Irwindale race notes 2003-05-10

Irwindale, CA., May 10 - ZAP, BAM, POW, WHAP, SPLAT, BOOM! No, they were not the bubble comments in a Batman movie or TV show. The above words simply summarize a zany night of racing with five red-flags and numerous yellow flags before an amazed...

Irwindale, CA., May 10 - ZAP, BAM, POW, WHAP, SPLAT, BOOM! No, they were not the bubble comments in a Batman movie or TV show. The above words simply summarize a zany night of racing with five red-flags and numerous yellow flags before an amazed 5,328 spectators on Saturday night at Irwindale Speedway.

Winners of the Jani-King NASCAR Super Late Models twin-50 features were Greg Pursley and Rip Michels. Pursley took the first 50, which was round three of the Miller Lite Big 10 Challenge, and Michels won the second 50. Dave Blankenship won the Ultra Wheel Super Truck main that officials cut from 50 to 40 laps. Lee Ladd, 64, captured his fourth consecutive Vista Paint Super Stock 40-lap main and fifth trophy in a row dating back to last season. He drove his Ladco, Vista Paint Camaro.

Dan Burns won the climactic Pick-Your-Part Figure 8 race that concluded prematurely after what many experts on the subject agreed was one of the most spectacular collisions in track Figure 8 history.

Two cars battling for the lead side-by-side slammed simultaneously into the fourth place car broadside at the X intersection. Despite visits to the ambulance, no serious injuries resulted from any of the spectacular crashes.

Racing commenced at 7:00PM and concluded at 10:43PM.

The most memorable occurrence of the night took place during the first SLM race and involved track favorite Tim Woods III. The Chino Hills driver has won a SLM feature every year since the track opened in 1999 and he has raced recently in NASCAR Winston West and Craftsman Truck races. Woods started second in his Ford Taurus, led the first 41 laps by as much as 40 yards and appeared ready to extend his winning streak to five years.

However, Pursley's Monte Carlo cut into the lead quickly from lap 35 to lap 42 when he made a passing move on the inside at the end of the backstretch. Woods moved left to retain the lead and their cars made contact, with Woods spinning into turn three. An angry Woods restarted and pulled alongside Pursley's car under the yellow flag and circulated around the track under caution for three laps.

Race Director Danny Grill, the NASCAR Winston West Series Director, was filling in as IS race director for the night. Grill tried on the race control radio frequency through Woods' spotter on the roof to have Woods restart at the back of the lead lap cars for the lap 45 green flag. Woods continued driving slowly on the inside next to Pursley's car.

Grill then ordered a red flag. Track officials walked to Woods stopped car to tell him to go to the pits for failing to follow directions. At that point Woods was still eligible to start in the second 50. Woods again refused to follow the officials' orders. Grill then disqualified Woods from the night's events and ordered a tow truck to come in and tow the #54 car to the pits. Woods started his car and did several donuts across the track and into the infield before he reportedly broke the car's transmission and finally stopped.

The rest of the Super Late Model race cars then resumed circulating under the caution flag and Woods climbed from his car and walked to the front straight and waved his arms to fans as some cheered and some jeered. The tow truck exited with Woods Ford in tow.

Then Woods sat on the front straight at the starting line, causing Grill to order another red flag. Track security then escorted Woods on foot to the pits from the first turn pit entrance. Irwindale Police officers were summoned and escorted Woods from the premises. The entire episode delayed racing for some 20 minutes.

Track officials disqualified Woods from the second 50 and said he would be fined severely. They will send a written report or video tape to racing officials at NASCAR headquarters in Florida asking them to revoke his NASCAR license according to a track spokesman.

Pursley won the first 50 by 0.879 seconds over fastest qualifier Tony Bruncati. David Gilliland, a Southwest Series driver subbing for ill rookie Michael May, finished third. Twenty-six of 31 starters finished and 21 ran all 50 circuits. Michels battled fellow front row starter Pursley all 50 laps in the second 50. Pursley led the first 29 laps and "then my ignition box gave out".

Michels led laps 30-50 and won by 1.296 seconds over Pursley, a Winston West driver last season and a SW Series veteran. Michels praised his Jackson Car and M & R Engine. "I heard Greg's ignition pop out and he lost horsepower there," Michels confirmed. Brandon Loverock came from ninth starting spot to finish third, 1.428 seconds behind the winner. Twenty-five of 29 cars finished and 15 completed all 50 laps.

Fastest qualifier Ladd started second and again paced all 40 laps in the Super Stocks. Steve Gilmore was second. A red flag stopped racing on the initial lap after a five-car collision in which Curtis White hit the wall hard in turn two. Rescuers had to cut off the roof of his Camaro and removed him from the car on a backboard. Medical staff checked White in an ambulance, but he declined a trip to a hospital and remained at the track. Two other multi-car crashes resulted in a 49-minute event in which 13 of 33 starters failed to finish.

The Super Truck 50-lap race took 39 minutes and had five cautions for multi-truck crashes. Defending champion Carson Woods led lap one. Ron Peterson paced laps two-37. Blankenship led the final three laps after officials cut the race distance to 40 laps. A three-truck crash in the fourth turn on the white flag lap led to a final crash among the nose-to-tail top five trucks as they raced took the checkered flag. Top five drivers Woods and Joe Herold crashed together at the finish line under the waving checkered flag. Both trucks slid to a halt against the outer wall, just across the finish line. Ryan Arciero came from fifth to finish second, only 0.519 seconds back and Woods took third with the nose of his truck smashed. Only 18 of 33 trucks finished.

The scheduled 25-lap Figure 8 race started 11 cars and ended after 10 laps with just five cars running. An exciting duel for the lead concluded with the biggest crash in track Figure 8 history. Race-long leader "Barefoot" Billy Ziemann and challenger Rusty Stewart were racing side-by-side through the X intersection when they slammed, at approximately 80 mph according to Stewart, into the right side of the fourth place car driven by Henry Miles.

The backs of the two lead cars rose briefly before stopping abruptly. Miles car spun as the red flag flew. The two leaders were unhurt. Miles limped from his battered car and reclined on the ground. He soon limped to the ambulance for medical evaluation. Third place Dan Burns inherited the lead and won the $1,000 after three more laps. It was his first victory at the track. Ron Chaney followed. Third finisher Tony Curtis won the last Figure 8 main that also had a hard collision at the X involving two cars.


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About this article
Series NASCAR , Stock car
Drivers Michael May , Tim Woods , Greg Pursley , David Gilliland , Joe Herold , Rip Michels