LAKE HAVASU CITY, Arizona — It may be a new season for the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by MAVTV but it’s the same old Taylor Miinch. He was very, very good while winning the championship last year and very, very good Sunday in winning the rain-delayed Racing Plus 100 presented by LucasOilRacing.TV.
The 23-year-old father of two from Rancho San Diego, California, qualified first for the third time in the past four races at Havasu 95 Speedway, took the lead from pole-sitter Larry Gerchman on the opening lap, and seemingly did whatever he wanted in cruising to a 7.8-second victory over Northern California resident Kyle Tellstrom, who took second away from hometown favorite Gerchman with nine laps to go.
Blake Rogers of Yuma, Arizona, was fourth and Jason Irwin of Albuquerque, New Mexico, fifth. Scott Winters, Downforce Racing Products Rookie of the Year hopeful Justin Johnson, Garcia Racing teammates Shelby Stroebel and Chris Cook and 2014 series champion Dylan Cappello rounded out the top 10 in the 24-car field.
It was Miinch’s sixth career win and three of those have come in those past four starts in Lake Havasu City, so he obviously likes the quarter-mile oval that’s considered one of the toughest places in the series to find a comfort level.
That was the case again Sunday. The track had had good grip during practice on Friday night and before the rain came on Saturday, but Sunday it was hot and slick and most of the drivers complained of no grip except the one they had on the steering wheel. Miinch lapped all but the top 10 cars and wasn’t one of the complainants.
On the other hand, if you’d won your first title in 2017 with the most dominant season in the series’ 13-year history, extended your streak of finishing fourth or better to an incredible 19 races and knew the next two races at Tucson, Arizona (April 14) and Las Vegas (May 5) were on tracks where you won last year, you probably wouldn’t complain.
Tellstrom didn’t complain either, after an up and down day produced his second straight runner-up finish to Miinch, the other coming in October 2016.
“It was a little bit wild, but I’ll take it,” Tellstrom said as he started to make the 777-mile drive back to Boise, Idaho, where he is a student at Boise State University.
“I never got an opportunity to see if I had anything for Taylor. By the time I got by Gerchman he was gone. He looked like he was having a good old time just out for a Sunday cruise. He was in his own zip code for sure.
“The first yellow (on lap 43, for Cody Kay’s introduction to the Turn 2 wall after his right rear tire went flat) I was third and on the restart I got shuffled back to sixth or seventh. I lost a lot of spots and I had to use the car up getting back up there.”
Series promoter Greg Scheidecker was sans complaints too. The combination of a rainout and the teams’ travel demands resulted in a hurry-up schedule Sunday afternoon, but everyone handled that well and combined to produce a race worth remembering.
“It was a heck of a race,” Scheidecker said. “Taylor pulled away from everybody, but from second to 13th there was unbelievable racing with cars side by side and sometimes three wide.
“I was pretty pleased with the everybody’s driving and attitudes, and the rookies did a real good job.”
Johnson’s sixth-place finish made him the leading rookie, ahead of Jeremy Kay (14th), Sierra Furia (20th), Cody Kay (21st) and Ryan Schartau (24th).
LUCAS OIL MODIFIEDS PRESENTED BY MAVTV
Havasu 95 Speedway, Lake Havasu City, Az.
Quarter-mile paved oval
Sunday, March 11, 2018
RACING PLUS 100 presented by LucasOilRacing.TV
MAIN EVENT (100 laps, 25 miles) – 1. Taylor Miinch (4T), Rancho San Diego, Ca.; 2. Kyle Tellstrom (5K), Ukiah, Ca.; 3. Larry Gerchman (25), Lake Havasu City, Az.; 4. Blake Rogers (4B), Yuma, Az.; 5. Jason Irwin (9i), Albuquerque, N.M.; 6. Scott Winters (24A), Tracy, Ca.; 7. Justin Johnson (17J), Las Vegas, Nevada; 8. Shelby Stroebel (24S), Meridian, Idaho; 9. Chris Cook (2C), Tabiona, Utah;
10. Dylan Cappello (11), Peoria, Az.; 11. Michael Mitchell (77), Loomis, Ca.; 12. Dustin Tilbury (17D), Edgewood, N.M.; 13. Kyle Ray (58A), Littleton, Colo.; 14. Jeremy Kay (1K), Sparks, Nevada; 15. Travis Thirkettle (5T), Newhall, Ca.; 16. Eddie Secord (84), Oak Hills, Ca.; 17. William Guevara (55), Lake Havasu City; 18. Dave Arce (5), Santee, Ca.; 19. Mark Allison (115), Las Vegas; 20. Sierra Furia (37), Lakeport, Ca.;
21. Cody Kay (2K), Sparks, Nevada; 22. Aaron McMorran (22), Las Vegas; 23. Doug Carpenter (3), El Cajon, Ca.; 24. Ryan Schartau (7R), Ontario, Ca.
Margin of victory – 7.808 seconds. Lead changes – 1 among 2 drivers. Caution periods – 3. Fast qualifier – Miinch, 15.264 seconds.
-Lucas Oil Modified Series Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51.com