FF: Irwindale weekend summary 2005-03-27

THE KENNEDY REPORT - IRWINDALE GETS INTO SECOND GEAR! IRWINDALE, CA., Mar. 26 - Night two of season seven at Irwindale Speedway Saturday featured five racing classes with 118 racing cars/trucks and an estimated 4,500 spectators. Five main...

THE KENNEDY REPORT - IRWINDALE GETS INTO SECOND GEAR!

IRWINDALE, CA., Mar. 26 - Night two of season seven at Irwindale Speedway Saturday featured five racing classes with 118 racing cars/trucks and an estimated 4,500 spectators. Five main events on the half and third-mile tracks produced four repeat winners and one first-time winner at IS. Repeat winners were Tim Huddleston (Auto Club Late Models), Lee Hatch (ASA Speed Truck Challenge), Larry Sampson (Vista Paint Super Stocks) and Steve Stewart (Pick-Your-Part Figure 8s). Alex Harris became a first-time IS winner in the USAC Ford Focus Midgets on the third-mile oval.

The competitive NASCAR Late Model Series ran a 28-car, 50-lap feature in which veteran Huddleston held off strong challenges by an impressive contingent of rookies. Fifth starter Huddleston took the lead on lap seven and paced the balance of the event. However, Late Model rookies Johnny White and near record fastest qualifier Justin Lofton took second and third positions respectively on lap 42. They cut Huddleston's lead from 50-yards to 15-yards at the finish. Veterans Brian Kelley and Mike Johnson completed the top five, with 23 of the 28 car field finishing and 19 drivers on the lead lap.

"We're on a mission this year. First place feels great," Huddleston said. "We do this all year for the fans up there in the grandstand. Keep coming back." He then thanked his wife and three kids and his mom, plus Justice Brothers Distributing, sponsor of his 2005 Ford Taurus. Later, Huddleston praised the current Late Model freshman class, including White, Lofton and 16-year old high school sophomore Austin Grabowski, the main event winner two weeks ago. This week Grabowski was involved in a crash when a car got sideways on lap 11 and hit his passing car, damaging his right front fender. Following a spin on lap 18, Grabowski came from the back of the field to finish ninth. He passed five cars during the final five laps.

The touring ASA Speed Trucks, formerly sponsored by Mechanix Wear, are now known as the CMKXtreme.com Speed Trucks with sponsorship by a Canadian diamond mining organization. The trucks ran a 75-lap A main for 30-trucks following a ten-truck B main (to determine A main 25th-30th starting positions) and a six-lap trophy dash for the six fastest qualifiers. As usual, all 14 Speed Truck races this year at six tracks will be taped for later airing on The Outdoor Channel. The March 26 Irwindale race will be shown July 23 at 8:00 p.m PDT.

Lee Hatch, the Speed Truck 2002 rookie of the year and 2003-2004 Champion, started third in a four truck inversion. Hatch, who won 12 of 17 ASA truck features last year, led laps 26-75. Jim Fisher led the first 25 laps from his outside front row starting spot and finished third behind pole starter Matt Jaskol, Hatch ran third from laps one-12 and second to lap 26 when he made his winning pass on the inside through turns three and four. He won ASA's season opener by 15-yards. Twenty of 30 starters finished and 16 drivers completed all 75 laps.

The 23-car NASCAR Super Stock field ran 40-laps on the half-mile. Pole starter Larry Sampson kept his 1977 Camaro in front all the way. He won by 1.053 seconds over Robin Bourgeois' 1976 Camaro. Victor Wu, a first-time winner two weeks ago, came from ninth to finish third in a 1977 Camaro. Ten drivers ran all 40-laps in a race stopped by a first lap red flag for a four-car crash at the start of the backstretch. Lee Ladd, Steve Gilmore, Bryan Harrell and Dale Martinez were sidelined with disabled Camaros. Sampson recorded his second career main event victory at IS to go along with his initial triumph last August.

A 13-car, 20-lap Figure 8 race for the $1,000 first place check had three race leaders and a five minute red flag following a two-car crash at the X intersection. Eighth place Jerry Toporek hit the back of laps three-17 leader "Barefoot" Billy Ziemann car. Neither driver was injured. Ziemann returned with a wobbling rear wheel to finish fourth behind winner Steve Stewart, Rod Proctor and Tony Curtis. Nine cars finished and five completed all 20 laps. Fan-favorite Jesse James, 35-year old host of television's "Monster Garage" show on The Discovery Channel, had his self-built No. 666 winged Figure 8 creation in action. James started 11th and was running ninth on lap eight when his RF tire hit one of the large tires marking the left and right turn course through the infield. Contact broke a tie rod and steering arm and deranged his RF tire, forcing him to drive off the course as the first retiree.

An entertaining 20-car, 35-lap USAC Ford Focus Midget Series race for the California paved track series championship included six first-time FF Midget drivers. Several karting veterans made their FF debuts. Fastest qualifier Alex Harris, 27, started sixth in his own three-year old TCR chassis. On lap eight he passed Audra Sasselli, the second starter and leader of the first seven laps, and led the balance of the race. Harris, a veteran of three full Midget races on the IS half-mile, was making his first start on the IS third-mile track. The winner was USAC 1997-98 TQ Midget champion. He also won a USAC full Midget feature in 1999 and 2000.

Sasselli, also a main event winner last season in her first FF Midget start at IS, finished second, 0.790 seconds behind Harris. She also drove her Stealth FF Midget to second place after leading laps of the February 5 season opener at Lucas Oil I-10 Speedway in Blythe, CA. The attractive, college graduate from Fresno took over the FF paved track series point lead by 25 points (129-104) over former point leader Matt Triplett. First-time FF Midget driver Darrell Herzog made his debut at IS in one of four Ron Sutton Midgets; he came from fourth to finish third. Steve Davis and teen Chase Barber completed the top five as 15 of 20 starters finished, with 13 drivers on the lead lap. The increasingly popular USAC FF Midgets will return to IS next Saturday for round three of the paved track series point chase and the second of six scheduled FF Midget 2005 race dates at IS.

USAC FORD FOCUS MIDGETS: (20 cars)
Fast Time: Alex Harris, 14.693.

Main: Harris, Audra Sasselli, Darrell Herzog, Steve Davis, Chase Barber, Robbie Whitchurch, Benny Moon, Jace Meier, Jeffrey Sakowicz, Matt Triplett, Lindsay Kernohan, J. R. Williams, Cal Smith, Cameron Veach, Jon Santibanes, John Israel, Chris Veach, Bobby Owens, Robby Hawks, Nick Carlson.

PICK YOUR PART FIGURE 8s: (13 cars)
Main: Steve Stewart, Rod Proctor, Tony Curtis, Billy Ziemann, Dan Burns, Don Rogers, Harry Kuenniger, Mark Rhoades, Robbie Stutzel, Jerry Toporek, Sean hansen, Steve Cook, Jesse James.

VISTA PAINT SUPER STOCKS: (25 cars)
Fast Time: Larry Sampson, 21.956.

Main: Sampson, Robin Bourgeois, Victor Wu, Ed Dazzo, Jeff Grill, Steve Smith, Greg Crutcher, Kenny Brown, Brent Cusick, Jimmy Sloan, Keith Wood, Bill Shoemaker, Roy Moore, Rick Crow, Dan Rodgers, Eric Sunness, Phil Holt, Jamie Barnett, Rich DeLong III, Lee Ladd, Steve Gilmore, Bryan Harrell, Dale Martinez. DNS-Rick Cullens, G. Crutcher #01 car.

ASA SPEED TRUCK CHALLENGE: (32 trucks)
Fast Time: Darren Young, 19.841.

B Main: Gary Bryant, Bobby Sayers, George Antill, Steve Guccione, Jim Ridley, Joey Mogar, Victor Pleger, Jim Eichel.

Dash: Jim Fisher, D. Young, Lee Hatch, Matt Jaskol, Terry Young, Ron Nava.

Main: Hatch, Jaskol, Fisher, Donny Goodman, Matt Daly, Clay Andrews, Scott Dodd, Antill, Kyle Cattanachl, Kevin Fedderson, Kenny Smith, Robby Mount, Rob MacDonald, Ridley, Don Davis, Bobby McGowan, Mogar, Jimmy Putman, Marcus Smith, Guccione, D. Young, Scott Franchimone, Andrew Allen, T. Young, Moses Smith, Joe Farre, Sayers, Nava, Bryant, Alex Haase.

AUTO CLUB LATE MODELS: (28 cars)
Fast Time: Justin Lofton, 18.851.

Main: Tim Huddleston, Johnny White, Lofton, Brian Kelley, Mike Johnson, Dave Hessing, Jameel Saied, Brian Jones, Austin Grabowski, Robert Rice, Richie Altman,Robbie Brand, Chris Houwen, Craig yeaton, Dan DiGiacomo, Dennis Schlarbaum, Pat Ackley, Sean Bennett, George Ruark, Rodney Peacher, Candace Muzny, Travis Thirkettle, Scott Youngren, Danny Renko, Mike Mulhall, Dan DiGiamarino, John Ahrendt, DNS-Rick Atkins.

-is-

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About this article
Series NASCAR , USAC
Drivers Steve Smith , Moses Smith , Steve Cook , Mike Johnson , Darren Young , Kenny Brown , Justin Lofton , Matt Jaskol , Scott Young , Jesse James , Brian Jones , Robbie Whitchurch
Teams Williams