Irwindale, CA, Jul. 12 - Two first-time winners and three veteran winners collected first place trophies, points and cash Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. Five racing divisions and six main events on a balmy evening with the temperature in the low...
Irwindale, CA, Jul. 12 - Two first-time winners and three veteran winners collected first place trophies, points and cash Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. Five racing divisions and six main events on a balmy evening with the temperature in the low 80s attracted 4,318 spectators on King Taco Night.
Current point leaders and past champions at Irwindale won the three features on the half-mile. Sixth starter Rip Michels (Ladco, Pick-Your-Part Monte Carlo) led the final 12 laps of the Jani-King Super Late Model 50-lapper for his 32nd career victory at Irwindale. Rod Johnson came from sixth grid position to lead laps 17-35 after he became the third and final leader of the Grand American Modified feature. He won his first IS championship during the inaugural season in 1999.
Todd Burns started third and led the final 41 circuits of the Auto Club of Southern California Late Model 50-lap main in his Villa Roma Sausage Monte Carlo. It was his record eighth-consecutive victory this season and his ninth in a row dating back to last year. His 34th IS main event winning trophy (all in the L/M Division) kept him two ahead of Michels for the honor of being the most prolific feature winner at IS.
The first-time main event winners (both on the third-mile track) were veteran Mini Stock Ford Pinto driver Richard Boker in the first of two 25-lap races. He enjoyed victory so much he started fifth and also won the second 25 lap feature, which was a make-up race for the May 3 rain-out. Rookie Jeremy Wood led the final 27-laps of a 30-lap King Taco Legend Cars feature. He became the youngest main event winner in the track's five-year history. Wood, who tows south to race at IS from his home in Tracy in northern California, celebrated his 16th birthday last month.
Boker and Wood proved their dominance early by setting fastest qualifying times in their respective divisions for their initial quick time honors. Wood also turned the only 16-second lap during afternoon practice sessions for the Legend drivers. As fastest qualifier, Boker spun a 10 on the inversion wheel and started tenth in the first 25-lap main with a 30-car field. Wood spun a 7 and started seventh in his 27-car lineup.
Track officials cut the scheduled 75-lap SLM race to 50-laps, following a lap 20 red flag for a crash into the first turn pit exit attenuator. The impact by the second place car of Brandon Loverock followed a tap from another car at the start/finish line. The impact virtually disintegrated his car and the attenuator. Loverock's car shed body panels, roof, hood and other parts as it whipped back onto the track, collecting the passing fifth place Monte Carlo of Rod Johnson (the GAM winner).
Loverock's car really "did its job" of protecting its driver well as the roll cage area of the car was visually intact after the wreck and its driver only sustaining a sore foot in the process that mangled the car and stripped it of 90% of its bodywork. -Ed.
Loverock quickly sprung from the top of his now "convertible" Monte Carlo and walked to the ambulance for a medical evaluation. A shaken Johnson also walked from his badly damaged car. Haddick's Towing crews took both cars to the pits. It was the second week in a row drivers had slammed into the first turn exit protective barrier. A 28-minute delay followed the crash this week as track workers rebuilt the attenuator to provide needed safety before the race could resume.
Controversial crashes Saturday caused track officials to disqualify two drivers and penalize a third for rough driving. Officials enforced a track rule that penalizes drivers who cause other drivers to spin or crash. Offending drivers must restart behind the driver they spun, and if the spun/crashed car is unable to restart, the instigating driver is disqualified, sent to the pits and scored behind the car or cars eliminated by the contact or rough driving.
That track rule to promote clean, contact-free racing sidelined Dusty Morgan in the first Mini Stock main and Roger Carufel, Jr in the GAM feature. Morgan was running third with three laps to go when he contacted second place driver Greg Tucker, who spun out in the first turn. Tucker, the point leader, was eliminated when other cars quickly slammed into his stalled Pinto.
Carufel was second from laps 3-14 and chasing pole starter/race-long leader Ricky Wildman, a GAM rookie and the 2002 IS Legends champion. On lap 15 their cars made contact exiting the second turn and Wildman spun into the backstretch wall on the drivers' side and stalled. He was unhurt, but Wildman's car was a tow-off. Carufel led two laps under the yellow before officials sent him to the pits because Wildman's car was unable to continue.
Russell White, who had just lost second place to Loverock on lap 19 in the fourth turn, reportedly had contact with Loverock's car at the starting line as they started lap 20. The result was Loverock's spin and frightening crash into the first turn pit exit attenuator. However, officials decided to move White to last position (16th) instead of disqualifying him because they weren't 100% sure a DQ was warranted.
Another impact in the first Mini Stock race took out the first and second place Pintos at the start of the final lap. Second place Steve Rogers RF fender rode up the LF fender of race leader Tony Lawler in the fourth turn as they raced for the white flag. The two cars locked together and slid across the start/finish line and through the infield to mid-turn two where other cars took evasive action. Their cars dislodged and they finished-Lawler 12th and Rogers 13th.
Rogers finished second in the second 25-lap race. Lawler removed his damaged front body -work (fenders and hood), started 12th and finished sixth in the second 25 to earn the hard charger award. Other hard charger award winners were James McNear, Jr (29th to 8th) in the first M/S main; Bob Landreth (14th to 6th) in Legends; Robert Rice (12th to 7th) in GAM; Del Dalrymple (15th to 7th) in L/M, and Ed Hoffman (19th to 5th) in SLM.
Fast Time: Richard Boker, 17.691.
1st Main: Boker, Kevin Bernhardt, Tim Ross, Mike Morales, Robert Lovas, Fred Adams, James Merdis, James McNear, Jr, Robert Miller, Richard Garver, John Bromberek, Tony Lawler, Steve Rogers, Rick LeMaster, Terry Limberopoulos, Virgil Young, James Lavender, Amee Blue, Randy Colling, Michael Yander, Brenda Pugh, Greg Tucker, Dustin Morgan, Ed Lavender, Bob Reed, Tom Dye, Eric Reed, Dennis Croasman, Jerry Post, -DNS-R.C Zimmerman.
2nd Main: Boker, Rogers, Adams, Bernhardt, McNear, Lawler, Miller, Morgan, Lovas, Morales, LeMaster, Ross, Garver, E. Reed, Tucker (in #89 Qual. by Limberopoulos), Colling, Merdis, Dye, Bromberek, Blue, Croasman, Pugh, E. Lavender, Young, J. Lavender, B. Reed.
KING TACO LEGEND CARS:
Fast Time: Jeremy Wood, 17.130.
Main: Wood, Tom Landreth, Brent Jones, James Kalawaia, Cory Miles, Bob Landreth, David Ross, Dave Green, Bill Bonney, Ryan Partridge, Mark Gaiser, Larry Meredith, Austin Grabowski, Steve Twilligear, Ryan Schug, Tom Skahill, Bill Watson, Eric Britt, Kevin McMahon, John Barnett, Warren Merrifield, Larry Alsop, Chad Schug, Dennis Rock, Brian Vandehey, Donnie Akers, Mark Iungerich.
GRAND AMERICAN MODIFIEDS:
Fast Time: Travis Thirkettle, 18.730.
Main: Rod Johnson, Thirkettle, Andrew Phipps, John Watkinson, Joe Ruggles, Jeff Scott, Robert Rice, Tim Morse, Mike Trottochau, Doug Petsco, Wally Pettengill, Jr, Dennis Schlarbaum, Garrett Yamada, Ricky Wildman, Roger Carufel, Jr, Eddie Ernst,-DNS-Jamie Barnett.
AUTOMOBILE CLUB of SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LATE MODELS:
Fast Time: Tony Green, 19.092.
Main: Todd Burns, Green, Doug McComb, Scott Youngren, Jess Flores, Deryk Ward, Del Dalrymple, Tim Huddleston, Guy Tripp, Dave Hessing, Mike Price, Todd Conrad, Jameel Saied, Patrick Ackley, John Butler, Tony Widmer, Rick Atkins, Ron Schartau, Walt Price, Jr, John Ahrendt, Andrew Myers, Mike Johnson, Andy Bargaehr, George Ruark.
JANI-KING SUPER LATE MODELS:
Fast Time: Tony Bruncati, 18.296.
Main: Rip Michels, Bruncati, Nathan Wulff, Greg Pursley, Ed Hoffman, Dan Moore, Dean Cato, Chris Oddo, Michael May, Russell White, Gary Jenkins, Scott Conaway, Dan O'Donnell, Stephan Sadler, Kevin O'Neil, Brandon Loverock, Rod Johnson, Scott Calvin, Kevin Vernon.