Dakotah Phend is the champion of the 22nd running of the world famous Reedy Race of Champions. With three drivers in contention going into the deciding round of heads up racing at OCRC Raceway in California, Phend would pull off the biggest win of his career with a copy book final race. Starting from 5th on the grid and with a DNF from the first round of 4WD to drop, the 18-year-old kept his nose clean at the start and helped by a pile up at the first run through the JConcepts kicker came out of the first lap with a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. Running in Race 2 of the final round, Ryan Maifield and Spencer Rivkin lining up in Race 3, the result sealed the title for Phend with the Michigan driver becoming the 16th name to be added to Mike Reedy Heritage Trophy. With Maifield taking the win in the final race, Rivkin ending up fourth, the outgoing champion would secure second overall with Rivkin completing the podium.
‘Crazy, it hasn’t sunk in yet’, was Phend’s initial reaction to beating 29 of the best drivers in the World. Having never been in contention for the overall win at the Reedy Race before he said, ‘there are so many ups and downs to deal with. In 2WD I broke in the second round and in 4WD I broke in the first meaning every round then counted. It’s the most mentally draining race I’ve ever driven’. Asked about the final race, he said ‘I got a clean start and then there was a big pile up which I managed to get through clean. After that I just focussed on making no mistakes to put in only the third 18-lap run of the event. Asked about his impressive performance this weekend, he said ‘I have been going to the track a lot more to be better prepared both racing and equipment wise. It paid off today as I’m feeling more comfortable with my cars and my driving’.
Reflecting on the event, Maifield said ‘Unfortunately I had the opportunity to win taken away from me in the other one (Round 5) and I’m not happy to lose out in that way but I’m happy that I could come back and be right in the mix to defend what I did last year. I didn’t win but we did win as a team’. He continued ‘we all showed our cars are very good and what we are capable of as a team. Dakotah did a great job to win and Dustin was brilliant in 2WD and we are going to keep that momentum going for all of the year’. Ending up with the same number of wins as Phend it was his clash with Spencer Rivkin in the penultimate round that ultimately ended his chance to become only the second driver to successful defend his Reedy Race title.
Putting up a good battle with Maifield in the final race, having pulled off one of the best passes of the weekend when he temporarily took the lead from Ryan Cavalieri, Rivkin said ‘I’m pretty happy with a podium’. He added, ‘It’s my second year in invite and I ran with the big boys, my cars were perfect. Well done to Dakotah for winning and to Maifield for getting second’.
In the Open class, the winners getting a spot in the prestigious invite class next year, young Finnish talent Joona Haatanen converted the TQ in victory over Wisconsin teenager Cole Tollard and Alex Koscluszek. Tollard would TQ 4WD but winning both A-Main encounters Koscluszek took the win over Brad Shearer and Haatanen.