"Fireworks Tonight!" proclaimed a pre-race headline. Four racing series and five main events supplied on-track fireworks at Irwindale Speedway and pyrotechnic experts propelled colorful aerial fireworks in a ten-minute show following the final ...
"Fireworks Tonight!" proclaimed a pre-race headline. Four racing series and five main events supplied on-track fireworks at Irwindale Speedway and pyrotechnic experts propelled colorful aerial fireworks in a ten-minute show following the final feature Saturday night to an announced sellout crowd of 6,500 patriotic spectators.
Mike Johnson and Tim Huddleston won the featured Auto Club of Southern California Late Model "Firecracker Twin 50s" on the banked half-mile. Both drivers led all the way after starting on the pole with inversions of eight and two in the two races.
Separate timed laps during afternoon time trials determined starting lineups for both races. Point leader Doug McComb set fastest qualifying times for both races. But a multi-car crash while he was running fifth in the first main sidelined McComb's No. 48 Dodge Intrepid. He sub-drove the No. 19 Pontiac Grand Prix in the second 50 and finished ninth.
Johnson, in a Chevy Monte Carlo, recorded his first IS feature victory in six years of racing in the series. His best main event finish this season had been fifth. The Covina driver got a good jump and opened a five yard advantage over challenging Huddleston on lap 49 following three caution laps. Then a red flag after a five-car crash in turn two caused the second red flag of the race. With extensive cleanup required and a full schedule, officials called the race complete after 48 laps.
Huddleston ran the fastest lap of the race on lap five and trailed by 0.332 seconds. Ron Daniel, Ben Walker and Eric Richardson followed and 18 of 29 starters ran 48 laps. NASCAR Southwest Series regular Walker drove the Dewberry Monte Carlo after driver Tony Green and Dewberry parted company earlier in the week. Scorers computed the finish from the last completed green flag lap (lap 42) and cars involved in the lap 49 crash were placed at the back of the lead lap.
Two hours later, Huddleston drove his Ladco Pontiac Grand Prix to his third triumph of the season and first since he won the first two races of 2004. Undesired results plagued Huddleston's championship hopes during subsequent weeks. He entered the evening fifth in track points after seven races. "We found a major problem in the rear end that we didn't catch until today. After the last race I left the track pretty bummed, but I never gave up. The first and second place finishes tonight were huge," Huddleston told the media.
Following the twin 50s, Huddleston jumped to second place in points after nine of the scheduled 16 races. He now trails McComb by 44 points (394-350). Daniel, Deryk Ward, Scott Youngren and Andrew Myers finished second through fifth respectively. Eighteen of 26 starters finished and 14 drivers ran all 50 laps.
With a ten-car inversion for the 32-car Vista Paint Super Stock main, Bryan Harrell had the pole. The six-year IS veteran led all 40 laps in his LINE-X Camaro to collect his first feature trophy at IS. Robin Bourgeois finished a career-best second in his Camaro. Series rookie and two-time S/S feature winner Johnny White was second and closing quickly on the final lap. White bump-drafted Harrell on the backstretch and set himself up for a winning inside pass exiting the final turn.
White darted to the inside through turns three and four and pulled even with Harrell as they raced to the checkered flag. Suddenly White slowed and pulled his smoking Camaro to the inside. Parts trailed from White's car on the front straight as he crossed the finish line third and pulled immediately into the infield. "We had him but the tranny (transmission) went out," White told the crowd on the PA microphone. Rapidly improving Victor Wu crossed the line a career-best fourth. New point leader Lee Ladd was fifth as 23 of 32 starters finished and 18 ran all 40 laps.
The S/S race had an inspirational first-time stock car racer. Patrick Rummerfield, 51, the world's first fully recovered spinal cord injury quadriplegic, made his debut in Lee Ladd's backup Camaro, renumbered from 64 to 84. Rummerfield, a nationally-known Iron Man tri-athlete and holder of the world land speed record for electric vehicles (245.5 mph), lost use of his limbs in an auto accident at age 21 in 1974. Following a decade of extensive rehabilitation, he again walked and competed. He dedicated his life to prevent, treat and cure paralysis and to improve the quality of life for those living with paralysis.
Rummerfield, from O'Fallon, IL, completed an intensive training course in a Performance Race Training Center Monte Carlo at IS two Thursday's ago and practiced at IS on Friday night. He turned 22nd fastest practice time of 22.973 in the second afternoon practice session, but his car did not post a qualifying lap. He started 30th and finished a respectable 23rd in a 32-car field after running 38 of 40 laps.
Fastest qualifier Pat Mintey, Jr started his Chevy S-10 seventh and led all but the first four laps in a NAPA Super Truck feature. John Sereika led the opening lap and Billy Helgeson paced the next three laps. It was Mintey's third consecutive main event victory in the series at IS.
Officials concluded the scheduled 50-lap race after 35 laps because of a two-truck crash on the final lap. Scoring reverted to the lap 33 running order that changed finishing positions from third through 13th. Ron Peterson was 1.365 seconds back in second. Helgeson, Joe Herold and Greg Adler completed the top five and 22 of 24 starters ran 33 laps.
Following the second Late Model main, a 13-car Pick Your Part Figure-8 20-lap race preceded the aerial fireworks show that entertained fans in the grandstands and motorists on the nearby 605 Freeway.
"Barefoot" Billy Ziemann, the IS series point leader, started second and led all the way in his winged Cadillac Figure 8 car to earn $1,000. Eleven cars finished the seven-minute race with Steve Stewart and Rod Proctor second and third and the only other drivers on the lead lap. Hard charger award winners were Cliff Conklin (17th to 11th in the S/S main) and L/M rookie Richie Altman (23rd to 13th in the second L/M main).
In special July 4 ceremonies, a military color guard presented the colors at the National Anthem. Then five racers drove slowly around the half-mile with American flags on poles extending from each car. Each car, in formation, bore the name of a military branch painted on each car. Ziemann (Fig. 8) represented the Coast Guard. Ladd (S/S) had Navy on his Camaro. Huddleston (L/M) carried Air Force on his Pontiac. In the back row, Craig Yeaton (S/S) had Marines on his Chevy and Ward (L/M) painted Army on his Pontiac. Two of the "military cars" later won features.
PICK YOUR PART FIGURE 8s:
Main: Billy Ziemann, Steve Stewart, Rod Proctor, Earl Cox, Tony Curtis, T. K. Karvasek, Don Rogers, Harry Kuenniger, Jeff Marguet, Robbie Stutzel, James Altman, Steve Cook, Sean Garrett. DNS-Rick Crow.
NAPA SUPER TRUCKS:
Fast Time: Pat Mintey, Jr., 19.614.
Main: Mintey, Ron Peterson, Billy Helgeson, Joe Herold, Greg Adler, Rich Geisler, Jim Kondziela, Paul Brennan, Eric Hardin, Jim Madrid, Reggie Church, John Sereika, Randy Colling, Louis Mammolito, Darren Sigwing, Michael Mantel, Dave Scarcella, Darrin Walts, Bob Barker, Ken Bryan, Paul Galli, Mark Holeman, Jeremiah Robins, Ken Maler.
VISTA PAINT SUPER STOCKS:
Fast Time: Kenny Brown, 22.139.
Main: Bryan Harrell, Robin Bourgeois, Johnny White, Victor Wu, Lee Ladd, Jimmy Sloan, Greg Crutcher, Henry Miles, Larry Sampson, Greg Benner, Cliff Conklin, Craig Rayburn, Lyle Spangler, Ed Dazzo, Sean Garrett, Brent Cusick, Tim Gardner, Mike Gilmore, John Arlotti, Eric Bewley, Craig Yeaton, K. Brown, Patrick Rummerfield, Jeff "Hibachi" Grill, Eric Sunness, Chris Houwen, Curtis White, Randy Jackson, Steve Smith, Rick Crow, Steve Rhoads, T. K. Karvasek. DNS-Bill Shoemaker.
AUTO CLUB of SO. CALIF. LATE MODELS:
Fast Time (1st main): Doug McComb, 18.929.
(2nd main): McComb, 19.122.
1st Main: Mike Johnson, Tim Huddleston, Ron Daniel, Scott Youngren, Ben Walker, Eric Richardson, Robbie Brand, Ron Schartau, Dan DiGiacomo, Richie Altman, Todd Conrad, Andrew Lewis, McComb, Brian Kelley, Danny Renko, Robert Rice, Candace Muzny, Andrew Myers, John Ahrendt, Tony Widmer, Dennis Schlarbaum, Mike Mulhall, P. J. Baker, George Ruark, Jim Conklin, Colby Bankston, Deryk Ward, Brian Jones, Jameel Saied.
2nd Main: Huddleston, Daniel, Ward, Youngren, Myers, Johnson, DiGiacomo, Schartau, McComb (in car 19 of George Ruark), Lewis, Conrad, Kelley, R. Altman, Rice, Craig Yeaton, Ahrendt, Widmer, Walker, Bankston, Saied, Jones, Conklin, Richardson, Brand, Schlarbaum. DNS-Renko, Mulhall, Baker, McComb's # 48.