Taylor Miinch, 2017 Champion of the Year
Taylor Miinch, 2017 Champion of the Year

Corona, CA (January 18, 2018) - The men and women of the Lucas Oil Modified Series got together January 13 to say goodbye to the successful 2017 season and hello to a new one with the potential to be the best in series’ history.

The largest off-season gathering in memory filled the banquet room at the BlueWater Resort and Casino in Parker, Arizona, to do some bench racing, eat dinner, and talk about what they had won last year and how much more they could win in the 11 races on this year’s schedule.

Then they talked about tires – or, more specifically, the Hoosier 700 racing tires that have been one of the keys to the success of the West’s best short-track touring series and the confidence Hoosier Tire West had shown by making a $10,000 addition to the championship points fund.

There was a lot of talk about M and M’s too, during an evening in which champion Taylor Miinch and DJ Safety Rookie of the Year Mike Mitchell dominated the awards presentations the way they had dominated their respective categories on the track.

Michael Mitchell, 2017 DJ SAFETY Rookie of the Year
Michael Mitchell, 2017 DJ SAFETY Rookie of the Year

Miinch talked during his acceptance speech about dealing with the emotions he felt at the loss of his grandfather Charlie and wife Heather’s difficult pregnancy in 2017, then had his parents Chuck and Kim, crew chief John Blodgett and his team on stage to celebrate a season that may never be bettered.

The 23-year-old from Blossom Valley, California, won 4 of his 11 starts, never finished lower than third and was a record 123 points ahead of runner-up Dylan Cappello in the final standings. Miinch, who hasn’t been worse than fourth in his past 16 races, collected $5,000 in points fund money and $1,000 worth of Lucas Oil products for the championship, and his season winnings of $25,500 also is a series record.

Mitchell made several trips to the stage as well while collecting $1,000 for finishing eighth in the point standings, $500 for leading the Lucky Dog Award competition, his share of more than $6,000 worth of door prizes, and DJ Safety’s package of racing gear (a driver’s suit, helmet, gloves, shoes, and other merchandise) worth about $4,000 to the 40-year-old from Loomis, California.

Mitchell, the top rookie finisher in nine of the 10 races, is the third winner of an award that quickly has become one of the most coveted in West Coast short track racing. By the time Mitchell accepted congratulations on his season seven drivers had indicated they will compete for rookie honors this year and several others had expressed interest in participating.

“What an incredible night,” promoter Greg Scheidecker said. “Whenever I start thinking it may be hard for things to get any better, they do, and that makes me incredibly proud of everyone involved in the series. We’ve worked hard and been lucky enough to find a formula that produces exciting, competitive racing, and we’ve been unbelievably blessed to have a group of sponsors who like the product and believe in it enough to give us the support that allows us to keep improving, the way Hoosier Tire has done with our points fund.

“The $10,000 increase will raise the points fund to just under $30,000, which should get everyone’s attention, and the good news is that the money is going to be spread around. The champion’s payout won’t change, that’ll still be $5,000. But second through 10th will all get $1,000 more and 11th through 15th will go up $200 each. So, thank you, Hoosier Tire West.

“I also want to give special recognition to Shelly Keirns from Havasu 95 Speedway for taking her own time to make sure all the trophies got ordered and delivered.”

Scott Winters, 2017 Spray Nine Champion
Scott Winters, 2017 Spray Nine Champion

In addition to Miinch and Mitchell, the drivers who finished in the top 15 in the standings were recognized and given their points fund bonuses, seventh-place Scott Winters collected an extra $500 for winning the three-event Spray Nine Race of Champions and two-time champion Austin Barnes got $500 for topping the Fast EZ-EFI qualifying list with four fast times.

Later in the evening, after all the checks and awards had been stored away, the celebrants got together and sampled the casino’s games of chance and adult beverages before calling it a night and heading for home. They’ll get together again the second weekend in March when the 2018 season gets under way in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

The Lucas Oil Modified Series Schedule:

Mar 10Havasu 95 Speedway
Lake Havasu, AZ
Title Sponsor: Racing Plus
Presenting Sponsor: Lucas Oil Racing TV
Apr 14Tucson Speedway
Tucson, AZ
Title Sponsor: SuperClean
Presenting Sponsor: Hoosier Tire
May 5Las Vegas Motor Speedway - Bullring
Las Vegas, NV
Title Sponsor: General Tire
Presenting Sponsor: SuperClean
Jun 9Madera Speedway
Madera, CA
Title Sponsor: SpillVak
Presenting Sponsor: Protect The Harvest
Jun 30Kern County Raceway
Bakersfield, CA
Title Sponsor: SpillVak Triple Crown 1
Presenting Sponsor: GEICO
Jul 21Rocky Mountain Raceway
Salt Lake, UT
Title Sponsor: Lucas Oil Products
Presenting Sponsor: General Tire
Aug 18Irwindale Speedway
Irwindale, CA
Title Sponsor: SpillVak Triple Crown 2
Presenting Sponsor: E3 Spark Plugs
Sep 15Orange Show Speedway
San Bernardino, CA
Title Sponsor: GEICO
Presenting Sponsor: OPTIMA Batteries
Oct 6Madera Speedway
Madera, CA
Title Sponsor: K&N Engineering
Presenting Sponsor: FAST EZ-EFI
Oct 27Havasu 95 Speedway
Lake Havasu, AZ
Title Sponsor: Hoosier Tire
Presenting Sponsor: Downforce Racing Products
Nov 17Las Vegas Motor Speedway - Bullring
Las Vegas, NV
Title Sponsor: SpillVak Triple Crown 3
Presenting Sponsor: Sunoco Race Fuels