IRWINDALE SPEEDWAY RACE REPORT - MAY 21, 2005 By Tim Kennedy Irwindale, CA., May 21 - Second generation driver Travis Thirkettle started on the pole as the third fastest qualifier and led 47 laps of the Auto Club Late Model 50-lap main event ...
IRWINDALE SPEEDWAY RACE REPORT - MAY 21, 2005
By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., May 21 - Second generation driver Travis Thirkettle started on the pole as the third fastest qualifier and led 47 laps of the Auto Club Late Model 50-lap main event Saturday at the half-mile Irwindale Speedway. He led the first two laps, then laps five-48 and the all-important 50th lap for his first NASCAR Late Model $1,000 payday following a furious last lap battle with fellow front row starter and High Point Distributing co-worker Tim Huddleston.
Thirkettle, a 27-year old Grand American Modified veteran at IS, dedicated the victory to his four-month old son Luc. The winner lost the lead to Huddleston's inside pass from turn four to the starting line at the end of lap 49. Huddleston led laps three and four and waged a close battle with Thirkettle all 50 laps with Thirkettle on the outside and Huddleston on the inside. The two drivers appeared set for their third consecutive one-two finish, with Huddleston the apparent winner.
However, Thirkettle roared back during the final lap on the outside through the third and fourth turns and forged into a narrow lead exiting turn four. As the leading duo raced towards the waving checkered flag, Thirkettle's left side door and Huddleston's right side door made contact, sending Huddleston's Monte Carlo spinning across the finish line. He was second by 0.045 seconds to Thirkettle's Monte Carlo. Huddleston's car spun tail first towards the attenuator at the first turn crash-wall between the third and half-mile tracks, missing it by inches. The left side of Huddleston's car hit the third-mile first turn wall and slid along the wall to a stop with damage to the lower left front suspension. He drove the car back to the finish line for interviews of the top three finishers and congratulated Thirkettle.
Thirkettle, the son of long-time stock car racer Jim Thirkettle, became the third Late Model rookie winner this season. Rookies have won four of the seven races this year, but veteran Huddleston's three victories and a pair of seconds have given him a point lead of 42. Thirkettle, who has GAM main event triumphs and a second place in final GAM points in his racing resume, now ranks fourth in IS Late Model points. He is the leading rookie in the strongest rookie class in track history.
Dan DiGiamarino equaled his Late Model career best third place finish. Mike Johnson and George Ruark completed the top five. Seventeen of 21 starters finished and 14 drivers ran all 50 laps. Ninth place Scott Youngren received the hard charger award from race control. Three caution flags for multi-car tangles sidelined five cars and sent two drivers to the back of the lead lap for their involvement in the mishaps.
Matt Hicks, from Santee in San Diego County, joined the ranks of first-time main event winners in a 32-car King Taco Legend Car field. He led all but the first lap of a 35-lap main on the third-mile. The teenager and second year Legends driver waged a stirring battle with three-time IS Legends champion and 20-time feature winner Tom Landreth, who paced the first lap in his replica 1934 Ford coupe. Poleman Landreth, a two-time main event winner this season, trailed by 0.195 seconds at the finish. Seven-year veteran Landreth, 37, and Hicks concluded the evening tied for the IS point-lead at 190 points after four of 11 races. J. D. Hendley, Steve Twilligear and Kenton Gray rounded out the top five finishers. Twenty-nine of the 32 starters finished and 28 drivers ran all 35 circuits in a five-caution flag event.
A $2,000 ten-car demolition derby in the infield concluded evening. Tyrone Klingbeil, from Hemet, drove the final car running after 13-minutes and collected $1,000. Steve Cook earned $500 for second place. Varick Pimenta ($250), Chuck Gillock ($150) and past DD winner John Zimmerman ($100) were the other money earners.
The touring Monster Trucks brigade brought eight of the behemoths to IS. They staged individual time trials over two dirt ramps and two cushioning piles of old cars in the infield. The fastest time was 21.25. Monster Truck bracket match races of two laps followed the Legends main and went to Dan Runte in his famous Summit Racing Equipment Big Foot. Monster Truck free-style exhibition matches followed the Late Model feature and preceded the demolition derby.
KING TACO LEGEND CARS: (32 cars)
Fast Time: Ryan Partridge, 17.005.
Main: Matt Hicks, Tom Landreth, J. D. Hendley, Steve Twilligear, Kenton Gray, Cory Miles, Lindsay King, Bob Landreth, John Barnett, John London, Mark Gaiser, Bill Bonney, Connor Cantrell, Jason Alsop, Brian Wong, Ryan Schug, Chad Schug, Lynn Sours, Tom Skahill, Bill Watson, Larry Alsop, Brian Vandehey, Van Iungerich, Larry Stone, Bree Brewer, Ed Rashid, Don Teller, Kevin Wong, Kenny Chastain, Larry Meredith, Partridge, John McIntyre.
AUTO CLUB LATE MODELS: (21 cars)
Fast Time: Jameel Saied, 19.156.
Main: Travis Thirkettle, Tim Huddleston, Dan DiGiamarino, Mike Johnson, George Ruark, Craig Yeaton, Brian Jones, Daniel DiGiacomo, Scott Youngren, Robert Rice, Austin Grabowski, Brian Kelley, Danny Renko, Chris Houwen, Dennis Schlarbaum, Johnny White, Richie Altman, Candace Muzny, Sean Bennett, David Whitson, Saied.
Demo Derby: (10 cars)
(Top five)--Tyrone Klingbeil, Steve Cook, Varick Pinenta, Chuck Gillock, John Zimmerman. Others-Al Rocha, Joel Mumford, Kenny Hall, Harry Kuenniger, Enrique Gomez.
Monster Trucks: (8 trucks)
Winner-Bracket Racing-Dan Runte in Summit Racing Equipment Big Foot.