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IRWINDALE – 6 DIVISIONS, 7 MAIN EVENTS

IRWINDALE – 6 DIVISIONS, 7 MAIN EVENTS
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More than 2,000 spectators at Irwindale Speedway watched six divisions race seven main events Saturday during NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action presented by K & N Engineering. Three series used the half-mile and three used the third-mile. The 55 cars present faced 215 laps of main event competition on an 80+ degree evening from 7:00 to 10:12 pm.

A pair of 8-lap heat races for legend cars preceded the first feature. Five of the seven main events ran caution-free races with action and passing in each event. Feature winners in each division were:

  
  > Trevor Huddleston, 22-year old 2015-17 Irwindale and NASCAR California State champion, captured both 40-lap LKQ Late Model features on the half-mile. The victories were the 38th and 39th at Irwindale for the seventh most prolific winner at the 20-year old speedway. His seven feature wins in 2018 include six in a row and sweeps in the last three twin-features during May, July and August.

   > Ryan Partridge, 30, won his 58th IS feature in multiple divisions. He won his fifth Irwindale Race Truck main in the seven series events run on the half-mile this season. His dramatic battle with two-time IRT 2018 winner Lucas McNeil, 25, captivated spectators during their intense side-by-side duel. They ran the last two-thirds of the 30-lap race virtually side-by-side without contact. Partridge led all but the first lap on the outside with McNeil challenging on the inside from lap 2 to to checkers. McNeil trailed by one length (0.205 officially). The result reversed their finish in the last feature.

Partridge now leads McNeil in their 2018 IRT championship battle by four points (342-338) with four races remaining this season. Partridge is also tied for the touring NASCAR K & N West Series 2018 point lead with his Bob Bruncati Sunrise Ford teammate Derek Thorn after eight of 14 races. Both drivers have won a 2018 K & N West feature.

   > Kenny Smith, the fastest qualifier, started fifth in a Sharky's Spec Late model 25-lap main on the half-mile. The 71-year old Oak Hills resident led every lap in his own RCF-built No. 43, the car Robby Hornsby drove to the 2017 series championship. Smith won for the second time in five events this season and moved closer to his stated goal of becoming the oldest feature winner and series champion in IS history. He now leads in points with 242 to 234 for the runner-up with three races remaining.

  > Super stocks had nine Camaro or Chevy SS cars race a 25-lap on the third-mile. Jason Young, of San Bernardino, drove the Camaro he purchased last June in Roseville to his first-ever main event victory at IS. He became the third winner in four races this season.

  > Darren Amidon, the four-time INEX Legend cars track champion, drove his replica 1930s Ford coupe to his sixth victory in seven 2018 Irwindale races on the third-mile. He started 11th as the fastest qualifier in a 14-car field.

  > Junior Late Model 20s: Two drivers split the 20-lap main events using the third-mile on Friday night during open practice and Saturday evening. All four drivers, three from Las Vegas, ranged in age from 11 to 14. Kyle Keller started third and won Friday. Cody Kiemele, from San Bernardino, started third and led laps 6-20 Saturday.

FIRST LM 40: Fastest qualifier Ryan Schartau, 15, started on the pole in a straight-up lineup based on qualifying times. Point leader Lawless Alan started alongside and led five laps. Third starter Huddleston took P. 2 from Schartau on lap 3 during three-wide racing. Huddleston used an inside pass in turn four to take the point; he led the final 35 circuits.

Schartau took second on lap 9 and gradually cut into the lead, but he trailed by 0.523 (ten yards) at the finish. Jagger Jones, from Arizona, started fifth and placed third, 6.387 seconds off the lead. Zachary St. Onge, 16, and point leader Alan completed the top five with 13 of 15 starters racing at the finish and 11 on the lead lap.

There were two first-time late model drivers. Brandon Farriton, a 21-year old super late model veteran from Tucson, drove the local Tony Martinez No. 26 to fourth quickest qualifying time. He raced to sixth place in the first 40.

Maria Cofer, a 19-year old BCRA and USAC midget racing veteran/daughter of USAC Western Midget 1994 champion Johnny Cofer, practiced Thursday and Friday. She qualified 14th fastest of 15 drivers. The resident of Macdoel (near the Oregon border) finished 12th in the first 40 and dropped out with an engine problem in the second 40. The 13-minute caution-free race averaged 88.528 mph. Rookie Farriton ran the fastest lap of 91.715 mph in the first 40.

SECOND LM 40: The top ten finishers in the first 40 were inverted for the second 40. That put Dylan Garner and Lucas McNeil (driving in two divisions) on the front row. Nick Joanides and ARCA driver Blaine Perkins, 18, were in row two. McNeil led three laps; Perkins led laps 4-7. Huddleston, moved from outside row five to outside row four after Jagger Jones' HPR No. 55 failed to start. A tow truck pushed it to the pits with an electrical malfunction. Huddleston trailed teammate Perkins from laps 4-7 in three-wide racing with Schartau.

On lap 8 Huddleston took the lead and finished with a 1.505 seconds (15-yards) advantage. The battle for second place was intense during the final 20 laps. Outside runner Perkins and inside running Schartau and rapid St. Onge raced in a tight pack. On the final lap in turn three, Schartau nudged Perkins' No. 51 HPR Chevy, which spun into the third turn crash-wall and damaged both the back and front ends.

Schartau continued and finished second with St. Onge a career-tying best third place. The Upland teen drove the ex-No. 28 Jeff Williams car, now No. 9 and owned by Dan French of Claremont. Alan was fourth and newcomer Farriton fifth. Perkins managed to continue slowly from the third turn and limped across the finish line sixth. McNeil, Joanides, Garner and lapped P. J. Hernandez completed the top ten. The all-green 13-minute race averaged 87.773 mph. Schartau turned the quickest lap of 90.041 mph.

IRT 30: Winner Partridge and runner-up McNeil both stopped at the finish line for PA interviews with co-promoter Tim Huddleston. Both drivers were on new tires this week and needed them to prevail. They finished half a lap ahead of third place Jacob McNeil, who edged Ken Michaelian by 0.033. Nico Mongenel was the last driver to complete 30 laps. The all-green 10:27.452 race averaged 86.062 mph. Partridge ran the fastest lap of 87.519 mph in the No. 6 truck owned by Ed Irving. Partridge said the hybrid truck is a Ford Ranger, with Dodge parts and a Toyota Tundra nose.

SHARKY'S SPEC LM 25: Fast timer Smith led all 25 laps after starting fifth. Series sponsor Craig Yeaton started fourth and finished 1.521 seconds behind Smith. Jason De Long and Robert Arevalo also ran all 25 laps. The only other finisher was Dean Thompson, a 16-year old first-time late model driver from Anaheim Hills. He started on the pole and was lapped two laps from the finish. Dean was named for late CRA 410 ci sprint car multi-time champion Dean Thompson in the 1970s-80s. His parents followed Thompson's career and watched him race at Gardena's Ascot Park.

Young Dean raced quarter-midgets with his friend and current NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Cole Custer. Dean raced a No. 9 INEX Bandolero car on the Irwindale third-mile during 2011 and then dropped out of racing until his August 4 return in the No. 55 HPR Chevy (RCF chassis 75). Trevor Huddleston and Cole Custer both raced the car years ago at IS according to team owner Tim Huddleston.

SUPER STOCK 25: Jason Young drove unimpeded to his initial IS triumph aboard his No. 45 1974 Camaro. He won by 1.608 over Rich De Long III (No. 84 Chevy SS). His father Rich De Long finished third in the family No. 97 Chevy SS; younger brother Jason De Long (No. 64 Chevy SS) was fourth. They were the only lead lap drivers.

Fastest qualifier Gavin Bucy, a Havasu (AZ) 95 Speedway veteran, drove his self-built No. 4 hybrid Camaro to fast time during time trials. He started fifth and looped to the infield on lap 5, losing a lap. He restarted, never regained his lost lap, and logged 24 laps for fifth place. Darren Cheek was in P. 3 on lap 16 when his Camaro engine started popping and lost power, causing him to park in the infield. The race ran 17 minutes and had one yellow flag on lap 7 after a two-car crash that sidelined both cars.

LEGENDS 35: Four-time series champion Amidon came from inside row six and led laps 12-35. Three drivers--Matt Bowen (L 1), Tyler Hicks (L 2-4) and Jace Jones (L 5 -11)--led earlier. Second finisher Jones, 13, from Scottsdale, AZ, trailed Amidon by 2.400 seconds. Three-time series champion Chad Schug started eighth and chased Ricky Schlick from lap 10 to the final lap. Then Schug cut to the inside in turn four and beat Schlick across the finish line by 0.136. Austin Farr was fifth, with followers Hicks and Mike Vanderlip also completing all 35 laps.

The legends race was red-flagged for six minutes after a three-car crash in turn one involving cars in P. 8, 10 and 12. Stephen Brucker, 13, entered the first turn fast and hit the LR of P. 8 Bowen, flipping Brucker's sedan. Bowen's car stopped atop Brucker's car, which rested on its side. Rookie Christen Bazen, 13, hit the wreckage. All drivers emerged without serious injury. The three cars were towed to the pits.

The two early evening 8-lap heats for legend cars went to Bowen, who led every lap in a race for the seven slowest qualifiers. Schug won the race for the seven fastest qualifiers. Both races used fully inverted starting grids based upon late afternoon qualifying times.

JR LM 20s: Cody Kiemele, 12, is the son of a former late model driver. He raced his No. 48 to his third victory in the new for 2018 division. He started third in the four car field and led the final 14 laps. He passed first six laps leader and one-time feature winner R. J. Smotherman, 13, who finished third, 6.7 seconds back.

Fastest qualifier and the Friday 20-lap four-time series winner Kyle Keller, 14, trailed the winner by 0.272. Braden Connor, 11, trailed the winner by 11-seconds. Kiemele ran the quickest lap of 75.005 mph. Keller beat Kiemele by 2.555 seconds in Friday's 20-lap event. Smotherman and Connor trailed Keller by 4.2 and 8.7 seconds respectively.

The next IS oval event on Saturday, August 18 will be another NASCAR night with late model twin-features, legend cars, IRT, spec late models, plus for the only time in 2018 Lucas Oil Modifieds in a 75-lap feature. It is round seven in an 11-race series that visits eight different speedways in four western states, including Arizona, Nevada and Utah.