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
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
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