Feb. 26, 2013
There will be more of everything for everybody as the seventh full season of the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart unfolds this year.
There is more money, with a record $180,000 in race purses, bonuses, tow money and Hoosier Tire West points fund awards available to those competing in the nine-race season that begins March 2 with the LoanMart Arizona 100 presented by Optima Batteries at Havasu 95 Speedway in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
There is more exposure, with the MAVTV American Real network and NBC Sports network televising five of the nine races and two of those events at metropolitan venues that weren't on last season's schedule.
And there will be more of the ultra-competitive racing that has made the Lucas Oil Modifieds one of the most popular short-track attractions in the country and created growing interest from series sponsors, the media and, most importantly, the race fans who contribute so much to the success of the series with their generous financial and emotional commitments.
"We're tremendously excited about this season and the future," series promoter Greg Scheidecker said. "Last year was terrific, with that great championship battle between Austin Barnes and Chris Gerchman and the unbelievable turnout for the last race at Las Vegas, and we're carrying that momentum into this season.
"Bill (Rozhon, the competition director) and I are blessed to have tremendous sponsor support and we're honored that Bilstein is joining us with their great shock absorbers and other products. They're taking a major role as the Bilstein Trophy Dash sponsor. We're happy to have K&N Filters back with us, too. They've always been an industry leader and they're a great fit with our other sponsors.
"We think we've got some exciting things in store for them, and for the best fans in the country."
The excitement begins Saturday, March 2, at scenic Havasu 95 Speedway, where 22 cars will take the green flag for the LoanMart Arizona 100 presented by Optima Batteries. That race – 100 laps on the paved quarter-mile oval – will determine the early favorite to succeed Austin Barnes as the series champion and set the tone for a season that concludes November 16 in Las Vegas.
There will be some new challengers, of course, among them ASA national champion Shelby Stroebel of Nampa, Idaho, and Jessica Clark of Westlake Village, California, in Barnes' title-winning car. There is the series first visit to the Salt Lake City, Utah, area for a race at Rocky Mountain Raceways June 15 and an August 17 return to the reorganized Irwindale Event Center.
There are some changes in the race procedures as well, with double-file starts and restarts at all tracks except Lucas Oil I-10 Speedway in Blythe, California, and the use of the Canidae All Natural Pet Foods "Lucky Dog" award for the first time. Whenever there is a caution flag, the first car a lap behind the leader will be put back on the lead lap, and the first car a lap behind at the finish will get a $100 bonus.
The Canidae "Lucky Dog" replaces the Clean Pass award and rounds out an E3 Spark Plugs bonus program that includes the Bilstein Shocks Trophy Dash ($200), Budweiser Fast Time ($100), Optima Batteries Hard Charger ($100) and Sunoco Winner's Circle ($100) awards at each event.
There also will be a 2-point bonus for setting fast time in qualifying and winning the Trophy Dash, Fast Time and Lucky Dog awards, making a maximum of 58 points available to the winner of each race, an increase of 2 points from last season.
Both the restart and Lucky Dog procedures could have a dramatic effect on the competition.
"We've experimented with the double-file restarts (at last year's final two races), but I was a little reluctant to put it in because I didn't want to see a lot of accidents and cars messed up," Scheidecker said. "I should have known better. Our drivers have handled it the way they handle everything – like champions.
"The 'Lucky Dog' is going to make a big difference, too. It's going to give drivers who have trouble a reason to keep running hard and a chance at a better finish than they might have had in the past.
"It's going to be a tremendous season."
The Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart is supported by a potent marketing concept known as "Team Lucas" whose members include Lucas Oil Products Inc., E3 Spark Plugs, General Tire, GEICO, Canidae All Natural Pet Food, MAVTV-American Real, Speedco Truck Lube and Tire, Optima Batteries and LoanMart.
Additional sponsorship is provided by Bilstein Shock Absorbers, K&N Filters, Hoosier Tire West, Budweiser, Blue Water Resort and Casino, Sunoco Race Fuels, Frank's Radio, Racing Plus, Five Star Race Car Bodies, Aero Racing Wheels, DJ Safety, ASI Racewear and Protect the Harvest.