Saturday, November 14, 2009

Duel in the Desert

Although I wasn't able to make the trip out to the dirt track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, I found myself glued to my computer screen watching the webcast of the 12th annual Duel in the Desert. The Duel boasts the biggest winner's check every year for IMCA modifieds, and this year's winner will take home $7,777.77.

Several Iowa stock car and modified drivers made the trip west. Stock car drivers included Trent Murphy, Kevin Opheim, and Jake Masters. The list of modified drivers included Jeremy Mills, Chris Abelson, Vern Jackson, Jay Noteboom, Reese Coffee, Troy Cordes, and Phil Penney. I may have missed a few, and if that's the case, I apologize.

The IMCA stock cars would run their 20-lap feature first with North Dakota driver Robby Roselli grabbing the early lead. Kevin Opheim made his presence felt a few laps in as he overtook the lead. Opheim appeared to be on his way to victory until the final set of corners. Opheim slid up the track and fellow Iowa driver Trent Murphy, the Boone Speedway track champion, was there to take advantage and steal the jackpot away. Robby Roselli would finish third.

Over 200 modifieds were on hand for the weekend's racing action, but the field was narrowed down to the best twenty-eight drivers. Sioux City's Chris Abelson and Colorado hotshoe Ricky Alvarado paced the field to the green flag of the forty-lap finale. Abelson would lead the first couple of laps before sliding up the track, handing the lead over to Alvarado. Alvarado, who had already picked up a Wild West Shootout victory earlier in the night, opened up a good lead while Johnny "The Jet" Saathoff followed him by Abelson.

The first caution flag would wave on lap twenty-one when Kellen Chadwick came to a stop. On the restart, Bob Moore slid up the track and lost several spots. The only other caution would bunch the field back up with thirteen laps remaining. Alvarado slid up in turn four, opening the door for Saathoff to scoot by underneath. Phillips also got by on the low side to snag the second spot, but "Jet" powered out to a commanding lead that was never challenged as he went on to pick up the big payday. Terry Phillips, Ricky Alvarado, Dominic Ursetta, and Scott Drake rounded out the top five.

Although watching on the internet isn't quite the same as being there live in person, I'd like to say thanks to the people who put on the webcast. They had a few bugs here and there, but for the most part the coverage was excellent. As they mentioned on the webcast, it takes a lot of work to get things lined up in order to provide that type of service to people that aren't able to be there.

While watching the events, I had an amazing thought run through my head. After looking back through my records, I discovered that this weekend was the first non-racing weekend since the end of March!! Two races were on my schedule for that weekend, but weather forced both tracks to cancel.

I'm not sure if I'll be able to hit any more races yet this year or not. I know there are a few left on my own personal schedule, but only time will tell. The only race left on the calendar is the Turkey Classic held at the Springfield Raceway in Springfield, Missouri on November 28th. So if you're willing to sit out in chilly weather on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, don't be surprised if you see me there!

- Racing may be a hobby, but it's DEFINITELY addictive!!

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