latemodelamerica.com - Mar 13 - Canyon Raceway Park
LateModelAmerica.com by Sam Holbrooks

 
 

SWDRA Finish - Canyon

Thornton's LM Debut Yields SWDRA Trophy in Series Opener at Canyon

PEORIA, Ariz. -March 13. Racing for the first time behind the wheel of a Late Model race car, Ricky Thornton survived a caution-filled feature event as the Southwest Dirt Racing Association (SWDRA) opened its season at Canyon Raceway Park. While the ride might have been newer and faster, the former Phoenix Modified ace had put in more than his share of laps around the 3/8-mile oval in the past.

With 18 teams Arizona based teams turning out for the event, and Jeep Berry's Colorado-based #75 car thrown in for good measure, 15 of tthose were involved in a first lap melee that occurred when Berry got loose in front of the field as it hammered the gas. The ensuring wreck left debris scattered down the front stretch for a lengthy cleanup. 

The incident left seven drivers permanently in the pits, while SWDRA champion Lonnie Parker, Jr. effected some quick repairs to his #8 machine, which had gotten airborne during the incident, and returned two laps laps down to ultimately finish eighth.

     Lady Luck had been on the side of Thornton earlier in the night when he pulled the pole pill in the Total Seal quick-six draw. That left the young driver ahead of the carnage and well on his way to a 25-lap lead over the battle-scarred field. Thornton held off some early challenges from rookie Cory Hemphill during the early going - before Hemphill was forced to retire his ailing mount on lap 16 during one of a flurry of caution periods - and teammate Anthony Madrid during the mid-part of the race before Thornton pulled away.

Madrid settled for second, while 14th starting Brad Whitfield made some quick repairs after getting caught up in the early wreck and advanced to third at the finish.

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