the class for Looft came in a battle between winners of the last two Super Nationals crowns.

The six-time national champ took the green directly behind pole starter Sachau, passed Brayden Ahlers for second in the early going and chased Sachau into traffic on the eighth circuit.

He’d make up ground the next 10 times around the track, taking over up front on lap 18. Looft was a lapped car ahead of Sachau at the finish.

“I cannot believe this. I cannot believe we’re standing here,” he’d admit from victory lane. “This is Jake’s style of track. I thought we were in trouble. It was a good, clean race – I love racing with him.”

“The track turned out really good the last 10 laps. I was just cruising,” he continued. “This is unbelievable.”

Heads were removed from the engines of both the first- and second-place SportMod finishers during the extensive post-race tech inspection for SportMods and Stocks.

Ahlers, Taylor Kuehl and Brayton Carter ran 3-4-5.

Career win number 246 for Probst came despite a late-race tangle with Mike Smith and Blake Luinenburg that set up a green, white, checkered finish.

Probst restarted at the front, Smith went to the tail and Cody Williams and Luinenburg chased Probst across the stripe.

Berry had to work his way from fifth starting in the Modified main, swapping the lead with Grabouski and nearly going off the track on the back straight, before making the winning pass in the final set of turns.

Now eligible to qualify for the Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational seven times over, the former IMCA national and Super Nationals champion beat Grabouski to the checkers by 27 thousandths of a second. Thornton was third.

The inaugural Quarter Million Dollar Challenge was broadcast by IMCA.TV.

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