Travis Thirkettle Continues Irwindale Spears Modified Series Strangleholdadmin
Bakersfield, CA – Travis Thirkettle has dominated Spears Modified Series action in 2022, especially at Irwindale Speedway, his home track. Thirkettle once again proved to be unbeatable in the “Factory Canopies 60 presented by General Tire”, but it was not an easy win for the former track champion. Thirkettle had to fight off a determined effort from 2021 series Rookie-of-the-Year Andrew Anderson to eke out a 0.112 second victory on the half-mile speedway for win #5 of the season. Thirkettle recalled the battle with his teammate, over the course of the event.
“They got it balanced (the motor types with weight breaks), and he (Anderson) was there, and I was giving it everything I had. He made me earn it tonight, and he kept me honest, not letting me cruise at all tonight. He had a strong weekend, and I am happy for those guys, they are working hard at it. I can’t thank my team enough. They are really hitting on all eight. I think this is our fourth in-a-row, and I’m just tickled pink about how well we are doing, and how well we are executing the plan once we get here. All that hard work pays off.”
Round one went to Anderson, as he earned his second consecutive PFC Brakes “Zero Drag Fast Time Award” on the progressively banked oval, timing in at 19.215 seconds. Former two-time series champion Jim Mardis was second, with Thirkettle, championship leader Jaron Giannini, and William Guevara the top-five. The top-eight redraw found Anderson remaining on the pole, with Thirkettle moving up to start to his outside. Guevara pulled the three followed by Giannini, Chris Dalton, Sam Jacks, Jim Mardis, and Kevin Vossen. Jacks was forced to start in the rear however, due to unapproved changes to the car.
As the initial green flag fell, Anderson got a good start and vaulted to the lead, with Giannini making the outside groove work to take third from Guevara. It took Thirkettle a couple laps of running the outside groove, but he was able to wrestle the lead away from Anderson on lap three. The top-three separated themselves for the battle for fourth, as Kyle Jacks and then Eddie Secord pressured Guevara. The first caution flew on lap 17, as Aaron Coonfield spun in Turn 1. The restart found Thirkettle back out front, with Anderson withstanding a challenge from Giannini. Secord was able to get by Guevara for fourth.
The second caution of the night came out on lap 21, as contact between Kyle Jacks and Kevin Vossen sent the #10 of Vossen hard into the Turn 1 wall. Another restart found the top-three unchanged, but Guevara was able to work his way back under Secord for fourth on lap 26. Jimmy Sloan followed into the top-five, before a caution came out for a spin by Chris Dalton on lap 34, after contact with Holly Clark in the battle for eighth.
The restart found Thirkettle out in front of Anderson, Giannini, and Guevara, as Secord went back by Sloan for fifth. It took Sloan until lap 40 to get back by Secord, as Anderson closed on the back bumper of Thirkettle for the lead. A near spin by Ray Mros in front of the leaders gave Thirkettle a five-car lead with 10 laps to go, but a caution for a Chris Dalton spin on lap 53 bunched the field again.
Anderson got a good restart, but Thirkettle was able to fend off his challenger, as Giannini and Guevara swapped third back and forth. With four laps to go, Anderson moved to the inside of Thirkettle for the lead, but Thirkettle was able to pull the challenger at the end of the straight. Anderson continued to apply pressure pulling alongside Thirkettle on the straights. On the final lap, Anderson dove low in Turns 1 and 2, running alongside Thirkettle down the back straight. In Turns 3 and 4, Anderson used the same move, emerging with a slight lead at turn exit, but Thirkettle was able to use the momentum to cross the line less than a car length in front of Anderson. Giannini was able to battle back by Guevara to score the third position, with Jimmy Sloan fifth.
Despite the narrow loss, Anderson was excited about the effort that he and his team put forth, in their first Modified start since the “All-Star Showdown” in February.
“That has to be the best second-place I have ever earned”, Anderson beamed after the race. “Travis is a phenomenal driver, and I feel privileged to be able to compete for a win with him. I’m just so happy to be here. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to make it happen, and I feel like we are closer than ever.”
Holly Clark made the trip from Colorado worth it with a sixth-place run. Utah driver Jeff Longman was seventh with Eddie Secord making his return in eighth, after late race contact with Jim Mardis. Sam Jacks was ninth with Adam Coonfield the final driver in the top-10.
The next event for the Spears Modified Series will be at Kern County Raceway on October 22 in the 34th Annual “October Classic”. It will be the penultimate event of the season for the Spears Modified Series.
Results: 1. Travis Thirkettle, 2. Andrew Anderson, 3. Jaron Giannini*, 4. William Guevara, 5. Jimmy Sloan*, 6. Holly Clark, 7. Jeff Longman, 8. Eddie Secord, 9. Sam Jacks, 10. Adam Coonfield, 11. Chris Dalton*, 12. Ray Mros*, 13. AJ DiMarzo, 14. Jim Mardis, 15. Anthony Barket, 16. Kyle Jacks*, 17. Aaron Coonfield, 18. Kevin Vossen*