Irwindale, CA, Sept. 27 - Round one of the second annual two-race Late Model California State Championship attracted drivers from four tracks for a 100-lap race Saturday on the Irwindale Speedway half-mile. Four drivers were Altamont regulars, two...
Irwindale, CA, Sept. 27 - Round one of the second annual two-race Late Model California State Championship attracted drivers from four tracks for a 100-lap race Saturday on the Irwindale Speedway half-mile. Four drivers were Altamont regulars, two from Mesa Marin, one from Las Vegas and 20 from IS. What 5,150 fans saw was a dominating drive in a 27-car field by fifth-starter Scott Youngren in his Monte Carlo. "My car was perfect all night and fast wherever I ran," Youngren said.
Youngren, the second-ranked driver in final 2003 IS points, collected $1,500 for the victory and $250 for setting fastest qualifying time. He now has a "leg-up" for the final round October 18 at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield. The winner of the two-race series will collect a $1,000 cash bonus posted by the two tracks. Irwindale's Late Model series sponsor-the Auto Club of Southern California-awarded a trip to Hawaii for two to a lucky fan in a drawing of entries submitted during the season.
The post-season open-competition race was to be 100-laps, but it concluded after 73 laps with yellow and checkered flags waving. It was the first race at IS to finish under a caution flag. A green, white, checkered flag finish was not possible because oily track conditions in turn one following a one-car incident made the track too oily and unsafe.
The race for the Justice Brothers California Late Model Championship Cup (on display in the pits) had three red flags and seven yellow flags that reduced the 27-car field to 13 cars at the finish. The almost two-hour race took 1:56.04.999 to complete because of crashes that oiled the third and first turns and a three-car crash in turn two. The race resembled the Figure 8 crashfest that followed which concluded the four-division show at 10:46 pm.
The first L/M red flag came on lap four when Steve Dutton oiled about 50 yards of the backstretch into turn three and spun to the wall. The leaders received the caution light at turn two and slowed to about 70 mph when second place Tony Green (leader of the first two laps and running outside lap three leader Andrew Myers) slid hard into Dutton's stalled car. Green was shaken and examined in the ambulance for a shoulder injury. He remained at the track. A half-hour plus delay followed to clean oil from the track.
Myers led laps four and five. Mike Price led laps six-45 as the top five drivers-Price, Doug McComb, Youngren, Tim Huddleston and Myers-battled in close formation. The second red flag on lap 42 required 11 minutes to clear the second turn after three drivers--George Ruark, Mike Johnson and John Jones--crashed together into the outer wall. Huddleston, in second place, spun exiting turn four on lap 51 and nosed into the wall. He pitted and returned eight laps down.
The final red flag on lap 56 again involved three cars and required 20-minutes for track cleanup. A following car bumped the eighth place car of Altamont regular Greg Leonard, from Daly City, who spun sideways into the first turn pit entrance attenuator. Leonard's car bounced back to mid-track where it struck the passing car of Pat Ackley and sheared off the side of Ackley's car before it also spun. Fellow Altamont driver Jason Gilbert then slammed into Leonard's battered car. All three cars were removed on roll-backs. Drivers were uninjured.
The final track cleanup came after a lap 72 one-car incident. Rookie David Whitton oiled the first turn and spun. It was 10:15 and with extensive cleanup work required and the Figure 8 race waiting to be run, track officials terminated the L/M race early. Rounding out the top five were Price ($1,000) McComb ($600), IS rookie of the year Myers ($500) and winner of the two-race L/M series last year, Mesa Marin driver Ron Daniel ($400).
Rusty Stewart, IS 2001 Figure 8 champion, started his winged Figure 8 car third in a 17-car field and led laps five-23 and 25 in the eighth and final Pick-Your-Part Figure 8 main. It was his first $1,000 triumph of the year and gave him third in final points. He lost the lead in traffic to his brother Steve on lap 24 as the top three drivers dueled closely. Rusty repassed Steve in turn two on the last lap and won by five yards. New IS champion Chris Williamson also passed Steve on the final lap and earned $600 for second. To celebrate his first title, three-year Figure 8 driver Williamson stopped at the starting line and did a burnout. He "blew the transmission" in a huge fireball that rose about five feet before going out as firemen arrived.
The Figure 8 race took 19 minutes and had two red flags. The most spectacular crash on lap five eliminated two cars. Second-starter and race-long leader Bobby Douthitt, a Figure 8 specialist from Indianapolis, IN, in his own car, and ninth place Dan Burns, second place in IS points, collided hard at the X, sidelining both cars. Both drivers walked away uninjured. Burns retained second in final points and trailed Williamson by 62 points. Todd Conrad finished a career-best eighth in the L/M feature and started the Figure 8 race last in the L/M Monte Carlo he plans to race as a Figure 8 car next season when he buys a new L/M car. "Cowboy" Conrad (he wears the tall leather stuff-kicking-shoes whilst racing - Ed.) passed five cars during the first two laps, but while running eighth on lap seven he crashed with another car in the third turn, scattering pieces of his car on the track and causing the second red flag. Conrad continued racing, minus shredded hood and fenders. He ran 18 laps and finished tenth.
Two divisions staged 35-lap mains on the third-mile. Kevin Bernhardt started his Pinto third in a 28-car Mini Stock field of four-cylinder domestic and foreign cars. He passed early leader Terry Limberopoulos' Pinto on lap eight and won by 15-yards for his second triumph in nine races this season. New M/S champion Fred Adams began the race in his Tucker Tire Pinto 16-points ahead of Tony Lawler. Adams finished 11th, with Lawler fourth, giving Adams the title by two points (376-374). If they had tied Adams would've been the champion because he had one victory and Lawler's best finish was second position, three times. Jim McNear drove his Capri to his second consecutive career-best second place, as 24 of 28 drivers finished with 16 on the lead lap. The highest placed of three Toyota Celicas finished 15th. Thirty-seven drivers earned M/S points this season. Robert Miller finished fifth in points and won IS M/S honors.
In the King Taco Legends Main fastest qualifier Cory Miles (1934 Ford coupe) started fifth and became the third leader on lap six. He paced the final 30 laps and defeated Jeremy Wood (leader of the first two laps) by ten yards. It was his third triumph this year and third in the last four races. Twenty-two cars were running at the finish and 15 ran all 35 laps. Tom Landreth, the 2001 Legends champion, started and finished third and retook the point lead. Bill Everett led laps three-five and placed fourth. Brent Jones entered the race 22 points ahead of Landreth, but Jones' sixth-place car stalled high in the first turn on lap 17 and had to be removed on the back of a wrecker. He finished 21st and now trails Landreth by 14 (500-486) with the season finale October 18.
Hard charger winners were first-time L/M driver and Grand American Modified veteran Dennis Schlarbaum (26th to 12th) for a special $150 award; Legends veteran Bill Bonney (19th to 14th), and M/S veteran Randy Colling (18th to eighth).
KING TACO LEGEND CARS:
Fast Time: Cory Miles, 17.057.
Main: Miles, Jeremy Wood, Tom Landreth, Bill Everett, David Ross, Austin Grabowski, Bob Landreth, Steve Fensler, Steve Twilligear, Micah Nourse, Tom Skahill, Mark Iungerich, Mark Gaiser, Bill Bonney, Bill Watson, Dennis O'Connor, John McIntyre, Brian Vandehey, Brian Wong, Ryan Partridge, Brent Jones. DNS-James Kalawaia.
Fast Time: Greg Tucker, 17.627.
Main: Kevin Bernhardt, Jim McNear, Greg Tucker, Tony Lawler, Terry Limberopoulos, Robert Miller, Eric Reed, Randy Colling, Steve Rogers, Bob Reed, Fred Adams, Dustin Morgan, Richard Boker, Robert Lovas, Virgil Young, Mike Morales, Carl Farless, MichaelYanker, Amee Blue, Tom Dye, Richard Garver, Tim Ross, Brenda Pugh, Ed Collins, R.C. Zimmerman, Dennis Croasmun, Ron Cooper, Ron Pugh.
AUTOMOBILE CLUB of SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LATE MODELS:
Fast Time: Scott Youngren, 19.024.
Main: Youngren, Mike Price, Doug McComb, Andrew Myers, Ron Daniel, Michael May, Marlin Gill, Todd Conrad, P. J. Baker, John Ahrendt, David Whittson, Dennis Schlarbaum, Brian Koski, Tim Huddleston, Glen Burke, Del Dalrymple, Ron Schartau, Greg Leonard, Rick Atkins, Pat Ackley, Jason Gilbert, Mike Johnson, George Ruark, John Jones, Tony Green, Steve Dutton.-DNS-Brian Kelley.
PICK-YOUR-PART FIGURE 8:
Main: Rusty Stewart, Chris Williamson, Steve Stewart, Earl Cox, T. K. Karvasek, Jerry Toperek, Ron Chaney, Jeff Marguet, Harry Kuenniger, Todd Conrad, Russ Granville, Bobby Douthitt, Billy Ziemann, Rod Proctor, Dan Burns, Tony Curtis, Jesse James.