Race report: 10/19/2013
LAKE HAVASU CITY, Arizona - October 19, 20133 – The race was one of those drivers and writers dream about, so when it was over Jim Mardis said he was going to have to pinch himself when he woke up to make sure he really did win Saturday night’s race at Havasu 95 Speedway.
The reason for his skepticism is that drivers don’t borrow a race car, scramble to get it ready, then go out and set fast time and win the race. But that’s just what Mardis did in the Speedco Truck Lube and Tire 75 presented by K&N Filters.
“From zero to hero in a couple of weeks,” Mardis said after beating hometown favorite Chris Gerchman and preventing Gerchman from clinching his first championship in the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart.
Gerchman went into the eighth of the season’s nine races with a 54-point lead over two-time champion Mardis, whose own car had been destroyed in a wreck at Blyhte, California, September 28. He finished it was a 52-point lead and needs only to take the green flag for the November 16 finale at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to claim the crown.
Gerchman had hoped to do it in front of his family and friends in Lake Havasu City and felt good about his chances early on. He won the BILSTEIN Trophy Dash and said he “thought we had this thing on rails,” but once the race started the car “got freer and freer and freer” and he never was able to make a serious bid for the lead during the 75 laps on the paved quarter-mile oval.
Mardis was having a much different weekend in the Lefthander Chevrolet he had borrowed from Tom Pfundstein, a 62-year-old Las Vegas businessman who is one of the owners of the H-Town Racing team that includes Aaron McMorran (who was fifth Saturday) and Pat Petrie (20th).
Pfundstein said the biggest reason he drives is because he enjoys being around the competitors and the series and he didn’t hesitate to offer Mardis his car because “if the situation had been reversed he would have done the same for any one of us, and we know it.”
Mardis, who changed cars with the blessing of sponsors Bluewater Technologies, JAM Sportswear, K&N Filters and Premier Wraps, said “Tom gave us anything and everything he could and it took a lot of people to make this happen. It wasn’t easy.”
Mardis said he and the crew changed all four springs and all four shocks and “put some of our touches on it that we thought would be good.” Instead, “when we unloaded we were horrible. We were almost a second off the pace. We just kept working at it and finally hit on something that the car liked.”
Mardis set fast time in qualifying, started on the inside of the second row after pulling a 3 for the field inversion, then stalked pole-sitter Chase Catania for 54 laps before taking a lead he never relinguished. Mardis beat Gerchman by 0.480 seconds, with Doug Hamm third, Matthew Hicks fourth, McMorran fifth, Catania sixth and Shelby Stroebel seventh after starting last in the 22-car field due to an engine change that kept him from qualifying.
“I’ll have to pinch myself tomorrow” to make sure it wasn’t all a dream, Mardis said. “I can honestly say this is the best race car I’ve ever driven, by far. It came with ease. I didn’t even have to drive it hard.”
Mardis will be in the same car for the Las Vegas race.
“I just want to go get two (wins) in a row for H-Town,” he said. “Other than that, whatever happens happens.
LUCAS OIL MODIFIEDS SPEEDCO TRUCK LUBE & TIRES 75
At Havasu 95 Speedway
Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Saturday, October 19, 2013
LAKE HAVASU CITY, Arizona (October 15, 2013) – For awhile three weeks ago, after he had taken his wrecked race car home in a trash bag, Jim Mardis thought about calling it a season and sitting out the final two races of the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart.
Mardis didn't have a compelling reason to continue. The encounter with the wall at Lucas Oil I-10 Speedway in Blythe, California, September 28 had destroyed both his car and his chance of winning a third series championship and he was assured of a top 10 finish in the Hoosier Tire West point standings if he did stay home. Then his telephone started to ring.
Roger Brown called. Thomas Pfundstein called. Both offered the Yucaipa, California, driver the use of their car for Saturday's Speedco Truck Lube and Tires 75 presented by K&N at Havasu 95 Speedway and the November 16 finale at Las Vegas.
Mardis listened to them and to Bluewater Technologies, K&N, JAM Sportswear and his other sponsors and finally said "why not?" He told Brown no, that he should drive his own car and try to improve on his eighth in the point standings, and gave him some help in getting ready. But Pfundstein is not in the top 20 so Mardis "decided to take him up on his offer and see what we can do with it."
"We've had a lot of people support us over the years and Tom graciously offered me his car and allowed me to put some of my sponsor's decals on it," Mardis said. "He's pretty much given me the car for the last two races, which is pretty awesome of him. He's let me do whatever I wanted to the car and change whatever I wanted and he's been super supportive. You can't ask for much more than somebody who's willing to get out of his race car and give it to you."
Pfundstein, a 62-year-old construction consultant who lives in Las Vegas, is part of the H-Town Racing team that also includes Aaron McMorran and Pat Petrie. His car, a Lefthander chassis with a Chevrolet engine, is the same one McMorran drove to a second-place finish in the Las Vegas finale in 2011.
"If we're going to go we're going to try to win," Mardis said. "I think I can do it in that car. Tom has given me every resource available to him."
Mardis, a two-time series champion, will go into Saturday's race trailing leader Chris Gerchman by 54 points. That makes him an extreme long shot in the title fight with Gerchman, but also has a positive aspect.
"The biggest thing is that we can go out and have fun," Mardis said. "We don't have to worry about anything except trying to win and have fun with it again."
The suspense may have gone out of the championship battle, but there'll be more than enough tension throughout the 22-car field to keep everyone interested and entertained through 75 laps of green flag racing on Havasu 95 Speedway's scenic quarter-mile oval.
Mardis has a 48-point lead on third-place Jason Patison and should be able to hold onto at least a second-place finish in the points. Just 28 points separate Patison and Roger Brown in eighth, however, and the battles for positions and points fund money will be the story within the story during the final two events.
Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series 2013 Show Intro
**Jim Wins @ I10 Speedway in Blythe Ca.**
Jim with Dave Arce one of our sponsors and also the Man who builds our bullet engines! Thank you Arce!