Irwindale Speedway race report 2001-08-25

Five racing divisions were in action Saturday at Irwindale Speedway with two main events on the third-mile and three on the half-mile. The 5,349 spectators present witnessed close competition, several frightening crashes and enough carnage to ...

Five racing divisions were in action Saturday at Irwindale Speedway with two main events on the third-mile and three on the half-mile. The 5,349 spectators present witnessed close competition, several frightening crashes and enough carnage to racing vehicles to fill several trash bins.

Feature winners included point-leader Deryk "the X Man" Ward in the Auto Club of Southern California Late Model 50-lap race, which took one hour, 14 minutes, 13 seconds to complete. The event had two red flags and three yellow flags. Fourteen of the 23 starters finished; 11 drivers completed all 50 laps. Following his second main event victory this season, trend-setter Ward performed three "powdered donuts" as he named his slowly driven, smokeless circles at the start/finish infield.

Roger Carufel, Jr, who is ranked second in point standings, started third and led all but the first lap of the NASCAR Grand American Modified 35-lap race in an 11 minute all green flag event. It was his second main event triumph this season in his Auto Marine Engineering Chevy.

GAM point leader Dean Kuhn blew the engine of his car during the afternoon practice. He borrowed the car qualified by Eddie Ernst for the main. Kuhn started last in the 15-car field and raced through the pack quickly. He was fourth by lap 16 and third on lap 21, but tire wear slowed his charge and he finished fourth. Kuhn lost six points to title-contender Carufel and he saw his point advantage drop to 12 points over Carufel (542-530) with two point races remaining.

Ron Peterson captured the final main of the night in the King Taco Mechanix Wear Speed Truck 50-lap finale. The race had three caution periods and took 31 minutes. A hard collision in turn four cost 18-year old Randy Brown the opportunity to tally his first feature victory at Irwindale. When two trucks spun out in mid-turn four during lap 35 in front of the leaders, Brown hit one of the stopped trucks hard and caved in the front of his Chevy.

In a pair of features on the third-mile, rookie Brent Jones started on the pole in a 27-car King Taco Legend Cars 35-lap event and led all the way for his initial triumph. He repulsed the frequent passing attempts of point leader and frequent winner Tom Landreth and won by 0.217 seconds. Terry Limberopoulos came back from a one-race suspension to start eighth and lead the final 19 laps of the 22-car, 35-lap Modified 4s feature. He drove the only Renault in the race.

Other winners were all drivers involved in crashes because they walked to track ambulances and did not require hospital visits. Medical staff at the track cleared all drivers involved and they signed autographs for fans in the pits when racing concluded. Fans young and old went home with pieces of cars and trucks, including front and back bumpers, hoods, entire side panels, damaged tires and bent wheels.

The most serious-appearing crashes took place in the Late Model main. On the second lap, John Ahrendt and Todd Conrad collided on the backstretch. Ahrendt's Pontiac shot at speed almost head-on into the outside wall near turn three. The car spun to a halt and other drivers avoided contact. Ahrendt complained only about a bruised leg. He walked to the ambulance for a checkup. In a single-car crash, Joe Meehan's Pontiac suddenly veered up the track into the wall on the backstretch during lap 45. He hit the wall at a less severe angle than Ahrendt and spun to a halt. Meehan escaped injury.

The most spectacular Late Model accident involved race leaders and prior main event winners Todd Burns and Kevin Wood on the front straight as they completed lap 43. Fastest qualifier Burns came from fifth starting spot to pass pole-sitter and race-long leader Brian Kelley on the inside of turn four on lap 18. Burns battled Wood, Ward and Kelley in a tight pack from laps 20-43. Wood shot from third to first place on lap 43 via an inside move exiting the fourth turn.

As Wood's Ford Taurus came up the track in front of Burns' leading Chevy Monte Carlo the two cars made contact. Burns' left front hit Wood's right rear and turned Wood's car into the wall near the elevated starters' stand. Both cars spun and the Wood car climbed up and over Burns' car as they careened off the first turn pit entrance road attenuator and got airborne. Wood's car flipped and slid on the roof to mid-track in the first turn as parts scattered. Burns' car swapped ends and stopped upright next to the turn one outer wall.

The hushed crowd then saw Burns climb from his car unaided. Wood, who said he never lost consciousness, kept his finger on the fire extinguisher button in case of a fire that did not occur. Wood then crawled out of his car onto the track surface that was littered with debris from both cars. Medical staff checked both drivers in ambulances and remarkably cleared both drivers to remain at the track. Ironically, fabricator Burns built both his and Wood's cars. The spectacular crash caused a 20-minute delay for rescue and clean-up work.

Earlier on lap 40, race leader Burns had been involved in a crash in the fourth turn that dropped him from first to third. The cars of Steve Floyd and Richard Hooper spun to a halt in mid-track as the battling leaders approached. Burns took evasive action, but he spun the right side of his car into one of the cars, bounced off and continued without stopping. Ward and Wood moved past the accident without incident and fourth-running Kelley drove through a hole between the two spun cars. Under caution officials repositioned Burns to the point because he had not stopped.

After racing concluded the crews of Wood and Burns used power cutters to cut damaged body panels from their battered cars parked next to each other in the tech inspection area. Ahrendt's crew joined them for the car dismantling session. Crews from three battered trucks shed metal bodies in the truck pits. Track officials cancelled the usual Late Model technical inspection for the evening.

Three drivers of note raced Mechanix Wear Speed Trucks at Irwindale for the first time. NASCAR Winston West drivers Steve Portenga and Joe Bean raced trucks, as did NHRA Top Fuel dragster Cory McClenathan, from Anaheim. All three drivers qualified in the bottom third of the 28-truck field.

In the 50-lap feature, Bean came from 20th on the grid to finish ninth, on the lead lap. Portenga started 21st and lost body panels during a three truck crash in turn four during lap 42. He lost a lap but finished 15th. McClenathan came from 26th to finish 16th, down a lap, in the lime green No. 6 truck that he drove to 18th position in a 50-lap race a week earlier at Cajon Speedway in El Cajon. <pre> KING TACO LEGEND CARS: Fast Time: Jim Kalawaia, 17.213.

Main: Brent Jones, Tom Landreth, Kalawaia, Art Nevill, Ricky Wildman, Jim Smith, Gary Schuerell, Gene Brokaw, Ralph Alexander, Mark Gaiser, Cory Miles, Rod Schug, Tom Skahill, Donnie Akers, Bob Landreth, Jason Brennan, Bory Molina, Steve Twilligear, Jim Mann, Brian Vandehen, Kevin McMahon, Jeff Collins, Bill Watson, Uli Perez, Pamela Everett, Dennis Rock, Ted Landreth.

MODIFIED 4's: Fast Time: Guy Tripp, 17.539. Dash: Lee Ladd, Richard Boker, Steve Rogers, Terry Limberopoulos, Tripp,Tim Ross.

Main: Terry Limberopoulos, Rogers, Ladd, Tripp, Tim Ross, Rod Hicks, Dusty Morgan, Rick LeMaster, Boker, pat Ackley, Robert Lovas, Tommy Fowler, Eric Reed, Fred Adams, Greg Didoha, John Reed, John Brombeck, Danny Rowe, Ron Pugh, James Lavender, Jim Tucker, Scott Corrigan.

GRAND AMERICAN MODIFIEDS: Fast Time: Steve Luecht, 18.419. Dash: Roger Carufel, Jr, Travis Thirkettle, Mike Bush, Luecht, Robert Rice, John Watkinson III.

Main: Carufel, Luecht, Thirkettle, Dean Kuhn, Bush, John Watkinson III, Robert Rice, Tim Morse, Henry Ford, Chad Daly, Mike Knapp, Jeff Scott, Garrett Yamada, Jamie Barnett, Dennis Eckert.

MECHANIX WEAR SPEED TRUCKS: Fast Time: Chris Hines, 19.265. Dash for Cash: David Hartsock, Joe Bean, Steve Portenga, Andy Bargaehr, Dave Lowenstein, Lee Hatch, Scott Rueschenberg.

Main: Ron Peterson, Troy Decuir, Jeff Davis, Hines, Scott Saunders, John Holmes, Hartsock, Collin Dickinson, Joe Bean, Donny Goodwin, Bob Larson, Richard Franz, Andy Bargaehr, Gary Bryant, Portenga, Cory McClenathan, Jimmy Perry, Doug Ingraham, Dan DiGiacomo, Lowenstein, Nathan Mirth, Ron Nava, Randy Brown, Rob Sayers, Jim Van Gordon, Hatch, Rueschenberg.

AUTO CLUB LATE MODELS: Fast Time: Todd Burns, 19.331. Dash: Brian Kelley, Mike Price, Dave Hessing, Burns, Kevin Wood, Deryk Ward.

Main: Deryk Ward, Kelley, Hessing, Price, Andy Bargaehr, John Jones, Shaun Estes, Mike Johnson, Rob Chaney, Doug McComb, Rick Miller, Steve Floyd, Richard Hooper, George Ruark, Kevin Wood, Burns, Joe Meehan, Barry Karr, Dan DiGammarino, John Lathrop, Tim Huddleston, Todd Conrad, John Ahrendt.

-IS-

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Henry Ford , Cory McClenathan , Steve Portenga , David Hart , Mike Johnson , Ralph Alexander , Danny Rowe , Rod Hicks , Dave Lowe , John Watkins