IRWINDALE, California — It’s a cliché but it fits. Look in the dictionary for a definition of consistency and there you’ll see a picture of Taylor Miinch.
The 22-year-old from Blossom Valley, California, demonstrated why he’s leading the championship standings in the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by RAM Mounts with another superlative performance Saturday night at Irwindale Speedway.
Miinch qualified second and started fifth in the GEICO 75 presented by Spray Nine, but quickly moved into second and stalked pole-sitter Wes Miller for 20 laps before taking the lead on the backstretch on lap 21. After that he stayed comfortably in front to post his third win of the season and his 13th consecutive finish of fourth or better.
Multi-time Irwindale champion Ryan Partridge took over second when smoke signals began to accompany Jason Irwin’s progress and finished 2.322 seconds behind Miinch, Scott Winters and the two-time series champions, Austin Barnes and Jim Mardis rounding out the top five.
“The car was really good. The team worked really hard on it last night and today,” Miinch said in the winner’s circle while having an early birthday celebration for himself (he’ll be 23 September 3) and a slightly late one for the arrival of he and wife Heather’s second child.
“It’s nice to get a win here. That’s three this year and it puts us in a little better shape for the championship.”
The win did provide a windfall for Miinch because of the ills that befell Irwin, who was third in the Hoosier Tire West point standings, and 2014 champion Dylan Cappello, who arrived home in Peoria, Arizona, at midweek after finishing his summer internship with the Stewart Haas Racing team in North Carolina.
Cappello went into the race on a three-race win streak during which he had led all 225 laps run but spent this one trying to avoid being lapped and succeeding until Miinch passed him on lap 60. Cappello finished 14th and unofficially fell from 23 points behind Miinch to 52 behind with three races remaining in the championship season.
Partridge, who was racing with the series for the first time since February, won the Optima Batteries Hard Charger Award by moving from 11th to second during the race on the half-mile oval and was one of the few able to make an appreciable gain.
Two-time champion Barnes started a night he said would be his last in the series, for a while if not forever, by setting the pace in qualifying for the 35th time in 66 races. Barnes lapped the half-mile oval in 18.618 seconds to take the top spot away from Miinch, who had posted an 18.639-second lap moments before, but started sixth after the invert and never got higher than third.
The race was the seventh of the 10 that decide the series championship and the second of the three that make up the Spray Nine Race of Champions, which offers a separate bonus fund for the drivers finishing in the top nine in points in races at Kern County Raceway in Bakersfield, California, Irwindale and the added-money season finale at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway November 18.
Barnes, Winters and Partridge finished 1-2-3 in the Kern County event February 11 and after their finishes at Irwindale they unofficially are covered by a 4-point blanket going into that finale at the Bullring – Barnes at 141, Partridge at 140 and Winters at 138.
The next stop for the Lucas Oil Modified Series is San Bernardino and the historic Orange Show Speedway, which is celebrating its 70th consecutive year as a racing venue.
GEICO 75 PRESENTED BY SPRAY NINE
SATURDAY, AUGUST 19, 2017
IRWINDALE (Ca.) SPEEDWAY
1/2–mile paved oval
MAIN EVENT (75 laps) – 1. Taylor Miinch (4T), Blossom Valley, Ca.; 2. Ryan Partridge (9), Rancho Cucamonga, Ca.; 3. Scott Winters (24A), Tracy, Ca.; 4. Austin Barnes (51A), Escondido, Ca.; 5. Jim Mardis (51), Yucaipa, Ca.; 6. Michael Mitchell (77), Loomis, Ca.; 7. Jason Irwin (9i), Albuquerque, N.M.; 8. Blake Rogers (4B), Yuma, Az.; 9. Linny White (99), Colton, Ca.; 10. Eric Hamilton (11H), Hanford, Ca.;
11. Dustin Tilbury (17D), Edgewood, N.M.; 12. Wes Miller (87), Turlock, Ca.; 13. Doug Hamm (4X), North Las Vegas, Nevada; 14. Dylan Cappello (11), Peoria, Az.; 15. Shelby Stroebel (24), Meridian, Idaho; 16. Eddie Secord (84), Oak Hills, Ca.; 17. Dave Arce (5), Santee, Ca.; 18. Doug Carpenter (3), El Cajon, Ca.; 19. AJ DiMarzo (5A), Lancaster, Ca.; 20. Rod Proctor (21), Riverside, Ca.;
21. Jerry Toporek (40), Venice, Ca.; 22. Mark Allison (115), Las Vegas; 23. William Guevara (55), Lake Havasu City, Az.; 24. William Camara (57), Fremont, Ca.; 25. PJ Pedroncelli (33), Sonoma, Ca.; 26. Travis Thirkettle (5T), Newhall, Ca.; 27. Cameron Morga (54), Albuquerque, N.M.; 28. Michael Womack (3), Troutman, N.C.
Margin of victory – 2.322 seconds. Average speed – 89.917 mph. Lead changes – 1 among 2 drivers. Caution flags – 1. Fast qualifier – Barnes (51A), 18.618 seconds/96.681 mph. Trophy Dash results – 1. White; 2. Mardis; 3. Miller; 4. Barnes; 5. Winters; 6. Miinch. Attendance – 4,850.
-Lucas Oil Modified Series Press Release
-Photo Credit: Munoz Images