Saturday, December 1, 2001
Texan Kenny Gaddis closed the 2001 oval-racing season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s dirt track by winning the 40-lap IMCA Modified feature Saturday during the fourth annual Duel in the Desert. Facing 132 other competitors, Gaddis quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with when he handily won his 13-lap qualifying heat on Friday night.
Christy Georges of El Paso, Tex., started the 40-lap contest on the pole, flanked by Johnny Saathoff of Beatrice, Neb. Saathoff jumped into the lead at the drop of the green flag and held it for the next 11 laps. Georges regained the lead and the pair fought a spirited battle until the caution flag flew on lap 21. While the field circled the track under a reduced rate of speed, Saathoff headed for the pits with a flat tire. The race restarted with Georges in the lead, followed by fellow Texan Kenny Gaddis and Dave Byrd.
Gaddis made repeated challenges for the lead as he tried the inside groove in turns 1 and 2, but was finally successful on lap 33 when he chose the high road instead (photo left). Gaddis went on to score a popular victory, while Georges was caught behind a lapped car on the final lap and was passed by Jimmy Perkins of Concordia, Kansas, for second. Georges settled for third, followed by Steve Smotherman of Porterville, Calif., and Saathoff.
The 20-lap Thunderstock feature was won by David Day. Day (photo right) passed leader David Bridwell on the back chute on the 13th lap and held on to win the $100 first place purse, posted by Pacific Swimming Pool Plaster of Las Vegas. Bridwell finished second and Anthony DeBiase was third. Thunderstock heats were won by Day, Stacy Woods and Bridwell.
Ten 13-lap IMCA Modified heats were held Friday night. Winners included: Christy Georges (El Paso, Tex.), Johnny Saathoff (Beatrice, Neb.), Jim Pettitt (Prunedale, Calif.), Troy Johnson (Concordia, Kan.), Dave Byrd (San Jose, Calif.), Jason Pike (Pahrump, Nev.), Kenny Gaddis (Texas), Duane Cleveland (Marysville, Calif.) and Jim Perkins (Ft. Mojave, Ariz.).
Of local interest: Jason Pike of Pahrump won the sixth 13-lap heat Friday. Dan Fitzgerald of Las Vegas finished second in the first heat. Pike finished 10th in Saturday’s 40-lap “A” Feature, Fitzgerald was 11th and Las Vegas’ Mark Allison crossed the finish line 15th. The 133-car entry list eclipsed the Duel in the Desert’s 2000 edition (127 cars). Melissa DiMercurio performed the national anthem.
40-Lap IMCA Modified “A” Feature: 1. Kenny Gaddis, 2. Jimmy Perkins, 3. Christy Georges, 4. Tim Balding , 5. Johnny Saathoff, 6. Paul Stone, 7. Kurt Barnett, 8. Shawn Nolan, 9. Jack Stanford, 10. Jason Pike, 11. Dan Fitzgerald, 12. Dave Byrd, 13. Jeff Thomas, 14. Mark Allison, 15. Brook Phillips, 16. Chuck Harrell, 17. Jim Pettitt, 18. Jesse Williamson, 19. Ron Jones, 20. Troy Johnson, 21. Duane Cleveland, 22. Joe Antonetti, 23. Terry Belcher Jr., 24. Brady Coen.