Irwindale, Calif. - - They're always serious about the 'West races at Irwindale Speedway: it's smack dab in the middle of the very important Los Angeles market, it's a TV race (SPEED, August 18, 8PM est), it's a track where anything can happen...
Irwindale, Calif. - - They're always serious about the 'West races at Irwindale Speedway: it's smack dab in the middle of the very important Los Angeles market, it's a TV race (SPEED, August 18, 8PM est), it's a track where anything can happen (and when it does, it's usually three-wide!), and it's now the site of the electrifying new Toyota All-Star Showdown in early November that will invite the top 15 Winston West drivers to race for a nice, healthy share of the over $500,000.00 that Toyota has posted for the event. Important -- Yeah, we'd say so.
Truth be told, these all-metal monsters* always (including full-out racing pit stops for tires, fuel) for 200 laps (that's a nice, round 100 miles) as hard as they can for the points, the trophy, the bucks, the glory, and the adulation that's a standard part of the total package at Irwindale.
At race seven, Steve Portenga, has a paper-thin "lead" of 17 points on Mike Duncan and no one has one more than one race of the first six. In other words, it's a horse race, and there'll plenty of horsepower brought to bear on the 26th at the Speedway.
Rookie points leader, Scott Lynch, is staying "just under the radar" (no wins, but plenty of good finishes) and comes into this race riding third place in the points list quite nicely thanks.
Steve Portenga likes Irwindale, he considers it something of his "home track" and feels like his team is peaking just about right to take home the trophy (and the money) this time, "We want to be the first team to win two races this year, and this is the place to do it," said the blond driver. "Our focus is to win the championship and then to show the Busch North guys who's who when they get here in November for the Showdown." A positive attitude is half the battle, and a good car, a great team, and smart driving doesn't hurt either --
Also on the card for Saturday night are the ever-popular Automobile Club of Southern California Late Models. Racer Rick's very favorite Dodge Weekly Racing Series (the "Auto Club Late Models" for short) are always entertaining.
Even when points leader Todd Burns dominates a race, the rest of the pack always makes it interesting. Scott Youngren trails Burns by 48 points (452 to 404) even though Burns has won 8 of 10 races with Youngren and third place pointsman, Mike Price winning one each of the other two. Irwindale's points system (50 for first, 48 for second, 46 for third -- and so on) pays off bigger for consistency than outright wins. The case in point is Burns' bad start in the first race of the season when he only took 4 points home -- That deficit has haunted him (and kept him sharply focused on the finish line) ever since. If you ask him, he really doesn't like "interesting".
As we always say: THE SHOW STARTS AT 6PM -- That's when "all of the above": drivers, cars, crews, and kids assemble on the Irwindale front straight and the fans are invited to come and meet them, get their program autographed, grab a piece of candy, shake hands, look under the hood, get a shot of their kid sitting in the driver's seat of a hot stock car, or just soak in all the pre-race excitement and get spooled-up for the races at 7. The King Taco On-Track Autograph Session is free (with admission) and a not-to-be-missed feature.
Tickets for this special event are $25 for adults with kids under 12 admitted FREE. Fans have one last chance this week to bring a new, unwrapped toy (Hey, fans: make it something racing-themed) for the LA Firefighters' "Spark Of Love / Christmas in July" toy drive and get a $5.00 discount off their ticket price for the night.
*same cars as Winston Cup machines, less a couple or three compression points.