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In the Driver's Seat

Blake Rogers

Lives in: Yuma, Arizona
Car Number: 4B

Blake Rogers just played his final football game as a defensive end for the Gila Ridge High School Hawks and when he was asked if he enjoyed hitting people the 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior gave the enthusiastic "oh yeah" response the question gets from players at every level.

Blake Rogers Blake Rogers just played his final football game as a defensive end for the Gila Ridge High School Hawks and when he was asked if he enjoyed hitting people the 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior gave the enthusiastic "oh yeah" response the question gets from players at every level.

Fortunately for his competitors Rogers confines his hitting to the football field and not the race tracks he has visited during his rookie season in the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart. There he prides himself on trying to be "nice and consistent and smooth."

The 17-year-old from Yuma, Arizona, got his introduction to the highly-competitive touring series – and to a full-sized race car – by making two starts in 2014. This year he has run every event in the 10-race championship season that concludes Saturday, November 7, at Havasu 95 Speedway in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

It will be a sort of homecoming for Rogers. The picturesque quarter-mile oval about two and a half hours north of Yuma is the closest the series gets to his home since Lucas Oil I-10 Speedway in Blythe, California, shut down and it's where he and crew chief-father Jimmy Rogers got interested in the series.

Rogers said his grandfather, an uncle and a cousin all were dirt track racers. He said his dad drove, too, "until he found out how much it cost and decided he was not going to be a racer." Instead, he ended up raising one.

Rogers started racing Mini-Dwarfs when he was 8, moved over to Bandoleros when he was 12 and raced a Legends car at 15. He had success in all of them, winning three championships in Mini-Dwarfs, three in Bandoleros and one in Legends.

Then one day he and dad went to Havasu 95 Speedway and "saw the Lucas Oil Modifieds, saw how many people (cars) they brought and how good it is, and we wanted to have a challenge."

They bought the vehicle for that challenge from Kyle Cline after seeing a For Sale ad and made their debut at The Bull Ring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in May of 2014 by finishing fifth in the B main. The next start was in mid-October at Havasu 95 Speedway, where Rogers finished 22nd in the main event.

Rogers said the results weren't important, though, because what he was doing was "getting laps. Coming from small cars with a little horsepower to a lot of horsepower I had to figure out how much gas I could give it without turning the tires."

The decision to make the jump from a 5/8 -scale Legends car to an open-wheel Modified with 500-plus horsepower was an audacious one considering that Rogers, his parents and the assorted friends and relatives who make up the race team would be starting the learning process at the kindergarten level.

This year they moved up a grade or two. Rogers still is looking for his first top 10 finish and he's tied with fellow DJ Safety Rookie of the Year contenders Eric Rhead and Eric Hamilton for 16 th in the Hoosier Tire West point standings. But he said that "for what we have and the budget we have and for my first time being in a big car I think we're doing pretty well, actually. We came to learn and take all the advice we can get. All the racers are nice and they're always there to help you.

"We would always like to be with a team. We're just throwing setups out there and hopefully it works, but with our low budget ... It's hard to be competitive without dumping a lot of money into it.

"Sometimes it gets frustrating. In Mini-Dwarfs and Legends and Bandos I was winning and this year my highest finish is 14th (at Tucson Speedway in Arizona in April). But we're always having fun.

"I'm kind of sad that the season is coming to an end," Rogers said, "but I'm kind of happy, too, so we can start over and hopefully get some better finishes next year."

BLAKE ROGERS AT A GLANCE

Age: 17 (10 April 1998)
Lives in: Yuma, Arizona
Marital status: Single
Occupation: Senior at Gila Ridge High School in Yuma
Car number: 4B
Type of chassis: Lefthander
Engine: Chevrolet
Crew Chief: Jimmy Rogers
Sponsors: F.I.R.M. Inc.; MGM Design; Jack's Carquest Auto Parts; Pacesetter Homes; Dune Company of Yuma; Westerner Products; Big W Sales; Aqua Chiropractic; Mitchell's Meerchant Patrol
Years in racing: 8
Divisions raced: Mini-Dwarfs, Bandoleros, Legends Cars, Lucas Oil Modifieds
Series point standings: T16 with one race remaining this season; T56 (2014)

Tracks

Havasu 95 SpeedwayHavasu 95 Speedway
Irwindale Event CenterIrwindale Event Center
Kern County RacewayKern County Raceway
Las Vegas Motor SpeedwayLas Vegas Motor Speedway
Madera SpeedwayMadera Speedway
Orange Show SpeedwayOrange Show Speedway
Rocky Mountain RacewayRocky Mountain Raceway
mod-tucson-rp-tsrtucson speedway logo tsr

 

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In the Driver's Seat

MICHAEL MITCHELL

Michael Mitchell

Lives in: Loomis, California
Car number: 77

Mike Mitchell got interested in racing when he was a boy. His dad owned race cars that others drove for him and to Mitchell it looked like something he’d like to try when he got old enough. By that time, however, his father had quit racing, so Mitchell turned to other things in his life.

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