SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – The SuperClean 100 at Orange Show Speedway Saturday night was neither super nor clean.
It was a succession of caution flags interrupted occasionally by a few laps of Lucas Oil Modified Series racing and a demonstration of what can happen when drivers of varied skill levels get together on a tight quarter-mile paved oval.
Jim Mardis, on the other hand, thought it was the prettiest race he’s seen in a long time. The 32-year-old from Yucaipa, Calif., had a different view of it than everyone else, however, because he led every inch of the 100 laps and ended the first full day of fall in the winner’s circle for the first time since Nov. 22, 2014.
“I’ve been looking for this for a long time,” said Mardis, who started the month by marrying Danielle Tegge and ended it with a performance that washed away much of the frustration he had said he felt in recent seasons because his results hadn’t been at the level that brought him back-to-back series titles in 2010 and 2011.
“This thing was fast, it was on rails,” Mardis said of his Smart & Final/Blue Water Technologies STR Chevrolet. “I couldn’t ask for a better car. It did everything I wanted it to do.”
What the car did mostly was respond instantly every time Mardis mashed the gas pedal on a restart from one of the dozen official caution flags and keep running to the finish while Mardis said “I hope I don’t run out of fuel” every time one of those pesky yellow flags waved.
“The car was really good from the time we unloaded (for practice) Friday,” he said. “I haven’t had a car this good in years.”
The win, by .438 of a second, was Mardis’s ninth in the series, tying him with past champion Jimmy Dickerson for third on the all-time list. He never faced a challenge for the lead.
Tyler Miinch started fourth, alongside fast qualifier Michael Womack, but moved into third on the opening lap and to second on lap 19. That’s where he spent the balance of the evening. The Blossom Valley, Calif., driver stayed close, never trailing Mardis by more than a second, but never got close enough to think of making a pass.
Scott Winters came home in third, followed by Blake Rogers and Dylan Cappello.
Jim Mardis, Taylor Miinch, Scott Winters, Blake Rogers, Dylan Cappello, Shelby Stroebel, Wes Miller, Dustin Tilbury, Eddie Secord, Ryan Partridge, Tony Forfa IV, Eric Hamilton, William Guevara, Mark Allison, Mike Mitchell, Michael Womack, Chris Cook, Doug Carpenter, Jerry Toporek, Rod Proctor, Dave Arce, Jason Irwin, Travis Thirketlle, Linny White.