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In the Driver's Seat

lom skaggs tsr

Lives in: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Car Number: 28X

Shane Skaggs started racing the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart because it seemed like a neighborly thing to do.

lom skaggs tsrShane Skaggs started racing the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart because it seemed like a neighborly thing to do.

The 17-year-old from Albuquerque, New Mexico, a contender for the DJ Safety Rookie of the Year Award, lives just down the street from Jason Irwin and about a half-hour away from Dustin Tilbury. They all started racing against each other in quarter-midgets and progressed at about the same rate. So in 2015, when he got ready to move from Legend Cars into something bigger, joining Irwin and Tilbury in the Lucas Oil series was the natural step to take.

"It's nice to have people out here that you know and you're good friends with so you can help them out and they can help you," said Skaggs, who last year raced in Lucas Oil Modified events at Rocky Mountain Raceways in West Valley City, Utah, and at Irwindale (California) Speedway and in a season-long series at Sandia Speedway in Albuquerque in an older-model Phil's Phabrication chassis from car builder Chris Bray.

"We bought that to start out with and see if we liked the modified," Skaggs said of himself and father Kent Skaggs. "We ran that at our home track in Albuquerque and won the championship there. So we sold that car and we had Chris build us a new one. He wanted everybody to be on the same program for the tour."

Skaggs last season finished 22nd at Utah in July and 16th at Irwindale in September. In his four starts this season in his Millennium Communications/Shoretel Phil's Phabrication Chevrolet his best finish has been a 10th at Tucson (Arizona) Speedway in early April and his worst a 25th in the most recent race at Las Vegas May 21. But he has qualified for every race on time and is 13th in the Hoosier Tire West points standings and second to race winner Travis Thirkettle in the rookie standings, so his progress is evident.

"When I started I was asking Jason and Dustin about the competition level and stuff like that," said Skaggs, who will be a senior at La Cueva High School in the fall. "They set pretty high standards. They said it's real competitive and Jason showed me some times on Race Monitor and showed me that (the difference in) first through 15th was like a tenth of a second. So when I got in the series I was ready for some competition, some real fast cars. Not a whole lot has surprised me. It's been a big learning experience, but I was pretty well set with Dustin and Jason telling me what it was going to be like.

"It's definitely a lot better than I thought, but that's what I like about the series."

Kent Skaggs raced a winged spring car on the dirt before and for a short time after Shane was born and it was his tire sponsor, Bobby Jackson, who indirectly got Shane started in racing when he was 6 or 7.

Skaggs said Jackson's grandson raced a quarter-midget and one day Jackson "called my dad and said 'hey, do you want to come to the quarter-midget track and we'll see if Shane likes what he sees?' We went out there and I got in Bobby Jackson's car. They restrict the throttle for the little kids, so they can't go fast, and they forgot to do it on the car I was in and I went out the first time pedal to the metal, right into the wall. After that it scared me a little bit so we waited about half a year and went back out and I've loved it ever since."

Skaggs raced quarter-midgets until he was 10 and had won three championships, then raced a Bandolero for a year and won a title in that. The next step was a Legend Car, and for several years Skaggs drove one of 5/8-scale versions of the old NASCAR modifieds in the series that has been a stepping stone for many of the Lucas Oil Modified drivers.

"I really like it," said Skaggs, who also races in the Grand American Modified class at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "I really like the Modified. It's kind of like a Legend car, (with) a lot more power, (but) it's more lazy, the way the car rolls over. I like the way we have to be conservative with the throttle and that sort of thing and conserve tires. It's a lot of fun. I've enjoyed it so far.

SHANE SKAGGS AT A GLANCE

Age: 17 (25 November 1998)
Lives in: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Marital status: Single
Occupation: Student
Car number: 28X
Type of chassis: Phil's Phabrication
Engine: Chevrolet
Crew Chief: Jeff Connors and Kent Shaggs
Sponsors: Millennium Communications; Shoretel; Americorp; J&S Racing Engines; Phil's Phabrication
Years in racing: 11
Divisions raced: Lucas Oil Modified, Grand American Modified, Legend Cars, Bandoleros, Quarter-Midgets
Championships won: Grand American Modifieds, Sandia Speedway, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2015; Five titles in Legend Cars (1), Bandoleros (1) and Quarter-Midgets (3)
Series point standings: First full season; 34 (2015; ran two races)

Tracks

Havasu 95 SpeedwayHavasu 95 Speedway
Irwindale Event CenterIrwindale Event Center
Las Vegas Motor SpeedwayLas Vegas Motor Speedway
Madera SpeedwayMadera Speedway
Rocky Mountain RacewayRocky Mountain Raceway
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