Race Weekend Central

Daily Dirt: Tim Ward, Big One Highlight Night 1 of 2023 IMCA Winter Nationals

Winning Moment: Harcourt, Iowa’s Tim Ward highlighted the opening night of the IMCA Winter Nationals, winning the $1,000 modified feature at Cocopah Speedway Wednesday night, Jan. 4.

Dramatic Moment: Eat your heart out, Talladega Superspeedway. The Big One made a shock appearance in the stock car feature at Cocopah and all but junked the entire field.

In a Nutshell: The good, the bad and the ugly of stock car and modified racing on dirt.


What They’ll Be Group Chatting About This Morning

It’s a good thing the car count for the IMCA Winter Nationals was as big as it was. They’re going to need a fleet of cars to make it two weeks after an opening night like Wednesday.

Every year the production values of the IMCA.tv broadcast at Cocopah gets better and that was true again this year, as the drone shots give a great look at just how photogenic the Cocopah Speedway is. But IMCA.tv losing its Roku app was a major-league disappointment that left me enjoying all these wonderful images on a freaking tablet. The IMCA sanction to their credit addressed this on its Facebook page, citing billing changes with Roku (see the comments thread).

No idea if they’ll be at Cocopah all Winter Nationals long (the Wild West Shootout kicks off in New Mexico next week), but it was cool to see Cowboy and The Hook towing team at Cocopah Speedway doing their thing.

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2022 Dirt Racing Awards: Jonathan Davenport, Matt Sheppard & Year of Superman

With the Chili Bowl and all its reliance on a convoluted passing points matrix bearing down on us, let it be said that the IMCA Winter Nationals folks have got it figured out, utilizing a system that automatically advances heat race winners to their respective A-mains while using passing points to fill out the remainder of the spots in the field. Race wins should always mean more than points. Even heat race wins.

Who the hell left plastic wrap on the feature trophies at Cocopah?

Late models were nowhere to be found at Cocopah, but they were certainly in the news Wednesday. On the same day that Brandon Sheppard opened testing of his new Longhorn chassis, 2020 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion Jimmy Owens joined the ranks of startup for 2023, joining a new operation for the upcoming season.

Hero of the Day

Though the hard charger of the opening night of the IMCA Winter Nationals was Donald Schott, going from 26th to ninth in the stock car feature, Bakersfield, Calif.’s Ethan Dotson gets the nod as the hero of the day. Not only was Dotson the hard charger in the headlining modified feature, he did it in style, earning at least one “snakes and sparklers” comment from the IMCA broadcast team for riding the cushion and making quarterpanel contact with the turn 3 wall. Dotson won multiple races in this event a year ago and is likely to contend nightly over the next two weeks.

Villain/Victim of the Night

For as dominant as Redwood Falls, Minn.’s Curt Lund was out front in the stock car feature Wednesday, his vulnerability on restarts proved to be his undoing. Weathering challenges from Arizona hot shoe Zachary Madrid early and fellow Minnesotan (and eventual race winner) Jim Horejsi in the race’s midsection, Lund found himself front and center of the nasty crash that all about eliminated the stock car field at Cocopah.’

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Thinkin' Dirty: 2022 Sunshine State 50 at All-Tech

Shout Outs

The first two dirt oval races of 2023 went green at the same time on Sunday and it’s unclear which one finished first, as the races were scored by hand. Thus, a shoutout goes both to Highgate, Vt.’s Richie Turner and Wilkes-Barre, Pa.’s Jay McCabe for scoring the first wins of 2023 at Airborne Speedway and Penn Can Speedway, respectively.

Numbers Game


Dirt track contesting oval racing in the United States Wednesday night


IMCA modified heat races run at Cocopah Wednesday night 


Highest national car count, at Cocopah Wednesday night

Up Next

The IMCA Winter Nationals carries on for its second night Thursday. Coverage can be found on IMCA TV.

About the author

Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.

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