The Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series, presented by 1 800 Loan Mart, will bring their thunder making, ground shaking open wheel show to the fastest track on the series' circuit: the Las Vegas Motor Speedway's Bullring. Saturday night's Lucas Oil Products 75 will live up to its name: 75 laps of full green flag racing. This series does not count yellow flag laps.
Saturday night's race is also expected to be filled with flag to flag side by side, wheel to wheel. racing presented by some of the finest open wheel driving talent from the western states area. A full field of 24 cars are expected to take the green flag for the Lucas Oil Products 75 which features a $10,000 purse that pays $1,500 to the race winner. Each competitor who takes the green flag in the main event is guaranteed a minimum of $300.
However, there's a lot more going on with this race than just which driver will earn the right to park his car in the Sunoco Race Fuels victory lane. There's also a tie between two drivers in the series' championship points standings and the Las Vegas Bullring race could easily become a huge factor in which driver earns the winner's share of the Hoosier Tire West points fund at the end of the season.
Going into Saturday night's race, Austin Barnes and Chris Gerchman are deadlocked at the top of the championship rankings at 248 points each. A high school student from Escondido-California, Barnes has accumulated his points via three feature wins along with a second and a ninth place finish.
Originally from Lake Havasu City-Arizona, now flying to the series races from the state of Texas, Chris Gerchman's 248 points are based on a pair of feature wins and a pair of second place finishes.
The two man tie actually developed during the series' last race, held July 28th at the Madera Speedway. Barnes went into that event with an 18 point advantage over Gerchman and many series observers believed the young driver was championship bound. Unfortunately on that night, Barnes found himself caught up in a late race mishap that sent him to the back of the field. He managed to work his way back to a ninth place finish. Meanwhile, at the front of the field, Gerchman was in the process of scoring his second win of the season. The difference between first and ninth is, you guessed it, 18 points.
The two drivers appear to be evenly matched in terms of on track skill along with team equipment and resources. The difference maker, this Saturday in Las Vegas, could be turn out to be the series' E 3 Spark Plugs Bonus program. Established at the beginning of this year, the program awards two bonus points to the winner of the race, two bonus points for winning the hard charger award and two bonus points for setting the fast time in qualifying.
Gerchman's first task Saturday night will be trying to find a way to out qualify Barnes in order to collect those valuable bonus points. This will not be easy because Barnes practically owns the Budweiser Fast Time awards. Dating back to last season, he has set the fast time in qualifying 11 times in a row.
The next daunting task for these two drivers will be to find a way to finish ahead of each other. That, also, will not be easy due to the fact that there will be plenty of competitive sources in Saturday night's starting field who will be looking to score their first win of the season at Las Vegas.
Chief among this group is Jim Mardis, the series' 2010 and 2011 champion who had a very strong car at the last race in Madera. He's a former series winner at Las Vegas and knows the fast way around the speedway's three-eighths of a mile oval.
Other drivers, currently in the top ten of the series' points, who will also be looking for that all important first win of the season includes Tim Morse, Roger Brown and Larry Gerchman. Yet another strong factor here is the presence of the Las Vegas contingent that are series regulars. Doug Hamm, Aaron McMorran and Scott Osborn would love to score their first win of the season at their home track.
On the topic of Las Vegas drivers, it has now been confirmed that Dylan Kwasniewski has entered the Lucas Oil Products 75. This 17 year old has been winning races since the age of five and occasionally visits the Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series between commitments with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West where he's having an excellent year with two wins to his credit. This will be another driver to watch Saturday night.
When you put in all together, the Lucas Oil Products 75 has all the ingredients of turning into a very exciting event.
The Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series, presented by 1 800 Loan Mart, is powered by a highly potent marketing concept known as "Team Lucas." Team members include: Lucas Oil Products Inc, E 3 Spark Plugs, General Tire, GEICO, CANIDAE All Natural Pet Food, MAV TV, SpeedCo Truck, Lube and Tire/Firestone and Optima Batteries.
The series is also strongly supported by a group of associate sponsors featuring: Eibach Springs, Hoosier Tire West, Budweiser, Blue Water Resort and Casino, Sunoco Race Fuels, Frank's Radios, Racing Plus, Go Pro Cameras and the series' title sponsor 1 800 Loan Mart.