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Irwindale, CA., Jul. 15 – Team 211 Entertainment, LLC presented six divisions, including super stocks for the first time since 2015, and seven main events at Irwindale Speedway Saturday. More than 60- cars raced and 210 total main event laps were logged on three tracks—the half and third miles and a new infield eighth-mile this season. With temps in the 80s, 1,899 persons watched the action.
LKQ Pick Your Part LATE MODELS: The premier short-track NASCAR Whelen All-American Series raced a pair of twin-30-lap features as events one and six on the busy program. Series point leader Trevor Huddleston, 20, entered the evening as the second-ranked driver in Whelen national points at the mid-way point of the season. The Agoura Hills resident and college student had won seven of 11 main events at IS prior to Saturday.
The personable third-generation stock car driver also added to his national points by winning at Bakersfield's half-mile Kern Country Raceway Park this season. He is attempting to become the first western driver to win the Whelen national short-track championship since 2004. Irwindale track champion Greg Pursley won the Whelen national title that season. Pursley then moved on to the NASCAR K & N West touring series and won two K & N West championships.
Huddleston, son of three-time Irwindale late model track champion Tim Huddleston, drives a Racecar Factory-built Chevy (chassis No. 75) for his father's High Point Racing team. His 18-year old teammate Dylan Garner, from Yorba Linda, also chases Whelen national points and ranked tenth nationally prior to IS twin-30s Saturday. Garner drives the HPR No. 56 (RCF chassis 74) and has finished on the podium at both IS and KCRP.
1st LM 30: A 21-car field used a straight-up starting lineup based on qualifying times. That put Huddleston on the pole, with Cole Cabrera, 24, alongside in a “Eury Fury” chassis built in North Carolina by Tony Eury, Jr., former NASCAR Cup crew chief for his cousin Dale Earnhardt, Jr.. On lap 2 a four-car crash in the first turn caused a yellow flag. Three involved cars stopped at the crash-wall under the top ten scoring pylon.
Ryan Vargas and George Atkinson were able to drive to the pits for repairs and rejoined the field at the back prior to the lap 2 green flag. The 51 car that hit them from behind continued non-stop. Rookie Jagger Jones, 14, was tenth when involved cars got into his car from behind and sent his HPR No. 55 (RCF chassis 76) into the wall at the right front. His car was towed to the pits. His team used the two hours between the twin-30s to repair body damage and replace shock mounts and steering arms.
The first main ran green from lap 2-30. Huddleston led every lap for his eighth victory in 12 races. Runner-up Nick Joanides, 47, took second from Cabrera on lap 3. Garner took third on lap 12 and Lawless Alan took fourth from Cabrera on lap 21. All three pursuing drivers finished less than three seconds in back of the winner in that order.
Rookie Kayla Eshleman, the IS 2016 Bandolero track champion, turned 15 in May. She set seventh fastest qualifying time and started from P. 7. She finished sixth, only 3.022 seconds off the lead. Andrew Porter, rookie Matt Johnson, Toni Marie McCray (who started last after not posting a qualifying time), and Alec Martinez completed the top ten. Fifteen of 21 drivers finished with 14 on the lead lap. Huddleston's 92.450 mph lap was the quickest lap.
2nd LM 30: The starting lineup for the second race inverted the first eight finishers from the first 30. That put rookie Matt Johnson on the pole and Andrew Porter, 23, alongside. Joanides and Huddleston were in row four. Johnson, the 37-year old son of car owner, IS multi-feature winner Mike Johnson, led the first 22 laps. Joanides applied intense pressure from laps 8-22 after taking second from Porter on lap 8.
Joanides got under Johnson in turn two on lap 23 and took command. Porter did the same thing in the fourth corner on lap 23. The Joe Nava-owned Nos. 77 and 88 ran one-two with Joanides inside and Porter outside. The teammates battled for the lead to lap 29 when Joanides spun out of the lead low in turn four. He continued in last position for causing the yellow flag.
On a 2 X 2 restart for a green-white-checkered two lap dash, leader Porter chose the outside with Huddleston inside. They were even at the lap 29 green flag and into turn one. Porter used his outside line to squirt past Huddleston leaving the second turn and maintained a one car advantage to the checkered flag. Huddleston finished at Porter's back bumper after his final move exiting turn four fell short. Porter, the grandson of long-time stock car driver and car owner Kenny (Quick Pick Motor-sports) Smith, won his first late model feature by 0.133.
Lawless Alan finished third, 0.823 back. K. Eshleman continued to impress by starting third and finishing a LM career-best fourth, 1,205 off the lead. Garner, Cabrera, second-year LM driver/IS 2014 Bandolero champion Ryan Vargas, 16, M. Johnson, Joanides and McCray completed the top ten. Seventeen of 20 starters reached the checkered flag and 16 drivers completed all 30 laps. Joanides 90.557 mph lap was the fastest.
JAN'S TOWING SUPER STOCKS 35: Super stocks raced on the third-mile oval instead of the half-mile where they raced from mid-1999 through 2015. Super stocks did not race at IS last year. There were seven cars present for the first SS race at IS since October 2015. There were four Chevy Camaros, 1973-74 Dodge Darts, and a 1970 Dodge Challenger.
Steve Smith, of San Bernardino, set a new track record of 16.658 (71.965 mph) in his 1981 Camaro. It broke the second oldest IS track record—a 16.683 (71.930 mph) by Burbank-resident Yagel Beckovitz in a Camaro. He set the former mark on 4/16/99 when the track was only three weeks old after the inaugural USAC open-wheel event on 3/27/99. Super stocks raced on the third-mile for the first five races of 1999 before switching to the half-mile oval.
Smith, who has been racing his No. 00 Camaro at the Las Vegas “Bullring” oval, started sixth and led all 35 laps. He won three truck races at IS during the track's early years. Camaro driver Gary Read started fifth and finished second, 1.048 behind Smith. He traded second place with Jason Young, of Highland, on laps 19 and 23 and beat Young by 0.619. Young bought his No. 46 Camaro (a Roseville Speedway car) Thursday in Sacramento and towed south for Friday practice at IS.
Modified driver Jerry Toporek, of Venice, drove his Dodge Challenger to fourth, four seconds behind the winner. Harry Michaelian's Dart was 12 seconds back. Matthew Sampson, from Covina, finished sixth, a lap down. Bridgette Shaw, 19, ran her first race since a 2014 open competition race on the third-mile. She spun on lap 19 and dropped out.
SHARKEY'S SPEC LATE MODELS: The formerly named S2 Cars had five cars present. Craig Yeaton, from San Dimas, started third in his black No. 24 and led all 25 laps in the ex-No. 89 Henry Hodges car from Carson City, NV that he purchased this year. “It is my first main event win in 17 years,” the happy winner told spectators via the pit mic. Robby Hornsby, the point leader and winner of all three prior IS 2017 series races, started fourth. He ran a steady 15-yards in back of Yeaton and was -1.712 seconds back at the finish.
Ed Cutler, who spun into the crash-wall during afternoon practice, credited RCF-owner Jeff Schrader for getting him the necessary parts to race. He DNQ and started last. He ran third from lap 2 to checkers. Todd Conrad started sixth and placed fourth. Series rookies Blade and Shelby Rae Hildebrand, 18 and 28 year old brother and sister from Yucca Valley, finished fifth and sixth. All six drivers were running at the finish. Five drivers completed all 25 circuits in the all-green flag 8:39.926 (86.551 mph) race. Yeaton, owner of series sponsor Sharkey's, credited a new set-up for his success. He ran the fastest race lap at 88.015 mph.
ROBERTSON SOLAR SWT TRUCKS 35: Eleven touring trucks raced on the half-mile. Fast timer Dustin Vandermooren, 30, became the fourth different winner in four SWT Truck Series races at IS this season. It was the second career victory at IS for the Cerritos resident aboard his No. 71 Chevy Silverado. He also won the September 10 race last season. As FQ, he started sixth and led laps 14-35 after engaging in a spirited three-way dogfight for the lead.
Ron Nava, of Vista, led the first 13 laps. His close second place Dodge Ram hit the spun truck of first-time racer Marc Danielian in the fourth turn. The impact knocked off part of Nava's LF fender. He drove it to the pits and parked it, placing ninth. Ron Davis, Jr, from Whittier, finished second, 0.609 behind the winner.
Kelperis brothers--Mike, 48, and Barry, 53, both from Whittier--started from the front row. They finished third and fourth respectively in trucks owned by Mike. They raced at IS from 2004-08 and then put kids through college before returning to racing. Steve Reeves, George Perret and Cecil Phelps also finished all 35 laps in that order in a 19-minute race. It concluded racing at 9:59 pm.
Past SWT Truck champion Neil Conrad, a 62-year old retired Arcadia Fire Department captain, raced for the first time since 2014. He dropped out on lap 5 when the coil failed. The brother of spec late model driver Todd Conrad said a late 2014 season crash heavily damaged his No. 87 Chevy Silverado. He won all five of the SWT Series races at IS in 2013 and the series championship.
LEGENDS 35: Event three of the night used the third-mile oval. Legend cars had a 13-car field and a seven-car inverted start based upon time trials. Chad Schug, a three-time series track champion at IS, won his first 2017 feature by leading all but the first eight of 35 laps. It was his initial victory as a new father. FQ/three-time IS champion Darren Amidon started seventh and took second on lap 34. He trailed Schug by 0.424.
Former Bandolero driver Austin Farr, 17, started and finished third after running second for the first 33 laps. Ricky Leigh, Colton Page, Tyler Hicks, Luis Martinez and pole-sitter Jace Jones, 12, from Scottsdale, Arizona, completed all 35 laps in P. 4-8. Eleven cars finished the 15-minute race. Schug's 72.902 mph lap was the fastest lap of the race.
JAN'S TOWING BANDOLEROS 20: Event two Saturday was the third-ever race on the rubber cone-marked eighth-mile oval inside the third-mile track. Briggs & Stratton-powered small cars that turn 65 mph laps had five starters (three females) from ages 11-14. There were three race leaders. Cody Kiemele led lap 1 and newcomer Riley Massey paced lap 2. Bakersfield resident Karcie Jung, 11, was out front from lap 3-20. She won by 1.160 over Ms Massey, 12.
Kiemele, 11, finished third, a lap down after spins in the second and fourth turns. Non-finishers were: Ethan Cheek, 12, and IS newcomer Rylee Davidhizer, 14, daughter of a stock car racer. In 3:45 pm qualifying, Kiemele, son of late model owner/driver Rob Kiemele, set a NTR of 13.222 to edge Jung by 0.017. The old track record set by Cheek was 13.232 on 4/22/17.
The next IS oval track event on Saturday, July 29 will feature late model twin 30s, spec late models, legend cars, bandoleros, plus a recently added compact car Figure 8 race.