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Las Vegas Bullring
Las Vegas, Nevada (November 21, 2015) - All season it had been a case of close but no cigar for Taylor Miinch while he finished fifth in the standings for the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart.
Saturday night, at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 21-year-old from Blossom Valley, California, finally got the brass ring by winning the 75-lap Lucas Oil Race of Champions presented by MAVTV.
Miinch took the lead from pole-sitter Jim Mardis on a caution-flag restart on lap 52 and motored away from what remained of the 30-car field that had started the race on the 3/8 -mile oval to win by 0.828 seconds over Mardis, a three-time winner at The Bullring.
Fast qualifier Ryan Partridge was third in his Modified debut and was followed across the finish line by Kyle Tellstrom, Matthew Hicks, Austin Barnes and Dylan Cappello.
It was the first Modified victory for Miinch, who was second to Barnes at Irwindale, California, in late June and in the top 5 in six of the series' 10 points races, and even though it had nothing to do with the series standings it netted the married father of a 2-year-old son $4,000 to spend on Christmas presents.
This one was all about the Benjamins. The second of two non-point special events included on the Lucas Oil Modified Series schedule offered $4,000 to win and $300 to start and that was enough to attract 38 cars and drivers from eight states, including two young women and a trio of racers who were the first from the Midwest (Indiana and Michigan) to make an appearance in the popular Southwest touring series.
The gremlins that seem to bedevil the series whenever it races on the North Las Vegas track about 10 miles from the famed Las Vegas Strip were present again this time. The result was nine caution flags that kept the race from having any rhythm in the first 50 laps and then an uninterrupted run to the checkered flag.
Miinch qualified fifth and started fourth after Partridge pulled an 8 for the inversion. He moved into third behind Mardis and Scott Winters on lap 5, got second for good after he and Mardis bumped on lap 42 and triggered a moment of chaos that left Winters' car badly damaged and several others nursing injuries, then powered past Mardis on the restart after the final caution on lap 47.
Mardis, in turn, maintained a comfortable gap between himself and Partridge, who had aborted his planned debut at Irwindale earlier in the year because he wasn't satisfied with his car. He definitely felt better Saturday after settiing a track record with a 14.993-second, 90.042-mph effort on his first lap of qualifying and finishing strong.
The race brought the Lucas Oil Modified Series 10th Anniversary season to a close. The 2016 campaign is scheduled to open with the Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway in Bakersfield, California, on February 27.
LUCAS OIL RACE OF CHAMPIONSHIP
Lucas Oil Modifieds
The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
3/8-mile banked, paved oval
Saturday, November 21, 2015
MAIN EVENT (75 laps) - 1. Taylor Miinch (4T), Blossom Valley, California; 2. Jim Mardis (12), Yucaipa, California; 3. Ryan Partridge (9), Rancho Cucamonga, California; 4. Kyle Tellstrom (5K), Ukiah, California; 5. Matthew Hicks (28), Lakeside, California; 6. Austin Barnes (51A), Escondido, California; 7. Dylan Cappello (11C), Peoria, Arizona; 8. Jeff Connors (3X), Las Vegas; 9. Eddie Wilcox (1A), River Bank, California; 10. Brian Nestor (11N), Hamilton, Indiana;
11. Linny White (99), Colton, California; 12. Aaron McMorran (22), Las Vegas; 13. Greg Fullerton (05), Howell, Michigan; 14. Trevor Huddleston (55), Agoura Hills, California; 15. Shelby Stroebel (24), Meridian, Idaho; 16. Scott Osborn (0Z), Las Vegas; 17. Darrin Knight (20), Kelseyville, California; 18. Jerry Toporek (40), Venice, California; 19. Doug Hamm (4X), North Las Vegas; 20. Lynn Hardy (4L), Salt Lake City, Utah;
21. Rich Lindgren (27), Rio Linda, California; 22. Eric Holmes (21H), Escalon, California; 23. Eddie Secord (84S), Oak Hills, California; 24. Scott Winters (24A), Tracy, California; 25. Peyton Saxton (57), Las Vegas; 26. Steven Durbin (15), Las Vegas; 27. Mark Ith Jr. (84I), Magna, Utah; 28. Dave Arce (5), Santee, California; 29. Pat Petrie (1), Henderson, Nevada; 30. William Guevara (17), Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
Margin of victory – 0.828 seconds. Average speed – 35.676 mph. Lead changes – 1 among 2 drivers. Caution flags – 9 for 26 laps. Fast qualifier – Partridge, 14.993 seconds/90.042 mph (track record)
B MAIN (40 laps) - 1. Jimmy Waters (29w), West Jordan, Utah; 2. Tim Burkett (14), Hamilton, Indiana; 3. Kayli Baker (34), North Las Vegas; 4. Sal Lopez, Sacramento, California; 5. Rosalee Weller (56), Caldwell, Idaho; 6. Ith Jr.; 7. Osborn; 8. Fullerton; 9. Durbin; 10. Marty Deluca (86), Las Vegas; 11. Jeff Longman, Lehi, Utah. (Ith Jr., Osborn, Fullerton and Durbin were the top 4 after 20 laps and advanced to the main event.)
Lake Havasu City, Arizona (November 7, 2015) – Austin Barnes said he started Saturday night's Lucas Oil Modified Series race at Havasu 95 Speedway planning to “stay clean and if anything came my way try to do something with it.”
He did both and put an exclamation point on his second series championship with an 0.830-second victory over Scott Winters in the 100-lap Hoosier Tire West Championship presented by Carlyle Tools.
It was Barnes's fourth win of the season, two of them coming on the Havasu quarter-mile and two on the Irwindale Speedway half-mile, and it enabled the 20-year-old from Escondido, California, to join Jim Mardis (2010-2011) as a two-time champion as the extremely competitive regional touring series celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Barnes went into the weekend with a 15-point lead over 2014 champion Dylan Cappello, added 2 points by being fastest in qualifying for the fifth time this season and 28th time overall, and finished 36 points in front of Cappello, who was 10th at perhaps his least-favorite venue.
The 19-year-old from Peoria, Arizona, had finished 9th, 23rd and 11th in his previous outings at the picturesque track.
“This track and me just don't agree,” Cappello said. “We've thrown everything at it and nothing has worked. Maybe it's the way I drive it; I don't know.” Barnes, on the other hand, has four wins and four runner-up finishes in his past eight races at the track.
“I've kind of taken a liking to it,” he said of the track that was one of the series' original facilities. “I don't know if I like it as much as Irwindale (where he has won four in a row), but it's close.
“The car was just so fast all weekend. After qualifying (which he led with a lap in 15.201 seconds) I knew we had a real good race car.” Barnes started the race on the outside of the second row after drawing 4 for an invert. He moved into third on the opening lap, took second on lap 30 and stalked pole-sitter Winters for 32 laps before taking the lead on lap 62 and pulling away.
Winters, who won twice during the 10-race championship, got some late pressure from third-place Linny White, but never was seriously threatened. Taylor Miinch got fourth for his sixth top five finish of the year and DJ Safety Rookie of the Year Jack Madrid was fifth. Matthew Hicks, Jason Irwin, Kyle Tellstrom, Larry Gerchman and Cappello rounded out the top 10 and in something of a rarity 16th through 20th qualifiers Dustin Tilbury, Eric Hamilton, William Guevara, Doug Carpenter and Dave Arce finished in those same positions. The only difference was that Carpenter and Arce traded places at 19th and 20th.
The race on a chilly night in southwestern Arizona brought the championship to a close, but the season has one race remaining – the Lucas Oil Race of Champions presented by MAVTV at The Bull Ring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway November 21.
LUCAS OIL MODIFIEDS PRESENTED BY LOANMART
HOOSIER TIRE WEST CHAMPIONSHIP at Havasu 95 Speedway, Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Saturday, November 7, 2015
MAIN EVENT (100 laps) – 1. Austin Barnes (51A), Escondido, Ca.; 2. Scott Winters (24A), Tracy, Ca.; 3. Linny White (99), Colton, Ca.; 4. Taylor Miinch (4T), Blossom Valley, Ca.; 5. Jack Madrid (3X), San Clemente, Ca.; 6. Matthew Hicks (28), Lakeside, Ca.; 7. Jason Irwin (9X), Albuquerque, N.M.; 8. Kyle Tellstrom (5K), Ukiah, Ca.; 9. Larry Gerchman (25), Lake Havasu City, Az.; 10. Dylan Cappello (11C), Peoria, Az.;
11.Jim Mardis (51), Yucaipa, Ca.; 12. Shelby Stroebel (24), Meridian, Idaho; 13. Payton Saxton (57), Las Vegas; 14. Blake Rogers (4B), Yuma, Az.; 15. Doug Hamm (4X), North Las Vegas, Nevada; 16. Dustin Tilbury (71X), Edgewood, N.M.; 17. Eric Hamilton (11H), Hanford, Ca.; 18. William Guevara (12), Lake Havasu City; 19. Doug Carpenter (3), San Diego, Ca.; 20. Dave Arcee (5), Santee, Ca.;
21. Eddie Secord (84), Oak Hills, Ca.; 22. Sal Lopez (02), Sacramento, Ca.; 23. Pat Petrie (6), Henderson, Nevada. Margin of victory – -0.830 seconds. Average speed – 29.684 mph. Lead changes – 3 among 3 drivers. Caution flags – 4. Leading qualifier – Barnes, 15.201/59.207 mph. Trophy Dash winner – Gerchman.
MARDIS HOPES FOR MORE SUCCESS WHEN MODIFIEDS DESCEND ON THE BULLRING
CORONA, California (May 13, 2015) – Jimmy Mardis said the first few times he raced at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with the Lucas Oil Modifieds presented by LoanMart he “didn’t think it was all that cool.”
This week, as he looked ahead to Saturday’s (May 16) Optima Batteries 75 Laps to Victory presented by Auto Meter, Mardis said the 3/8-mile oval now has become “one of my better race tracks.”
“The more races you run the more you adapt and figure out where you need to be and what you need to feel,” he said, and he has done that quite well. The series’ only two-time champion (2010-2011) has won three times and finished sixth or better in 10 of his past 13 starts at The Bullring. His other finishes were 10th, 12th and 18th.
That 18th-place finish came in 2012, a season Mardis called a disaster until he won the final race of the year, at The Bullring, by going onto the track apron to pass leader Jay Linstroth as the white flag waved.
“That was probably my favorite,” the Yucaipa, California, resident said. “I got to race Jay Linstroth and it came down to a couple of laps at the end where I had to do everything right. With everything that was going on that year and how it all came together at the end, that’s the one that stands out.”
Mardis also won last season’s finale at The Bullring, over Shelby Stroebel and reigning champion Dylan Cappello, and in both cases those wins kept alive his series-best streak of at least one victory a season for the past six years.
“I feel like it’s a big Orange Show, and that’s where I cut my teeth,” Mardis said, comparing The Bullring to the historic 1/4- mile oval in San Bernardino, California, where the series will race August 29. “It reminds me of a faster, little bit bigger Orange Show. There are similarities I like and things Las Vegas has that are unique.
“Compared to tracks like Tucson (Arizona) and Madera (California) it’s probably one of more consistent tracks we race on. It changes a little, but not as drastically as most of the others. It’s not as abrasive.
“The November race there’s normally a little more attrition. Early in year it’s more of a speed, track position kind of race. You still have to be cognizant of the fact you’ve got to be there at end so you try keep your nose clean and keep the best piece you can for late in the race.”
Mardis is not the only driver who knows how to win at The Bullring, of course. In that same 13-race span 2012 champion and current Hoosier Tire West points leader Austin Barnes has three wins, a second, a third and a fifth despite not competing in the series in 2013. Chris Gerchman also had three wins and three seconds, but the 2013 champion is not racing this year.
Andrew Phipps, Tim Morse, Dylan Kwasniewski and Matthew Hicks were the other winners in that series of races.
Barnes and Hicks will be contenders this time, too, along with Tucson winner Scott Winters, Stroebel and numerous others.
Mardis hopes he will be, as well, but he said despite two seventh-place finishes in two races in the Bluewater Technologies/JAM Sportswear/H-Town Raciing STR Chevrolet the start of his season is “definitely not as good as I hoped it would be.
“It’s more just handling issues than anything. We switched to J&S Engines and that’s been fine. We’ve just got to take our lumps and try to get better. The competition level is obviously very high so we’ve just got to work a little harder. Steve (Teets, who builds the STR cars) has found some things that should help us going forward.”
The third race of the championship season for the Lucas Oil Modifieds presented by LoanMart will be the feature attraction when Lucas Oil presents Military Appreciation Night at The Bullring. All active military personnel or veterans and their families will receive up to four free tickets with valid identification.
Spectator gates will open at 5 p.m. PDT and opening ceremonies are scheduled to get under way at 7 p.m. The Nellis Air Force Base Honor Guard will present the colors, Nellis personnel will perform the National Anthem and a group of Air Force recruits will be sworn in during the pre-race program.
The racing schedule includes Bandoleros, Legends Cars, Super Stocks and Super Late Models in addition to the Optima Batteries 75 Laps to Victory.
The Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart is supported by a potent marketing concept known as “Team Lucas” whose members include General Tire, GEICO, E3 Spark Plugs, Optima Batteries, Carlyle Tools, Kawasaki, AutoMeter, iON Cameras, Speedco Truck Lube and Tire, BILSTEIN Shocks, LoanMart and SuperClean.
Additional sponsorship is provided by Lucas Oil Products, Protect the Harvest, MAVTV Motorsports Network, Hoosier Tire West, Sunoco Race Fuels, K&N Filters, Aero Racing Wheels, ASI Racewear, Bosch, Five Star Race Car Bodies, Frank’s Radios, Racing Plus and DJ Safety.
Detailed information on the series is available at www.LucasOilModifieds.com.