Last year’s event drew a record 232 entries. That record was eclipsed this year as 240 drivers towed in from 25 states and three Canadian provinces for a shot at the $7,777 payday.
The event was rough on a number of past winners: Johnny “The Jet” Saathoff (2004, 2009), Jeremy Payne (2005, 2006) and David Murray Jr. (2008) were not able to qualify for the $7,777 A-Feature.
Dylan Smith brought the field down for the opening green flag. Ricky Alvarado started second and grabbed the lead from Smith on the first lap. Alvarado led the first 23 laps but a caution flag bunched up the field. On the restart, Alvarado, Smith and Phillips raced three-wide down the back straightaway with Phillips grabbing the lead in Turn 4.
Alvarado’s stellar run came to an end on lap 29 when his car was sidelined by right-front suspension damage. Matt Brack, who started eighth, was now in second place and in hot pursuit of Phillips. Dominic Ursetta found some racing room beneath Brack’s Modified and grabbed second place as Phillips tried to motor away from his pursuers.
Phillips hugged the bottom in Turns 1 and 2 and ran high in Turns 3 and 4 as Ursetta began to close the gap.
Ursetta caught Phillips with four laps remaining and drove to his low side but Phillips managed to hold him off.
Ursetta gave it one last try on lap 39 and the feature was reduced to a drag race down the front straightaway. Phillips held him off by less than a car length at the checkered flag and earned his second Las Vegas win. Smith finished third, Jeff Taylor was fourth and Darrin Duffy charged from his 23rd starting position to claim fifth.
“I hit the hole on the back straight a couple times so hard the car came up in the air. It knocked plug wires off or something and then it got to falling on its face — especially the last two or three laps,” said Phillips. “It was just dying down the straightaway and it would take off and I’d overshoot the corner, but hey, we got ‘er done. The car worked good but we had something break on the motor but other than that, it was on the money. I was trying to keep my momentum with the motor laid down and it worked out for us just barely.”
Jason Pike of Pahrump finished 17th.
Twelve Canadian drivers entered the event but only two — Saskatchewan’s Tyson Turnbull and Steve Arpin, who now lives in N.C. — was able to qualify for Saturday’s 28-car A-Feature.
IMCA SPORT MODS: Jesse Sobbing of Glenwood, Iowa took the lead from Matt Mueller on lap 8 and went on to win the 15-lap IMCA Sport Mod feature. The win was Jesse’s 55th (in 92 starts) of the 2011 season.
NOTES: Next year’s Duel in the Desert will be held Nov. 7-10, 2012. Event announcers: Toby Kruse and Chet Christner. Live Internet TV broadcast provided by Lucas Oil and K&N Filters.
40-lap Duel in the Desert A-Feature
Finish, start, driver’s name, car number, hometown
1. (5) Terry Phillips (75T) Springfield, Missouri
2. (3) Dominic Ursetta (6U) Arvada, Colo.
3. (1) Dylan Smith (95) Ocsceola, Nebr.
4. (10) Jeff Taylor (5T) Cave City, Ark.
5. (23) Darrin Duffy (19D) Hazelton, Iowa
6. (8) Matt Brack (16M) Mead, Colo.
7. (16) Will Brack (15W) Mead, Colo.
8. (11) Justen Yeager (33Y) Green River, Wyo.
9. (9) Randy Hall (H20) Olean, N.Y.
10. (13) Bobby Hogge (2H) Salinas, Kans.
11. (25) Steve Arpin (01A) Cornelius, N.C.
12. (24) Tyson Turnbull (10T) Estevan, Sask., Canada
13. (21) Ryan McDaniel (10) Olivehurst, Calif.
14. (14) Kevin Stoa (98) Albert Lea, Minn.
15. (12) Justin Radcliff (11J) China Spring, Texas
16. (27) Alan Sharpensteen (75X) Springfield, Missouri
17. (6) Jason Pike (23) Pahrump, Nev.
18. (17) Jay Foster (09) Buckeye, Ariz.
19. (22) Kyle Heckman (11XX) Bakersfield, Calif.
20. (2) Ricky Alvarado (ww1) Delta, Colo.
21. (26) Tim Ward (4TW) Gilbert, Ariz.
22. (18) Jay Noteboom (7N) Hinton, Iowa
23. (4) Justin O’Brien (12J) West Union, Iowa
24. (7) John Hansen (8H) Brush, Colo.
25. (19) Jordan Grabouski (30) Beatrice, Nebr.
26. (15) Jacob Murray (48J) Hartford, Iowa
27. (20) Bob Moore (48) Sioux City, Iowa
28. (28) Kyle Lentz (99) Green Bay, Wisc.
12-lap Modified Last-Chance Races (only the winner advances):
First: 1. Jay Foster.
Second: 1. Jay Noteboom.
Third: 1. Jordan Grabouski.
Fourth: 1. Bobby Moore.
Fifth: 1. Ryan McDaniel.
Sixth: 1. Kyle Heckman.
Seventh: 1. Darrin Duffy.
Eightht: 1. Tyson Turnbull.
Ninth: 1. Steve Arpin.
10th: 1. Tim Ward.
11th: Alan Sharpensteen.
12th: Kyle Lentz.
Modified Wild West feature: 1. Cory Sample (Winnemucca, Nev.).
Modified Old Timers’ Race (55 and older): 1. Robert Heffer (Swift River, Sask., Canada).
Modified Young Gun Race (17 and younger): 1. Riley Emmel (Estevan, Sask., Canada).
IMCA Sport Mod heats:
First heat: 1. Jesse Sobbing (Glenwood, Iowa).
Second heat: 1. Ken Graves (Tahoka, Texas).
15-lap IMCA Sport Mod feature: 1. Jesse Sobbing (Glenwood, Iowa), 2. Matt Mueller, 3. Ken Graves, 4. Jason Mallicoat.