CORONA, CA - The Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by MAVTV hits Tucson Speedway Saturday night and chances are if you ask any of the drivers to sum that up in one word, they'll say tires.
That's true almost anywhere the West's best short-track touring series visits, of course. But nowhere else is it as meaningful as it is at the 3/8-mile oval where they'll run the SuperClean 75 presented by Hoosier Tire.
It's been that way since at least 2015, when Matthew Hicks and Scott Winters both talked about the effect the 8-inch Hoosier 700 tires would have on the outcome.
"There's more than one line but tire conservation is key," Hicks said before the race. "It's a momentum track, but you cannot spin the tires. If you get them hot, you're done. The track is so abrasive it just eats up tires. You've got to have patience."
Winters won that year by moving to the front early and leading 44 of the 75 laps.
The key therefore becomes tire management and being in position to win in the closing stages of the 75-lap race, and that favors a conservative approach in the early going.
Last year, when Taylor Miinch started on the pole and led every lap of an event full of caution flags, there wasn't any talk of tires.
This is the Lucas Oil Modifieds Series' 13th season running in Tucson, the second event in the 10-race championship season.
Miinch used last year's Tucson victory as a springboard to the most dominant season in series history.
The 23-year-old from Rancho San Diego, California, had four wins, never finished out of the top three and won the championship by the widest margin ever.
He's not showing any signs of slowing down, either. Miinch opened this season at Havasu 95 Speedway March 10 with his sixth career win, by 7.8 seconds over Kyle Tellstrom.
The Lucas Oil Modifieds will be the feature attraction on a program that include local racing in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (Modifieds, Pro Stocks, Outlaws, Hobby Stocks and Hornet Stocks).
Spectator gates will open at 5 p.m. and racing will get under way with the Lucas Oil Modifieds' 6-lap Trophy Dash at 7 p.m.
Copyright 2018 Lucas Oil Modified Series. All rights reserved.