TUCSON, Arizona – Saturday afternoon, before qualifying at Tucson Speedway, Lucas Oil Modified Series driver Scott Winters talked about the importance of tire management on the abrasive 0.375-mile oval.
Winters said if someone had the nerve to do it the best strategy for the GEICO Arizona Shootout 75 presented by General Tire might be to just make sure you stayed on the lead lap and saved your tires for the 40 or 50 laps of the 75-lap race, then try to make a run for the win.
Saturday night, instead of laying back, Winters started fifth, moved into second by lap 10, took the lead on lap 16 and battled 2012 champion Austin Barnes for the win until Barnes fell back slightly after the second and final caution flag.
Winters had his Ferrari Farms STR Chevrolet in front for 44 of the 75 laps and took the checkered flag 0.936 seconds ahead rookie Jack Madrid with Barnes third, Chris Cook fourth and Taylor Miinch fifth.
Then Winters said “that was my plan, to save the tires and lay back. Then the race unfolded and the car was really good and I didn’t have to drive it that hard to have speed in it. So I started moving forward and I was really not over-driving the car at that point to make that happen. I was able to take the car to the front and run some laps and I wasn’t overly pushing the car.”
Winters was especially strong on the low line of the track and it looked as if he might make a runaway of it after taking the lead from Jason Irwin on lap 16. But on lap 33, after he had started lapping the slower cars in the 29-car field, the Tracy, California, resident got caught in traffic and Barnes regained the lead he had held for the first lap.
Winters said that while he was following the leader, however, “I knew we had a little better car; we were driving off the corner a little better and stuff, so I was really just trying to bide my time and figure out when the opportunity was to definitely make the pass.”
The opportunity came on lap 47, on the restart after the first caution. Winters took the low line out of Turn 4 and got a nose ahead of Barnes at the flag stand and then the two ran side by side for six laps before Winters opened a clear lead.
Barnes said his car had suffered some shock damage during the trip from Southern California and as a result the front end was hitting the cross member as he negotiated the turns. That proved costly after the restart from the second caution on lap 56. Barnes said he had to get on the brakes to try to avoid making contact with Miinch. That dropped him to fourth, behind Winters, Madrid and Miinch, and he couldn’t make a late run on Madrid, who had made his series debut with a fifth in the March 14 race won by Barnes at Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Winters had been fourth in that event.
“I was worried about tires but as the race went they held up pretty good,” he said after his third series win. “Once I got the lead I was able to run at a pace that was good for this car. I didn’t want to go another 20 laps, though.”
GEICO Arizona Shootout 75 presented by General Tire
Tucson (Arizona) Speedway
.375-mile paved, banked oval
Saturday, April 11, 2015
Main event (75 laps) – 1. Scott Winters, Tracy, California; 2. Jack Madrid, San Clemente, California; 3. Austin Barnes, Escondido, California; 4. Chris Cook, Tabiona, Utah; 5. Taylor Miinch, El Cajon, California; 6. Matthew Hicks, Lakeside, California; 7. Jim Mardis, Yucaipa, California; 8. Larry Gerchman, Lake Havasu City, Arizona; 9. Doug Hamm, North Las Vegas, Nevada; 10. Eddie Secord, Oak Hills, California; 11. Jason Irwin, Albuquerque, New Mexico; 12. Dylan Cappello, Peoria, Ariozona; 13. Eric Rhead, West Jordan, Utah; 14. Blake Rogers, Yuma, Arizona; 15. Kyle Tellstrom, Ukiah, California; 16. Chase Catania, El Cajon, California; 17. Shelby Stroebel, Meridian, Idaho; 18. Linny White, Colton, California; 19. Colby Potts, Stockton, California; 20. Dustin Tilbury, Edgewood, New Mexico; 21. Eric Hamilton, Hanford, California; 22. Wioll Hunholz, Tucson, Arizona; 23. Doug Carpenter, San Diego, California; 24. Jimmy Sloan, Palm Desert, California; 25. Will Guevara, Lake Havasu City, Arizona; 26. Pat Petrie, Henderson, Nevada; 27. Dave Arce, Santee, California; 28. Jeff Longman, Lehi, Utah; 29. Jason Patison, Corona, California.
Margin of victory – 0.936 seconds. Caution flags – 2. Fast qualifier – Cappello.
Next race – Optima Batteries 75 Laps to Victory presented by Auto Meter May 16 at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Detailed information on the series is available at www.LucasOilModifieds.com.
-Lucas Oil Modifieds Press Release. Photo Credit: Lucas Oil Modifieds photo