Irwindale, CA, Jun. 14 - It was a night of firsts at Irwindale Speedway on Saturday and another victory for Greg Pursley in the featured NASCAR Jani-King Super Late Model 75-lap main event. Pursley's second win in a row and third of the...
Irwindale, CA, Jun. 14 - It was a night of firsts at Irwindale Speedway on Saturday and another victory for Greg Pursley in the featured NASCAR Jani-King Super Late Model 75-lap main event. Pursley's second win in a row and third of the season after eight races came in his King Taco Chevy Monte Carlo before 5,150 spectators.
First-time winners were 16-year old Andrew Lewis, of Corona, in the Mechanix Wear Super Truck Challenge touring series 50-lap feature; veteran Fred Adams, driving a green Ford Pinto in a 30-lap mini stock main on the third-mile, and Mickey Dymond on a Honda 450 motorcycle in a 12-lap SuperMoto TT main for 21 riders on a 13-turn road course. The motorcycle layout included a 150 cubic yards dirt section at the starting line with a low-speed hill/jump inside the third-mile. Riders used part of the half-mile and third-mile tracks and the infield. It was the first motorcycle race in the track's five year history. (The TT bikers had originally been scheduled to debut at the track as part of the May 3 rained out event.)
Brent Jones, 20, repeated an earlier main event triumph in the King Taco Legend Car race on the third-mile. He started seventh in his 1937 Chevy sedan replica in the 28-car field and led the final 16 laps. Jones took the point lead by two points from third finisher Tom Landreth. Runner-up J. D. Hendley trailed the winner by 0.203 seconds. The Legends produced the only red flag of the evening following a six-car crash on the seventh lap. James Kalawaia's car flipped once and slid into the first turn wall. He climbed from his upright car uninjured.
The most remarkable achievement of the night was the impressive performance of young Lewis in his first competition ever at Irwindale. The race Saturday was the first of four MWST series races at IS this year. Lewis set fastest qualifying time in a 24-truck field. Then he charged from third grid position in the 50-lap main to pass new point leader Lee Hatch on lap 36 after racing the veteran truck racer side-by-side for six laps. Lewis took his No. 04 Chevy pickup to the inside in turn four to complete his winning pass and won by ten yards (0.535 seconds) over Hatch. He became the youngest feature winner ever on Irwindale's half-mile.
It was the second truck feature victory of the season for Lewis, who won a main at El Cajon during April and ranked fifth in series points entering the Irwindale race. Hatch, a four-time feature winner this year, retook the point lead when one-time main event winner/point leader John Burritt blew his head gasket and oiled the track. Burritt's crew replaced the gasket during the delay for track cleanup, but officials did not allow him to reenter the race.
The oily track claimed race-long leader/pole starter Dan DiGiacomo, who spun into the fourth turn wall on lap 28 and was sidelined. Hatch, from Covina, who had lost his 13-year old son Thomas a week earlier in a water-craft accident at nearby Puddingstone Dam during a family outing, carried his son's name and the inscription "My Number 1 Fan" on his race truck's hood.
Lewis, a diminutive teenage transplant from Dallas, TX, raced with the MWST series last season at races outside California so he is not a rookie. He has raced go-karts, his No. 4 Legends Car and a Bandolero car on the Texas Motor Speedway infield short oval. The high school student wants to advance to NASCAR SLM stock cars and his impressive first visit to Irwindale's half-mile undoubtedly will have stock car owners scouting his results this year.
The first appearance of the SuperMoto TT cycles attracted 22 riders and started 21 from a standing start in four rows of five on the half-mile starting line. Dymond, a past 125 cc Motocross champion, dominated the 12-lap race on the circuitous layout that was about one-mile per lap. Several plastic blocks formed chicanes at the first turn of the half-mile and in the infield. Riders averaged 63-mph. The 30-yards of dirt that formed an approach and exit from a hill between turns 10 and 11 was the first use of dirt at IS for racing purposes. The dirt hill proved to be tricky and several riders fell or rode off the side of the jump in traffic.
Steve Drew, on a four-speed Honda 450, finished a closing second. He said, "I needed a fifth gear." Gary Trachy was third, with black-leather clad San Franciscan Al Salaverria, on a KTM 525, fourth. Mike Cinqmars was fifth. Winner Dymond stated, "You need a paved track tire, but one that works on dirt too. It felt good. I heard Steve (Drew) coming. I'm glad he didn't have his own bike. He was on a borrowed bike." The crowd applauded the racy cyclists and indicated their desire to see more races at IS for the two-wheelers. Mark Cernicky and 1986/87 AMA 125 MotoX National Champion Dymond won the two 10-rider, eight-lap heats that determined starting rows for the feature.
SLM star Pursley started second and led all the way in a 35-minute raced slowed by three yellow flags. Runner-up Rod Johnson, the 1999 track SLM champion and a two-time Grand American Modified feature winner this season, had his best SLM finish since opening night 2002. He started sixth in a 19-car field and closed rapidly on Pursley during the last five laps to trail by a few yards (0.110 seconds) at the end. Trophy dash winner Brandon Loverock, who missed a shift on a lap 58 restart and fell from second to fifth, charged back to finish a close third.
Point leader Rip Michels lost a tire during afternoon hot laps and hit the wall in his Chevy Monte Carlo, sidelining the car. Michels qualified the borrowed Todd Southwell No. 7 Dodge Intrepid and turned the tenth fastest time. In the main, Michels advanced to ninth and then faded to 15th by lap 20 with a handling problem. He came back to finish seventh, with 13 of 15 finishers on the lead lap. Michels had his point lead cut from 22 to 16 points over Pursley, who jumped from fourth to second in current points.
Hard charger award honorees were Greg Tucker, who sub-drove Bob Reed's mini stock, but lost his point lead to Dustin Morgan; SLM veteran Kenny Smith (16th to 10th), and trucker Jeff Rocheleau (21st to seventh).
KING TACO LEGEND CARS:
Fast Time: Tom Landreth, 17.139.
Main: Brent Jones, J. D. Hendley, Landreth, Cory Miles, Bill Everett, Art Nevill, Steve Twilligear, Bob Landreth, Jeremy Wood, Mark Gaiser, Ryan Schug, Larry Meredith, Ryan Partridge, Bill Bonney, Austin Grabowski, Kevin McMahon, Uli Perez, Mark Iungerich, Chad Schug, John Barnett, David Ross, Warren Merrifield, Brian Vandehey, Tom Skahill, James Kalawaia, Bill Watson, Mark Bailey, Larry Alsop.
Fast Time: Kevin Bernhardt, 17.800.
Main: Fred Adams, Mike Morales, Dustin Morgan, Tony Lawler, Steve Rogers, Dennis Croasman, Richard Garver, Craig Kennard, Tim Ross, Greg Tucker, Robert Miller, Eric Reed, Virgil Young, Jerry Post, Brenda Pugh, Amee Blue, Bernhardt, R. C. Zimmerman, Ed Lavender, Brad Hamilton, Robert Lovas, Greg Didoha, Ron Cooper, Richard Boker,Tom Dye.
SUPER MOTO TT MOTORCYCLES:
Heat Winners: Mark Cernicky & Mickey Dymond.
Main: Mickey Dymond, Steve Drew, Gary Trachy, Al Salaverria, Mike Cinqmars, Don Hart, Mark Cernicky, Scott Burnworth, Dustin Nelson, Andy Harrington, A. J. Herrera, Brad Banister, Corey Neuer, Bob Cobb, Chuck McCarty, Travis Tiner, Elliott Iverson, Tim Henry, Don Martin, DeWayne Jones, Chuck Sun, Gary Martin.
MECHANIX WEAR SUPER TRUCKS:
Fast Time: Andrew Lewis, 20.188.
Main: Lewis, Lee Hatch, Danny Goodwin, Kenny Smith, Robert Kroeker, Richard Franz, Jeff Rocheleau, Troy Decuir, Scott Roesenberg, Bobby Sayers, Kevin Fedderson, Jake Hodges, Jim Perry, Tim McMillen, Lee Keach, Brandon Arciero, Darren Young, Allen Sanchez, Dan DiGiacomo, Gary Bryant, John Burritt, Jesus Vasquez, Doug Ingraham, Josh Gilbert.
JANI-KING SUPER LATE MODELS:
Fast Time: Greg Pursley, 18.239.
Dash: Brandon Loverock, Ben Walker, Pursley, Russell White, Rod Johnson, Tony Bruncati.
Main: Pursley, Rod Johnson, Loverock, Dan Moore, Russell White, Walker, Rip Michels, Gary Jenkins, Ed Hoffman, Kenny Smith, Chris Oddo, Stephan Sadler, Andy Coyle, Tony Jackson, Tony Bruncati, Terry Limberopoulos, Mike Brusco, Michael May, Kevin O'Neil.