Whitwell defends home turf, rules Tucson opener
By Joshua JoinerDirtonDirt.com staff writer
TUCSON, Ariz. (Jan. 11) — Hometown driver R.C. Whitwell led all but one lap of Saturday’s opening round feature of the Winter Extreme miniseries, becoming the first home-state driver to win during Tucson International Raceway’s annual stretch of January Super Late Model races. | Complete Winter Extreme coverage
Whitwell started from the pole of the 30-lap race, and outdueled second-starting Chase Junghans in an early side-by-side battle before later pulling away from Billy Moyer through the event’s closing laps. Whitwell held nearly a straightaway advantage at the finish of the caution-free race to earn a $3,000 victory in the first round of Tucson’s six-race miniseries.
Whitwell’s breakthrough victory is his third in three starts since teaming up with Jeff Manka of Phoenix, Ariz., late last season to drive his No. 5 Rocket Chassis.
“I’ve been coming to this race for a few years now and to finally get a win really means a lot, especially being the first night,” said Whitwell, who attended Tucson’s Wild West Shootout for many years before the track launched its current Winter Extreme miniseries last season. “This car’s pretty new to me. I’ve only driven it three times, but we’ve actually won all three races so far.”
Moyer of Batesville, Ark., settled for second after advancing from the fifth starting spot while Will Vaught of Crane, Mo., drove from 13th to third. Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., and Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., rounded out the top five in the non-points event for the National Dirt Racing League. Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., slid back to eighth at the finish after leading the race’s opening lap.
Starting from the pole, Whitwell got the jump on Junghans on the race’s initial start before slight bobble in the first turn allowed Junghans to grab the lead exiting turn two. But Whitwell quickly settled into a fast groove around the bottom of the 3/8-mile track and edged ahead of Junghans to lead lap two. The two drivers ran side by side over the next few laps with Whitwell narrowly leading each lap before finally pulling ahead for good on lap five.
Whitwell cruised through the race’s middle portions before lapped traffic came into play just as the veteran Moyer took control of second. Moyer closed to within a few car lengths of Whitwell as he struggled to overtake slower cars, but Whitwell finally cleared the worst of the traffic just before the lap-20 mark and pulled away in the closing laps.
“I didn’t wanna just cruise around the bottom,” Whitwell said. “I figured someone might go through the middle and pass me. But once I got up there in the middle and got on the outside of a lapped car for a while … I realized it’s probably not a good idea not to get back out there again. Luckily, I was able to get ahead of that guy and get clear and a couple lapped cars moved out of the way.”
Tucson hosts round two action for the Winter Extreme Sunday afternoon. DirtonDirt.com will provide live video coverage of the event beginning around 1:40 p.m. MST.
Notes: Whitwell’s Rocket Chassis is sponsored by Affordable Powder Coating, MDM Accenting Services, Site Lite Mag Laser and Sunoco Race Fuels. … Whitwell’s previous best finish in Tucson’s January action was a pair of runner-up finishes in 2011. … Whitwell won four Championship Dirt Motorsports events at Tucson last season on his way to the series championship, including paydays of $5,000 and $2,500 in the tour’s season-ending doubleheader Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. … Stormy Scott of Las Cruces, N.M., won the Saturday’s open-wheel modified feature.
Winter Extreme (Jan. 11): (1) R.C. Whitwell, (2) Billy Moyer, (3) Will Vaught, (4) Jimmy Mars, (5) Shane Clanton, (6) Chris Simpson, (7) Morgan Bagley, (8) Chase Junghans, (9) Terry Phillips, (10) John Blankenship, (11) Billy Moyer Jr., (12) A.J. Diemel, (13) Ryan Gustin, (14) Tony Jackson Jr., (15) Justin Asplin, (16) Jason Krohn, (17) Garrett Alberson, (18) Travis Dickes, (19) Pat Doar, (20) Rob Sanders, (21) Jesse Stovall, (22) Joey Moriarty, (23) Jason Papich, (24) Tim Fuller. Fast qualifier (among 59 cars): Blankenship, 16.069. Heat winners: Moyer Jr., Whitwell, Moyer, Junghans, Papich, Mars. Consolation winners: Phillips, Blankenship, Diemel.
Row 1: R.C. Whitwell, Chase Junghans
Row 2: Billy Moyer Jr., Jimmy Mars
Row 3: Billy Moyer, Jason Papich
Row 4: Chris Simpson, Morgan Bagley
Row 5: Shane Clanton, Jason Krohn
Row 6: Tony Jackson Jr., Rob Sanders
Row 7: Will Vaught, Jesse Stovall
Row 8: Ryan Gustin, Joey Moriarty
Row 9: Tim Fuller, Justin Asplin
Row 10: Terry Phillips, John Blankenship
Row 11: A.J. Diemel, Travis Dickes
Row 12: Pat Doar, Garrett Alberson
Top two finishers transfer to feature
First consolation: Terry Phillips, Travis Dickes, Don Shaw, Jason Hughes, Trevor Glaser, Max Blair, Dana Fite, Jake O’Neil, James Laing, Mike Balcaen.
Second consolation: John Blankenship, Pat Doar, Justin Kay, Mason Zeigler, Clay Daly, Jordan Yaggy, Nick Bartels, Lance Matthees, Dave Deetz, Greg Jelvick.
Third consolation: A.J. Diemel, Garrett Alberson, Kent Robinson, Tony Toste, Kyle Beard, Zach McMillan, Dave Smith, Brad Williams, Sean Bray.
Heat race results
First heat: Billy Moyer Jr., Chris Simpson, Joey Moriarty, Garrett Alberson, William Thomas, Max Blair, Steve Pfeifer, Mike Balcaen, Dana Fite. Jeff Whyman.
Second heat: R.C. Whitwell, Jason Krohn, Tim Fuller, John Blankenship, Mason Zeigler, Nick Bartels, Clay Daly, Brad Williams, Rick Ortega.
Third heat: Billy Moyer, Morgan Bagley, 6, 19, Kent Robinson, Tony Toste, Sean Bray, Tyson Turnbull. Did not start: Ricky Weiss, Larry Childress.
Fourth heat: Chase Junghans, Shane Clanton, Justin Asplin, A.J. Diemel, Jason Hughes, Don Shaw, Jake O’Neil, Dave Deetz, Terry Belcher.
Fifth heat: Jason Papich, Tony Jackson Jr., Will Vaught, Terry Phillips, Jordan Yaggy, Trevor Glaser, Lance Matthees, Zach McMillan, James Laing, Marshall Miles.
Sixth heat: Jimmy Mars, Rob Sanders, Jesse Stovall, Pat Doar, Dave Smith, Justin Kay, Kyle Beard, Bill Bartels, Greg Jelvick.
Qualifying results (unofficial)
(Top six in each group invert for heat race lineups)
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa 16.241
Max Blair (111), Titusville, Pa. 16.571
Garrett Alberson (43), Las Cruces, N.M. 16.572
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark. 16.600
Joey Moriarty (51), Phoenix, Ariz. 16.866
William Thomas (19), Phenix City, Ala. 16.927
Steve Pfeifer (11), Minot, N.D. 16.975
Dana Fite (40f), Tucson, Ariz. 17.453
Jeff Whyman (72), Los Lunas, N.M. 19.382
Mike Balcaen (10), Winnipeg, Manitoba 26.384
John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va. 16.069
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa. 16.448
Nick Bartels (27), El Segundo, Calif. 16.498
Tim Fuller (19), Watertown, N.Y. 16.750
R.C. Whitwell (5), Tucson, Ariz. 16.874
Jason Krohn (7k), Slayton, Minn. 16.990
Brad Williams (23), Tucson, Ariz. 16.992
Clay Daly (32b), Watsonville, Calif. 17.172
Rick Ortega (24), Las Cruces, N.M. 17.625
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark. 16.095
Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ind. 16.348
Morgan Bagley (14m), Longview, Texas 16.493
Tony Toste (91t), Pismo Beach, Calif. 16.657
Travis Dickes (6), Madison, Neb. 16.730
Ricky Weiss (7), Winnipeg, Manitoba 16.822
Ryan Gustin (19r), Marshalltown, Iowa 16.847
Tyson Turnbull (10), Estevan, Saskatchewan 17.019
Larry Childress (17), Bakersfield, Calif. 17.696
Sean Bray (14), Tucson, Ariz. 17.754
A.J. Diemel (58), Elk Mound, Wis. 16.610
Don Shaw (42), Ham Lake, Minn. 16.665
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga. 16.727
Jason Hughes (12), Westville, Okla. 16.856
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan. 17.008
Justin Asplin (77A), Birch Tree, Mo. 17.139
Jake O'Neil (0), Tucson, Ariz. 17.409
Dave Deetz (98D), Las Cruces, N.M. 18.907
Terry Belcher (77b), Buckeye, Ariz. 19.007
Terry Phillips (75), Springfield, Mo. 16.646
Lance Matthees (90), Winona, Minn. 16.689
Will Vaught (1v), Crane, Mo. 16.701
Jordan Yaggy (77), Rochester, Minn. 16.835
Tony Jackson Jr. (56), Lebanon, Mo. 16.949
Jason Papich (91p), Nipomo, Calif. 17.223
Trevor Glaser (2), Tangent, Org. 17.593
Zach McMillan (14z), Gladewater, Texas 17.721
James Laing (89), Tucson, Ariz. 18.059
Marshall Miles (7), Siera Vista, Ariz. 18.708
Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis. 16.588
Pat Doar (11), New Richmond, Wis. 16.589
Jesse Stovall (00), Galena, Mo. 16.614
Kyle Beard (86), Trumann, Ark. 17.167
Dave Smith (06), Edmonton, Alberta 17.197
Rob Sanders (10n), Bakersfield, Calif. 17.362
Justin Kay (15k), Wheatland, Iowa 17.500
Greg Jelvick (7j), Tucson, Ariz. 18.547
Bill Bartels (77), Marina Del Ray, Calif. time unavailable