LAS VEGAS, Nevada – You know things are going your way when even a sub-par qualifying effort turns out well.
That’s what happened for Taylor Miinch Saturday night at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The reigning champion of the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by MAVTV was among the leaders in every practice session leading up to the General Tire 75 presented by SuperClean but qualified only eighth.
Then fast qualifier Justin Johnson drew an eight to determine how many cars at the front of the field would have their positions inverted for the start of the 75-lap race. That put Miinch on the pole, and the 23-year-old turned that bit of good luck into a flag-to-flag victory.
“We ran good all weekend, but we were a little off in qualifying,” said Miinch, who had won at The Bullring last May. “We missed the setup and the car was really, really loose. But we knew we had a good car. Sometimes you’d rather be lucky than good.”
It’s even better when you’re good enough to answer opportunity’s knock, and Miinch and his Lineer/Plastpro team have proven themselves in that respect. Saturday’s 1.8-second win over Dylan Cappello was their third victory in as many tries this season and fourth in a row in championship points races over the past two seasons, and in the past 19 races over three years they have won eight times and never finished below fourth.
“It’s frustrating but we’re gaining on him,” said Cappello, who also finished second at Tucson, Arizona, three weeks ago. “He knows we’re here and if he slips up once we’ll be there to capitalize. That’s all you can do. Right now, we’re second-best.”
Cappello, who started seventh, said his Arizona Garage Doors RBK-STR Chevrolet “came to us about midway,” but by then Miinch had established his dominance.
“It seemed like he’d get about a 10-car gap and then cruise,” Cappello said. “We knew our only shot at him would be on the (caution flag) restarts. I got to his (rear) bumper a couple of times and drove pretty hard on him. It would have been a long ride home if I didn’t get up on his bumper and try it at least once.”
“Dylan was good,” Miinch said, “but he didn’t have a better car than us so I knew his only chance was to try to move us out of the way or get us loose, so I didn’t give him a chance to get to the bottom.
“This was one of the best car I’ve had here.”
Cappello was followed across the finish line by Albuquerque, New Mexico, neighbors Jason Irwin and Cameron Morga and fast qualifier Johnson.
Irwin, who has more than 50 wins at Las Vegas in a variety of cars, said his car was “almost perfect” and he was strong early. However, unintentional contact with Aaron McMorran while they were fighting for second on lap 28 forced Irwin to go the rear of the field and he never was able to fully recover. Other than that, it was a good weekend.”
McMorran didn’t fare as well, retiring after 33 laps and finishing 18th.
Four Downforce Racing Products Rookie of the Year candidates finished in the top 11, led by Johnson. Ryan Schartau, a 15-year-old from Chino, California, was seventh, Cody Kay of Reno, Nevada, ninth and Sierra Furia of Lakeport, California, 11th.
GENERAL TIRE 75 PRESENTED BY SUPERCLEAN
Lucas Oil Modifieds
The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
0.375-mile banked paved oval
Saturday, May 5, 2018
MAIN EVENT (75 laps) – 1. Taylor Miinch (4T), Blossom Valley, California; 2. Dylan Cappello (11), Peoria, Arizona; 3. Jason Irwin (9i), Albuquerque, New Mexico; 4. Cameron Morga (54), Albuquerque; 5. Justin Johnson (17ph), Pahrump, Nevada; 6. Larry Gerchman (25), Lake Havasu City, Arizona; 7. Ryan Schartau (7r), Chino, California; 8. Blake Rogers (4b), Yuma, Arizona; 9. Cody Kay (2k), Reno, Nevada; 10. Eddie Secord (84), Oak Hills, California;
- Sierra Furia (37), Lakeport, California; 12. Michael Mitchell (77), Loomis, California; 13. Dave Arce (5), Santee, California; 14. Mark Allison (115), Las Vegas; 15. Tom Pfundtsein (12), Las Vegas; 16. Doug Carpenter (3c), El Cajon, California; 17. William Guevara (55), Lake Havasu City; 18. Aaron McMorran (22), Las Vegas; 19. Scott Winters (24a), Tracy, California; 20. Shelby Stroebel (24), Meridian, Idaho;
- Jeremy Kay (1k), Reno, Nevada; 22. Chris Cook (2), Tabiona, Utah; 23. Jason Kiser (49), Las Vegas.
Margin of victory – 1.816 seconds. Average speed — unavailable. Lead changes – none. Caution flags – 7. Fast qualifier – Johnson, 15.184 seconds. Trophy Dash (6 laps) – 1. McMorran; 2. Irwin; 3. Cappello; 4. Johnson; 5. C. Kay; 6. Winters.
-Lucas Oil Modifieds Press Release. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Motor Speedway