Corona, CA – It’s 600 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Salt Lake City, Utah. That’s about a 12-hour drive for someone towing a race car but chances are Jason Irwin won’t mind it at all.
The talented 20-year-old is in his fourth season with the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by RAM Mounts. He displayed his potential by qualifying fifth, winning the trophy dash and finishing eighth in the main event in his series debut at Las Vegas on May 17, 2014, and in 22 starts overall he’s had 12 top 5 finishes and 18 top 10s.
What Irwin doesn’t have is a victory. But anyone trying to predict a time and a place for that to come could do worse than choose Saturday night’s (July 22) Lucas Oil 75 presented by General Tire at Rocky Mountain Raceways in the Salt Lake City suburb of West Valley City, Utah.
In his two series races at RMR the taciturn Irwin has demonstrated an affinity for the fast 3/8–mile America First Credit Union Oval that is one of the drivers’ favorites.
In 2014, five weeks after his series debut, he set the pace in qualifying with a lap in 15.491 seconds and finished second to Shelby Stroebel of Meridian, Idaho.
Irwin came back in 2015 to again pace qualifying, with a track-record lap at 15.221 seconds, then finished third to Dylan Cappello and Austin Barnes, who got together racing to the checkered flag and slid across the finish line side-by-side.
Last year Irwin missed all but the opening race while reorganizing but has come back with a qualifying best at Tucson, Arizona, in March, a runner-up finish in the series most recent race, at Bakersfield, California, July 1, and an on-going streak of three straight top 5s in his Milwaukee Power Tools/Werner Ladders Phils Phabrication Chevrolet.
Those performances make Irwin one of the drivers to watch but he doesn’t have the stage to himself for the Lucas Oil Modifieds fifth visit to RMR. Stroebel, Cappello and 2016 winner Scott Winters will be back and Cappello, the leading qualifier at RMR last year, is enjoying a hot streak of his own.
Cappello, who won the 2014 championship as a rookie for the Garcia Racing team, this year joined crew chief Dean Kuhn at RBK Racing. They had a few missteps early on but Cappello has led every lap of the past two main events in his RAM Mounts/Arizona Garage Doors STR Chevrolet.
Equally as impressive is Taylor Miinch, who used a third at RMR last year to launch a streak, now at 11 races, in which he has won three times and never finished lower than fourth.
This year the Blossom Valley, California, resident has back-to-back wins at Tucson and Las Vegas and third-place finishes in the other three championship races in his ZOTTO Mattress/Lineer STR Chevrolet. He also has the biggest halfway lead ever in the Hoosier Tire West point standings, a 30-point advantage over Cappello with five races down and five to go. Irwin is third, another 18 points behind.
The Lucas Oil 75 is the centerpiece of RMR’s Horsepower Heaven, a double-barreled event that features the Lucas Oil Modifieds, Hornets, Mini-Cup cars and Figure 8 Trains on the oval, Jet Cars, Super Pros, Top Sportsman and Motorcycles on the adjacent drag strip and a Fireworks show to wrap up the evening.
Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for children ages 5 to 12.
Lucas Oil Modified Series Press Release. Photo Credit: Roger Seymour