Blake Rogers

CORONA, California (October 23, 2017) – Anyone who likes coronations and celebrations needs to be in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Saturday (October 28) when the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by RAM Mounts concludes its championship season at picturesque Havasu 95 Speedway.

The coronation will be for Taylor Miinch, who clinched his first series title with a second-place finish at Madera, California, October 7. The 23-year-old from Blossom Valley, California, has a 96-point lead over 2014 champion Dylan Cappello in the Hoosier Tire West point standings and will be the champion even if he doesn’t show up for the DJ Safety 100 Championship presented by Hoosier Tires.

Miinch said he will be on hand, however, with hopes of reaching the four-win goal he set at the start of his magical season. Miinch has put his Casino & Resort/Lucas Oil STR Chevrolet in victory lane three times – at Tucson, Arizona, Las Vegas and Irwindale, California – to go with two second- and four third-place finishes, and has not finished lower than fourth in his past 15 races.

Miinch won last season’s finale at Havasu 95 Speedway but finished 4 points behind champion Matthew Hicks in the standings. This year he has led the title race since winning round two at Tucson in early April, and a fourth win this weekend would be nice frosting on the cupcake for the father of two.

The celebration for Miinch is just part of a larger celebration of the Lucas Oil Modified Series family, which quickly reaffirmed its commitment to that concept in the aftermath of the most recent race at Madera.

That 75-lap contest ended with Linny White taking the win over Miinch and Kyle Tellstrom. But it had ended 39 laps earlier for Blake Rogers, who was running second when an inadvertent bump from another driver sent Rogers’ car into the wall with tremendous force. Rogers was unhurt other than bumps and bruises, but the impact and an accompanying fire destroyed his car.

It was a disheartening end to what had been a breakthrough season for the 19-year-old from Yuma, Arizona, and his low-budget family team. Rogers had started the year with a second to Austin Barnes at Lake Havasu City in March and went into the Madera race third in the point standings behind Miinch and Cappello. His last-place finish at Madera dropped him to fourth, 4 points ahead of Jason Irwin, 14 in front of Shelby Stroebel and in danger of falling out of the top 10 if he missed this weekend’s event.

That’s when the Modified family got together. In the pits after the Madera race people started talking about what had happened to Rogers and wondering what they could do to help the team continue. Short Track Racecars (STR) owner Steve Teets talked to team manager Mike Garcia. Garcia talked to engine builder and racer Dave Arce. White solicited help on social media, and offers of assistance in the form of parts, labor and cash poured in from drivers, crew members, sponsors and others.

The result is that Rogers will be on the track this weekend, in a car provided by Garcia Racing and with an engine from Arce. Rogers and his father-crew chief-truck driver Jimmy made a 15-hour turnaround trip to Bakersfield last weekend to pick the car up from Garcia, who brought it there from the team’s shop in Lodi, and Rogers will drive it for the first time at Friday night’s practice.

“We were really surprised,” Jimmy Rogers said. “When we left Madera our season was over. Then we started getting all kinds of phone calls wanting to help us out.”

Garcia said his first conversations were about renting the car but ultimately he decided to loan it to Rogers because “I’ve been helped out a lot over the years.” Arce said others had the same incentive.

“There were a lot of people reaching out,” Arce said. “He’s (Rogers) a really nice kid and it was very, very pleasant to see the response.”

There’s precedence for it too. On this same weekend in 2013, after his car was badly damaged in an accident at Blythe, California, two-time series champion Jim Mardis drove a car borrowed from H-Town Racing team owner Tom Pfundstein to victory at Havasu 95 Speedway.

Rogers would be delighted to star in a replay this weekend.

avasu 95 Speedway’s Street Stocks, Factory Stocks and Outlaw Karts will share Saturday night’s program with the featured Lucas Oil Modifieds.

General admission is $12.50 for adults, $10.50 for seniors 55 and over, handicapped and military personnel, and $6.50 for juniors 6 to 16. VIP seating, which includes two beverages and a pizza dinner, is $25.50 per person and a Family Pack admitting two adults and two juniors also is $25.50.

Spectator gates will open at 4 p.m. and racing will get under way at 6 p.m.