CORONA, California – Saturday night the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by RAM Mounts will roll a hard eight at Irwindale Speedway.
The series’ eighth race at the half-mile oval, the GEICO 75 presented by Spray Nine, will be its last at the facility officially known as the Irwindale Event Center unless a special event is arranged before January 31, 2018. That’s the date Irwindale Outlet Partners, which owns the property, has set as the closing date for what generally is regarded as one of the finest short tracks in the nation.
“I was devastated when I saw the announcement (of the closing),” Lucas Oil Modified Series director Greg Scheidecker said. “It’s an enormous loss for short-track racing everywhere and especially for our series. Jim Cohan, Bob Klein and Mike Atkinson have done a tremendous job of keeping the track and the racing at an elite level through all the ups and downs of the past few years and I know the racers and the fans appreciate it.
“It’s kind of a hometown track for us, with our headquarters and a lot of our teams based in Southern California, and we all love coming here. It’s wide and fast and we’ve had some crowd-pleasing events. I expect this weekend’s race to be another great one. I know all the drivers who’ve made this year an exciting one want to be able to brag about winning the last race, and some drivers who haven’t been with us for a while are looking for rides too.
“We’re going to do everything possible to put on a terrific show for the fans at the track and everyone watching on television (LucasOilRacing.TV, the 24-hour subscription motorsports network, live at 7 p.m. PDT/10 p.m. EDT).”
The 75-lap Lucas Oil Modified main event will be the final race on Irwindale’s Salute to Service Night, which also features the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour’s Patriots Honor 100, Jan’s Towing Super Stocks and the Western Racing Association’s Vintage Car exhibition.
Spectator gates will open at 4 p.m. Adult general admission tickets are $10 in advance (www.irwindalespeedway.com) or $15 at the gate and children 6 to 12 are $5.
The GEICO 75 will be round seven of the 10-race championship season and round two of the three-event Spray Nine Race of Champions, and the potential exists to make it one of the most memorable nights in series history.
Dylan Cappello comes into the weekend with an aura of invincibility, thanks to having led all 225 laps in winning the past three races and returning to one of his favorite venues. The 2014 series champion from Peoria, Arizona, got the first of his eight career wins at Irwindale in August of that year and has finished third, second and fourth in his three starts since.
That aura will be tested, though, by past Irwindale champions Travis Thirkettle and Ryan Partridge, Austin Barnes, Taylor Miinch, Jason Irwin and others.
Thirkettle led all 75 laps and won last year’s race over fast qualifier Partridge, eventual champion Matthew Hicks, Cappello and Kyle Tellstrom, and Irwin has been fourth, third and second in his three starts on the fast half-mile oval.
Two-time champion Barnes was the fast qualifier and race winner four times in a row before finishing 11th last year. The Escondido, California, driver also leads the standings in the Spray Nine Race of Champions thanks to a win over Scott Winters, Partridge, Irwin and Cappello at Kern County Raceway in February. The final round of that competition, which is separate from the series championship, will be at Las Vegas November 18.
Miinch leads Cappello by 23 points in this season’s Hoosier Tire West standings thanks to two wins and four runner-up efforts and has been fourth or better in his past 12 races. The 22-year-old from Blossom Valley, California, has been consistent at Irwindale as well, with a second-place finish among three top 10s in as many starts.
Seventy-five laps should give everyone time to figure out a dramatic way to say goodbye.
-Lucas Oil Modified Series Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com