Irwindale race report 2000-08-26

Young (Not to use it next year) Ben Walker took over the lead of Saturday night's Miller Lite 75 for the Food 4 Less NASCAR Super Late Models on lap four and never looked back all the way to the checker. Even when two yellow flag conditions ...

Young (Not to use it next year) Ben Walker took over the lead of Saturday night's Miller Lite 75 for the Food 4 Less NASCAR Super Late Models on lap four and never looked back all the way to the checker. Even when two yellow flag conditions caused the field to bunch up, the 19 year-old Santa Clarita hotshoe held his lead and then consistently pulled away from the pack every time they were allowed to catch up to him for the whole seventy-five lap contest. One term applies well here to the Santa Clarita resident: "Checked out".

In doing so Walker climbed a few feet closer to points leader Greg Viogt. Forty-four points now separate the Goletan and the Valley lad (636 to 592) making Walker's "worst" race (the sixth event of the year when his car was DQed out of a 50-point first place finish) loom large in the frantic few races left in the 2000 championship point chase at Irwindale Speedway.

Behind Walker it was Tommy Fry (Simi Valley) and Voigt well and truly mixing it up on the Irwindale oval. In the press room after the race, all three had a great time recounting their personal versions of the race to each other. Scribes present didn't have to ask many questions, the racers were just bubbling with tales of the track. Fry and Voigt got 48 and 46 points for their efforts.

A scary schmozzel between a couple of backmarkers on lap 60 almost collected both Fry and Voigt. As they swept around turn four a couple of the lappers had a bit of a "coming together" and Tom and Greg both did some super driving (one high one low … both cracked way wide sideways for a couple of hundred feet or so) to avoid all but ince(dent)al contact with the slower-but-still-racey racers. "Whew, I saw you going (high / low) and thought 'Oh Shoot!'", was their almost identical quote on their recollections of the situation.

James Bruncati, who had been run as high as 4th and threatening for 3rd, was well and truly "collected" by the above confusion and saw an excellent effort go unrewarded for the evening.

Brandon Loverock showed some speed with a good qualifying effort (6th) and an even-better finish (4th). The Santa Fe Springs speedster is now running in 6th place in season points. Rounding out the top five in the evening's featured race was Canyon Country's Rod Johnson who ran hard all race long and was as high as second for a number of laps in the early going.

In the points chase for the Miller Lite Big 10 Challenge Voigt leads Walker by only 10 points (380 to 370 points) with one race left in this "race within a race" for a $5,000 bonus check at season's end.

L.A.P.D. Chief Bernard Parks took a well-deserved Saturday night off to join the fans watching the racing action at Irwindale Speedway. He and his wife Bobbie both seemed to have a marvelous time watching the 5-ring circus of racing divisions that were on the Speedway's docket for the evening. The Chief is said to be a big fan of motorsports and was seen leaving the Speedway with a new Irwindale baseball cap in hand … Wonder if he'll wear it to work one day … Just for fun.

Mike Price continued his late season charge in the NASCAR Super Stocks, taking another victory (for three in a row, the division's best record so far this year). Unfortunately for his quest to repeat his 1999 championship, his year-long rival (and division points leader) Long Beach's Jeff "Wild Thing" Green finished second to Price's first thus staying (Wait a minute … What is this?) 44 points (!) ahead of his San Pedro pursuer. Third in the race and (now) third in points is early-season points leader T.K. Karvasek, the tattooed terror of North Hills. With but three races left in this championship, things are going to get hotter … MUCH hotter … And you can take that to the bank.

NASCAR Grand American Modifieds … On paper it looks like a pretty good, pretty close points chase. On pavement it's all Rip Michels the Mission Hills motoring maven who's won eight of the ten GAM races staged at Irwindale for the division so far this year. Appropriately enough, Dean Kuhn, from Oceanside, won the other two and is (what else?) second in points. And the points are not as lopsided as the win column would maybe indicate. Michels has 482 and Kuhn has 416 … Sixty-six points after ten (count 'em 10!) truly terrific races. This is a hot class, with some great driving throughout and one, very dominate, driver. Hawthorne hometowner Robert Rice, who's third in the points standings at 388, finished third on the night as well.

It was brother against brother in the American Race Trucks main event with Terry Young besting bro Deyon by inches at the end of 40 laps. .075 seconds is all that separated the siblings at the checker. Robbie Brand from Las Vegas to LA's favorite town for a road break on the way back and forth, got a solid third place behind the Gemini-inspired race truckers.

The USAC TQ Midgets made a visit to the Irwindale 1/3-Mile and put on a great open-wheel show with Greg Edenholm of Agoura finishing a quarter-second ahead of Lakewood's J.J. Ercse. Open-wheel fans delighted in 20 laps of closer-than-close racing that the TQ's put on. Walt Johnson of Sun Valley was third. In qualifying Chino Hill's Todd Hunsacker set a new lap record for the class, getting around the 1/3-mile in 14.306 thus knocking off a record which had stood since November of last year, Randi Pankratz's 13.366.

<pre> TOP FIVE RESULTS

FEATURE RACE: MILLER LITE 75 FOR NASCAR SUPER LATE MODELS Name Car Make Home Town 1) Ben Walker Ford Santa Clarita 2) Tommy Fry Chevy Simi Valley 3) Greg Voigt Chevy Goleta 4) Brandon Loverock Chevy Santa Fe Springs 5) Rod Johnson Chevy Canyon Country

USAC TQ MIDGETS MAIN EVENT (20 LAPS) 1) Greg Edenholm Agoura 2) J.J. Ercse Lakewood 3) Walt Johnson Sun Valley 4) West Evans Moorpark 5) Todd Hunsaker Chino Hills

NASCAR GRAND AMERICAN MODIFIEDS  MAIN EVENT (30 LAPS)
1)  Rip Michels         Chevy                   Mission Hills
2)  Dean Kuhn           Dodge                   Oceanside
3)  Robert Rice         Chevy                   Hawthorne
4)  John Watkinson      Buick                   Riverside
5)  Roger Carufel, Jr.  Chevy                   Saugus

NASCAR SUPER STOCK MAIN EVENT (40 LAPS) 1) Mike Price Chevy San Pedro 2) Jeff Green Chevy Long Beach 3) TK Karvasek Chevy North Hills 4) Tom Siebuhr Chevy Valencia 5) Jay Henson Chevy Newhall

AMERICAN RACE TRUCKS MAIN EVENT (40 LAPS) 1) Terry Young Chevy Las Vegas 2) Deyon Young Chevy Las Vegas 3) Robbie Brand Ford Barstow 4) Steve Shaw Chevy Hunt. Beach 5) Michael Thomas Dodge San Marcos

NEXT WEEK: NASCAR SUPER LATE MODELS "Twin 50's" , SUPER STOCKS, SPEED TRUCKS & MINI-STOCKS.

TICKETS BY PHONE (626) 358-1100, ON THE WEB (www.tickets.com) AND IN PERSON AT THE TRACK'S ON-SITE BOX OFFICE TUESDAY - SATURDAY.

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Jeff Green , Ben Walker , Rip Michels , Randi Pankratz , John Watkins