FF: JRCS: From Sprints to Trucks, Irwindale Speedway Saturday report

Irwindale, CA, Apr. 27 - The biggest and most diverse racing night at Irwindale Speedway took place Saturday and a season-high 133 racing cars and trucks participated. The six-division show, presented by the Southern California Pipe Trades, ...

Irwindale, CA, Apr. 27 - The biggest and most diverse racing night at Irwindale Speedway took place Saturday and a season-high 133 racing cars and trucks participated. The six-division show, presented by the Southern California Pipe Trades, attracted 5,320 fans for 315 laps of main event racing on the banked half and third-mile tracks.

Point leader Tony Green drove his Chevy Monte Carlo to a decisive second victory of the season in the fourth Jani-King NASCAR Super Late Model 75-lap main. Thirty cars started the race, which was round two of the Miller Lite Big 10 Challenge series. A Fox Sports Net2 TV crew taped the race for telecast on May 23.

FSN2 also taped the feature races run by a pair of racing truck classes for airing on May 30 and June 6. Michael May, 18, led all the way in a 28-truck field and took his Chevy to the second 75-lap American Race truck main event victory of his brief career. He also won the opening night main on March 16.

Greg Adler captured an exciting 35-truck Ultra Wheel Super Truck 50-lap main event in his Chevy. He led laps eight-33, missed a shift on a restart and got bumped back to fifth place. Adler then stormed back to pass four trucks and retake the point on lap 40. He led the balance of the race and won by ten yards over series newcomer Ryan Arciero.

Point leader Roger Carufel, Jr won another NASCAR Grand American Modified 35-lap main event. He started his Chevy-powered car seventh in a 15-car field and took command on the seventh lap. Initial race leader Rod Johnson, the 1999 track GAM champion, finished second, 3.295 seconds behind the winner.

Two USAC open-wheel series completed the six divisions in competition. The new Ford Focus Midgets and Jim Russell Triple Crown Pro Series rear-engine formula road racing cars, which were making their debut at Irwindale, fielded nine and 12 cars respectively. The Russell Series, presented by Yokohama Tires, used the banked half-mile track and a 60-lap race to determine the distribution of a $4,150 purse, which is part of the $33,450 series.

Fastest qualifier and pole starter Scott Speed, a 19 year old seven-time karting champion with his eyes set on Formula Atlantic cars, led the first 12 laps. Fellow front row starter and karting ace Chris Carmody, 19, passed him on lap 13 and won by 1.918 seconds over 23-year old Brazilian Victor Hugo Queiroz. Lapping and four wide racing were common during the latter part of the contest when drivers became more accustomed to the unfamiliar oval.

A final lap collision in turn four occurred between second place, mid-track running Speed and third positioned, inside-running Queiroz. Speed's car spun and backed into the crash-wall. His heavily damaged car looped to mid-track and he climbed out without injury. Speed rode to the finish line ceremonies in a tow truck with his battered car suspended in mid-air. Only the top three runners were on the lead lap when the checkered flag was being waved. As a result, Speed finished third even though he did not complete the final lap. Only one of the 12 starters dropped out before Speed's crash.

Ford Focus Midget point leader Todd Hunzaker used his still eligible TQ Midget to defeat the title Ford Focus-powered Midgets for the second consecutive week on Irwindale's third-mile. He earned $500 for his third victory this season in the new five race old USAC division that has raced on four different tracks. A Ford Focus sedan from Advantage Ford paced the field.

The TQ veteran from Chino Hills started fifth and led the final 16 laps of a 20-lap race. His winning margin was half a straight-away (2.674 seconds) over 17-year old, recently emancipated high school student Garrett Hansen. Quarter Midget graduate Hansen started fourth in a Stealth/Ford Focus.

Bobby Owens finished third, with Steve Davis and Wayne McCormick fourth and fifth respectively. Seven drivers in the nine car field finished and all seven ran 20 laps. Poleman J. J. Ercse led the first four circuits. However, he stopped his second place Ford Focus-powered Midget against the fourth-turn wall on lap 13 and did not finish. Time trials were not conducted.

Track technical inspectors disqualified two top three finishers "for using non-conforming parts". SLM star Rip Michels earlier said, "We all had nothing for Tony (Green) tonight." Following a routine post-race tech inspection, officials disqualified his Chevrolet, elevating Ben Walker's Ford Taurus to second place. Michels lost all points and money for the night. Steve Luecht also lost his third position points and money in the GAM main "for use of non-conforming parts".

A nine-car inversion--as a result of the fastest qualifier spinning a numbered inversion carnival-type wheel--had second quickest qualifier Green start eighth. He took second on lap 27 and chased pole starter and race-long leader Walker until passing him on lap 40. Twenty-eight of the 30 starters were still racing at the finish and 19 drivers completed all 75 laps.

Green earlier started fifth and won the six-lap trophy dash for the six fastest qualifiers. Tim Woods III brought his SLM Chino Hills Ford Taurus home third officially Saturday night in the feature. Earlier in the day he finished seventh in the NASCAR Winston West race at the two-mile California Speedway in Fontana, 35-miles east of Irwindale.

The wild UW Super Truck 35- truck race had three race leaders. Pole starter Mark Laeger led the initial seven laps before outside front row starter Adler passed him and paced the next 26 laps. Adler then missed a shift exiting turn four with the green flag waving, was bumped from behind and dropped to fifth position. Rich Geisler, from eighth on the grid, led laps 34 through 39.

Determined Adler retook the point on lap 40. Positions two through seven changed lap after lap as a result of contact and side-by-side racing. A final caution flag waved at lap 48 and resulted in a green, white checkered flag finish. As the starter displayed the checkered flag three trucks just outside the top ten collided in the fourth turn and inflicted significant damage to the trucks. All three drivers escaped injury.

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About this article
Series NASCAR , Other open wheel , USAC
Drivers Scott Speed , Michael May , Tim Woods , Ben Walker , Rip Michels