CORONA, California – If past performances can be a guide to the future it’s safe to say Matthew Hicks isn’t the least bit upset that the Lucas Oil Modified Series championship will be decided at Havasu 95 Speedway.
Hicks, a 29-year-old from Lakeside, California, has led the point standings after six of the nine races to date and on Saturday, October 29, he’ll line up for the 100-lap Hoosier Tire Championship presented by DJ Safety leading Scott Winters by 16 points and Taylor Miinch by 19.
Fourth-place Kyle Tellstrom is the only other driver not mathematically eliminated from the title race, but the Boise State University student is 42 points behind and would need an unlikely chain of events to overtake the top three.
The guideposts for Hicks are clearly marked.
In the Hoosier Tire West point standings drivers get 75 points for a win, 70 for second and 2 less for each position thereafter. There also are 2 bonus points for the Fast EZ-EFI Fast Time in qualifying and 2 for the Optima Batteries Hard Charger who gains the most positions during the race, and since one driver can’t get both of those awards the maximum points possible for the race winner is 77.
That means Hicks can wrap up his first championship by finishing sixth (62 points) or better no matter what Winters or Miinch might do, and in four of his past five starts at the track in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Hicks has done that. He was sixth on March 1, 2014, and November 7, 2015, and second in the March season-opening events the past two years.
He also has an 11th-place finish in October of 2014 to remind him that there’s seldom an easy, incident-free race on the tricky quarter-mile oval, so it’s doubtful he’ll relax in any way until he sees the checkered flag this time.
That’s especially true since Winters and Miinch also have done well at the picturesque track. Winters has been second, fourth twice and eighth twice in his past five starts and Miinch, who missed the 2014 opener, has been fifth, fourth and third twice since then.
Several others in the 24-car field may be factors in the outcome, too, among them Austin Barnes, who won both races at the speedway in 2015, and Doug Hamm, who won this event in 2014.
The championship won’t be the only award that’s determined by what happens in the finale. Still to be officially decided are the lucrative DJ Safety Rookie of the Year title and $500 awards for the Optima Batteries Hard Charger and SuperClean Lucky Dog leaders.
Travis Thirkettle and Shane Skaggs lead the Rookie of the Year standings, which are based on a driver’s eight best finishes. Points are awarded on a 30-25-20-15 basis and with their two worst finishes thrown out two-time race winner Thirkettle has a 195-170 advantage. With no more than a handful of rookies expected Thirkettle needs only to take the green flag to claim the prize.
The award, which was presented for the first time last season, so far includes a $1,000 bonus from the Lucas Oil Modified Series; a custom driving suit, gloves and shoes worth approximately $1,700 from DJ Safety; a $550 gift certificate from Pyrotech Safety toward the purchase of a helmet; a $200 gift certificate from Joe’s Racing Products; a 15-inch NASCAR-style steering wheel valued at $265 from Driven Steering Wheels; a $400 gift certificate toward the purchase of a seat from ButlerBuilt; a $200 gift certificate from Bassett Racing Wheels; and team shirts, T-shirts, hats and other apparel from various participating companies.
That makes the award Thirkettle (or Skaggs) will receive at the series’ banquet January 14, 2017, worth more than $4,300.
Thirkettle, Skaggs and Larry Gerchman are the contenders for the Hard Charger Award. All three have won it twice. If one of them can make it three Saturday he gets the $500; if not they’ll divide the prize three ways.
The finalists for the season-long SuperClean Lucky Dog Award, which goes to the first driver 1 lap down at the finish of a race, are Eddie Secord and Kyle Cline, who live just a few miles apart in Oak Hills and Hesperia, California, respectively. Each has won the award twice and should one of them get it for a third time he will get $500. Otherwise they’ll share it with each other and possibly either Dave Arce or Blake Rogers, who could get the award for the second time this weekend.
The Hoosier Tire Championship, the headline attraction of a program that will include Havasu 95 Speedway’s Factory Stocks, Street Stocks and Outlaw Karts, should will get under way at about 4:30 p.m Saturday.
Spectator gates open at noon, qualifying for all classes gets under way at 1, Trophy Dashes will follow opening ceremonies at 2 and the main events begin at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for military personnel, seniors and handicapped and $6 for children 6 to 16. VIP seats and a Family Pack admitting two adults and two children are available for $25 each.
Those unable to attend the race at the picturesque track still can see it live on LucasOilRacing.TV, the streaming on-line subscription motor sports network.
The Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart is supported by a potent marketing concept known as “Team Lucas” whose members include General Tire, GEICO, E3 Spark Plugs, Optima Batteries, Carlyle Tools-NAPA, BILSTEIN Shocks, Super Clean, 4-Wheel Parts, Zotto Premium Matresses and LoanMart.
Additional sponsorship is provided by Lucas Oil Products, Protect the Harvest, MAVTV Motorsports Network, Lucas Oil Racing TV, Hoosier Tire West, Sunoco Race Fuels, Aero Racing Wheels, ASI Racewear, Five Star Race Car Bodies, Frank’s Radios, Racing Plus-Parker Pumper, EFI University, Joe’s Racing Products, Scribner Plastics, Fast EZ-EFI System-COMP and DJ Safety.
Detailed information on the series is available at www.LucasOilModifieds.com.
-Lucas Oil Modifieds Press Release & Photo