Irwindale race report 2002-05-18

"It's better to be lucky than good," said Todd Burns after his victory Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. That was his appraisal of his surprising triumph in a 75-lap NASCAR Auto Club of Southern California Late Model feature before 5,842 spectators....

"It's better to be lucky than good," said Todd Burns after his victory Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. That was his appraisal of his surprising triumph in a 75-lap NASCAR Auto Club of Southern California Late Model feature before 5,842 spectators. A Fox Sports Net2 TV crew taped three of the five main events for airing June 13, 20 and 27.

Ben Walker won his second 75-lap NASCAR Jani-King Super Late Model main of the season. He also won the first of 30 FSN2 taped one-hour race telecasts four weeks ago. Michael May led all 75-laps in an American Race trucks event, and Dave Hartsook captured the first 50-lap Mechanix Wear Speed Truck trophy of his three-year career. All three races also used the banked half-mile. Guy Tripp took the 30-lap Modified 4s main event on the third-mile.

Burns started fifth in his Villa Roma Sausage-sponsored Chevy Monte Carlo. He was in third place, 30 yards behind dueling leaders Mike Price and Tim Huddleston, on lap 70. At that point Huddleston's Pontiac pushed up and made contact with the back of Price's Pontiac that had led from lap four. Price spun into the outer wall and was sidelined with two flat tires and other damage.

Huddleston continued non-stop with no damage, but track officials penalized him per track rules for causing the Price crash. They sent Huddleston, the pre-race co-point leader with Burns, to the back of the 19 cars remaining from a field of 28. A green, white, checkered flag finish followed.

Burns won by 0.590 seconds (ten yards) over Doug McComb, in his new ZZ 38 spec engine Chevy, and defending track L/M champion Dave Hessing. Burns' 24th feature victory at the track made him the most prolific winner at the four-year old track. He had been tied at 23 victories with T. K. Karvasek, who is not racing this season. Burns also gained sole occupancy of the track L/M point lead.

Walker started on the pole as the seventh fastest qualifier in a 27-car field because fastest qualifier--Rip Michels--spun the inversion-determining wheel and it stopped on seven. He utilized the choice starting position and a new engine to dominate the event in his Ford Taurus. Walker had opened a three-quarter straight-away advantage by lap 50 when a car spun off the half-mile to the third-mile front straight, causing a caution.

When the green flag appeared on lap 59, second-place Kazuto Yanagawa tried to pass the lapped car of Dennis Arena. Their cars made contact, sending Arena's car spinning up the track in turn two. It triggered an eight-car crash that resulted in four cars being towed or trucked to the pits with heavy damage. Other damaged cars continued under the yellow flag from laps 59-73 when laps stopped counting.

Point leader Tony Green's fourth place Chevy and the sixth place car of Tim Woods III were towed away, as were cars of eighth place Kevin Vernon and the battered Arena car that took many hits in the closely bunched field. No drivers were injured. Only 18 cars took the green, white and checkered flags. Nathan Wulff finished second, 0.624 seconds back and Brandon Loverock was 0.945 seconds behind the winner in third place. Wulff admitted he had nothing for Burns on the restart because of his gearing. When the lap 59 multi-car crash occurred Wulff was third and Loverock fifth.

Fastest qualifier May, a three-time ART Series winner this year, ran away from the 30-truck field from the pole. He led all 75 laps and had half a lap advantage by lap 60 in the all green-flag race that took 26:34.458 to complete. Randy Nelson and Aaron Staudinger followed, with track point leader Val Cummings fourth. Only five of the 31 trucks completed 75 laps. May won by a whopping 13.985 seconds, more than half a lap.

The sixth race of 2002 for the MW Speed Truck drivers was the first of three at Irwindale this season. Dave Hartsook, the fifth fastest qualifier in his Chevy S-10, started on the pole and led all 50-laps in the most competitive race of the night. He withstood intense pressure from three trucks on his back bumper during the last half of the race.

Randy Brown, winner of four MW Speed Truck races at Las Vegas this season, finished second, only 0.230 seconds back. Former karting star Lee Hatch, the winner of a series feature at El Cajon this year, finished third, 0.543 seconds behind first-time winner Hartsook. Dan DiGiacomo, the fourth member of the dueling quartet, was 0.787 seconds back in fourth place at the checkers. Twenty-one of 24 starters finished, with 13 on the lead lap.

Defending Mod 4s track champion Tripp started ninth and was the third leader in a scheduled 35-lap event abbreviated to 30 laps because of time constraints. He took command on lap eight and won by 2.884 seconds. Tony Lawler was runner-up for the second consecutive race. Terry Limberopoulos was third.

Yanagawa, the sixth fastest SLM qualifier, won his first SLM six-lap trophy dash glass trophy at Irwindale by leading all six laps from the pole. Wulff and sixth-starter Michels followed in a 1:52.430 sprint that opened competition.


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Drivers Michael May , Tim Woods , Ben Walker , Rip Michels