Irwindale, CA, Jul. 19 - Rip Michels ripped a victory from the grasp of season-long rival Greg Pursley in the final 50 yards of a 75-lap Jani-King Super Late Model feature Saturday before 5,250 at Irwindale Speedway. It was the only time third...
Irwindale, CA, Jul. 19 - Rip Michels ripped a victory from the grasp of season-long rival Greg Pursley in the final 50 yards of a 75-lap Jani-King Super Late Model feature Saturday before 5,250 at Irwindale Speedway. It was the only time third starter Michels was in front all night. Pursley led 74.971 laps from the pole in the 75-lap contest between the dueling Chevrolet Monte Carlos.
Michels, who usually does his passing on the inside, uncharacteristically used an outside pass from the fourth turn to the finish line to edge Pursley. His winning margin was less than a fender--0.063 seconds officially--in a 34 minute race slowed by three caution flags for spins. It was his 33rd career feature triumph at Irwindale. Michels increased his point advantage from 42 to 44 points over Pursley in SLM track points.
However, Pursley continues to lead the Miller Lite Big 10 Challenge series within a series by 34 points over second place Michels. The race was round seven of ten Miller races that will pay the series winner $5,000 from a $10,000 point fund from Miller Brewing. A television production crew taped the race for telecast on the "Racing from Irwindale" show on the FSN2 Network Thursday, August 7 from 6:00-7:00 p.m PDT.
T. K. Karvasek, the 1999 Irwindale Super Stock Champion, started sixth as the fastest qualifier in his Camaro. He became the third and final race leader on the eighth lap in a 40-lap Vista Paint Super Stock race. He out-dueled runner-up Lee Ladd, a six-time winner this season, by 0.895 seconds (about 20 yards). After missing the first five races this year, it was T.K's third outing and second consecutive victory following his return to racing from a self-imposed hiatus for family reasons. He now has 29 IS feature trophies.
A 14-car Pick Your Part Figure 8 25-lap race went to Steve Stewart by half a car length over fast-closing Chris Williamson's winged Figure 8 Special. Williamson took the Figure 8-point lead by six points over Dan Burns, the co-point leader entering the race. Stewart, one of eight drivers using roof wings for down-force, became the fifth different winner in five Figure 8 events this season.
On lap four Stewart passed fellow front row starter and early leader Jesse James. TV-personality James, host of "Monster Garage" on the Discovery Channel, was making his third start in Figure 8 racing. He dropped out of fourth place on lap 19 with an engine problem. Amazingly, the Figure 8 race was an all green flag event that took only nine minutes to complete. Eleven of the 14 drivers finished and five drivers were on the lead lap.
Unlike the Figure 8s, the West Coast Pro Trucks scheduled 50-lap main took 48-minutes and had to be shortened by officials to 25-laps following two yellow and three red flag delays. Multi-truck crashes left many trucks without front fenders, hoods or body-work. On lap 11 in the fourth turn Charlie Carder, a TQ-Midget veteran from Santa Barbara, hit the spun truck of Bob Leininger. Track safety workers had to lift Carder out of his truck through a hole cut in the roof after the driver complained about back and neck pain. They installed a neck collar and took Carder by ambulance to Kaiser Permanente Hospital in nearby Baldwin Park. (Carder was checked over and released later that evening -Ed.).
An opening lap crash involved the three-wide trucks in the top three positions. After contact the outside truck of Dave Lyons bounced off the first turn attenuator and collected other trucks. Three trucks were eliminated and several more came back from the pits later, laps down and minus body panels. Officials sent Michael Thomas to the back of the field for causing the mishap. He then raced through the field and finished second, 30-yards behind initial Irwindale and truck series winner Neil Conrad. The Arcadia driver is the WCPT 2002 rookie of the year and a pro and super stock veteran at Saugus Speedway. He now drives the ex-Deyon Young winning Chevy truck with Pick-a-Part of Monrovia sponsorship. Only 13 of 29 trucks finished and seven completed all 25 laps.
The fifth main event of the night was a 50-lap Ultra Wheels Super Trucks race won by fourth starter and third race leader Carson Woods in 19-minutes with two cautions for spins. The race featured fan-pleasing three and four-wide racing throughout the event. The top five trucks finished within two seconds. Thirty of 32 trucks were racing at the finish and 27 drivers completed every lap. A TV crew taped the UWST race for airing on the FSN2 Irwindale show on August 14 from 6:00-7:00 p.m PDT.
Woods, from Yucca Valley, collected his second main event trophy at IS this year. He won the 2002 UWST track title without benefit of a feature victory. He advanced from third to second in current track points and is only four markers behind Dave Blankenship. Prior point leader Ryan Arciero got sideways in traffic on lap 13 and stalled. He had to restart last for causing the yellow flag and then raced back to 18th at the checker. He fell from first to third in point standings, 24 points from first place after seven of nine IS events.
Michels told media members, "He (Pursley) is making me work harder than any other has in the five years here." Winston West 2002 driver Pursley told the media, "I was tight tonight. I did all I could to hold him off. I just couldn't hold him off on that last lap. It was a good clean race."
Tim Woods III made his return to SLM racing and drew a chorus of loud boos from spectators when he was introduced at the back of the field. He had been suspended for five races for his actions at IS on May 10 that NASCAR ruled were detrimental to racing. Woods did not follow directions of officials, then exited his car and sat on the track at the finish line, delaying the feature 20-minutes. On Saturday afternoon during SLM practice Woods' Ford Taurus had an engine fire and he did not post a qualifying time. His team took the car home to Chino Hills, made repairs and returned in time to start the 9:00 race 24th in the 27-car field. He finished ninth, seven seconds in back of the winner with 20 cars running at the finish.
Officials pulled Woods' No. 54 Ford to the finish line with the top three finishers and gave Woods the SLM hard charger award. Fans booed loudly. Woods then spoke to the crowd and said, "I took my medicine. I embarrassed myself. I want to apologize to fans and everyone. It will never happen again." That sincere statement from the contrite driver clearly converted boos to cheers from the forgiving crowd.
Other hard charger award winners were Brian Harrell (S/S-14th to 6th), Dale Cromwell (WCPT-20th to 4th) and Brian Harris (UWST-18th to 11th). Russell White led all six laps of the SLM trophy dash from the pole. Brandon Loverock returned to racing in his backup Monte Carlo with the engine out of the car he destroyed last week when he slammed into the first turn attenuator. There were 130 racing cars/trucks in the pits for the five-division event.
WEST COAST PRO TRUCKS:
Fast Time: Tony Forfa III, 20.434.
Main: Neil Conrad, Michael Thomas, Mike Mocaby, Dale Cromwell, Steve Dyer, Dennis Bennett, Val Cummings, Mark Colling, Ray Komar, Craig Baker, Aaron Staudinger, Michael Young, Dan Kelly, Dave Lyons, Michael Hahn, Bob Leininger, Charlie Carder, Chris Johnson, Forfa, Jim Satterfield, Jeff Williams, Richard Black, David Ford, Richie Altman, Barry Kalperis, Don Helgeson, Dean Kuhn, Sean Bennett, Kirk Knostman.
ULTRA WHEELS SUPER TRUCKS:
Fast Time; Jim Kondziela, 19.521.
Main: Carson Woods, Pat Mintey, Jr, Kondziela, Jim McGill, Dave Blankenship, Frank Steiner, Greg Adler, Ron Peterson, Rich Geisler, Bill Helgeson, Brian Harris, Tom Stanton, Reggie Church, Kyle Evans, Mark Holeman, Eric Humphries, Louis Mammolito, Ryan Arciero, Jim Madrid, Darren Sigwing, Derek DiSarro, Tony Edwards, Cody Brown, Ken Davis, Larry Hinderman, Eric Hardin, Ed Ragains, Scott Sutton, Joe Herold, Kevin O'Connell, Dan Moore, Jeb Bailey.
PICK-YOUR-PART FIGURE 8s:
Main: Steve Stewart, Chris Williamson, Earl Cox, Dennis Wooldridge, Dan Burns, T. K. Karvasek, Billy Ziemann, Russ Granville, Harry Kuenniger, Jerry Toperek, Jesse James, Rusty Stewart, Tony Curtis, Ron Chaney.
VISTA PAINT SUPER STOCKS:
Fast Time: T. K. Karvasek, 22.017.
Main: Kavasek, Lee Ladd, Curtis White, Steve Gilmore, Larry Sampson, Brian Harrell, Robin Bourgeois, Chris Houwen, Greg Benner, Ed Dazzo, Jim Appleby, Jr, Eric Sunness, Niles Strever, Ken Brown, Danny Renko, Jose Martinez, Victor Wu, Greg Crutcher, Mike Gilmore, John Arlotti, Tim Gardner, Scott Corrigan, Phil Holt, Paul Howard, Craig Yeaton, Garry Howell, Ted Schroeder, Kenny White.
JANI-KING SUPER LATE MODELS:
Fast Time: Tony Bruncati, 18.303.
Dash: Russell White, Greg Pursley, Mike Duncan, Kevin O'Neil, Rip Michels, Bruncati.
Main: Rip Michels, Pursley, T. Bruncati, Duncan, Brandon Loverock, Nathan Wulff, Dan Moore, James Bruncati, Tim Woods III, Kevin O'Neil, Michael May, Scott Conaway, Chris Oddo, White, Gary Jenkins, Roger Brown, Todd Southwell, Steve Hamilton, Tony Jackson, Richard Grissom, Dean Cato, Tony Gomez, Dan O'Donnell, Stephan Sadler, Andy Coyle, Jeff Michaels, Ed Hoffman.