Irwindale race report 2002-05-04

Irwindale, CA, May 4 - Tony Green drove to his second consecutive Saturday night victory and his third NASCAR Jani-King 75-lap main event triumph in five races this season during week eight at Irwindale Speedway. Green took command on lap 31 in...

Irwindale, CA, May 4 - Tony Green drove to his second consecutive Saturday night victory and his third NASCAR Jani-King 75-lap main event triumph in five races this season during week eight at Irwindale Speedway. Green took command on lap 31 in his Balance Contracting No. 89 Chevy Monte Carlo and won by 0.374 seconds in a 27-car field.

Green, from Oak Hills, extended his season-long series point lead before 4,872 in a five racing division program. A season-high 147 racing vehicles competed. It was the third largest field at the track in four years of operation. The record is 171 cars/trucks, followed by 155 in recent seasons.

Will Cottrell, in his 1981 Camaro, led 28 of the 30-laps from the front row in a 36-car NASCAR Vista Paint Super Stock main. It was his first victory of the season and the fifth of his career at Irwindale. Aaron Staudinger won his second American Racing Truck feature this season in a 30-lap event that was shortened from the scheduled 40-laps. All three winners mastered the banked half-mile.

In action on the third-mile, 16-year old point leader Ricky Wildman led all 35-laps of the 34-car King Taco Legend Cars feature. It was his second triumph of the season in his No. 78 Bill Wildman 1937 Ford replica. Greg Tucker led the final 11 circuits of the 30-lap Modified 4s main in his Ford Pinto.

Tucker's first victory of the year came unexpectedly. He was a distant third on lap 20 when the battling lead duo-Terry Limberopoulos and defending series champion Guy Tripp-collided at the starting line. Limberopoulos' car spun and flipped onto its roof before sliding about 15 yards to a halt just past start/finish. Tripp's damaged Pinto also stopped on the track as the red flag appeared.

When rescuers righted his Renault, Limberopoulos drove away in his French car and stopped next to Tripp's car to express his views about the incident. Both drivers restarted at the back of the remaining 21 cars from a 24-car starting field. They finished on the lead lap, with flipper Limberopoulos eighth and Tripp ninth.

Fourth fastest SLM qualifier Green started second in the five-car inversion and led the initial three laps. Pole starter Nathan Wulff, a second year SLM driver and 2001 rookie of the year, used an inside turn four pass to assume the point. James Bruncati, from fourth grid position in his Sunrise Ford Taurus, shot into the lead on lap 10. He paced the field two laps before Wulff was back on top for the next four circuits.

On lap 16 Bruncati took charge again and led the closely bunched top four drivers until Green passed him on lap-31 and made the pass stick. Green, a 23-year old truck racing veteran in his second year of SLM racing, gave himself and fiancee Daylynn Wineberg an early wedding present. He said they plan to wed Sunday, May 12. Green added, "I lost my power steering halfway through the race."

Kazuto Yanagawa enjoyed his Irwindale career-best feature finish in his Jackson Race Cars house car. The 27-year old driver from Nagoya, Japan, who now resides in nearby Burbank, started ninth and finished second. "KZ", who also drove a Chevy, took second position on lap 32 and held it 43 laps. His career-best finish at Irwindale had been sixth; he has a second three years ago at Evergreen Speedway in Washington.

Tommy Fry, in the only Dodge Intripid present, started and finished third for his best result this season. Ben Walker came from 15th grid position to finish fourth in his Ford Taurus, making three different brands in the top four positions. Fry complimented the clean racing displayed by his fellow drivers. He added, "To catch and pass on this track, you need to be running a tenth of a second faster. We (the top three drivers) were running about four-hundredths of a second apart."

Rip Michels, Wulff, Brandon Loverock, Rod Johnson, John Tyczki and Nick DeFazio completed the top ten. Nineteen of the 27 starters finished and 15 drivers ran all 75 laps. Tim Woods III, who appeared a night earlier as a guest on the Fox Sports Net TV show "The Best Damn Sports Show Period", was in seventh place on lap 71. A mechanical problem then occurred and forced him to watch as eight drivers raced by his slowing Ford during the final five circuits.

In the ART event, pole starter Jeff Williams led the first eight laps. He finished second by 1.277 seconds to Staudinger, the laps nine-30 pacesetter. Val Cummings, two-time winner Michael May and Josh Hulsebosch followed. Fourteen of the 17 finishers in a 21-car field ran all 30 circuits of the scheduled 40-lap race that went 21 minutes past the track's voluntary curfew of 10:00 p.m.

Track officials also cut the scheduled 40-lap super stock main to 30 laps. Ken Brown and Chris Houwen were running just outside the top ten on lap-22 when they collided at the starting line. Houwen's Camaro nearly spun before it veered right and ran head-on into the turn-one pit entrance opening attenuator. The serious-looking crash sent a liquid geyser from the front of Houwen's car. He was shaken, but he climbed from his car and walked to an ambulance for a precautionary medical evaluation. He was not transported to a hospital.

When the race resumed, Andrew Phipps (outside) dueled with Cottrell (inside) for the point. Phipps put his Camaro in front on laps 22-23, but Cottrell led the final seven circuits and edged Phipps by 0.122 seconds. Julianne Seeley started and finished third in her Camaro. Twenty-five of 35 starters finished, with 19 drivers on the lead lap.

Teenager Wildman won by 2.534 seconds over veterans/winners Art Nevill, Tom Landreth, James Kalawaia and Bill Everett. Eighteen drivers ran all 35 laps. In the Mod 4s feature, Palm Springs resident Tony Lawler and Richard Boker chased Tucker home. The SLM six-lap trophy dash for the six fastest qualifiers went to Wulff over Green, Tony Bruncati, Fry, J. Bruncati and Michels.

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About this article
Series NASCAR , Stock car
Drivers Michael May , Tim Woods , Ben Walker , Jeff Williams , Rip Michels
Teams Williams