LAKE HAVASU CITY, Arizona (October 18, 2014) – Doug Hamm couldn’t stop saying thank you Saturday night after ending a four-year victory drought by winning the Best in the West 75 presented by Hoosier Tire West at Havasu 95 Speedway.
The 41-year-old truck driver from North Las Vegas, Nevada, stole the spotlight from NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Dylan Kwasniewski, points leader Dylan Cappello and everyone else in the 25-car field for the ninth of 10 races on the schedule for the Lucas Oil Modifieds presented by LoanMart.
Hamm qualified fifth, started on the outside of the front row thanks to a six-car invert, roared by pole-sitter Shelby Stroebel in the first corner and spent the rest of the night in front en route to his second series win. His first came at Blythe, California, on April 16, 2011.
“We finally put it all together tonight thanks to Phil’s Phabrication, Lucas Oil, Collision Masters, GEICO and Crispy Critters and Hoosier Tires for sponsoring the race,” Hamm said after leading 2012 champion Austin Barnes, Kwasniewksi, Larry Gerchman and Taylor Miinch across the finish line. “The whole team made this happen. Fabian Bray and Chris Bray (Phil’s Phabrication) put a lot of effort into it to give me a nice race car to drive so be sure to thank them a lot.
“It was a little snug in the center (of the turns), but she had terrific bite off and if I could just hold her down in the center and not make a mistake like I’ve been known to do it would just drive off. It was an awesome race car. I knew it when we unloaded it on old tires. It was fast and it all came together tonight.”
Barnes, who had led the Hoosier Tire West point standings until being forced to sit out the race at Irwindale, California, in August for disciplinary reasons, spent over 55 laps stalking the leader and had several opportunities to nudge Hamm aside on restarts after five caution flags in the final 25 laps of the quarter-mile.
At the end, however, Barnes was points racing. Cappello had raced in the top five until lap 60, when he got hit by reigning champion Chris Gerchman to bring out a yellow, and dropped back in the field before finishing ninth. That incident put fast qualifier Barnes in position to erase a good portion of Cappello’s points lead.
“I may have had something for him (Hamm), but with Cappello back in the pack I wasn’t going to push it,” Barnes said. “We maybe could have gotten the win, but with Cappello where he was I just didn’t see the reward being worth the risk to finish first.”
“I thought I gave him (Chris Gerchman) enough room, but I got hit in the left rear and got spun out,” Cappello said. “We probably had about a fifth- or sixth-place car tonight. It’s tough to have it happen like that.”
The difference between Cappello and Barnes when the race started was 34 points. The margin will be 20 points, unofficially, when they roll into The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the season finale November 22.
Kwasniewski won’t be around for that one, however. He’ll be in Florida, finishing his rookie season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series with Turner Scott Motorsports, but he’s glad he got a chance to race in the Modified series again.
The Las Vegas resident was filling in for Hamm’s teammate, Jason Irwin, who was competing in the Legends Cars Nationals. He started 10th, moved into the top five to stay by lap 20, and dueled with Barnes for the final 18 laps.
“I’m glad that Doug won,” Kwasniewski said. “Even if I got second I wasn’t going to pass him. There was no way. I was just being a teammate. I came out here to have fun and that’s what we did. There was no pressure or anything.
“The Nationwide car is a whole different animal. This is bump and grind racing, short track racing. The Nationwide car is about momentum and a lot has to do with aero(dynamics). There’s nothing I can take back from the this to the Nationwide car really. It’s the complete opposite. But they’re both great forms of racing.
“I’m glad I could be back with the guys.”
-Lucas Oil Modifieds Press Release. Photo Credit: Lucas Oil Modifieds.
LUCAS OIL MODIFIEDS
Best in the West 75 presented by Hoosier Tire West
Havasu 95 Speedway, Lake Havasu City, Arizona
October 18, 2014
MAIN EVENT RESULTS
1. Doug Hamm, North Las Vegas, Nevada; 2. Austin Barnes, Escondido, California; 3. Dylan Kwaskniewsi, Las Vegas; 4. Larry Gerchman, Lake Havasu City, Arizona; 5. Taylor Miinch, Alpine, California; 6. Shelby Stroebel, Meridian, Idaho; 7. Eddie Second, Oak Hills, California; 8. Scott Winters, Tracy, California; 9. Dylan Cappello, Peoria, Arizona; 10. Chris Gerchman, Spring Branch, Texas; 11. Matthew Hicks, Lakeside, California; 12. Chase Catania, El Cajon, California; 13. Wes Miller, Turlock, California; 14. Doug Carpenter, San Diego, Californioa; 15. Rich Lindgren, Rio Linda, California; 16. Abe Carter, West Valley Cuty, Utah; 17. Chris Cook, Tabiona, Utah; 18. Pat Petrie, Henderson, Nevada; 19. Jim Mardis, Yucaipa, California; 20. Jerry Toporek, Venice, California; 21. Sal Lopez, Sacramento, California; 22. Blake Rogers, Yuma, Arizona; 23. William Guevara, Lake Havasu City; 24. Dustin Tilbury, Edgewood, New Mexico; 25. Kyle Ray, Littleton, Colorado.
Margin of victory – 0.315 seconds. Average speed – 18.741 mph. Caution periods – 7. Trophy Dash winner – Miinch. Fast qualifier – Barnes, 15.173 seconds, 59.316 mph (track record, old record 15. 216 by Chris Gerchman).