Irwindale, CA– There’s been a lot of talk in recent months about the future of Irwindale Speedway, but the answer really is simple. Just give it to Austin Barnes because the 20-year-old from Escondido, California, already owns it.
Saturday night he made that abundantly clear to all of his rivals in the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart and the 3,000-plus spectators who turned out to watch the Fast Orange 75.
Barnes set the pace in qualifying for the fourth time in a row at this half-mile oval, the fourth time in eight races this season and the 27th time in his Modified career (Chris Gerchman is second with 7 fast times).
Then he went out and won his fourth straight race at the track which may or may soon become an outlet shopping mall and padding his lead in the Hoosier Tire West point standings.
Barnes made it a little harder on himself than necessary by messing up and pulling a 7 for the invert, which put reigning series champion and past Irwindale winner Dylan Cappello on the pole. But Barnes quickly overcame that foul up, moving into second place by lap 5 of the 75-lap race, then diving low in Turn 4 to take the lead from Cappello on lap 22.
The race for first was over at that point, although the reality didn’t set in until about the midway point, when Barnes was leading by 1.48 seconds and pulling away with ease. He was 5.5 seconds ahead when the first of three caution flags waved on lap 61 and won by 1.068 seconds after a 4-lap dash to the finish following the final caution.
Cappello hung on for second and Jason Irwin was third. Past Irwindale Late Model champion Travis Thirkettle briefly pressured Cappello for second and settled for fourth in his series debut and Kyle Tellstrom was fifth. There were 11 cars on the lead lap when the checkered flag waved and 26 of the 31 starters still were running.
Barnes set fast time and won twice at Irwindale in 2011. The track wasn’t on the series schedule in 2012, when Barnes won the series title, and he didn’t race in either 2013 or 2014, missing ’13 while racing in the SPEARS Southwest Tour and ’14 while sitting out a one-race suspension.
Absence having made his heart grow fonder of the facility, he returned June 27 to set fast time with a lap of 18.640 seconds and win the race over Taylor Miinch and Cappello by 0.664 seconds.
There is an unconfirmed rumor that Barnes and his family are trying to put together a consortium to buy the track and turn it into an amusement park called Austin’s Acres or Barnes’ Bridges or something similar. His rivals would be on favor of giving it to him and then finding somewhere else to race.
The next stop for the series is LoanMart Madera (California) Speedway on October 10, when the ninth of the season’s 10 points races will pay $5,000 to win. The points champion will be determined November 7 at Havasu 95 Speedway in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and the season will end November 21 with the non-points Lucas Oil Race of Champions at The Bull Ring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
LUCAS OIL MODIFIEDS FAST ORANGE 75
at Irwindale (California) Speedway
1/2-mile paved, banked oval
Saturday, September 19, 2015
Main event (75 laps, 37.5 miles) – 1. Austin Barnes, Escondido, Calif.; 2. Dylan Cappello, Peoria, Arizona; 3. Jason Irwin, Albuquerque, N.M.; 4. Travis Thirkelttle, Fillmore, Calif.; 5. Kyle Tellstrom, Ukiah, Calif.; 6. Jack Madrid, San Clemente, Calif.; 7. Talor Miinch, Blossom Valley, Calif.; 8. Scott Winters, Tracy, Calif.; 9. Larry Gerchman, Lake Havasu City, Arizona; 10. Matthew Hicks, Lakeside, Calif.;
11.Eric Rhead, West Jordan, Utah; 12. Jim Mardis, Yucaipa, Calif.; 13. Ryan Candsale, Laguna Beach, Calif.; 14. Eric Hamilton, Hanford, Calif.; 15. Eddie Secord, Oak Hills, Calif.; 16. Shane Skaggs, Albuquerque, N.M.; 17. Blaine Perkins, Bakersfield, Calif.; 18. Blake Roger, Yuma, Arizona; 19. Jairo Avila (JA Junior), Alhambra, Calif.; 20. Doug Carpenter, El Cajon, Calif.;
21. Doug Hamm, North Las Vegas, Nevada; 22. Dave Arce, Santee, Calif.; 23. Dustin Tilbury, Edgewood, N.M.; 24. Jerry Toporek, Venice, Calif.; 25. Kevin Nichols, Bakersfield, Calif.; 26. Tim Morse, Burbank, Calif.; 27. William Guevara, Lake Havasu City, Arizona; 28. Rod Johnson Jr., Canyon Country, Calif.; 29. Linny White, Colton, Calif.; 30. Shelby Stroebel, Meridian, Idaho; 31. Kyle Cline, Hesperia, Calif.
Margin of victory – 1.068 seconds. Average speed – 70.167 mph. Lead changes – 1 among 2 drivers. Caution flags – 3. Fast qualifier – Barnes, 18.488/97.360. Trophy Dash winner – Winters.
-Lucas Oil Modifieds Press Release. Photo Credit: Roger Seymour Photography