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IRWINDALE RACES WITHOUT SPECTATORS

IRWINDALE RACES WITHOUT SPECTATORS
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Irwindale Speedway presented its fourth NASCAR Advanced Auto Parts Series race since June 13 Saturday with no spectators present again because of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Officials presented a rapid program from 4:30 to 7:30 pm with weather in the mid-80s. Track lights again were not needed.

Eight main events utilized the half and third-miles and the six-turn “R-oval” that used parts of both ovals and the infield. Sixty cars and trucks competed and the program had 255 main event laps. There were two races within races. Spec late models and race trucks, which have similar lap times, raced in one 40-lap event that paid 50-points to the winner in each division. Enduro races for four-cylinder sedans also had two winners for the stock and faster sport classes. Eleven first place trophies went to nine different drivers.

LKQ Pick Your Part Late Models ran a pair of 35-lap features on the half-mile as the first and eighth races. Event five featured the always competitive Lucas Oil Race Trucks and Your Race LA Spec Late Models. That race also used the progressively-banked half-mile for a 40-lap feature. The highest finishing car and truck both scored 50-points in their separate track championship series.

INEX Legend Car drivers ran a pair of 35-lap mains on the third-mile as events two and six. Tucker Tires of Covina--(”When You're Tuckered You're Tired”)--used the same six-turn “R-oval” as usual with rubber cones marking the course which detoured onto the half-mile at the start/finish line. Nineteen of 20 sedans present started event three and 16 were able to start event seven. The highest finishers in stock and sport classes each received 50-points in the race within a race. Super stocks (event four) used the third-mile oval.

LATE MODELS # 1: Point leader Dean Thompson, 18, set fastest qualifying time at 3:45 in a 12-car field and started the No. 51 HPR Chevy on pole in race one. The Anaheim Hills resident led all 35 laps and beat second starter Christian McGhee, 22, by 4.574 seconds. Rookie Tanner Reif, (14 and 11 months), came from Las Vegas, started fifth and finished third, 4.925 back. He won a 35-lap main at IS July 11. Dylan Garner, 21, and newlywed Lucas McNeil, 27, completed the top five. The all-green light race took 11:47.720 and averaged 89.018 mph. All 12 drivers finished with eight on the lead lap. Thompson clocked the fastest lap--92.218 mph.

LATE MODEL # 2: The second feature was as hectic as the first was sane. It took 25-minutes and had a multi-car crash. The first eight finishers from event one were inverted by finishing positions. That put Thompson outside row four with McGhee alongside. Past series champion Nick Joanides shot into the lead from his outside front row starting slot and led the first 13 laps in Joe Nava's No. 77. McGhee took second on lap 11 and made an inside pass in turn four on lap 14 to snag the lead. Thompson dropped Joanides to third on lap 17. On lap 19 a stalled car caused a caution flag and resultant two-by-two restart.

A multi-car crash occurred exiting the fourth turn for the green flag. McNeil's car hit the back of Joanides third place car, turning it sideways in front of the field. Lawless Alan, the 2018 series champion at IS, spun through the infield and continued. Joanides, Garner and Dustin Vandermooren cars stopped with damage and Kevin Furden continued with hood damage. All involved cars restarted.

Outside running McGhee and challenging Thompson waged a captivating battle for the lead and were seldom more than a length apart. On lap 33 Thompson made his move inside at the second turn and executed a clean pass for the lead. He won his third feature of the abbreviated season (and fourth at IS) by two lengths (0.529) over McGhee's No. 26 Alec Martinez Chevy that Jagger Jones raced once last month.

Third place Alan was 4.929 off the lead. Reif, the rookie Irwindale newcomer from Nevada, raced from sixth to fourth and was six seconds back. Garner held on for fifth despite RF fender damage from the lap 19 crash. Joanides and Vandermooren had a close battle during the final 16 laps and finished in that order. McNeil and Furden also completed 35 laps. McGhee ran the quickest lap of 91.403 mph while leading. Absent Trevor Huddleston, a three-time series champion, was racing Saturday in Roseburg, Ore. with the NASCAR ARCA Menards Series.

LEGENDS # 1 & 2: Second fastest qualifier Lawless, 20, did double-duty by driving his No. 25 legends coupe to victory in both 35-lap mains. He also raced in both late model mains for a four race afternoon. He started in the back row in the completely inverted lineups for both legend car races. Alan led all but the first lap in race one and all but the first three laps in the second race. Fastest qualifier Tyler Reif, 13-year old brother of late model rookie Tanner Reif, finished second, 0.738 back in the first race. He placed third, 5.289 back, in race two aboard his No. 7 replica 1930s Ford coupe.

Tyler Hicks, Jimmy Hansen and past series champion Chad Schug completed the top five in the first race. Hicks finished second in race two. Hansen and Christian Bazen, 15, were fourth and fifth in race two. Alan now has seven Irwindale main event triumphs (including late models and legend cars). He spent the 2019 season as a University of Alabama engineering student and as a rookie on the SCCA road racing circuit where he was a leading rookie.

RACE TRUCKS / SPEC LM 40: Thirteen vehicles (seven trucks / six cars) started the 40-lap race. Trucker Jacob McNeil started second and paced the first three circuits. Fellow trucker Andrew Porter, 26, started seventh and led laps 4-17. Sixth starter Andy Partridge, 30, led laps 18-40 in the No. 21 RCF-built Chevy. It was his first victory this season and fourth overall at IS. He won by 2.155 seconds over Porter, who won his third consecutive 2020 truck main. Porter ran the fastest lap at 87.163 mph.

Rookie stock car driver Jake Drew, 20, is a karting veteran racer and instructor at three So Cal venues. He drove the No. 56 HPR Chevy to third, 2.559 off the lead in just his third IS race. He won the July 11 series feature in his second race. Reigning Spec LM champion Kenny Smith, 73, was fourth in his own No. 43 Chevy. Enduro racing veteran Troy Andersen, 24, now in his second season aboard Jan's Towing No. 99 spec LM, completed the top five. Rookie truck racer Will Browne,17, was sixth.

Veteran truck racers J. McNeil, Dennis Arena and L. J. Billings followed. Steve Brucker, 15, made his truck debut in the ex-No. 9 Conner Cantrell IS championship winning Chevy. The Alpine resident, a veteran IS legend car racer, finished tenth, down a lap. Trenton Beechum, a 27-year old Formula Drift driver with his 2014 Ford Mustang, made his oval racing debut in Kenny Smith's No. 43 truck (scored as 44) and finished 11th, with 39 laps. Smith's truck has not raced since 2013 and was parked in a barn.

SUPER STOCK 25: Seven cars, with a fully inverted lineup based on afternoon time trials, started the 25-lap contest. Robert Harryman started third in a Camaro and led the first three laps. Fastest qualifier and 2018-2019 series champion Rich De Long III, from Castaic, executed outside passes entering turn three and moved from third to first. He ran off in his No. 84 Chevy SS to a straightaway victory. However, in the post-race tech inspection of top finishing cars his car was penalized from first to last in the official finish. His car failed tech because metal body work near the rear window was ruled to be “non-conforming”. De Long eclipsed his own lap record during 3:00 qualifying when he turned a 16.332 lap (73.402 mph). He set the former mark of 16.341 in March 2019.

Anaheim resident Harryman, 28, inherited his first-ever super stock victory. He had won two mini stock main events at IS more than a decade ago. He bought the No. 45 Camaro a year ago and changed the number to 11. Jim Vermillion, Jason De Long, Bridgette Shaw, 22, and Harry Michaelian were the only other finishers. Two-time series champion Bryan Harrell, 58, started fifth in his comeback season and was second on lap 15 when he pitted the No. 94 Sampson Camaro in which he won the June 13 IS main event.

ENDURO # 1: As usual all stock enduro sedans started in front of the faster sport sedans. Robert Rice started sixth in his orange No. 7 Honda Accord and became the third and final leader on lap 8. He passed Chris Voight, the laps 2-7 leader. Rice won the 25-lapper by half a length over fast-closing sport class winner Ian Rotundo (2001 Honda Prelude) who fell 0.126 short of the overall victory. Both Rice and Rotundo received 50 points.

Rice's 56th IS feature triumph (one more than Joanides) moved him to third all-time on the list of most prolific IS main event winners. James Bolinas, from 13th, was third overall and second in the sport class. Sixteen of 18 starters finished with 11 drivers on the lead lap. Rick Conti (Acura Integra) ran the fastest lap of 73.861 mph, but he finished 11th and was the last driver with 25 laps after an on-track incident lapping slower cars.

ENDURO # 2: Bobby Ozman started 11th in the 18-car field and led laps 11-25 in his sport class 1998 Acura Integra. Conti's 1999 Acura Integra was overall runner-up (-0.436). P. 3 Robbie Salcido, from Perris, led the first ten laps in his Honda Accord and won the stock class first place points. The all-green race took 10:27.416 and averaged 71.723 mph. Conti's fastest lap was 74.439 mph. Eleven of 16 starters finished and seven completed all 25 circuits. Frequent enduro winner and 2019 track champion Rodney Argo again experienced mechanical problems in both races for the second consecutive event.