Greg Pursley's fantastic 2004 season in NASCAR Lucas Oil Super Late Model racing got even better Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. The series point leader won his sixth IS feature in nine races and collected another victory plaque in a race he all...
Greg Pursley's fantastic 2004 season in NASCAR Lucas Oil Super Late Model racing got even better Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. The series point leader won his sixth IS feature in nine races and collected another victory plaque in a race he all but conceded to Tony Bruncati. Pursley, from Canyon Country, accomplished an unprecedented feat in SLM racing history at IS by winning his fourth consecutive main event.
A five-car collision as cars exited turn four caused a caution flag on lap 73 of 75. Bruncati passed Pursley, the leader of the first 55 laps, with an inside move in turn two on lap 56. He had opened a 15-yard advantage over Pursley when the yellow flag appeared. A green, white, checkered flag scenario put Pursley's King Taco Chevy Monte Carlo on the tail of Bruncati's Sunrise Ford Taurus. Starter Matt Pattison, the energetic Grand National West starter subbing at IS for the first time, waved the green for lap 74.
Pursley shot to the inside entering turn one and pulled even with leader Bruncati in turn two. Pursley took charge by a length through turns three and four and led the final two laps before about 4,800 spectators on 3M Night. "I wouldn't have won without that (lap 73) yellow flag," Pursley told fans. Pole starter Pursley's 0.198-second triumph over second-starter Bruncati extended his lead from 48 to 56 points after nine of 18 scheduled races. Pursley also added to his advantage as the winning performance index leader in the national NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series eight-track Sunbelt Region.
Only 14 of the 22-car SLM field finished and 11 drivers completed all 75 laps. The lap 73 crash eliminated all five cars involved, including those driven by AMA dirt track motorcycle racer Brett Landes and Nathan Wulff as they battled for tenth place. James Bruncati finished third, 0.792 seconds behind his older brother in a second Sunrise Ford team Taurus. Todd Southwell and Brandon Loverock, second in IS points, completed the top five.
Deryk ("X-Man") Ward started second in his Pontiac Grand Prix and led all but lap 10 in a 29-car, 50-lap Auto Club of Southern California Late Model feature. It was his third main event victory this season after six of 16 races. His 50 points earned Saturday moved Ward from fourth to second in current standings, 34-points behind Doug McComb. The point leader was trying to win his third consecutive feature, but settled for second place, only 0.190 seconds behind Ward.
A solo spinout by a rookie wiped out Ward's ten-yard advantage on lap 45. The caution from laps 46-48 caused another green, white, checkered flag finish. McComb, the second fastest qualifier and sixth starter in a seven-car inversion, tried to pass Ward on laps 49 and 50. Ward held his line and McComb's Dodge Intrepid fell one length short of victory. Scott Youngren started fourth and put his Chevy Monte Carlo into the lead on lap 10 with an inside pass in turn four. He faded to fourth by lap 23 and then reclaimed third position by passing Andrew Myers on lap 45. On lap 49 fastest qualifier and seventh starter Tony Green dropped Myers to a fifth place finish.
A serious-looking crash on lap 29 destroyed the front end of 11th-running Ford driven by Kevin Wood after impact with the turn one pit entrance protective attenuator. A following car driven by John Ahrendt got into fluid from the Wood Ford, spun and backed onto the hood of Wood's stalled car in mid-track. No injuries resulted. A 19-minute red flag followed to dismount the cars and repair the attenuator.
Johnny White, a 19-year old rookie from Phoenix, set fastest qualifying time and started the Vista Paint Super Stock 40-lap feature on the pole after spinning a zero for the inversion. Driving the No. 50 Jim Cass R & R Automotive Engines Camaro, White led all the way in a 30-car field. He won his second main event in seven races by an impressive half-straight-away (4.167 seconds). White took over driving the Irwindale-based Cass Camaro late last season from his uncle Kenny White, of Bakersfield. The winner said his goals are Super Stock 2004 rookie of the year and championship and Nextel Cup eventually. He drives from Phoenix to Irwindale on Thursdays with his dad, mom and sister every time he races. They drive home to Phoenix on Sundays.
For 30 of the 40-laps, outside-running White out-dueled fellow front row starter and two-time winner Craig Rayburn, a low-groove runner. White, driving like a seasoned veteran, lapped cars quickly and extended his advantage during the final ten laps over veterans Rayburn and 2003 S/S champion Lee Ladd. Kenny Brown and Bryan Harrell finished fourth and fifth, as 26 of 30 starters finished, with 19 drivers on the lead lap.
The other feature on the half-mile was a 35-lap Grand American Modified main with an IS all-time GAM-low nine cars competing. A fully-inverted field (with passing points) put fastest qualifier Andrew Phipps at the back and he finished second. Seventh starter Travis Thirkettle led all the way and won by 1.621 seconds. It was his second consecutive victory this season. John Watkinson was third in the 11:35.299-timed event. Seven drivers finished and five ran all 35 laps.
The fifth main event was a 23-car, 35-lap Mini Stock main on the third-mile. Sixth fastest qualifier Bob Reed, a past IS series champion, started his Ford Pinto on the pole and led all the way. The winner started next to his son, Eric, in another Pinto and later thanked his son for letting him win his first feature this year "as a Father's Day present". Dustin Morgan was second, with Rich Garver's Toyota Celica third and Eric Reed fourth. Point leader Greg Tucker was fifth in a Pinto usually driven by Eric Reed.
The night's Hard Charger award winners as selected by race control officials were:
GAM-Joe Ruggles (P.5 to P.4); L/M-Dan DiGiacomo (P.25 to P.10); M/S-rookie Tyler Rogers in his first IS start (P.16 to P.10); SLM-Ed Hoffman (P.15 to P.9), and S/S-Bryan Harrell (P.10 to P.5).
Fast Time: Kevin Bernhardt, 17.397.
Main: Bob Reed, Dustin Morgan, Rich Garver, Eric Reed, Greg Tucker, Steve Rogers, Robert Lovas, Ron Cooper, Fred Adams, Tyler Rogers, Amee Blue, Robert Carney, Mario Ruiz, Brenda Pugh, Ron Pugh, James McNear, Kris Melleby, R. C. Zimmerman, Brad Hamilton, Rod Schmitt, Tom Dye, Bernhardt, Carl Farless.
GRAND AMERICAN MODIFIEDS:
Fast Time: Andrew Phipps, 18.606.
Main: Travis Thirkettle, Phipps, John Watkinson, Joe Ruggles, Tim Morse, Jamie Barnett, Garrett Yamada, Dennis Eckert, Mike Trottochau.
VISTA PAINT SUPER STOCKS:
Fast Time: Johnny White, 21.742.
Main: White, Craig Rayburn, Lee Ladd, Kenny Brown, Bryan Harrell, Victor Wu, Henry Miles, Chris Houwen, Robin Bourgeois, Greg Benner, Eric Sunness, Lyle Spangler, Greg Crutcher, Rick Crow, Cliff Conklin, Ed Dazzo, Curtis White, Jimmy Sloan, Tim Gardner, Randy Jackson, Dan Rodgers, Marcelo Canel, Larry Sampson, Sean Garrett, Mike Gilmore, Craig Yeaton, Bobby Dezarov, Brian Tully, Richard Paez, Rick Hansen. DNS-Steve Gilmore, Phil Holt.
AUTO CLUB of SO. CALIF. LATE MODELS:
Fast Time: Tony Green, 18.853.
Main: Deryk Ward, Doug McComb, Scott Youngren, Green, Andrew Myers, Robbie Brand, Andrew Lewis, Ron Daniel, Ron Schartau, Dan DiGiacomo, Mike Johnson, Robert Rice, Brian Kelley, Jim Conklin, Richie Altman, Todd Conrad, Mike Mulhall, Colby Bankston, Eric Richardson, Kory Halopoff, Candace Muzny, George Ruark, John Ahrendt, Dennis Schlarbaum, Tim Huddleston, Kevin Wood, Brian Jones, Del Dalrymple, Jameel Saied. DNS-Danny Renko.
LUCAS OIL SUPER LATE MODELS:
Fast Time: Greg Pursley, 17.866.
Main: Pursley, Tony Bruncati, James Bruncati, Todd Southwell, Brandon Loverock, Mike Price, Russell White, Kevin O'Neil, Ed Hoffman, Tim Buckley, Jason Patison, Chris Oddo, Dan O'Donnell, Jim McGill, Brett Landes, Nathan Wulff, Dennis Arena, Kris Terris, Kevin O'Connell, Jeff Shafer, Andy Coyle, Dan Moore. DNS-Terry Elliott.