SAN BERNARDINO, California – Matthew Hicks knows how to keep a romance alive.
Last week, in the days leading up to the return of the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart to Orange Show Speedway, Hicks talked about how often he has raced there and the success he had had and said “I love Orange Show.”
That’s not a sentiment shared by many because the small, tight quarter-mile oval has driven young men to frustration and old men to more drink than usual. But Saturday night Hicks demonstrated why he’s so fond of the oft-maligned matron by winning there for the second year in a row.
The 29-year-old from Lakeside, California, started fourth in the 24-car field, took the lead during a caution period on lap 28 and stayed in front for 72 more laps to take the checkered flag for the LoanMart Super Fast 100 a comfortable 0.639 seconds ahead of Linny White in a repeat of last year’s finish.
It was the third series win for Hicks but his first this season and it put him back on top of the Hoosier Tire West point standings with three races remaining in the 10-race championship season. He had gone into the race 1 point behind fifth-place finisher Scott Winters after spending three weeks in the lead.
Hicks was fifth in qualifying, where Kyle Tellstrom set fast time with a track record 13.537 seconds and there was only 26/100ths of a second separating the top 16, and started fourth after an 8-car invert.
Pole-sitter Wes Miller and front-row companion Ryan Partridge set the pace in the early going, with Hicks settling into the top five long with Winters and White and those behind getting into various forms of mischief.
The front-runners got in the mischievous mood on lap 27, when Miller and Partridge got together on the back straightaway. That moved Hicks from third to first with White and Dylan Cappello in pursuit and he never trailed after that.
“It was exactly the way I planned it,” Hicks said. “During that long run (under green conditions from laps 35 to 80) I knew there had to be more cautions and I just tried to cruise. Even when Linny started to close in on me I tried not to sweat it, just let him go, let him use his stuff up trying to get to me. “then with 15 laps to go I said ‘all right, it’s go time.’ I found something that works and Linny got off my bumper and I started creeping away.”
White, who had moved into second on lap 51, gave Hicks a few love taps in an effort to take the lead late in the race, but had his quest spoiled by Hicks and conditions.
“Someone was putting gear old down,” White said while Patridge nodded in confirmation. “After the last restart (on lap 80) it was bad; it just killed everything I had. It was sliding the nose getting down in (a corner) and I had no grip off.”
Hicks, on the other hand, was firmly gripping the hand of his great love.
LUCAS OIL MODIFIEDS
LoanMart Super Fast 100
Orange Show Speedway, San Bernardino, Ca.
100 laps, 1/4-mile paved oval
Saturday, August 20, 2016
MAIN EVENT – 1. Matthew Hicks (28), Lakeside, Ca.; 2. Linny White (99), Colton, Ca.; 3. Dylan Cappello (11), Peoria, Az.; 4. Taylor Miinch (4T), Blossom Valley, Ca.; 5. Scott Winters (24A), Tracy, Ca.; 6. Kyle Tellstrom (89), Ukiah, Ca.; 7. Larry Gerchman (25), Lake Havasu City, Az.; 8. Ryan Partridge (9), Rancho Cucamonga, Ca.; 9. Jesse Lawson (88), Big Bear City, Ca.; 10. Shane Skaggs (28X), Albuquerque, N.M.; 11. William Camara (3), Fremont, Ca.; 12. Shelby Stroebel (24), Meridian, Idaho; 13. Travis Thirkettle (5T), Newhall, Ca.; 14. Eddie Secord (35), Oak Hills, Ca.; 15. Tony Forfa IV (34), Redlands, Ca.; 16. William Guevara (55), Lake Havasu City, Az.; 17. Aaron McMorran (22), Las Vegas; 18. Dustin Tilbury (17D), Edgewood, N.M.; 19. Blake Rogers (4B), Yuma, Az.; 20. Eric Hamilton (11H), Hanford, Ca.; 21. Wes Miller (87), Turlock, Ca.; 22. Kyle Cline (98) , Hesperia, Ca.; 23. Doug Hamm, North Las Vegas, Nev.; 24. Dave Arce (5), Santee, Ca.
Margin of victory – 0.629 seconds. Average speed – Unavailable. Lead changes – 1 among 2 drivers. Caution flags – 6. Fast qualifier – Tellstrom, 13.537 seconds (track record).
-Lucas Oil Modified Series Press Release