April 24, 2012
BY DAVE GRAYSON
The 2012 version of the Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series, presented by 1 800 Loan Mart, will take the green flag for their second event of the season this Saturday night, April 28th, at the Lucas Oil I 10 Speedway in Blythe-California with the running of the General Tire 75. This tightly wound quarter mile speedway, located at the Colorado River Fairgrounds, is always a challenge for the series' drivers and traditionally a modified race there treats fans to a highly competitive, wheel to wheel, show. A full field of 22 modifieds are expected to start this race. Another exciting aspect here is the fact that the General Tire 75 will live up to its name: a full 75 laps of green flag racing. The series does not count yellow flag laps.
The current points standings are naturally based on the results of the March 24th season opener held at the Havasu 95 Speedway. That was the night that driver Austin Barnes served notice that he planned to start the new season where he left off last year: the Sunoco Race Fuels victory lane. The Escondido-California driver finished last season with six wins, including five consecutive features.
Barnes' scored max points from his latest win, at the Havasu 95 Speedway last month. In addition to the standard race winner's 50 points, he also collected six bonus points under a brand new system instituted by series' officials this year known as the E 3 Spark Plugs Bonus Plan. The new system awards two bonus points for winning the race, two points for setting the fast time during qualifying and two points for being the hard charger by advancing the most positions during the race. Because Barnes ran the points table that night, he will be arriving in Blythe next Saturday night with an eight point advantage in the championship standings.
Second in the standings is Chris Gerchman, a representative from the famed Arizona based Gerchman racing family. Now a resident of the state of Texas, Gerchman will be making the long trip to race at Blythe Saturday night. He plans to join his racing family for as many of the series' races this year as possible. He served notice to his competition that he already has his airline tickets for this weekend. Also a strong point here is the fact that Gerchman knows the fast way around the Lucas Oil I 10 Speedway. He's won a lot of races there in the past.
Third in the standings, only ten points away from the top, is Matt Hicks who made a strong showing, during last month's season opener, in his very first start in a modified race car. In addition to his own natural driving talent, Hicks is backed with the presence of racing veteran Dean Kuhn who is also known as the "Mod Father."
Never to be overlooked here is the presence of Las Vegas driver Doug Hamm who is fourth in the standings and 12 markers away. This time last year Hamm would have told you that the Lucas Oil I 10 Speedway wasn't exactly his favorite venue on the series' schedule. However, that was before he won his first series' race there last year.
Also, do not make the mistake of overlooking the presence of Jim Mardis in Saturday night's race. He's currently fifth in the standings and 14 points out. The 2010 and 2011 series champion also knows the location of the Sunoco victory lane at this speedway. He's also served notice that he plans to score a championship three-peat in 2012.
In addition to the anticipated high level of competition during this race, the drivers will be racing for some impressive numbers that's associated with the series. First off, there's $1,100 waiting for the winner at the end of the race. Also, each driver is guaranteed a minimum of $250 for just starting the 75 lap feature race.
The Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series, presented by 1 800 Loan Mart, also features a series of driver bonus incentives such as $200 for winning the Dart Machinery trophy dash. There are also $100 bonuses for the Optima Batteries Hard Charger of the race, Budweiser Fast Time Award, the GEICO Clean Pass bonus and the J E Pistons, Roush Yates Performance Parts and Sunoco Winner's Circle Award.
Included in the numbers game, from the General Tire 75, will be the all important championship points standings. That's because of the tow money that comes with those standings. Recognizing a need to help their teams with the cost of travelling, series officials created the Sunoco Race Fuels Winner's Circle Program which pays drivers a $200 bonus per race for maintaining a top ten position in the points. Drivers ranked in positions 11 through 20 will receive a $150 bonus from the Speedco Tow Money Program.
On Saturday race day the spectator gates will open at 5 pm with the racing getting underway at 7 pm. The racing entertainment will be enhanced by the presence of the speedway's street stock and factory stock divisions. For more information regarding the Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series, presented by 1 800 Loan Mart, dial up the series' official website at www.lucasoilmodifieds.com.
The Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series, presented by 1 800 Loan Mart, is powered by a highly potent marketing concept known as "Team Lucas." Team members include: Lucas Oil Products Inc, E 3 Spark Plugs, General Tire, GEICO, CANIDAE All Natural Pet Food, MAV TV, Speedco Truck Lube and Tires/Firestone and Optima Batteries.
The series is also strongly supported by a group of associate sponsors featuring: Eibach Springs, Hoosier Tire West, Budweiser, Blue Water Resort and Casino, Sunoco Race Fuels, Frank's Radio, Racing Plus, Roush Yates Performance Parts, J E Pistons, Dart Machinery LTD, Go Pro Cameras and 1 800 Loan Mart.