Friday, March 1, 2013
Lucas Oil Modifieds Positioned for Most Competitive Season Ever with ASA National Champion and 5-Time Winner Among Contenders
by Jim Short
LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. -- The first six seasons of racing in the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart have been memorable for their close competition. But they were just setting the stage for the season that gets under way Saturday night, March 2.
The LoanMart Arizona 100 presented by Optima Batteries at Havasu 95 Speedway is the first of nine races on the schedule of the fastest-growing regional touring series in the country and it wonít be surprising to see the championship decided on the last lap of the last race in Las Vegas in November.
Austin Barnes, the seriesí most recent champion, has moved on, but probably wonít be missed in terms of on-track competition.
Two of the early favorites this time around are Jim Mardis and Chris Gerchman.
Mardis, who brought 2012 to an incredible close with a last-lap pass for a win at Las Vegas, is returning to bid for his third title in four years and is the only series driver to have won at least once in each of the past four seasons.
Gerchman, the series all-time wins leader with 13, will be making regular trips from Texas to try to improve on last seasonís runner-up finish. The most recent of the Lake Havasu City nativeís victories came at Havasu 95 Speedway in October.
Race winners Doug Hamm and Tim Morse and top 10 points finishers Roger Brown, Aaron McMorran, Scott Osborn and Doug Carpenter are likely challengers and some newcomers and returnees are going to make their presence felt.
ASA national champion Shelby Stroebel, who was 14-0 at Meridian (Idaho) Speedway last year, will compete for the Lucas Oil Modifieds title with the backing of LoanMart. Northern California driver Nik Romano, who had a strong showing in his Modified debut at last yearís finale, has teamed with Garcia Racing and plans to run the full season. Jason Patison, a five-time winner in 2007, is returning after five seasons. And Jessica Clark, a past USAC Ford Focus Midget champion who got her indoctrination in Modifieds last year at Stockton, will vie with Romano for Rookie of the Year honors in the car that carried Barnes to four wins and the 2012 title.
The series will visit six race tracks in four states, highlighted by its first trip to Rocky Mountain Raceways in West Valley, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, on June 15 and a return to Irwindale Speedway on August 17. There will be two races at Havasu 95 Speedway (March 2 and October 19), Lucas Oil I-10 Speedway in Blythe (April 6 and September 28) and the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (May 11 and November 16) and a mid-summer date at Madera Speedway in central California July 20.
Thatís 725 laps of racing on tracks ranging from the quarter-mile ovals at Lake Havasu and Blythe to the fast half-mile at Irwindale and it will all be green flag racing because laps run under the yellow caution flag are never counted.
Five races, including those in Utah and Madera and the season-finale in Las Vegas, will be taped and shown on the MAVTV American Real and NBC Sports networks on dates that are still to be determined.
Itís likely to be some of the best racing action anyone will see this year.
The Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart is supported by a potent marketing concept known as ďTeam LucasĒ whose members include Lucas Oil Products Inc., E3 Spark Plugs, General Tire, GEICO, Canidae All Natural Pet Food, MAVTV-American Real, Speedco Truck Lube and Tire, Optima Batteries and LoanMart.
Additional sponsorship is provided by Bilstein Shock Absorbers, K&N Filters, Hoosier Tire West, Budweiser, Blue Water Resort and Casino, Sunoco Race Fuels, Frank's Radio, Racing Plus, Five Star Race Car Bodies, Aero Racing Wheels, DJ Safety, ASI Racewear and Protect the Harvest.
Detailed information on the series is available at www.LucasOilModifieds.com.