CORONA, California – Austin Barnes, Eddie Secord and a few other drivers from the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart spent part of the past weekend taking their first looks at Kern County Raceway Park.
They liked what they saw of the track in Bakersfield, California, that opened midway through the 2013 season.
“Austin loves to go fast and he was smiling all the way home,” Tedd Barnes said after his son’s get-acquainted laps on the banked half-mile oval that will be the site of the SRL Winter Showdown on Saturday, February 28.
“They spent the (construction) time right,” Austin Barnes said. “The track is beautiful and it’s awesome to drive. It’s definitely going to be one of my favorite tracks.”
Barnes, the 2012 series champion, will be one of the Lucas Oil Modified drivers competing in a 75-lap Modified race that will share the spotlight with the 250-lap race for SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour cars and other Super Late Models.
The races will not count in the point standings for either the Lucas Oil Modifieds or the SRL Tour, but there’s still a lot of incentive to participate in this inaugural event being put on by SRL officials Marion and Larry Collins, the former owners of Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield.
That incentive comes in the form of prize money – $4,000 to the winner and over $25,000 in all for the Modifieds and $25,000 for the winner and $125,000 total for the SRL Winter Showdown.
The schedule calls for practice and qualifying races for the Showdown and practice and a Trophy Dash for the Modifieds on Friday, then practice and qualifying races for both Saturday afternoon and the main events after opening ceremonies at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Tickets are priced at $15 and $25 for Friday and $25 and $35 on Saturday. A 2-day ticket and pit pass is available for $80. All tickets may be purchased on the track’s web site, www.kernraceway.com.
“It’s going to be a good race,” said Secord, of Oak Hills, California. “It’s definitely a fast track. It’s pretty straight-forward and there are a couple of different lines you can run. There’ll definitely be two grooves during the race.”
Barnes, who is the series’ all-time qualifying leader, agrees that it is a fast track, but isn’t as sure there’ll be more than one usable line.
“We actually run faster at Irwindale (another half-mile oval) because we run the high line there. Here we’re running the low line. It feels like (The Bullring at) Las Vegas a lot. You get that sense of speed. It’s going to be a racy track, for sure.
“Out of (Turn) 4 and down the front straight will be the big passing zone. In 1 and 2 it’s definitely a one-lane track. The wall comes up real quick out of 2.”
Secord said “the old Bakersfield track (Mesa Marin) was kind of that way, too, but this one is more abrupt. It feels like you’re coming up out of the hole faster. It could be kind of tight there.
“It’s definitely comparable to Irwindale, but I’d say it’s faster. You feel the speed more. This is not a momentum track, like Irwindale. You’ve got to lift. You’ve got to drive it down into the corner and drive it out. And that front chute feels like it’s a mile long.”
The race’s late addition to the season schedule and the fact the 10-race championship season opens at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, in two weeks has created some uncertainty with respect to the entry list. Lucas Oil Modified promoter Greg Scheidecker said he anticipates a field of about 30 cars from his series, the North State Modified Series and elsewhere.
Secord said Jason Irwin, Taylor Miinch and Jerry Toporek also were testing over the weekend in preparation for the race and Matthew Hicks, Thomas Pfundstein, Chris Cook, Scott Winters, Jason Patison and Dylan Cappello have filed entries.
The weather forecast calls for rain showers Saturday and Larry Collins has said that if the race should have to be postponed it will be run on Sunday, March 1.
More information on the event may be obtained by visiting www.srlsouthwesttour.com.
-Lucas Oil Modifieds Press Release. Photo Credit: Lucas Oil Modifieds Facebook