RACE #2 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.
May 2, 2020…… The North State Modified Series, presented by Protect the Harvest, held its second 2020 virtual race at Shasta Speedway Saturday night. Thirty cars and 60 drivers checked in as the new virtual rule for the modifieds states that every car must have 2 seats; one for the driver and one for a co-pilot. This rule helps the promoter to get more money from pit pass sales, and helps to satisfy the nagging wives who feel left out at the track, as now they can ride as a co-pilot.
Another virtual rule that was added to this year’s NSMS Race Procedures is “In all races 60 laps or more, each driver gets one time-out per season where they can signal the flagman, the race will be stopped for 5 minutes, and the driver can use that time any way he chooses.” Each of these new rules was implemented at the Shasta event.
With the help of co-pilot Scott Haskins, Rich Cobb of Klamath Falls, Oregon broke through his long streak of “unable to qualify” and set a new Hoosier tire track record of 16.016 seconds. The husband-wife team of Cameron Austin and Macy Tommila was second quick at 16.07c, father and son Jason/Jim Philpot clocked in at 16.15a, our other father and son team Darrin/David Sullivan were next with a 16.221, and Rick/Sandra Avila timed in with a 16.42o second lap.
The 2019 Ferrari-Kramer championship team missed time trials as car owners Don Kramer and Wayne Ferrari decided to race the #24 car themselves, but kept fighting over who would be the driver. Head-Strong official Jeff Stephens finally kicked both of them out and ordered Robbie Knittel (driver) and Scott Winters to get in the car.
Veteran racer Tom Elam, driving the Bob Strauss Mighty Mouse 6 cylinder modified, failed to pass inspection when the seats in the car were not 6 feet apart. Elem used the famous argument that they had raced the car this way for the past 11 years, so Stephens gave them a $500 fine for ignoring the social distancing safety directives, and let the car compete.
Pacing the field was past Shasta Speedway champions Ralph and Kyle Borden in their new Lamborghini pace car. When flagman Johnny Miskill showed the “one lap to go” signal, it was time for the pace car to pull into the infield. But “Old Man” Borden thought he was racing and decided not to give up his up-front starting spot and stayed on the track. When the green flag flew front row starters Randy Houston and Sal Lopez each drove by the surprised Bordens, and three laps later Ralph and Kyle admitted defeat and drove the Lamborghini into the pits.
Houston powered into the lead with Ian Elliott and Dave Campbell driving under Lopez for second and third. Sullivan passed both Nick Lyons and Adrianna Strugnell to join the front runners, and picked off Lopez on lap 10. Meanwhile Knittel/Winters were on a mission to get to the front.
Austin, Avila and Philpot were all moving forward, and at the half-way marker it was Houston, Elliott, Campbell, Sullivan, Austin, Avila, Philpot, Knittel, Lyons, Lopez and Strugnell.
The half-time show gave tribute to the first asphalt modified race ever run in California in the fall of 1989 right here at Gary Cressey’s Shasta Speedway. Two cars raced driven by “Big John” Anderson of Hayward and Bob Strauss of Lucerne. Strauss won in a photo finish in the event that started a trend that saw over 60 cars compete in later years. Both Dave Twyman and Butch Schafer were tech officials at this race. NSMS officials presented Twyman with a plaque for his continued efforts to keep open-comp modifieds alive and well 30 years later.
When racing resumed, Knittel used the outside lane to gain ground, and by lap 40 he was challenging Campbell for third place. Five rounds later Knittel passed both Campbell and Elliot and set his sights on Houston.
With only 10 laps to go, Darrin Knight’s car developed a water leak, and immediately co-pilot Curt Agustinovich signaled the flagman for a “time-out.” Knight stopped his car on the front stretch, got out to fix the problem, but instead of looking under the car, he ran toward the passionate purple out-house in the infield, went in and shut the door. With only 30 seconds of sand left in the 5-minute hour glass, Knight ran back to his car, bucked up, and was ready to roll. The water leak stopped so Knight was allowed to restart the race.
Knittel shot by Houston on the restart, but Houston took to the high lane where they ran side-by-side the next several laps. Knittel did everything he could to keep Houston behind, but each time it looked like the 2019 champ was gaining ground, Houston drove into the turn harder.
Meanwhile Houston’s aunt, Mary Burton was in the grandstands yelling “Go, Randy, Go Randy, Go, Go ,Go.” When she realized that Randy wasn’t paying attention to her, Burton ran up to the tower, grabbed the microphone away from announcer Dan Miller and started shouting “Go, Randy, Go, Go, Go” over the p/a system. At this point NSMS official “Proper Protocol Joe” Irby called for a yellow and sent Houston to the back of the pack for his family member disturbing the peace in the grandstand. While under yellow, track officials noticed that Winters was now driving the #24 and the team was sent to the back for swapping drivers under green conditions.
This put Bloom in the lead with Elliott second, Campbell third, Sullivan fourth and Austin fifth. Lopez made a late-race move that saw him catapult by three cars in turn four. Next Avila flipped a switch that changed his “zebra” stripes into “Cheetah” spots and he picked up three positions. At the checkered flag it was Bloom, Elliott, Campbell, Sullivan, Avila, Austin, Philpot, Lopez, Lyons and Strugnell. Houston and Knittel rebounded to finish 11th and 12th. Houston won the 10 lap Lucas Oil qualifying heat.
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.
“Big T Super Hugger 60” Feature Event: Keith Bloom, Ian Elliott, Dave Campbell, Darrin Sullivan, Rick Avila, Cameron Austin, Jason Philpot, Sal Lopez, Nick Lyons, Adrianna Strugnell, Randy Houston, Knittel/Winters, Darrin Knight, Rich Cobb, Richie Potts, Mike Neilson, Dustin DeRosier, Ralph Bailey, Jeremy Nowlin, Donovan Cox, Stuart Campbell, Herman Pulyer, Tom Elam, Cody Braund, John Baker, Steven Gannon, Brian Collins, Donovan Cox, Andrew Koens and Dale Didoha.
See Ya Next Time! ns