THE 2020 SEASON OPENER FOR THE NORTH STATE MODIFIED SERIES, PRESENTED BY PROTECT THE HARVEST, WAS CANCELED DUE TO THE “STAY AT HOME” DIRECTIVE FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA. THE FOLLOWING IS ONLY ONE VERSION OF WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED IF THE EVENT HAD TAKEN PLACE.
April 11, 2020 – The North State Modified Series, presented by Protect the Harvest, held its first virtual race at Madera Speedway Saturday night. A record number of 35 cars were on hand to kick off the 2020 season, and at the end of the “Lucas Oil 60” feature it was Dustin DeRosier of Cloverdale who was the big $1000 winner.
Tennessee Terry Deal led the crowd in an inspirational Easter invocation, and Lucas Oil legends Joyce and Greg Scheidecker sang our country’s national anthem.
Betty Doke, representing Protect the Harvest, was the Grand Marshall for the event and ordered the drivers to “start your engines.” The 5-jet flyover was piloted by NSMS’s young Michael Morrison Jr from North Carolina.
Donovan Cox of Kelseyville set a new Hoosier Tire track record of 14.998 seconds with his new Jorre Rae Cox built modified. The 10-car inverted start saw Cox line up in the fifth row, and put Rick Avila of Pleasanton on the pole along side of Ian Elliott of Lakeport. The drivers voted to run all 35 cars in the 60 lapper. The only “No” votes were from NSMS line-scorer Sharon Leuzinger and Head-Strong official Jeff Stephens.
Honorary starter Cheryl Andersen threw the first green flag as Johnny Miskill was taking a potty break. Avila beat Elliott into turn one and led the first five laps. The duo stayed side-by-side for the next 10 rounds until the yellow flew when Cameron Austin and Scott Winters both tried to drive by Sal Lopez at the same time. The 3-wide incident resulted in all three cars in a synchronized spin. All three drivers were able to continue at the back of the pack.
The restart saw Elliott forged ahead with DeRosier following his lead, dropping Avila to third. Oregon driver Rich Cobb came from 11th starting to fourth by mid race, passing Cox, Jason Philpot, Charlie Collins and Darrin Sullivan all in the outside lane.
The race was halted at lap 30 for the half-time show where Paul and Cindy Lauenroth renewed their wedding vows after 60 years of marriage in front of a crowd of 3500. There was also a “pit-stop” competition where Gary DeRosier won 100 cases of beer for changing a tire in 20.5 seconds. Steve Thomas collected 50 cases of beer for his 25.2 second tire change.
When racing resumed the front-runners battled it out while Darrin Knight was picking off cars left and right. He passed Sullivan for fifth on lap lap 40 and snuck under Avila on 45.
The final yellow flag came out on lap 50 when Dana Stahl thought he saw the checkered flag. Thinking that he had won the race, Stahl stopped his car in victory lane but was 10 laps (and 10 positions) short.
DeRosier pulled ahead of Elliott on the restart, and when Elliott bobbled, Cobb took advantage and stole second spot. Cobb moved to the outside of DeRosier where they swapped the lead back and forth for the remaining 10 rounds. Cobb pulled ahead at the drop of the white flag, but when the checkered waved it was DeRosier first to the finish line by inches to collect the win. Cobb finished second ahead of Elliott, Knight, Avila and Sullivan. Rounding out the top 10 were Philpot, Charlie Collins, Keith Bloom and Randy Houston.
All 35 cars finished the event that was televised in remembrance of NSMS photographer Chris Anderson. Further tribute was given to Anderson for his courageous act of standing in the middle of turn 4 during a NSMS race last season to get what he called “The perfect shot.”
The trophy presenter was 2014 NSMS champion Jay Linstroth. The Hard Charger Award went to Cobb for passing three cars in one lap.
The North State Modified Series is presented by: Protect the Harvest, Lucas Oil, Hoosier Tire West, Sunoco Race Fuels, Naake Suspension, Five Star Bodies, Racer Bling, Keyser Racing Products, Scribner Plastics, and Franks Radios.
The next virtual event for the North State Modified Series will take place on May 2 at Dave Twyman’s Shasta Speedway in Anderson, CA. STAY TUNED!