The number 13 was "lucky" for Greg Pursley Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. The NASCAR Lucas Oil Super Late Model 2004 track champion, Dodge Weekly Racing Series Sunbelt Region leader and CPI national championship hopeful won both of the scheduled...
The number 13 was "lucky" for Greg Pursley Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. The NASCAR Lucas Oil Super Late Model 2004 track champion, Dodge Weekly Racing Series Sunbelt Region leader and CPI national championship hopeful won both of the scheduled twin 50-lap features, the final 2004 SLM point races on the IS half-mile. He set fastest qualifying times for both races, started in the pole position and led all laps before about 4,500 spectators.
Pursley, 36, later told the media, "My car (the David Hays-owned King Taco Chevrolet Monte Carlo) is No. 13. We won our 13th main event this year (in 18 races). We were assigned electronic transponder number 13 today (for timing/scoring). I was scheduled to be the 13th driver to qualify, but two cars dropped out so I actually was the 11th driver to qualify (in a season high 37-car field)." Pursley said he hopes the expected NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series CPI national championship, which is worth an estimated $180,000+ including regional prize money, will lead to a ride offer in a NASCAR national circuit. "I want to race in the Craftsman Truck Series or Busch Series next year," the veteran of NASCAR Elite Division Southwest Series and Grand National West Series said. He stated he will retire from driving if such a ride fails to materialize.
The popular driver from Canyon Country is chief mechanic/driving instructor at the IS Performance Race Training Center. He was almost overcome by emotion as he spoke to spectators via the track PA system following his second main event victory. Officials believe his two triumphs Saturday will give Pursley the first NASCAR national championship for an Irwindale driver. NASCAR headquarters staff will announce the official national CPI results later this week.
Saturday was the final night nationally to earn NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series points. Pursley, leader of the eight-track Sunbelt Region, entered the double mains ranked second nationally at 0.8600 in the CPI index after his 16 races. Heartland Region leader Andy Bozell (Kalamazoo, MI Speedway) was first after his 18 races that included eight victories, 18 top fives and 18 top tens for a CPI index of 0.8611. Following his two victories Saturday, Pursley's final 18-race tally shows 13 victories, 15 top fives and 17 top tens.
"I can't believe it. All my dreams came true. I can't even talk now. I want to thank fans in the stands and my fellow competitors who really made me work for wins this year. My goal this year was to get wins and not to chase points. Thanks to Lucas Oil for sponsoring our series. Thanks to all our team sponsors-King Taco, A-1 Springs, Watkins Engines and Garrett Custom Trailers. Thanks to my crew and my dad Russ (crew chief/spotter)." Then his entire happy crew opened their bottles of champagne and sprayed him thoroughly at the finish line.
Four other racing series entertained spectators during the four-hour program. Fastest qualifier Tim Huddleston started the Auto Club Late Model final point race on the pole in a straight-up start based upon qualifying times. He trailed second quickest qualifier/second starter Doug McComb for 37 laps on the half-mile. McComb, the 2004 track champion, ran the outside groove and held off inside runner Huddleston as they raced evenly from laps five-37. As they overtook slower cars, Huddleston passed McComb on the inside in the second turn and opened a 35-yard advantage by lap 45 of the 50-lap event.
A caution flag (lap 46-48) resulted in a green, white, checkered flag finish. Huddleston held a ten-yard margin (0.537 seconds) at the checkers. Deryk Ward finished third and wrapped-up second place in track points. He edged Huddleston by eight points. The top three drivers all won four features during the 16-race season.
Three other drivers split the other four races. Point leader/fastest qualifier Greg Tucker started third in a 35-lap Mini Stock event on the third-mile. It was his seventh victory in ten races this year and gave him a 66-point lead with four races remaining. Kevin Bernhardt, who paced the first four laps, was second. Dennis Croasmun, 18, finished third.
The first main event of the night for the King Taco Legend Cars also used the third-mile. A spirited three-way battle between the three fastest qualifiers produced four lead changes among the three drivers. Ryan Partridge led the first 14 laps, yielded the point to Kenton Gray from laps 15-21 and reclaimed the lead from laps 22-26. Gray, the leading rookie who ranks eighth in series points, led laps 27-28 and then became involved in a three-car crash with slower cars on lap 29. He had to restart at the back. During the melee Jeff Scott rode up the side of Gray's car and flipped wildly in 10-12 rapid barrel-rolls from the third-mile starting line to the half-mile first turn. Scott's car landed upright and he emerged sore but not seriously injured.
Track champion Tom Landreth, the quickest qualifier and third starter, inherited the lead on lap 29 and kept Partridge two lengths back to the lap 35 checkers. It was Landreth's sixth victory in eight mains this year. His 50-first place points pushed his lead to 28-points over his father, Bob, with three races and 150-points maximum remaining in the 11-race season.
The senior Landreth entered the race only two-points in back of his son and started seventh in the 28-car field. Bob was running fifth when he spun at the starting line on lap 32, lost half a lap and finished 14th.
The final event of the night was a 16-car, 12-minute demolition derby in the infield for a $2,000 payoff. Bill Hatfather (in No. X-13 sedan) won and collected $1,000. Bill Conway earned $500 as runner-up in the event that concluded at 11:00.
The first SLM feature had three cautions and took 31 minutes. A three-car crash on the backstretch consumed nine laps. Runner-up Brandon Loverock trailed Pursley by 0.512 seconds and third finisher Mike Price, the leading series rookie, was 1.363 seconds back. Twenty-six of 36 starters finished and 22 drivers completed all 50 laps. Thirty teams answered the call for the second SLM feature 75 minutes after the first race ended.
Track officials reduced the second 50-lap race to 25 laps after red flags on lap two for a three-car crash and on lap eight for a seven-car crash in turns one and two. No drivers were injured. The first crash caused a 20-minute delay and the second collision required 22-minutes to tow away five of the seven cars involved and to clean the track. Pursley held a 40-yard lead at the lap eight red flag. He extended his advantage to half a straight (3.542 seconds) over second finisher Todd Southwell at the lap 25 finish.
Tony Bruncati finished third and earned second place in final track points, 128 points behind Pursley (828-700). Nineteen of the 30 cars finished and all drivers were on the lead lap in the 50-minute event. Hard charger awards went to Virgil Young (Mini Stocks), past GN-West champion Butch Gilliland (father of driver David Gilliland) in Del Dalrymple's late model, and to Kevin O'Connell (in second SLM main).
Friday night racing on the third-mile following the weekly five to nine p.m open practice. Harry Michaelian won his first Pure Stock feature in his 1973 Plymouth and became the ninth different winner in 12 races for the track's new cost-effective series. He led all but the first lap in a 25-lap event with nine starters. Point leader Jimmy Rouse came from ninth to earn second, five yards back. First-time IS racers Nick Nuccitelli and Kevin Hall finished third and fourth. Amee Blue borrowed Michaelian's car to win her second consecutive Women's League ten-lap race. Michelle Rouse used her husband's second place Chevrolet to also finish second, a closing car length behind Blue.
Bandolero driver Austin Murphy broke his own one-lap track record in time trials with a lap of 17.763 (67.489). He started third in a ten-car, ten-lap race. Austin trailed his younger brother Broc for three laps before taking command and leading the final seven laps to defeat Broc by 1.106-seconds. Jimmy Rouse, Jr was third and 14-year old Kurt Landgren was fourth in his first IS race.
Fast Time: Austin Murphy, 17.763 -NTR (own old TR 17.876 on 8/20/04)
Main: A. Murphy, Broc Murphy, Jimmy Rouse, Jr, Kurt Landgren, Don Greenberg, Mike Greenberg, Ryan Bragdon, Jeremy Birch, Andre Prescott, Andy Anderson.
AMF BOWLING PURE STOCKS:
Fast Time: Bob Bartleson, 18.824.
Main: Harry Michaelian, Jimmy Rouse, Nick Nuccitelli, Kevin Hall, Bartleson, Thomas Hall, Izzy Lewis, Michelle Rouse, Dave Foster.
WOMEN'S LEAGUE PURE STOCKS:
Fast Time: Amee Blue, # 23, 19.079.
Main: Blue (#40), Michelle Rouse, Kelly Bartleson-Young, Izzy Lewis, Elizabeth Walters, Kim Unruh.
KING TACO LEGEND CARS:
Fast Time: Tom Landreth, 16.869.
Main: T. Landreth, Ryan Partridge, Matt Hicks, Austin Grabowski, Evin Powell, Jason Alsop, James Kalawaia, Mark Iungerich, John Barnett, Kevin Wong, Tom Skahuill, Steve Twilligear, Chad Schug, Bob Landreth, Brian Wong, Kenton Gray, John London, Larry Alsop, Brian Vandehey, Lynn Sours, Albert Sands, Gary Schurell, Micah Nourse, Mark Gaiser, Kenny Chastain, Larry Meredith, Jeff Scott, Ryan Schug. DNS-Bill Everett, Cory Miles.
Fast Time: Greg Tucker, 17.365.
Main: Tucker, Kevin Bernhardt, Dennis Croasmun, Bob Reed, Robert Lovas, Tom Dye, Rich Garver, Virgil Young, Rod Schmitt, Carl Farless, Jack Roberts, Steve Rogers, Dustin Morgan, Jim Mardis, Fred Adams, R. C. Zimmerman, Christy Yanker, Kris Melleby, Ron Pugh, Brenda Pugh, Jim McNear, Linny White, Eric Reed.
DNS- Ed Lavender, Amee Blue, Ron Schmitt.
AUTO CLUB of SO. CALIF. LATE MODELS:
Fast Time: Tim Huddleston, 18.919.
Main: Huddleston, Doug McComb, Deryk Ward, Andrew Myers, Mike Johnson, Brian Kelley, George Ruark, Dan DiGiacomo, Ron Schartau, Richie Altman, Johnny Butler, Butch Gilliland, Andy Bargaehr, Todd Conrad, Andrew Lewis, Danny Renko, Brian Jones, Tom Whitson, Robert Rice, Candace Muzny, Johnny White, Dan DiGiamarino, Glenn Burke, Dennis Schlarbaum, Michael May, Mike Mulhall, P. J. Baker.
LUCAS OIL SUPER LATE MODELS:
Fast Time: 1st race-Greg Pursley, 17.942.
2nd race-Pursley, 18.012.
1st Main: Pursley, Brandon Loverock, Mike Price, Todd Southwell, Mark Perry, Kevin Thompson, Tony Bruncati, Rod Johnson, James Bruncati, Jim McGill, Jason Patison, Charlie Wahl, Dan Moore, Gary Jenkins, Kevin O'Neil, Charles Utts, Dave Lyon, Roger Brown, Nathan Wulff, David Ross, Andy Coyle, Charlie Price, Kevin O'Connell, Alan Sadler, Scott Conaway, Jeff Shafer, Dennis Arena, Dan O'Donnell, Allen Bruhn, Ed Hoffman, Frank Steiner, Cal Vandervoort, Jr, Joe Wulff, Steve Hamilton, Chris Oddo, Don Dinger. DNS-Chris Clyne.
2nd Main: Pursley, Southwell, T. Bruncati, Wahl, Thompson, Moore, Schafer (#18), O'Neil, Loverock, Hoffman, Lyon, N. Wulff, O'Connell, Steiner, C. Price, Hamilton, Coyle, Conaway, Arena, McGill, Patison, M. Price, J. Bruncati, Jenkins, Brown, Perry, Johnson, Ross, Utts, Sadler. DNS-O'Donnell, Shafer (#63), Vandervoort, Dinger, Oddo, Bruhn, Clyne.
Top Five: Bill Hatfather, Bill Conway, Kenny Hall, Milton Eisenhower, Joe Mumford.