CORONA, Calif. — Five years and counting. That’s how long it’s been since a first-year driver won a race in the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart and the clock is running out on any of this season’s rookies hoping to change that.
This is an extremely talented group of rookies. They’ve proven that with their results — a combined 16 top 10 finishes, two Budweiser Fast Time awards, a BILSTEIN Trophy Dash victory and four places in the top 15 of the Hoosier Tire West point standings going into the season-ending Lucas Oil West Coast Short Track Championship at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Nov. 16.
The major element missing from that resume is a race win. Chase Catania came close with a second to Chris Gerchman in a side-by-side finish at Madera Speedway in July. So did Nik Romano, who dominated a race at Blythe, Calif., in September until getting caught up in an accident with 10 laps to go.
The last series rookie to win a race was Scott Winters, a perennial champion in modified racing in northern California. Winters won a 75-lap race at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, Calif., on July 12, 2008. It was not just Winters’ first year; it was his first race in the intensely competitive series that gains in popularity every season.
Another northern California driver, Rich Lindgren, made one start in 2010 and then won his first time out in 2011.
There have been 48 races and 11 different winners since Winters debut triumph, so it would seem that experience definitely helps. But that alone isn’t enough, as Winters can attest. He failed to qualify for last year’s finale at Las Vegas, won the B main to get into the field, and finished 18th in the 75-lap main event.
This year’s event, which pays $2,500 to the race winner and $300 to all starters, is expected to attract more than 40 entries from throughout the West.