Auto Club Late Models & Grand American Modifieds Rookie Scott Youngren utilized his outside front row starting position to impress fellow drivers and a sellout crowd of 6,500 Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. The driver from Fallbrook won his...
Auto Club Late Models & Grand American Modifieds
Rookie Scott Youngren utilized his outside front row starting position to impress fellow drivers and a sellout crowd of 6,500 Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. The driver from Fallbrook won his second consecutive Automobile Club of Southern California NASCAR Late Model feature in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge. The second sellout crowd of the season later witnessed a NASCAR Winston West 200-lap race. (See separate W/W story from NASCAR.)
When fastest qualifier Tim Huddleston spun the inversion wheel after time trials it stopped on nine. That awarded eighth quickest qualifier Youngren the choice outside front row starting position. After second and first place finishes in the last two mains, Youngren's growing confidence in himself and his No. 45 Chevy Monte Carlo produced his impressive victory.
Earlier, fastest qualifier Roger Carufel, Jr started sixth in the opening 35-lap main event for NASCAR Grand American Modifieds. Point leader Carufel won his fifth main event of eight GAM races run this season. He finished second in the three races he didn't win. He became the third and final race leader on lap seven and won by 1.686 seconds over Travis Thirkettle. Carufel increased his point lead to 66 as he attempts to capture his initial track championship.
Youngren dropped to third place on the opening lap, behind pole starter George Ruark and defending track champion Dave Hessing. Youngren nipped Hessing for second on lap two; he then passed leader Ruark on the inside at turn four during lap five. Ruark fought back and led lap six, but Youngren was back in front for good on lap seven.
Three caution flags occurred, including a lap 34 turn two crash that sidelined the cars of sixth place Ruark, ninth-place rookie Jeff Green, the two-time super stock track champion, and Jim Conklin. Youngren had a steady 30-yard advantage over the position-swapping duo of Mike Price and Todd Burns on lap 49 when a spinout in the first turn caused a yellow flag. The result when racing resumed was another hectic green, white, checkered flag two-lap race.
Youngren pulled away quickly to a ten-yard cushion over sixth-starter Price and seventh-starter Burns. The two second-place battlers traded second position four times officially at the line during the final ten laps. Price took second for good during lap 43. Kevin Wood started and finished fourth in his Ford Taurus.
Deryk Ward (aka "The X-Man") posted the fourth fastest qualifying time, but his car failed the post-qualifying technical inspection. He forfeited his position in the trophy dash and had to start last in the 22-car feature after his time was disallowed. Ward earned the hard charger award and post-race interview after he charged forward to a fifth place finish with 17 cars racing at the finish. Sixteen drivers ran all 50 laps.
Winner Youngren, 32, told the appreciative crowd, "With just two years racing experience at Cajon Speedway, I didn't expect to win here in my rookie year and to get two main events in a row is awesome. To have a green, white, checker finish (with the last two laps pressure) makes it even better." The winner is one of 13 drivers currently using a General Motors "spec" engine.
Runner-up Price congratulated Youngren at the finish line after the top three finishers climbed from their cars for interviews. "This rookie is showing us veterans how to drive." Third place Burns increased his 24-point lead over Huddleston to 30-points (532 to 502). Youngren advanced from tenth to ninth in points. Following his Late Model third place run in his Monte Carlo, Burns then started his Pontiac Grand Prix 21st in the Winston West 200. He finished tenth in his second W/W career start and first W/W attempt this season.
Wood started on the pole in the six-lap trophy dash. His No. 34 Ford led the first three laps before Burns passed him on the inside and led laps four and five. Wood got a run on the outside in turns three and four on the last lap and defeated Burns by 0.072 seconds in a thriller that brought fans to their feet.
In the GAM feature, Lloyd Mack, Jr-the younger brother of Indy Racing League and 2002 Indy 500 rookie George Mack-made his initial series start of the season from the pole as the sixth fastest qualifier. Mack led the first two laps before relinquishing the lead to Eddie "the Eagle" Ernst, who paced the next four circuits. Carufel took charge on the seventh lap. Ernst later slowed with a problem, lost two laps and finished 13th.
Thirkettle's runner-up finish was his second in a row. John Watkinson III was third and Charlie Wahl fourth. Mack finished fifth, as seven drivers completed all 35 trips around the banked half-mile. Three of the 16 actual starters in the 18-car announced lineup did not finish.
GRAND AMERICAN MODIFIEDS:
Fast Time: Roger Carufel, Jr, 18.749.
Main: Carufel, Travis Thirkettle, John Watkinson III, Charlie Wahl, Lloyd Mack, Jr, Robert Rice, Joe Ruggles, Dennis Schlarbaum, Richie Altman, Tim Morse, Joe Nuccitelli, Mike Trottochau, Eddie Ernst, Chuck Foreman, Dennis Eckert, Garrett Yamada.
AUTO CLUB of SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LATE MODELS:
Fast Time: Tim Huddleston, 19.367.
Dash: Kevin Wood, Todd Burns, Mike Price, Jess Flores, Dave Hessing, Huddleston.
Main: Scott Youngren, Price, Burns, Wood, Deryk Ward, Huddleston, Mike Johnson, Ron Schartau, Johnny Lathrop, John Ahrendt, Tom Eurton, Johnny Butler, Barry Karrr, Tim Harris, Pat Ackley, John Cran, Hessing, Eugene Dewberry, Flores, George Ruark, Jeff Green, Jim Conklin.