CORONA, California – There isn’t a much better way to open a season than with an exciting new event to welcome two major sponsors and a $25,000 purse to inspire the racers in the most competitive short-track touring series in the West.
That’s what will be happening this weekend (February 10-11) when the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by RAM Mounts gets its 12th season under way with the Spray Nine Winter Showdown presented by RAM Mounts at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California.
RAM Mounts, the world leader in the manufacturing and distribution of mounting products for mobile communication devices, is the series’ new presenting sponsor. Spray Nine cleaner/degreaser will be the title sponsor of this weekend’s activity, which will be round one of the three-event Spray Nine Race of Champions.
“We’re delighted to welcome RAM Mounts and Spray Nine to Team Lucas and the Lucas Oil Modified Series and we’re incredibly honored to have these two great companies choose our series for their first sponsorship involvements,” series promoter Greg Scheidecker said.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure this is a positive experience for them and create partnerships that will last for a long time.”
This will be the third year the Lucas Oil Modifieds have shared the Winter Showdown spotlight with a $30,000 to win, 125-lap Super Late Model race promoted by the SRL Southwest Tour and this year featuring NASCAR star Kyle Busch, but there have been some format changes.
After a day of practice for both groups of racers on Friday, February 10, weather permitting, the competition will begin about 7:30 that night with the Spray Nine Race of Champions Sprint – nine cars racing nine laps on the ultrafast half-mile oval with $500 going to the winner.
It’s essentially a trophy dash on steroids, but since the Modifieds do not qualify until mid-afternoon on Saturday, February 11, the field will be based on the 2016 point standings and then on the date of entry for the Showdown if the field hasn’t been filled.
Then at about dinner time (5 p.m.) on Saturday evening a field that currently numbers two dozen entries will roll onto the track for the Spray Nine Race of Champions, the first of the trio of contests that make up the series within a series this season.
The past two years the special events at Kern County to open the season and Las Vegas to end it served as well-paid bookends to the 10-race championship but did not count in the Hoosier Tire West point standings. That’s true again with respect to the process of deciding the series title, but the points scored at each of those races and the one at Irwindale (California) Speedway in August will determine the outcome of the Race of Champions and the distribution of a separate points fund.
The first two Winter Showdown races were 75 laps and tested the fuel limits of the open-wheel cars before Dylan Cappello and Ryan Partridge rolled into the winner’s circle. Saturday’s event is scheduled for 50 laps, which should let the drivers press the gas pedal a little harder in pursuit of the $5,000 check that awaits the winner.
Cappello and Partridge will be among the pursuers. So will two-time series champion Austin Barnes and 2016 race winners Linny White, Scott Winters and Travis Thirkettle, who won the September race at Kern County en route to the DJ Safety Rookie of the Year Award.
The search for his successor has begun.
-Lucas Oil Modified Series Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com