BY DAVE GRAYSON

The Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series, presented by Rockstar Energy Drink, returns to action, August 28th, at the always challenging Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring for the second time this year. Race number six on the series' schedule is the Lucas Oil Products 75. The special aspect of this race, that separates it from the previous five ones, is the fact that the drivers will be awarded double points.

There are three basic questions that needs to be considered regarding the Lucas Oil Products 75 at Las Vegas. First, can anyone topple the winning dynasty created by Chris Gerchman? Second, what impact will double points have on a series championship standing that is already skin tight? Third, will fuel mileage become a surprise impact on the outcome of this race the way it was the last time the series ran at Las Vegas?

Chris Gerchman has been literally on fire this season and has four consecutive wins in the series. But the excellent 2010 racing season he's enjoying at the moment began on a sour note. During the March 27th season opener, at the Lucas Oil I 10 Speedway in Blythe, Gerchman destroyed his car and left home 19th in the points standings.

It turned out to be a very temporary setback. Gerchman responded April 17th by winning the CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods 75 after leading the entire race. Win number two came May 22nd in Las Vegas. The Rockstar 75 ended under bizarre circumstances when race leader Andrew Phipps ran out of fuel and Gerchman was in place to take advantage of the situation. Gerchman next dominated the June 12th Rockstar 75 at the Tuscon Raceway Park and followed that up by winning the July 10th Magnaflow Exhaust Products 75 at the Orange Show Speedway, in San Bernardino, with another strong performance.

Gerchman is already planning on "partying like a Rockstar" for the fifth consecutive time when the green flag falls on the Lucas Oil Products 75 August 28th at the Las Vegas Bullring. But there's going to be a group of drivers present who are tired of looking at Gerchman's rear bumper and they will be arriving in Las Vegas with a totally different plan. Ending Gerchman's win streak will be their priority, the double points they will collect on this night is an additional incentive.

On the topic of the double points, there are only 24 points separating the top five drivers. The element of double points could alter those numbers in a very dramatic fashion. Despite his four consecutive wins, Gerchman actually is not the series' points leader. That honor belongs to Las Vegas driver Doug Hamm. While he's still looking for that coveted first series win, Hamm has been a model of consistency so far this season. His four top five finishes, along with a top ten, has allowed him to accumulate a series leading 218 championship points.

But the Las Vegas fan favorite only holds a four point advantage over Gerchman going into this next race. When it comes to the process of keeping Gerchman in his rear view mirror Hamm does have one major advantage: the mega miles he has driven on the Las Vegas Bullring. A strong finish, combined with double points, will help Hamm keep that lead in the standings.

Third in the standings is Jim Mardis the winner of the season opening race last March. Mardis has three top five finishes and a top ten to reinforce his win and that adds up to 206 points and a mere 12 points away from the top. Mardis will be another driver to keep an eye on during the Lucas Oil Products 75 at Las Vegas.

The same goes for James Cole who commutes to the series events from his native San Antonio-Texas. With two top five and two top ten finishes, Cole is 22 points from the top of the standings. He especially enjoys racing at the Las Vegas Bullring because of its fast straightaways and sweeping turns that allows plenty of room for passing. Cole says the Bullring greatly reminds him of his home track in Texas where he has won championships.

Tim Morse is ranked fifth in the standings, 24 points from the top, based on two top five and three top ten finishes. Morse has always been a model of consistency and truly feels that his first win will come in a short amount of time. He also feels that the Las Vegas Bullring owes him one and he plans to settle that debt on August 28th.

There are plenty of other drivers who will be chasing those double points during the Lucas Oil Products 75 at Las Vegas. The series awards post season cash bonuses and sponsor products to the top 15 in the standings at the end of the year. The point separation among the drivers in positions six though 15 are also very close. With the series starting the second half of the year at Las Vegas, these drivers will be looking for double points to advance their current positions.

The very surprising issue of fuel mileage presented itself at the conclusion of the May 22nd race at Las Vegas. A total of four cars, including two potential race winners, were reported to run out of gas during the waning laps of the race. This was largely caused by the amount of extra caution laps the cars ran following the six yellow flags that impacted the race. When the series promotes the Lucas Oil Products 75 they mean exactly what they say: 75 full laps of green flag racing. The series does not count yellow flag laps.

The race teams have a variety of options when it comes to the fuel that is placed in their tanks. Those options include standard gasoline, performance enhanced Sunoco Race Fuels, methanol and E85 fuel. Obviously something exotic such as methanol is going to burn faster in the engine and may not yield the total gas mileage that would be expected from a more standard fuel.

It's also obvious that there's an unknown "X factor" in play. There's no accurate way of predicting the number of caution flags and laps. Dependent upon the number of cautions, the total laps on the track could exceed well over 100. It's a factor that crew chiefs will have to take into consideration when they arrive at the Bullring August 28th.

In addition to its title sponsor, the Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series, presented by Rockstar Energy Drink is strongly supported by the presence of a highly potent marketing concept known as "Team Lucas." Team members include Lucas Oil Products, Magnaflow Exhaust Products, E3 Spark Plugs, General Tire, K&N Performance Filters, GEICO Powersports, CANIDAE All Natural Pet Food, MAV-TV, Dart Machinery and Rockstar Energy Drink.

The series is also strongly supported by a group of associate sponsors featuring Eibach Springs, Hoosier Tire West, Budweiser, Blue Water Resort & Casino, Sunoco Race Fuels, Frank's Radio and Racing Plus.

Next Event

Kern County Raceway
June 30, 2018

 

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