Irwindale, CA., May 17 - Defending track champion Todd Burns, from Riverside, swept both Auto Club of Southern California NASCAR Late Model 40-lap main events Saturday on the Irwindale Speedway banked half-mile. Burns started on the pole in both...
Irwindale, CA., May 17 - Defending track champion Todd Burns, from Riverside, swept both Auto Club of Southern California NASCAR Late Model 40-lap main events Saturday on the Irwindale Speedway banked half-mile. Burns started on the pole in both features as the second fastest qualifier for both races and led all the way in both mains.
Fastest qualifier Jess Flores twice spun two on the Irwindale racing inversion wheel. He started and finished second in both mains aboard his SoCal Roofing Supply Chevy Monte Carlo. The featured division had three support classes for a five main event program before 4,803 spectators. Travis Thirkettle, the quickest Grand American Modified qualifier, won his first trophy this season by taking the 35-lap GAM main. He stated on the pole and led all the way, also on the half-mile.
In third-mile action, Brent Jones started second and became the third and final leader of the King Taco Legend Cars 35-lap run on lap 11. He won a close duel with defending track champion Tom Landreth by one length. It was his first triumph this season. Greg Tucker, winner of the last main, started second in his Ford Pinto, took the lead on lap 15 and won a mini stock 35-lap feature by a straight over Steve Rogers.
The twin-triumphs gave Burns and his James Valk-owned Villa Roma Sausage Chevy Monte Carlo three-feature victories in five races at Irwindale this season. His new 2003 Gary Collins chassis uses an iron-block engine, which Burns said enables him to get quick restarts. Runner-up Flores used an M & R "spec engine" that he said is better on long runs.
Burns' double victories were his 28th and 29th at IS. They moved him back into a first place tie with Rip Michels, an Irwindale GAM and Super Late Model double champion, for the honor of "winningest main event driver" in the fifth year of racing at the track. There have been 22 twin-features at the track to date in the series and Burns has won half of them (11). Asked about his repeat championship goal, Burns said, "We just want to do well. We try to keep our nose clean, and it turned out we were really fast. It was a lucky night."
Burns drove his favorite No. 4, which he also uses on his Winston West car that he intends to race next in Irwindale's July 26 W/W event. He said he likes No. 4 on his cars because he remembers watching a CRA sprint car No. 4 at Ascot Park in Gardena as a boy. Flores said he uses No. 53 on his cars, including a less-powerful car he raced at Saugus Speedway, because he enjoyed watching the No. 53 Volkswagen "bug" Herbie in the Disney comedy movies.
Burns beat Flores in the first 40 by 1.843 seconds after a lapped car of John Jones restarted between Burns and Flores on a lap 27 restart and slowed Flores briefly. A two-car tangle and resultant spin on the front straight by George Ruark had caused the only caution of the race. Point leader Scott Youngren, in third place, collided with the lapped car of P. J. Baker and looped when the yellow flag flew. He had to restart at the back of the lead lap cars.
Youngren charged back to 14th position during the remaining 14 laps. However, he lost the series point lead to Mike Price, who raced from seventh grid position to third place. Doug McComb and Keith Spangler followed. Veteran Tony Green, who was making his first start of 2003 in Eugene Dewberry's Chevy, completed the top six as 29 of the 31 starters finished, with 24 drivers on the lead lap. Price led Flores by four points (176-172) after the first 40.
In the second 40, Burns beat Flores by only 0.658 seconds in a race slowed by two caution flags for spins. Youngren finished third, with McComb, Green and Price rounding out the top six finishers. Twenty-five of the 30 starters finished the second 40 and 23 drivers completed every lap. Flores became the series point leader for the first time in his career by four points (220-216) over Price. Youngren, the point leader before the twin-40s, now rests third with 210. Burns has 202 points.
Tim Huddleston did not post a qualifying time during an afternoon one car at a time qualifying session. The first lap time set the lineup for the first 40 and the second timed lap formed the grid for the second 40. Huddleston earned the hard charger award for charging from 31st (last) to seventh place in the first 40, and from 30th (last) to another seventh place finish in the second 40.
L/M rookies Guy Tripp, a past Irwindale Mini-Stock champion, and Andrew Myers finished 11th and 12th in the first 40. They collided in the second 40 while racing for 15th position. Myers spun and backed into the third turn outer wall, sidelining his Chevy. Tripp had a flat left front tire from contact by Myers' car, so he drove to the pits and DNF.
Fast time honors went to Flores at 19.126 for the first 40 and 19.056 for the second 40. Thirkettle beat a 17-car GAM field with his 18.775. GAM rookie Ricky Wildman, an 18-year old Yorba Linda High senior and the 2002 IS Legends Car champion, was the fifth fastest qualifier in the ex-Lloyd Mack GAM car. Wildman started fifth and finished a close fourth in the feature, behind fellow rookie/super stock winner Andrew Phipps. GAM veteran Roger Carufel, Jr finished second. Ted Landreth (17.055) paced a 24-car field of Legends. Kevin Bernhardt's Pinto set quick time of 17.509 as 26 mini stockers faced the timing light.
NASCAR MINI STOCKS:
Fast Time: Kevin Bernhardt, 17.509.
Main: Greg Tucker, Steve Rogers, Eric Reed, Michael Morales, Richard Boker, Randy Colling, Craig Kennard, Fred Adams, Bob Reed, Tony Lawler, Amee Blue, Bernhardt, Virgil Young, Richard Garver, Greg Didoha, Dustin Morgan, James McNear, Jr, Robert Miller, Tim Ross, Brenda Pugh, Jerry Post, Ed Lavender, Robert Lovas, Ron Cooper, Tom Dye, Dennis Croasman.
KING TACO LEGENDS CARS:
Fast Time: Ted Landreth, 17.056.
Main: Brent Jones, Tom Landreth, J. D. Hendley, Ted Landreth, Bill Everett, James Kalawaia, Bob Landreth, Cory Miles, David Ross, Jeremy Wood, Steve Twilligear, Dave Green, Ryan Partridge, Brian Vandehey, Tom Skahill, Micah Nourse, Larry Meredith, Bill Watson, Austin Grabowski, Warren Merrifield, John Barnett, Kevin McMahon, Mark Iungerich, Dennis O'Connor.
GRAND AMERICAN MODIFIEDS:
Fast Time: Travis Thirkettle, 18.775.
Main: Thirketle, Roger Carufel, Jr, Andrew Phipps, Ricky Wildman, Rod Johnson, Eddie Ernst, John Watkinson, Wally Pettengill, Jr, Joe Ruggles, Robert Rice, Tim Morse, Mike Trottochau, Dennis Schlarbaum, Dennis Eckert, Garrett Yamada, Doug Petsco, -DNS Jamie Barnett.
AUTOMOBILE CLUB of SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LATE MODELS:
1st Fast Time: Jess Flores, 19.126.
2nd Fast Time: Flores, 19.056.
1st 40-LAP Main: Todd Burns, Flores, Mike Price, Doug McComb, Keith Spangler, Tony Green, Tim Huddleston, Dave Hessing, Jeff Green, Mike Johnson, Guy Tripp, Andrew Myers, Ron Schartau, Scott Youngren, Del Dalrymple, George Ruark, Andy Bargaehr, Deryk Ward, Brian Rock, Tim Harris, Todd Conrad, Jerry Woods II, Robbie brand, Barry Karr, John Jones, Jameel Saied, John Ahrendt, Guy Goldstein, P. J. Baker, Tony Widmer, Brian Kelley.
2nd 40-LAP Main: Burns, Flores, Youngren, McComb, T. Green, Price, Huddleston, Johnson, Hessing, Dalrymple, Ruark, Schartau, Brand, Jones, J. Green, Bargaehr, Ward, Conrad, Harris, Rock, Baker, Goldstein, Ahrendt, Saied, Widmer, Tripp, Myers, Spangler, Woods II, Karr.