BAKERSFIELD, California — Jason Irwin missed a pretty good race Saturday night and he didn’t mind at all. The just-turned 21-year-old from Albuquerque, New Mexico, was having too much fun dominating the SpillVak Triple Crown I to give much thought to what was happening in the battle for positions behind him at Kern County Raceway.
Irwin got round five of the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by MAVTV under way by setting the fast time in qualifying and brought it to a close by driving away from the field and finishing 11.239 seconds ahead of Dylan Cappello, who took second from early leader Justin Johnson on the final lap of the 75-lap event.
Reigning series champion Taylor Miinch, who had won the past five championship races dating back to last season, was fifth this time. It was the first time he had finished below fourth in 21 races since July 2016.
“It feels awesome,” Irwin said. “It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been very, very close and something would happen, so it feels good to get it done.
“I was out there pretty good, from what I heard. They were telling me I was clear by about half a lap (on Kern County’s ultra-fast half-mile oval) and saying, ‘don’t use it up, don’t burn the tires up.’ I was just hoping and praying there wasn’t a caution.”
There wasn’t. The only caution flag came on the green flag lap, when a mechanical failure ended Shelby Stroebel’s night, and once the race was restarted it was uninterrupted. But a caution flag probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
“Irwin just drove around me,” said Johnson, who started on the pole and led until Irwin took over on lap 44 and began putting about a half-second a lap between himself and everyone else. “He was in his own zip code tonight.”
“Jason was really good,” said Cappello, whose battle with Johnson for second was just one of several constant fights for position in the top 10. “When someone is that good and you finish second you can’t feel down and hang your head.”
Irwin’s fast time Saturday was his fifth in the series, to go with five runner-up finishes in his previous 31 starts in the Milwaukee Power Tools/Werner Ladders Phil’s Phabrication Chevrolet. One of those seconds came at Kern County last year, and two came at Rocky Mountain Raceways, the West Valley City, Utah, track that will host the series for the final time July 21.
LUCAS OIL MODIFIED SERIES – SPILLVAK TRIPLE CROWN I presented by GEICO
Kern County Raceway Park, 1/2-mile paved oval – Bakersfield, California – Saturday, June 30, 2018
MAIN EVENT (75 laps) – 1. Jason Irwin (9i), Albuquerque, N.M.; 2. Dylan Capello (11), Peoria, Az.; 3. Justin Johnson (17ph), Pahrump, Nevada; 4. Scott Winters (24A), Tracy, Ca.; 5. Taylor Miinch (4T), Blossom Valley, Ca.; 6. Cody Kay (2K), Reno, Nevada; 7. Blake Rogers (4B), Yuma, Az.; 8. Chris Cook (2), Tabiona, Utah; 9. Ryan Schartau (7R), Chino, Ca.; 10. Michael Mitchell (77), Loomis, Ca.; 11. Jeremy Kay (1K), Reno, Nevada; 12. William Guevara (55), Lake Havasu City, Az.; 13. Mark Allison (115), Las Vegas; 14. Aaron McMorran (22), Las Vegas; 15. Dave Arce (5), Santee, Ca.; 16. Cameron Morga (54), Albuquerque, N.M.; 17. Eddie Secord, Oak Hills, Ca.; 18. Doug Carpenter (3), El Cajon, Ca.; 19. Shelby Stroebel (24), Meridian, Idaho.
Margin of victory – 11.239 seconds. Lead changes – 1 among 2 drivers. Caution flags – none. Fast qualifier – Irwin, 18.739 seconds. Trophy Dash (6 laps) – 1. Johnson; 2. Winters; 3. Cappello; 4. C. Kay; 5. Miinch; 6. Irwin. Next race – July 21, Lucas Oil Products 75 presented by General Tire, Rocky Mountain Raceways, West Valley City, Utah.
-Lucas Oil Modified Series Press Release
-Photo credit: Lucas Oil Modified Series