Saturday Night's Were Made For Racin' Tim Huddleston became the only repeat main event winner at Irwindale Speedway in a four-division show Saturday evening before an estimated 4,000 spectators, including movie star Sandra Bullock watching from...
Saturday Night's Were Made For Racin'
Tim Huddleston became the only repeat main event winner at Irwindale Speedway in a four-division show Saturday evening before an estimated 4,000 spectators, including movie star Sandra Bullock watching from one of the 12 suites. Three other drivers won their initial main event trophies at Irwindale in super stocks, super trucks and Figure 8 mains. The races were broadcast live from 7:00 to 11:00PMon KTIE, 590 AM and on the Internet by "The IS Program Guys" for their first full four-hour program.
Huddleston, from Agoura Hills, also won the series season opening NASCAR Auto Club of Southern California Late Model feature three weeks ago in his Stock Building Supply-sponsored, LADCO-owned Pontiac Grand Prix built by the Race Car Factory in nearby Monrovia. Series point leader Huddleston, the son-in-law of veteran driver Oren Prosser, won Saturday's 29-car, 50-lap race by 0.140 seconds (two lengths) over a pressing Deryk Ward.
Craig Rayburn started his Camaro 22nd in the NASCAR Vista Paint Super Stock 40-lap main and became the fourth and final race leader on the eighth lap. The racing veteran and winner at the now closed Saugus Speedway also won the series opening night feature March 20. However, his car did not pass the post-race technical inspection that evening and his car was disqualified. His reworked Camaro passed inspection this week, giving the Simi Valley driver his initial main event trophy at IS, where he first raced during the 1999 inaugural season.
The 28-car super stock feature used a fully inverted start and awarded passing points (one car per position gained in the final standings) for the first time. The Grand American Modifieds also inverted the field last week in a move designed to give spectators more passing and action. Lee Ladd, the S/S fastest qualifier/point leader, started his Camaro 26th. He was involved in a first lap three-car collision on the backstretch and continued to finish 19th, on the lead lap.
Lee Hatch, who first raced at IS in 1999, started on the pole in his 2003 Mechanix Wear Speed Truck championship-winning Ford Ranger. He captured his elusive first Irwindale victory in a 23-truck race. "This is my first main event win here and I consider this my home track even though we're a touring division. I've won many times at other tracks on our circuit, but this one is special. I knew we'd win here eventually. We had a couple of seconds here and a dropout while leading, it was only a matter of time." the resident of nearby Covina said.
Hatch, the only winner and point leader after several races this season, withstood intense pressure from outside front row starter and fastest qualifier Darren Young. During lap 48 exiting the second turn, Hatch used a daring, mid-track pass of three lapped trucks as they raced three abreast. "I had to do that or Young would've caught me," Hatch said. The move enabled him to escape with a 0.505 second victory margin over Young in 17-minutes of green flag racing that required 55 minutes to complete because of two red flag incidents.
Rookie and first time Irwindale racer George Antill, from Las Vegas, spun his Chevy truck tail first into the attenuator at the first turn pit entrance during lap 13. His shortened truck spun to the infield in the one-truck accident. Antill climbed out uninjured. The second red flag flew on lap 23 when seventh place Robert Kroeker was bumped and hit the wall, tearing off an oil line and causing a spectacular fire at the end of the backstretch. He parked in the grass between the third and fourth turns and firemen extinguished the smoky fire quickly. He was unhurt.
Rod Proctor, from Riverside, became the third new Irwindale winner in the final race-a ten-car, $1,000 to win scheduled 25-lap Pick-Your-Parts Figure 8 race. The veteran of Figure 8 races at other tracks said it was only his third race at Irwindale. He started ninth and became the fourth and final race leader during lap nine. Officials shortened the race to 18 laps at 10:28 p.m as race delays had the event bumping into the voluntary curfew hour. Irwindale's first Figure 8 race of the season took 23-minutes to complete because of two red flag incidents. Only four drivers finished.
Television star Jesse James, the host of "Monster Garage" on The Discovery Channel and the star of two TV commercials for Auto Zone Auto Supply Stores, started 10th in his self-built winged Figure 8 Special. James, a Figure 8 veteran from Long Beach, charged up to seventh place in one lap. He then clipped a huge tire marking the inside of the track and flipped his No. 666 car onto its roof (thus becoming the 999 car -- Didn't anyone tell James about the old racer's superstition regarding numbers that read upside-down? -- ed.) and slid across the track to the top of turn two. Unhurt, he waited as track emergency workers righted his car. James then removed the wing, climbed back aboard and restarted the race. However, his oil-depleted aluminum, high horsepower (there were rumors of about 900 horses lurking under the West Coast Choppers boss' hood. -ed.) Brodix engine began smoking heavily and he dropped out after one lap.
The second red flag came during lap nine when Tom Proctor spun entering the first turn and his car was t-boned in mid-track. Both drivers parked their cars. Figure 8 specialist "Barefoot" Billy Ziemann started on the pole and led the first five laps, despite losing his left front wheel on lap four and continuing with sparks flying. He slowed his now three-wheel car to fourth place on lap six when he spun. He pitted and returned later with a new wheel in place, but he ran only one more lap.
Leaving her suite on the third floor for the track elevator following the Figure 8 race, actress Bullock was overheard saying, "I liked it. He (James) flipped and everything." The actress/star of the movie "Speed" also attended Irwindale's season opener March 20 and watched James race his Chevy Monte Carlo on the half-mile as a NASCAR Super Late Model rookie. He finished 26th with 49 laps in the first 50-lap main. He was involved in a multi-car crash on lap five of the second 50-lap feature and did not finish.
By: Tim Kennedy
PICK-YOUR-PART FIGURE 8s:
Heat - Billy Ziemann, Tony Curtis, Ron Chaney, Rod Proctor, Tom Proctor, Harry Kuenniger, Jeff Marguet, Don Rogers, purple 99 late arrival,-DNS Jesse James.
Main - R. Proctor, Curtis, Rogers, Kuenniger, Marguet, Chaney, Steve Cook, T. Proctor, Ziemann, James.
MECHANIX WEAR SUPER TRUCKS:
Fast Time - Darren Young, 20.065.
Main - Lee Hatch, D. Young, Keith Fedderson, Terry Young, Ron Nava, Alan Sanchez, Kenny Smith, Scott Rueschenberg, Scott Dodd, J. D.Gardner, Bob Sanders, Bobby Sayers, Joey Mogar, Jesus Vasquez, Jeff Rocheleau, Joe Farre, Laszlo Budavari, Patrick Britain, Gary Bryant, Rob Ferguson, Scott Franchimone, Robert Kroeker, George Antill.
VISTA PAINT SUPER STOCKS:
Fast Time - Lee Ladd, 21.972.
Main - Craig Rayburn, Larry Sampson, Curtis White, Bryan Harrell, Cliff Conklin, Chris Houwen, Brent Cusick, Greg Benner, Ricky Riley, Ed Dazzo, Lyle Spangler, Marcelo Canel, Jimmy Sloabn, Greg Crutcher, Robin Bourgeois, Dan Rodgers, Brian Tully, Craig Yeaton, Ladd, Derk Rodgers, Bobby Dezarov, Johnny White, Scott Corrigan, Ken Brown, Bob Reed, Tim Gardner, John Arlotti, Eric Sunness.-DNS Victor Wu, Garry Howell.
AUTO CLUB of SO. CALIF. LATE MODELS:
Fast Time - Doug McComb, 18.998.
Dash - Andrew Myers, Deryk Ward, McComb, Tony Green, Tim Huddleston, Jameel Saied. 1:57.480.
Main - Tim Huddleston, Ward, McComb, Tony Green, Dan DiGiacomo, Brian Kelley, Robbie Brand, Keith Spangler, Scott Youngren, Mike Johnson, George Ruark, Colby Bankston, Robert Rice, Kevin Wood, Richie Altman, Ron Schartau, Jack Roberts, Jameel; Saied, John Ahrendt, Myers, Andrew Lewis, Todd Conrad, Mike Mulhall, Dennis Schlarbaum, Ron Daniel, Danny Renko, Kory Halopoff, Jim Conklin, Richard Hooper