Irwindale preview 2002-03-30

Irwindale, Calif. - - It's only week three of the 2002 racing season and the points chase has already begun in earnest for the Automobile Club of Southern California's already sizzlin' NASCAR Late Model division! Last Saturday night Riverside's...

Irwindale, Calif. - - It's only week three of the 2002 racing season and the points chase has already begun in earnest for the Automobile Club of Southern California's already sizzlin' NASCAR Late Model division!

Last Saturday night Riverside's Johnny Lathrop led the first half of the race and then had to take back the lead on the last turn of the last lap from a traveling Todd Burns (who is also from Riverside). 2001 division champ Dave Hessing, from way out west in Canyon Country, was up for third place and is only four points arrears (at 46 to Larthrop's 50) in the 2002 chase for the championship.

The Modified 4's also have a points chase begun with Terry Limberopoulous leading the numbers by virtue of his first win on the 23rd. Limberopoulous' racin' ride is a rear-engine Renault which really stands out among a field that favors the ubiquitous Ford Pinto as the machine of choice in the division formerly know as "Mini-Stocks".

Making their first 2002 appearance at Irwindale, the King Taco Legend Cars are all raring to go and ready to put on the first of their patented races that resemble a gigantic Pac Man game with passing and re-passing action going on for every place in the bunch.

Legend Cars are all identical under their vintage car fiberglass skins; with sealed 1200cc Yamaha motors, shaved BFG street-type tires, and tubular frames. Each car is subject to a rigorous tech inspection to make sure that it is exactly as it left the factory in every respect, which puts the emphasis on driving ability and chassis set-up as opposed to simply spending more money to go faster. 2001 points champ Tom Landreth (by only 4 over Art Nevill in an 11-race season) will lead the small-but-oh-so-quick Legends into competition on Saturday night.

Also back for a new shot at fame and glory are the Ultra Wheels Super Trucks, another "spec' series which requires all participants to field identical machines, all built at the same place, with sealed factory "crate motors", all on the same tire, and all weighing-in at the same amount. Again, driving and set-up skill, not check-writing ability, is emphasized. Again, close racing is the product.

Gates open at 4PM on race day, and "neat stuff" like a live band, practice and qualifying, Mimi the face-painting clown (hey, check out her new for '02 hairdo), and the family-friendly pre-race autograph session. For more information or to purchase advance tickets (for any Speedway event) call (626) 358-1100 or simply type in www.irwindalespeedway.com on your computer's browser.

Season Club Seats are still available for individuals and companies who want guaranteed seating at every event. (Each special seat has the individual's or company name on it and the section is situated right on "The Fifty-Yard Line" overlooking Start-Finish.)

Opening ceremonies are at 6:30PM including the ever-popular "Know Your NASCAR Game" for fun and prizes, and racing begins on the dot at 7 o'clock.

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Series NASCAR , Stock car