The Lucas Oil Modified Series returns with the Geico 100 on Saturday night at the Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, with Jim Mardis defending his 2017 victory. Taylor Minch, who finished second to Mardis, leads the drivers’ standings by 42 points ahead of rookie Justin Johnson, who is atop rookie of the year chase. Dylan Cappello, the 2014 series champ, is third.
Eddie Secord of Oak Hills will be among the local drivers entered. Orange Show fan favorite Linny White of Colton, who was second to 2016 champion Matthew Hicks, will make his first series start of the season, driving for the Garcia Racing team.
There was plenty of expectation for Secord when he joined the series five years ago. He recently said he’s competing in the best short-track touring series in the West and it’s been more of a challenge than he anticipated.
“When it comes down to it, the cars are unique, they’re hard to set up, and this (Hoosier 700) tire they’ve got us running on is kind of a handful,” Secord said. “So if you hit it, you hit it, and if you miss it, you miss it. I enjoy the cars and the competition, all the competitors and stuff, but yeah, it’s definitely a little more than I bit off. But we’ll keep going with it, keep fighting it. I’m not quitting yet.”
Secord is no stranger to the tight quarter-mile track he refers to as “the concrete jungle.” He has competed in Pony Stocks, Pro 4 Modifieds and Super Late Models. Secord will make his 43rd Lucas start Saturday night. In his previous Lucas starts at Orange Show, Secord has posted finishes of 24th, 14th and ninth last year.
He joined the series after suffering a bad back injury in a race in another series and “decided I needed something that was a little slower and maybe a little less expensive. But they’re all fast and expensive so I didn’t cure any of that.
“I enjoy racing, so I just want to keep going. I like the class. I like the look of the cars; I’ve always admired them. A lot of my friends raced them prior to me getting into it, so I kind of got the itch.”
Secord is still adjusting to the series.
“The more adjustments you have, the more chance you have something can go wrong, and with these things if … you’re off a little, it can be pretty big,” he said. “The cars are so tight in qualifying, the speeds, if you miss it just a little bit, you can go from fifth to 15th in a 10th and a half (of a second). That’s just how tight it is. That’s what makes the class so unique, though.”
In addition to racing in the Lucas Oil Modified Series, Secord travels to the Pacific Northwest several times a year to compete in the Northwest Pro4 Alliance, where he drives a car he built and in which he has won several championships.
He has no plans of slowing down soon.
“I’m going to keep going until it’s time,” he said. “My old man is still racing and he’s 73, so I can too.”
Rancho Cucamonga’s Ryan Partridge had an eventful Saturday night at Irwindale Speedway.
In the early afternoon, he responded when his brother Andy and Bill Johnson received electrical shocks in Mike Johnson’s trailer. According to TJ Kennedy, Partridge went to aid his younger brother and used life-saving techniques to revive him. Both men were conscious and talking when taken by ambulance to a hospital in Arcadia, but later returned to the track.
Partridge then competed in the Irwindale Truck Series race and was the fastest qualifier. Kennedy reported there were no caution flags during the 10-minute race and Partridge gradually reeled in leader Lucas McNeil.
“He was only one length back on lap 29 of 30,” Kennedy reported. “He tried to pass McNeil on the inside exiting turn four with the starter waving the checkered flag. The two trucks made contact and McNeil spun out to the inside leaving turn four.”
Partridge crossed the finish line 6.121 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Nico Mongenel of Pomona. However, after review by race control, Partridge was placed seventh in the official finish behind McNeil, who crossed the finish line last. Mongenel was elated to receive his first-ever victory in his fifth season.
Four drivers remain mathematically eligible for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series championship that closes Sunday at Sonoma Raceway: Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Will Power and Josef Newgarden will battle it out over 85 laps (202.7 miles) over the 2.385-mile road course.
Dixon has won four championships, while Power and Newgarden won the title in 2014 and 2017, respectively. Rossi has never won the championship.
It’s the fifth time Dixon goes into a finale with the points lead. He took the lead following his win at Texas in June and has won championships in three of the previous four seasons that he led with one race to go (2003, 2008 and 2013).
Dixon leads Alexander Rossi by 29 points, with Power and Newgarden both 81 points behind. With 104 maximum points available at Sonoma, the championship is nearly a winner-take-all situation for the top two drivers in the championship.
This is the 13th consecutive year the Verizon IndyCar Series champion will be determined at the final race of the season.
— The USAC Midgets race at Ventura Raceway for the first time this season Saturday night. Dwarfs, Senior Sprints, IMCA Modifieds and Focus Midgets are also part of the racing card. Last Saturday, Rick Hendrick survived a wild Sprints feature that resulted in the race being reduced to 20 laps as only three cars were running at the end. Tommy Velasquez III moved into third in the Dwarfs standings with a win, trailing only Johnny Conley and Jason Horton in the points race. Chris Meredith padded his lead over Wally Pankratz in Senior Sprints. Ricky Lewis scored his first Hobby Stocks race.
–Jagger Jones, the 16-year-old grandson of Parnelli Jones and son of two-time Indy 500 driver P.J. Jones, won one of two Late Model races last week at Irwindale Speedway after staring sixth. Teammate Trevor Huddleston won the first race.
— The Sand Sports Super Show will run Friday through Sunday at the OC Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa. On Saturday, EnduroCross, an off-road motorcycle racing on a track filled with obstacles like rocks, boulders, logs, sand, mud, giant tires and a water crossing, will be featured beginning at 7:30 p.m.
— Don Panoz, founder of the American Le Mans Series and vice chairman of IMSA, died of cancer Tuesday. He was 83. He was also the creator of the famously loud and uniquely styled front-engined Panoz LMP1 race cars.
— Stay connected with the 16 drivers in the NASCAR Cup playoffs. In collaboration with the Race Team Alliance and Twitter, customized hashtags and emojis for all 16 drivers have been unveiled. Twitter hashtags and emojis will be displayed on the drivers’ race cars beginning Sunday in Las Vegas. Playoff driver hashtags and emojis will also be available to Twitter users until each driver is eliminated from championship contention.
— Tony Stewart won’t compete in the 2019 Indianapolis 500, but he left the door open slightly for 2020. “I’ve been here and done it. I’m not doing it to just do it. I want to do it to try to win the race,” Stewart said on NBC on Sunday. “If you’re really going to do that, the IndyCar Series is so competitive right now, and the drivers and teams so even and so tough, you’re not going to just stroll in here like they used to do in the ’70s and ’80s and do a good job. I would want to run an oval race sometime in this coming year to get ready for 2020 if I’m going to do it. I’ve learned never to say never, but doing the math, I’ve realized that 49 is probably not a really good age to try to resurrect an IndyCar career. But who knows. I’ve done a lot dumber things than that.”
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