CORONA, California (September 8, 2017) – The way Jim Mardis looks at it, to this point in the season his efforts in the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by RAM Mounts deserve an F – for frustration.

 

"It hasn't gone the way we obviously wanted it to," he said. "We've had some decent runs, but nothing like we're used to. We just don't seem to be able to hit on something that actually works right for us. It's frustrating, I would say."

Three events remain in which to finalize the Hoosier Tire West point standings and determine the series champion and Mardis is seventh. He's firmly in the top 10 and could wind up in the top 5, but he's 117 points behind leader Taylor Miinch and out of title contention.

For a man who was the series' first two-time champion (2010-2011) and holds a series record with at least one victory in six straight seasons (2009-14), that's frustrating. So too is the fact the last victory in that streak, at Las Vegas in November 2014, also is his last win in the series.

In that 2014 season Mardis also survived a frightening head-first crash into the Turn 4 wall at Madera Speedway and finished seventh in points. In 2015 he was seventh again, with a best finish of seventh at Las Vegas in May. And 2016 was a forgettable, or best forgotten, season, with Mardis on suspension or sitting out all but one race after a bizarre incident on opening night.

The 32-year-old Yucaipa newlywed (he married Danielle Tegge September 2) said he did think of calling it quits and probably would have if not for his sponsors (Smart & Final, Blue Water Technology, K&N Filters, JAM Sportswear and STR) and teammate Rod Proctor.

"Rod's really the one that pushed me to do this again and I'm thankful he did," Maris said. "I don't know what the future holds, but I know whatever it does we want to have fun with it. If that means only racing selected races, that's what we'll do. If that means going to the river instead, well, we've run the series for a really long time.

"It kind of grew above us at a certain point and we're trying to hang on to the coattails. But it's frustrating some weeks. You get the highs and lows. Maybe it is time for a little bit of change of scenery. I'll have to get with all of our partners and see what the future holds, but right now we're just taking it race by race and seeing how much fun we can have."

So far, the fun has been sporadic, but in his past two starts Mardis was sixth in Utah and fifth at Irwindale Speedway and the series next race is at Orange Show Speedway, the historic quarter-mile oval where Mardis learned to race and Proctor is the promoter.

Round eight of the 10-race championship, the SuperClean 100 presented by Optima Batteries, is scheduled for September 23 on the tight quarter-mile oval that had its first race on May 1, 1947, and is the oldest continually-operated auto race track in the nation.

Mardis had a win there on the way to his first series title in 2010 and another one would be a nice wedding present. A lot of things would have to converge for that to happen, however.

Mardis's team is like many others in the series, owned and crewed by people who work full-time jobs and devote much of their free time to racing. The problem for Mardis is that he's working the night shift at United Parcel Service and his time is seldom free at the same time as his crew. That means few opportunities to test and between-race preparation that may not be quite as coordinated as they would like. Then add to the equation an adequate but not unlimited budget that makes getting extra miles out of parts and tires essential.

As a result, Mardis said, "I feel we're a little under-prepared this year, but you've got to go to work and pay the bills first," and all that adds up to being a little below the level of the top teams

"That's kind of where we're at right now," he said. "It (the series) kind of out-grew us with some heavily-backed teams that came in. But at the same time, it's frustrating when you feel that if you had more time or a little bigger budget you could be better. It's all in the nature of the beast and that means that when you do well it's sweeter too."

Mardis this season has seemed more relaxed, but he said it's more about controlling a sometimes-volatile temper and maturing.

"I think I learned to deal with my frustrations better," He said. "Obviously as you get older you learn from the past. I've done some things I'm not proud of and I've done some things I'm really proud of. You try to learn from your mistakes.

"There's no reason to get extremely frustrated at times. We all do, but at the end of the day there's people out there that would love to be able to do what we're doing and I have to look at that aspect. I'm very lucky and fortunate just to be here and be able to be competitive from time to time.

"As you get older you enjoy other things in life and racing is no longer 100 percent of what I do. I ventured off to other things that I think have calmed me down and taught me a little more patience. We go to the desert a lot now. We go to Glamis, there's families that we go to Glamis with and hang out and have the time of our lives. We go to the river and just relax and get away from everything, and when it's race time we put on our race hats and come do the best we can and have some fun at it."

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Madera Speedway Race

hampton inn

Hampton Inn & Suites Madera
3254 Airport Dr.
Madera, CA 93637
(559) 661-0910

Code: Lucas Oil Modifieds
Cost: $89.00 Plus Tax
Suites are available
Cut-Off: October 1, 2017

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