Travis Thirkettle Flexes his Muscles and Stays Hot at Tucson Speedwayadmin
Bakersfield, CA – When it comes to Travis Thirkettle, the iron is hot. The Canyon County, CA driver is certainly striking at the right time at his opponents, and it has paid off in three consecutive victories to begin the 2023 campaign in the Spears Modified Series. The desert town of Tucson only served as another reminder of that fact, as Thirkettle bided his time and struck at the right opportunity to grab the victory in the “Spears Modified Series 75 presented by MAVTV.”
“This place (Tucson Speedway (AZ)) is really fun, and I’ve raced here for the third time now and come up short a couple times, but close”, Thirkettle exclaimed from Victory Lane. Man, it was fun. It’s a fun place to race. It was an awesome team win and we executed our plan to the “T”. Spotter Shae was on point, keeping me from dipping into that cookie jar we were talking about. And we had plenty of cookies left at the end.”
Thirkettle, who is known for his prowess on the ½-mile facilities on the Spears Modified Series schedule, is beginning to get a winning reputation on the smaller tracks as well. Thirkettle scored his second win in the last two events on the smaller tracks and extended his championship lead in the process. Thirkettle led Final Practice, but Branden Bonnett spoiled the clean sweep by grabbing the PFC Brakes “Zero Drag Fast Time Award with a lap of 16.139 seconds around the 3/8-mile. Holly Clark was a tick behind with a 16.211 lap and Thirkettle timed in third. Kevin Vossen, Jeff Longman, Stephen Brucker, Kyle Jacks, and Jimmy Sloan were the remainder of the redraw participants.
The redraw saw Vossen grab the pole followed by Longman, Sloan, Jacks, Bonnett, Clark, Brucker, and Thirkettle. Vossen grabbed the lead on the initial start, as the bottom line moved forward, bringing Sloan to second and Bonnett to third. The Red flew on lap six for Justin Grote, who went up in smoke and oiled down the track. The ensuing restart saw Sloan wrestle the lead from Vossen, as the duo broke away from the pack, with tire management on the minds of most teams.
The field ran clean and green to the Competition Caution on lap 36, signifying the end of a maximum 30-lap green flag run. Sloan continued to lead Vossen, Bennett, Brucker, Clark and Thirkettle as drivers waited for their time to go. The restart found Sloan back to the lead with Bennett moving under Vossen to grab the runner-up position. Three laps later, Thirkettle was able to grab third with a three-wide maneuver clearing Vossen, Brucker and Clark. It took Clark three more laps to secure fourth from Brucker and a fading Vossen.
The trio of Sloan, Bennett and Thirkettle formed a three-car breakaway, as they battled for the lead. On lap 50, Thirkettle was finally able to dispatch of Bennett with an inside move, setting his sights on Sloan. It didn’t take long for Thirkettle to grab the lead however, as Sloan fell off the pace on lap 51 and stalled for a yellow on lap 52. His night was over with electrical issues.
The final restart found Thirkettle skating to the front, with Brucker back by Clark for third in the outside line. Thirkettle was able to hold a short lead with the battle between Brucker and Clark heating up for third. The duo battled side-by-side, exchanging positions several times. As the duo headed to the white flag off of Turn 4, Clark spun into the infield, after contact, giving Brucker the position. Thirkettle crossed the line for his third 2023 victory, with Branden Bonnett second in his debut. Brucker won the battle for third with Brian Harrington Jr. charging to the fourth position from mid-pack. Jeff Longman picked up the last top-five position with Vossen hanging on to the top half-dozen.
After the win, Thirkettle explained his enthusiasm for the win at Tucson.
“It’s just the challenge of it, and you have to race the racetrack. It’s a really abrasive racetrack and you can really go through challenges here. You have to treat the “loud” peddle here with respect. We thought we had an uphill battle here. I have to apologize to Ricky (Brooks) here, because I was complaining about weight breaks in tech, saying an open motor wouldn’t have a chance here. But we proved it wrong.”
The next event for the Spears Modified Series will be at Irwindale Speedway on May 20th on the inner one-third mile. Thirkettle will once again get the chance to prove that he can win on any length track as the series competes in Round #4.
- Travis Thirkettle, 2. Branden Bonnett, 3. Stephen Brucker, 4. Brian Harrington Jr., 5. Jeff Longman, 6. Kevin Vossen, 7. William Guevara, 8. Kyle Jacks, 9. Holly Clark, 10. Paul French, 11. Jimmy Sloan, 12. Jordan Smith, 13. Dominick Adams, 14. Justin Grote, DNS. Jack Smith