LAS VEGAS — Matthew Hicks won the final race of the season for the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart Saturday night at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The 75-lap Lucas Oil West Coast Short Track Championship presented by General Tire was run in fits and starts because of numerous incidents that caused nine yellow flags and one brief red flag stoppage.
Hicks said he never was concerned about being able to protect his lead, though.
“I had the best car. I didn’t have anything to worry about,” he said after leading the final 65 laps, finishing 0.428 seconds ahead of former California state champion Scott Winters and taking home $2,600.
The weekend got under way with 50 drivers from nine states on hand and 46 of them made qualifying attempts Saturday afternoon. Hicks took the Budweiser Fast Time award with a lap of the three-eighths-mile oval at 15.271 seconds, and after taking the race lead from pole-sitter Doug Hamm on lap 11 he never was seriously threatened.
Winters ran in the top five all night, but Las Vegas driver Joe DeGuevera spun and went to the rear of the 26-car field after an early incident, then charged back to finish third, with Shelby Stroebel, fourth and Aaron McMorran fifth.
Chris Gerchman didn’t challenge for the win, as anticipated, but he did prove prophetic. The series all-time leader in victories and prize money needed only to start the race to claim his first series championship. Early in the day he said he wasn’t taking that for granted, though, because “they haven’t waved the green flag and strange things happen (to him) here.”
Gerchman qualified third and took the green flag. Then he immediately slowed down, labored around the track until losing power on lap four and being pushed to the pits. He came back on lap 13 and eventually finished 21st, seven laps down.
But the 26-year-old Spring Branch, Texas, resident now has a title to cap his list of accomplishments after finishing third three times and second last season.
Hicks was the fifth different winner of the season.
Matthew Hicks, Scott Winters, Joe DeGuevara, Shelby Stroebel, Aaron McMorran, Tripp Gaylord, Rich Lindgren, Doug Carpenter, Mark Ith Jr., Doug Hamm, Mike Salm, Jim Mardis, Michael Hale, Brad Tilton, Tim Morse, Dave Arce, Nik Romano, David Crouch, Jay Linstroth, Roger Brown, Chris Gerchman, Jason Patison, JA Junior, Chase Catania, Jason Bamberg, Jessica Clark.