CORONA, California – The Lucas Oil Modified Series tourists will return to the Irwindale Event Center Saturday night (September 19) for their second race of the season on the fast half-mile oval and this time they’ll find a strong home track contingent ready to join the fun.
Track champions Rod Johnson Jr., Travis Thirkettle and Ryan Partridge, multiple race winner Ryan Cansdale and talented 15-year-old Blaine Perkins all are scheduled to be behind the steering wheels of Race Car Factory Chevrolets for the Fast Orange 75 presented by LoanMart.
They should provide formidable challenges for reigning series champion Dylan Cappello, Hoosier Tire West points leader Austin Barnes, race winners Scott Winters and Matthew Hicks and the rest of the regulars in the popular touring series.
The Fast Orange 75, the eighth of 10 points races to determine the series champion and Rookie of the Year, is the featured event on Irwindale Speedway’s “First Responders Night.” The track’s Late Models will run two 30-lap races and the Race Trucks, Legends Cars and Bandoleros also will be in action.
All First Responders (fire, police and emergency personnel) will be admitted free by showing a valid identification card. For everyone else general admission tickets are $10 in advance (at www.IrwindaleSpeedway.com) or $15 at the gate. Children are $5.
Spectator gates will open at 4 p.m., there is an on-track autograph session at 5:45 and racing will begin at 7 p.m.
The Fast Orange 75, which welcomes Fast Orange hand cleaner to the series, is an unexpected bonus for both the Irwindale fans and the competitors.
The race originally was scheduled for Lucas Oil I-10 Speedway in Blythe, California, but when problems with the racing surface there left the event temporarily in limbo Irwindale race director Mike Atkinson quickly offered to add it to the schedule at his facility.
“When the Lucas series was here in June our fans stood up in their seats for just about the whole 75 laps,” Atkinson said. “It’s just a spectacular show all the way around the track, every corner, every lap.”
It should be even more interesting with Johnson, Thirkettle, Partridge, Cansdale and Perkins giving it an “us against them” flavor.
Johnson, a track champion in Late Models and Super Trucks, was seventh in his most recent appearance in the Modified series in August of 2014. He drove his own car in that one. This time he’ll be in the High Point Racing 00 that Trevor Huddleston drove in Utah while Huddleston focuses on protecting his Late Model points lead.
Thirkettle and Partridge both will be making their first starts with the series. Thirkettle, the 2006 Late Model champion, will be driving a new car that was finished earlier this week and Partridge, the 2010 Super Truck champion now racing in the NASCAR K&N West Series, will be in the car formerly owned by Travis Irving.
Perkins, who’s also racing in the Late Model doubleheader, finished ninth when the Modifieds were at Irwindale June 27 and has made two other starts in the 55 car for High Point Racing this season. Saturday, however, he’ll be driving an STR Chevrolet fielded by Garcia Racing and Cansdale will make his series debut in the 55.
The presence of that quintet definitely adds interest to the race, but it doesn’t alter Barnes’ position as the driver to beat. The 2012 series champion from Escondido, California, has won his past three starts at the track – two in 2011 and most recently in June – and was the fast qualifier each time.
There was no race at Irwindale in 2012 and Barnes was absent in 2013, when Jason Patison claimed the victory, and 2014, when Cappello set fast time and won.
Barnes, Cappello and past NASCAR state champion Scott Winters each has won twice this season. Hicks got the checkered flag in the most recent event, the LoanMart 100 at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, California, August 29.
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, Kawasaki, AutoMeter, Speedco Truck Lube and Tire, BILSTEIN Shocks, LoanMart and SuperClean.
Additional sponsorship is provided by Lucas Oil Products, Protect the Harvest, MAVTV Motorsports Network, Hoosier Tire West, Sunoco Race Fuels, K&N Filters, Aero Racing Wheels, ASI Racewear, Bosch, Five Star Race Car Bodies, Frank’s Radios, Racing Plus and DJ Safety.
Detailed information on the series is available at www.LucasOilModifieds.com.
-Lucas Oil Modifieds Press Release & Photo