Irwindale Memorial Day Weekend Race Report Saturday - May 25, 2002 Fastest qualifier ...
Irwindale Memorial Day Weekend Race Report
Saturday - May 25, 2002
Fastest qualifier #12 Rip Michels started sixth and led all but the first seven laps of a 75-lap NASCAR Jani-King Super Late Model feature Saturday before 5,920 cheering spectators at Irwindale Speedway. Michels, the track Grand American Modified champion two years ago and a SLM Series rookie last year, tallied his second main event victory of the season and his 20th at the track.
Other winners on the banked half-mile were Will Cottrell in a 30-lap NASCAR Vista Paint Super Stock race and track point leader Dave Blankenship in a 50-lap Ultra Wheel Super Truck main. It was Cottrell's second triumph of the year. Blankenship, the series Southern California Region point champion last season, started third in his Chevy pickup and led all the way to add another first place trophy to his collection.
Two other main events used the banked third-mile and infield Figure 8 course. Defending track Legend Cars champion Tom Landreth started third in the King Taco Legend Car main. On lap 10 Landreth used a slower car as a pick to pass early leader Ricky Wildman, the 17-year old pole-sitter and series point leader. Wildman fought back and finished 0.207 seconds behind Landreth. Tom Smith won the 20-lap Pick Your Part Figure 8 race after starting eighth in a 15-car field.
A serious-appearing multi-car crash during lap 20 of the 36-car super stock main resulted in a Medevac helicopter being called to the track. Julianne Seeley, the fifth-ranked driver in current points, was in fifth position when the sixth place car made contact with her Camaro, which spun in turn four. As other cars spun and took evasive action, the car of John Uribe T-boned Seeley's driver's side door and sent her car into the inside wall nose first. Seeley appeared to be slumped over the steering wheel and briefly stunned. She spoke to track medical workers before they called in the helicopter for a flight to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and a more thorough precautionary medical evaluation.
Cottrell started fifth in his Camaro and took the point from pole starter/early leader Lee Ladd on lap six. After the lengthy red flag to assist Seeley and clean debris from the track, Cottrell held off Andrew Phipps during the final 11 laps and won by 0.602 seconds. Dan Fitzgerald, point leader Darren Cheek and Brian Harrell completed the top five. On lap 15 ninth and tenth place Dave Sheppherd and Brian Harrell collided on the backstretch and Sheppherd spun out high near turn three. He waited for Harrell to pass under the yellow flag and drove his car into Harrell's car Officials then called Sheppherd to the pits and parked his car for the duration of the event.
The SLM main event was reduced to 20 cars this week as a result of the eight-car crash in turn two last Saturday. Tony Green, the track and NASCAR Weekly Racing Series first tier point leader, had to borrow one of Brandon Loverock's No. 99 Chevy Monte Carlos and repainted it in his team color green No. 89. Green's father said about six other teams offered Green use of their cars to defend his point lead while his car was being repaired. Green set second fastest qualifying time in a 21-car field. He finished fourth in the feature and increased his point lead to 36. Nathan Wulff, from fourth on the grid, and sportsmanship award contender Loverock, from ninth starting spot, finished second and third respectively. Fifteen of 20 starters finished and the first 12 drivers completed all 75 circuits.
The SLM division used two individually timed laps for the first time during qualifying instead of the usual group qualifying. Track officials tried the move to give drivers experience with the qualifying procedure used by NASCAR touring divisions; it took only ten minutes longer than group qualifying. Individually-timed qualifying laps may be used again depending upon size of the field according to Chris Morgan, Irwindale's director of racing operations. The SLM class also used a new procedure to position lapped cars on the inside row for restarts in Winston Cup style for restarts as a result of the eight-car collision last Saturday on a restart.
The Ultra Wheel Super Truck main had 35 starters and 28 drivers finished, with 17 completing all 50 laps. A five-truck crash on lap 47 in the second turn resulted in a green, white, checkered flag finish. Joe Herold, who started fourth and took second on lap 17, finished second-0.371 seconds back. Jon Campbell, pole starter Carson Woods, Mark Laeger, Ryan Arciero, Greg Adler, Rich Geisler, Cory Fancy and Frank Steiner rounded out the top ten. The 27-car Legends race started the five main events evening and 21 of the 26 finishers ran all 30 laps. However, fourth finisher Ryan Schug was disqualified and placed last when his car did pass a routine post-race technical inspection. Past feature winners Art Nevill, Bill Everett and Brent Jones were the official third through fifth place finishers.
Chris Williamson led the first four laps of the Figure 8s 20-lapper. Eighth starter Tom Smith passed him on the inside at the X-intersection and held the point to the finish. Williamson and Rusty Stewart, running second and third on lap six, collided in the fourth corner and stalled. Stewart lost two laps before he restarted. Point leader James Altman finished second, 30 yards behind the winner. Steve Stewart was third and 13 of the 15 drivers finished, with seven on the lead lap.
Kevin Vernon took the six-lap High Banks Racing Collectibles SLM trophy dash for the six fastest qualifiers in a inverted start. Sheppherd won the six-lap super stock dash. Both drivers led all the way in all green flag events.