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Stroebel will have daughter for a rival in bid for second win in Utah
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (July 22, 2015) – Shelby Stroebel said he’s “a little nervous and a little excited at the same time” about returning to Rocky Mountain Raceways on Saturday (July 25) to kick off the second half of the championship schedule for the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart.
Stroebel’s conflicting emotions have to do with trying to win at RMR for the second year in a row after having one of the worst outings of his career a month ago, and to having among his challengers his daughter, a promising 19-year-old named Caitlin Stroebel.
It will be the series debut for Caitlin, who has been racing Modifieds at Meridian (Idaho) Speedway and other Northwest tracks for several years while completing her education in high school and at Boise State University, where she will be a sophomore.
Caitlin, who got her first main event win at Meridian in September, 2012, will become the third woman to drive in the series when she joins her father and the others on the 39-car entry list for the K&N Filters Great Salt Lake 75 presented by Sunoco.
The race, which is scheduled for 75 laps on the 3/8-mile America First Credit Union oval, will be the sixth of the 10 that will determine the 2015 champion. The race winner will take home $2,000 and $400 will go to each of the 28 drivers who earn a spot in the starting field through qualifying or the B main.
Scott Winters has won two of the season’s five race and will go into this event leading the Hoosier Tire West point standings. But the Tracy, California, resident is only 2 points ahead of Taylor Miinch of El Cajon, California, and Escondido, California’s, Austin Barnes, the 2012 champion who also is a two-time winner.
Reigning champion and Las Vegas winner Dylan Cappello of Peoria, Arizona, is fourth, 15 points behind Winters, and Jason Irwin of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is fifth, 22 points in back of the leader.
Irwin and Cappello were second and third at RMR last year when Shelby Stroebel led 64 laps and got his first series win by 0.756 seconds. Not surprisingly, Stroebel has good feelings about the track in suburban Salt Lake City that is about five hours away from his home in Meridian, Idaho.
“I do like the facility,” the 42-year-old construction company owner said. “It’s fun to race at, it’s a fast track and it seems like I have decent luck there.
“The track is racy. If you get the car set up right there are two grooves, which is nice. You have a lot of corner speed and you feel the G forces in the corners; it’s kind of unique (among the tracks on the series’ schedule) in that way. It’ll shove you back in the seat a little. You can drive a little deeper into the corners and carry more corner speed.”
Stroebel, who has finished third and fifth in the point standings since joining the series full-time in 2013, is 12th this week after falling five spots because of a disastrous race at Irwindale, California, June 27.
The front end of his LoanMart Lefthander Chevrolet unexpectedly scraped the pavement in the first turn on the opening lap, leaving him with a broken tie rod end and no steering and triggering an accident that also sidelined Jason Patison and Jimmy Sloan.
“We tried a completely different set-up,” Stroebel said, “and then we missed practice. We broke the car Friday night, so we only had one practice (before qualifying on race day). I was running the top groove then, but when the main event started I was on the inside. I go sailing into Turn One and it loaded up the front more than usual. It put a lot more force on the front and it over-traveled. It hit the sway bar on the track and broke the tie rod end and I had no steering.
“I felt so bad. Jason got the brunt end of it, and Jimmy, and I hate that. If I take myself out I’m OK with that. But when I take other guys out it really bums me out.”
Stroebel said he is going to try the same set-up again, however, as he continues to search for the consistency that has eluded him since he joined the series. He has said that two of the biggest demons for him have been the use of bump stops, which are designed to control suspension travel but in the process, he said, “changes the load so dramatically,” and the peculiarities of the 8-inch Hoosier 700 tire used in the series.
“It has been a struggle with the tires,” said Stroebel, who uses a different tire in the other series he runs. “My right rear is completely destroyed almost every race. That has to do with me not understanding what’s going on with the tire. I know it might help me if I could get a better handle on that.”
The weekend program will get under way with the series’ customary Friday night practice and conclude with practice, qualifying, a 40-lap B main and the 75-lap main event Saturday. Also on the schedule are RMR’s Hornets, Super Stocks, Winged Sprint Cars and a Train race, and the evening will conclude with a Fireworks show.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children 5 through 12. Spectator gates will open at 4 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time Saturday July 25. Qualifying for all divisions will begin at 5:30, heat races at 6:30, the B main at 7 and the main events at 8:05 p.m.
The Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart is supported by a potent marketing concept known as “Team Lucas” whose members include General Tire, GEICO, E3 Spark Plugs, Optima Batteries, Carlyle Tools, Kawasaki, AutoMeter, iON Cameras, Speedco Truck Lube and Tire, BILSTEIN Shocks, LoanMart and SuperClean.
Additional sponsorship is provided by Lucas Oil Products, Protect the Harvest, MAVTV Motorsports Network, Hoosier Tire West, Sunoco Race Fuels, K&N Filters, Aero Racing Wheels, ASI Racewear, Bosch, Five Star Race Car Bodies, Frank’s Radios, Racing Plus and DJ Safety.
Detailed information on the series is available at www.LucasOilModifieds.com
“I handed out the ET (elapsed time) slips at the end of the drag strip,” said Eames. “After you finished your run, I was the little crumb cruncher that gave you your ticket. That was really my first job. I worked here all through high school.”
The love of racing came from being involved at an early age, which was a family affair.
“My parents literally have been involved in street rods and racing forever,” Eames explained. “For the last 40 years my parents have published a book called Mountain West Street News that comes out every other month, and it basically tells everybody on the Wasatch Front where all the street rods, rod runs, car shows, cruise nights, all that fun stuff is. They were always around racing.”
The Eames family worked at Bonneville Raceway from its opening in 1968 to the mid 70s.
”I love racing. All racing. Whether it’s motorcycles, go-carts, I don’t care what it is,“ Eames said. ”Anything that makes noise, goes fast, turns, goes straight, I don’t care what it is.“
Spencer Young bought the facility in 1995, tore it down, and built up what is now known today as Rocky Mountain Raceways.
Eames and and his brother were racing announcers, but wanted to make a return to their old stomping grounds by pestering now directional manager Ron Craft about helping out down at RMR.
“I always asked Ron all the time, ‘Hey if you need announcing help … we came down to a lot of races,’” Eames recalled. “We hounded them all the time, ‘Hey, if you need announcing help, we’re 40 minutes away.’ We were born and raised in Roy.”
The persistence eventually paid off.
“The week before Memorial Day in 2005, I get this weird phone call, and it was a number I didn’t recognize,” said Eames. “It was Ron Craft, the direction manager. I picked up the phone and he says, ‘Are you serious’ and I was like , ‘Am I serious about what?’ And he said, ‘About announcing. I really need some help. Can you start next week?’”
For five years, Eames and his brother announced the events at RMR, and then a more intriguing position became available.
“In 2010, the general manager job became open,” Eames said. “This is really where I was raised. I went through the interview process and Spencer Young offered me the job, and it took me about a millisecond to say ‘Yeah absolutely, I’m ready.’”
With the recent news of Miller Motorsports Park potential to close this year, Eames looks at the situation as being negative not only for the sport of racing, but for the state of Utah in general.
“There should be more race tracks, not less of them,” he said. “Miller Motorsports Park is a world class facility. I know they’ve had a real tough go of trying to make that thing profitable. If it does close, it’s a real loss — not only for racing but for Utah. It sucks that a venue like that is possibly going to shut down.”
Fortunately for Eames, RMR is still profitable.
“Our spectator count continues to grow, our sponsorship numbers continue to grow every year that I’ve been here,” he said. “I think we do a pretty good job because we continue to grow. I think we have a good product to sell. We pride ourselves on being a unique entertainment experience and suitable for the entire family. Between the 100 events that we put on in our three venues, there really is something for everyone.”
Contact sports reporter Brandon Garside at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @BGarsideSE, and on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE.