By Laura Kassik
In some divisions, a 16-point cushion might seem insurmountable, but that isn’t the case in the highly-competitive and unpredictable Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by Loanmart.
Points frontrunner Matthew Hicks leads Scott Winters, 589-573, heading into the series championship, Saturday, Oct. 29 at Havasu 95 Speedway. But a lot can happen during the 100-lap feature.
“The points battle has been a good one all year,” said Bill Rozhon, Havasu 95 Speedway track promoter and Modified Series co-founder. “Matt’s got a slight lead, but it’s not over til it’s over.”
Joining the Modifieds for an afternoon of racing will be Get It In Gear Street Stocks, Havasu Wiring Outlaw Karts, and Sam Nichols Factory Stocks. Spectator gates open at Noon, and racing, sponsored by Mudsharks, starts at 2 p.m.
The Modifieds champion will be crowned at Havasu 95, where the season started in March. This is the final points race, but the series will hold its season-finale in Las Vegas on Nov.19. Saturday’s race will be televised live on MAVTV.
In the points race, after Hicks and Winters, Taylor Miinch sits three points back (570) in third, fourth is Kyle Tellstrom (547), Linny White is fifth (518), and in sixth is Havasu’s Larry Gerchman (502).
White, who won two races including the season-opener at Havasu, was suspended for the final two races after a physical altercation at the series’ last outing on Oct. 8 at Madera. That moves Gerchman closer to fifth. Behind him sits Travis Thirkettle, in seventh with 484 points and Dylan Cappello is eighth with 479 points.
Former Havasu 95 Bandolero and Legend track champion Blake Rogers is in 13th place (396) and former Havasu 95 Factory Stocks track champion William Guevara is in 21st place with 270 points.
In the nine races this season, there have been seven different winners. White and Thirkettle have each won twice. Other main event winners have been: Ryan Partridge, Tellstrom, Winters, Hicks, and Cappello.
“Larry’s been running good,” Rozhon said of the series veteran. “I wouldn’t count out Larry.”
Rozhon said the series has been averaging about 33 cars, but expects 28 in Havasu to vie for a spot in the 24-car main event.
“The field has gotten so competitive with the times that the whole field is a half a second apart,” Rozhon said.
The Street Stocks, Outlaw Karts, and Factory Stocks were all in action Oct. 22 and hadn’t run by press time. Each of those divisions ran the season-opener on Oct. 1.
Tyler Savage surprised not only the spectators, but himself, by wheeling his Street Stock into victory lane. It had been two years since he strapped into a racecar, during which time he was concentrating on a new job and baby. The veteran driver, who moved-up the ranks in go-karts and other open wheel divisions before spending two years in a Street Stock, enjoyed success at Havasu 95 before his break.
“It was unexpected to win the race,” said the Havasu driver. “It was really exciting. My friends helped me out at the races. The car didn’t handle well in practice and we made some changes.
“My goals from the onset were to race three or four races and shake the rust out and get the car sorted out before I start competing for wins. We were a bit lucky and started on the front row. You could tell I was rusty. My left forearm cramped up. When I got out of the car I could barely get out. I think I’m too old for this.”
Savage said before the race he told his spotter Mike Price that, “if we end up winning the race I’ll just quit racing because there was no way I would win.”
Last week, Savage spent much of his free time in the garage fine-tuning his car, trying to make it faster. He said he has the same goals as he did on Oct. 1 for the season opener. He wants to “get the car faster and be competitive.”
In addition to Price at G-n-G Automotive, his other sponsors include: Premier Golf Cars, Bill’s Custom Engines, Harry at Sundance Country Mobil and Max's Texaco.
Other drivers to watch in the Street Stocks are Garrett Reinoso, who took second in the first race, defending Street Stocks track champion Bobby Keirns, 2015-14 track champion Gavin Bucy, William Guevara, and Nathan Hovdal.
In the Factory Stocks, after their first outing, some of the drivers to watch include feature winner Brent De Lay, Jeff Prieur, Chris Blackwell, Jose Guevara, and Jeremy Orozco.
The youth Outlaw Karts, which run on the small dirt track inside the quarter-mile asphalt track, run two divisions. After the first night, Luke Silber and Taylor Whitefield were tied atop of the Stock Class. Silber and defending Outlaw Karts champion Adam Hommerding were the frontrunners in the Animal Class.