By Steven Young
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Nov. 12, 2020) – Ethan Dotson of Bakersfield, California, and Shane Demey of Denison, Iowa earned their places in Saturday night’s main event for Modifieds at the 23rd annual Duel in the Desert on Thursday night.
Jason Wolla and Jordan Grabouski led the field to the green at the start of the first of the pair of twenty lap qualifiers, and it was Grabouski who took the point after a false start early.
Dotson chased down Grabouski on the second round, eventually taking the lead on the backstretch, as Wolla reeled Grabouski back in for the second and final transfer to Saturday’s Duel.
Wolla and Grabouski swapped lines in their bid for the spot, allowing Dotson to pull away by a second in a half.
Dotson built a lead of over two seconds by the halfway point, as he approached the rear of the field.
As the leader worked traffic, Grabouski closed to under a second with seven remaining.
It was then when Jacob Hobscheidt made a strong run from third to the lead on the back stretch on the following lap.
With three lapped cars in front of the lead duo, Dotson and Hobscheidt made contact, with all the air escaping Hobscheidt’s left front tire, and sending him into a spin, ending his bid for a Duel berth.
On the ensuing restart, Torrance, California’s continued his charge from eleventh to go three wide with Grabouski and Ruter to take the runner-up spot.
Dotson continued on to victory over his buddy Laney, both moving on to Saturday’s main event.
In Modified qualifier number two, Riley Simmons and Chaz Baca were the first under the green at the start, with Simmons leading into the first set of turns, and Shane Demey taking the second position.
After a lap two caution, Demey took the point at the line, leading lap two.
A caution on lap two erased a two second lead for Demey.
DJ Shannon kept California looking strong, as he moved from fifth to third on the restart, before a pileup in turn one again slowed the pace with seven complete.
National Champion Tom Berry moved his Richey Racing mount to 3rd on the restart, before continuing on into a transfer spot on the following circuit.
Berry cut Demey’s advantage in half as the pair worked traffic with five to go. The leaders avoided a spinning lapped car with four to go, setting up a final double file restart.
Shannon took 2nd back on the restart, as the lead trio remained nose to tail, until Berry headed pit side with two laps left.
Demey went on to victory over Shannon.
In the Northern SportMod division, Austen Becerra and Joe Docekal punched their tickets to Saturday’s final with their qualifying feature wins.
Pole sitter Luke Krogh spun in turns one and two on at the start, as Anthony Madrid went on to lead lap one.
Seventh starting Matt Berry moved into second briefly on the fifth round, but Becerra took the spot back on the backstretch on lap six.
Becerra continued on to move to Madrid’s inside in turns three and four, taking the lead at the conclusion of lap seven.
Following a pair of cautions with eight complete, Becerra continued to lead.
His progress was not quelled by lapped traffic, as he used one last lapper as a pick to continue on to victory, earning redemption after losing a power plant while leading one night prior.
In the second SportMod qualifier, Joe Docekal took the lead at the start, bringing Nick Spainhoward with him into second.
Docekal built a two second lead by the five lap mark, eventually catching the back of the field before a caution at the halfway point.
Ty Rogers took second on the restart, while Spainhoward spun in turns three and four, ending his hopes for a Duel bid for the evening.
Docekal rebuilt his two second lead by the time two more laps went into the books on the restart, and survived one last caution as he took the white flag to pick up the win over Rogers.
In the Stock Cars, Scott Brown and Zane DeVilbiss moved to Saturday’s main event with their feature triumphs.
Brown and Michael Jaennette were the class of the field in the caution marred eighteen lap affair.
As Brown led, Jaennette fended off advances by Shaun Bruns and Benji Legg to remain in the second and final transfer spot.
Brown had a lead of over a second erased by a trio of cautions around the halfway point.
On the final restart, Brown held off Jaennette, and the latter held off both Chase Alves and Jake Masters to remain the two that earned their spots to Saturday’s duel.
In the final feature of the night, Zane DeVilbiss and Jeffrey Abbey led the field to the green, both looking to recover from falling out of transfer spots the previous night.
As DeVilbiss built a straightaway lead, Abbey was stalked by Jeremy Christians throughout the first half of the race.
DeVilbiss was not slowed by lapped traffic late in the race, as he went on to win over Abbey by nearly nine seconds.