TUCSON, Ariz. – Patience was the name of the game for Taylor Miinch on Saturday night as he bided his time before pulling away to win the Lucas Oil Modified Series SuperClean 75 presented by Hoosier Tire at Tucson Speedway.
The 23-year-old from Blossom Valley, Calif., started on the pole alongside fast qualifier Justin Johnson, surrendered the lead on lap two and stalked Johnson until lap 46, when he regained the lead and pulled out to a comfortable advantage over Dylan Cappello and Johnson at the finish.
It was Miinch’s second win in as many races this season, his third championship win in a row over two seasons, his sixth win in 12 starts since the beginning of the 2017 campaign and the 20th consecutive time over three seasons that he has finished fourth or better in the Lineer/Viejas Casino STR Chevrolet prepared by crew chief John Blodgett and his team.
“We’re definitely hitting the setups, we’ve got good race cars and other people are just missing,” said Miinch. “We’re on a good hot streak. We have a really good team and everybody works together.
“When I was coming to the finish I was thinking ‘another win; how many have we got in the last year?’ But you never know when it all could stop. You never know if you’ll get another one.”
Johnson, a series rookie with several super late model championships on his resume, has a seventh, a third and a fast qualifier award in his two starts for Chris Bray’s Phil’s Phabrication team, but said he was “disappointed for sure” at his finish on Tucson’s three-eighths-mile paved oval.
“We led a lot, but we kind of ran out of tires there at the end,” Johnson said. “I don’t think we had enough wedge in the car. I started rolling the throttle and it took too long to get on it. I think we did a pretty good job saving the tires, actually. It was just the set-up. It was too free, and it was free from early on so I knew it was going to be a long race.”
Miinch, who started on the pole after the inversion, led the opening lap and said he wasn’t pushing his car after Johnson took the lead.
“Justin raced me pretty hard and got by me,” Miinch said, “but I could keep him within six car lengths or so and pull up on him. “I could see him getting loose so when we were going through lapped traffic I tried to put some pressure on him and see if he would make a mistake. He didn’t make a mistake, I just had a better car and I was able to get by him when we cleared the traffic.”
Cappello, who will graduate from Northern Arizona University in May, said he was pleased with his finish after starting eighth and slowly working his way through traffic and avoiding two multi-car collisions to overtake Johnson with seven laps to go.
“I think I might have had a little bit more if we’d had another caution flag,” Cappello said. “but overall I’m happy. We were saving the tires and passing cars. It was a hard task but we got it done.”
Taylor Miinch, Dylan Cappello, Justin Johnson, Cody Kay, Shelby Stroebel, Kyle Ray, Larry Gerchman, Aaron McMorran, Michael Mitchell, Cameron Morga, Chris Cook, Jeremy Kay, Ryan Schartau, Doug Carpenter, Dave Arce, Eddie Secord, Mark Allison, Sierra Furia, William Guevara, Blake Rogers, Ryan Partridge, Scott Winters, Jason Irwin, Dustin Tilbury.