LAKE HAVASU CITY, Arizona – Austin Barnes said he started Saturday night’s Lucas Oil Modified Series race at Havasu 95 Speedway planning to “stay clean and if anything came my way try to do something with it.”
He did both and put an exclamation point on his second series championship with an 0.830-second victory over Scott Winters in the 100-lap Hoosier Tire West Championship presented by Carlyle Tools.
It was Barnes’s fourth win of the season, two of them coming on the Havasu quarter-mile and two on the Irwindale Speedway half-mile, and it enabled the 20-year-old from Escondido, California, to join Jim Mardis (2010-2011) as a two-time champion as the extremely competitive regional touring series celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Barnes went into the weekend with a 15-point lead over 2014 champion Dylan Cappello, added 2 points by being fastest in qualifying for the fifth time this season and 28th time overall, and finished 36 points in front of Cappello, who was 10th at perhaps his least-favorite venue.
The 19-year-old from Peoria, Arizona, had finished 9th, 23rd and 11th in his previous outings at the picturesque track.
“This track and me just don’t agree,” Cappello said. “We’ve thrown everything at it and nothing has worked. Maybe it’s the way I drive it; I don’t know.”
Barnes, on the other hand, has four wins and four runner-up finishes in his past eight races at the track.
“I’ve kind of taken a liking to it,” he said of the track that was one of the series’ original facilities. “I don’t know if I like it as much as Irwindale (where he has won four in a row), but it’s close.
“The car was just so fast all weekend. After qualifying (which he led with a lap in 15.201 seconds) I knew we had a real good race car.”
Barnes started the race on the outside of the second row after drawing 4 for an invert. He moved into third on the opening lap, took second on lap 30 and stalked pole-sitter Winters for 32 laps before taking the lead on lap 62 and pulling away.
Winters, who won twice during the 10-race championship, got some late pressure from third-place Linny White, but never was seriously threatened. Taylor Miinch got fourth for his sixth top five finish of the year and DJ Safety Rookie of the Year Jack Madrid was fifth. Matthew Hicks, Jason Irwin, Kyle Tellstrom, Larry Gerchman and Cappello rounded out the top 10 and in something of a rarity 16th through 20th qualifiers Dustin Tilbury, Eric Hamilton, William Guevara, Doug Carpenter and Dave Arce finished in those same positions. The only difference was that Carpenter and Arce traded places at 19th and 20th.
The race on a chilly night in southwestern Arizona brought the championship to a close, but the season has one race remaining – the Lucas Oil Race of Champions presented by MAVTV at The Bull Ring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway November 21.
-Lucas Oil Modified Series Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com
LUCAS OIL MODIFIEDS PRESENTED BY LOANMART
HOOSIER TIRE WEST CHAMPIONSHIP
at Havasu 95 Speedway, Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Saturday, November 7, 2015
MAIN EVENT (100 laps) – 1. Austin Barnes (51A), Escondido, Ca.; 2. Scott Winters (24A), Tracy, Ca.; 3. Linny White (99), Colton, Ca.; 4. Taylor Miinch (4T), Blossom Valley, Ca.; 5. Jack Madrid (3X), San Clemente, Ca.; 6. Matthew Hicks (28), Lakeside, Ca.; 7. Jason Irwin (9X), Albuquerque, N.M.; 8. Kyle Tellstrom (5K), Ukiah, Ca.; 9. Larry Gerchman (25), Lake Havasu City, Az.; 10. Dylan Cappello (11C), Peoria, Az.;
11.Jim Mardis (51), Yucaipa, Ca.; 12. Shelby Stroebel (24), Meridian, Idaho; 13. Payton Saxton (57), Las Vegas; 14. Blake Rogers (4B), Yuma, Az.; 15. Doug Hamm (4X), North Las Vegas, Nevada; 16. Dustin Tilbury (71X), Edgewood, N.M.; 17. Eric Hamilton (11H), Hanford, Ca.; 18. William Guevara (12), Lake Havasu City; 19. Doug Carpenter (3), San Diego, Ca.; 20. Dave Arcee (5), Santee, Ca.;
21. Eddie Secord (84), Oak Hills, Ca.; 22. Sal Lopez (02), Sacramento, Ca.; 23. Pat Petrie (6), Henderson, Nevada.
Margin of victory – -0.830 seconds. Average speed – 29.684 mph. Lead changes – 3 among 3 drivers. Caution flags – 4. Leading qualifier – Barnes, 15.201/59.207 mph. Trophy Dash winner – Gerchman.