Irwindale race report 2002-06-22

Todd Burns drove his Villa Roma Sausage-sponsored No. 4 Chevy Monte Carlo to his fourth NASCAR Auto Club of Southern California Late Model main event victory of the season Saturday on the Irwindale Speedway half-mile. Event eight for the series...

Todd Burns drove his Villa Roma Sausage-sponsored No. 4 Chevy Monte Carlo to his fourth NASCAR Auto Club of Southern California Late Model main event victory of the season Saturday on the Irwindale Speedway half-mile. Event eight for the series this year was Villa Roma Sausage Night. Noting that fact, Burns said, "Villa Roma has sponsored me since 1999, so it was a great night to win." Burns' 24th main event victory at Irwindale broke a tie with T. K. Karvasek for most feature victories and made him the most prolific feature winner at the four-year old track.

Tim Huddleston, in a car fabricated by Burns, pressed Burns closely all the way and made him work for the 50-lap victory. Burns earlier won the six-lap trophy dash making it a good night for the Riverside resident.

Four racing divisions saw 114 racing vehicles in the pits and 5,942 fans in the grandstand following a week of no racing at the track. Construction workers used the hiatus to reconfigure the outer crash-wall after the second turn, eliminating the first entrance to the backstretch.

Drivers indicated their satisfaction with the new wall configuration. "The new wall doesn't make it easier or harder to race. It's just different," Burns said. "You have to keep your car straight leaving turn two now. Before the wall change you could get the back of your car wide in the open space where cars entered," he added.

A new safety rule used for the first time Saturday required drivers leaving a race under green flag conditions to park in the infield instead of slowing to exit the pits from the first turn. Cars may enter the pits now only on a yellow flag.

A moment of silence, in memory of NASCAR Southwest Series driver John Baker, was observed prior to racing Saturday and a full-page memorial to the driver who lost his life at the track June 8 appeared in the printed race program.

Andrew Phipps won his first NASCAR Vista Paint Super Stock 40-lap main of 2002 in his Camaro. As the fastest qualifier, he started ninth in a 36-car field and became the third race leader on lap four. He led the balance of the race and won by half a straight (3.724 seconds) over Dan Fitzgerald, winner of the last feature here.

Third place finisher Greg Crutcher equaled his best finish at Irwindale. However, technical inspectors later disqualified his car "for use of non-conforming engine parts".

Terry Young, from Las Vegas, started seventh in the American Race Trucks 50-lap feature and took the lead on lap five in his 2000 Chevy truck. He opened a steady 50-yard advantage over a pair of dueling drivers and won by 2.678 seconds over track point leader Val Cummings, who edged fellow West Covina resident Dave Lyon by 0.190 seconds. ART West Region point leader Michael May was a close fourth.

Young earned his $400 first place check and his first main event trophy in two years. He attributed his success to borrowing a used Bilstein shock absorber and changing his suspension accordingly. "We hit upon a great set-up," the happy winner said later.

Tom Landreth won the 35-lap King Taco Legend Cars main event after starting on the pole. He led all the way and edged his brother Ted, who started 11th in a 27-car field. Their father, Bob, set the fastest qualifying time in afternoon group time trials; he then chased his battling boys posting an eighth place finish.

Burns, as fifth fastest qualifier, started second. He passed pole-sitter and early leader Andy Bargaehr on the inside in turn four during lap four. Quickest qualifier Huddleston arrived in second place on lap seven and badgered Burns to the finish. Huddleston ran low and Burns held the faster middle groove as they raced side-by-side and nose-to-tail amid lapped cars. "We only made contact once," Huddleston said.

Huddleston took the lead briefly at the end of lap 45 by half a length. Burns' momentum entering the first turn returned him to the point. Burns cleared a lapped car on the final lap and that cushion gave him a ten yard (0.468 second) winning margin. Doug McComb, Mike Johnson and 11th starter Craig Rayburn completed the top five as 22 of the 27 starters finished, with 16 drivers on the lead lap.

Two cautions resulted in a 27-minute race. Todd Conrad was 12th on lap 14 when a rod ventilated his block and caused him to spin off the backstretch to the infield with a brief but bright engine fire that track firemen quelled quickly. On lap 30 in the fourth turn a lapped car hit Dave Hessing's 11th place car, which spun in mid-track. Smart evasive action by several drivers enabled Hessing's stalled sideways car to resume without contact; he finished 14th without losing a lap.

Title contender Mike Price was second on lap three when a flat RR tire caused him to slow and lose three laps. He went to the pits for a new tire at the first opportunity after 16 laps when laps stopped counting after three yellow laps. Price finished 19th.

The initial lap of the Legends feature on the third-mile produced a red flag. Tenth starter Steve Twilligear hit the tire barrier at the first turn crash-wall almost head-on and stopped abruptly. He was shaken, but able to walk to the ambulance for a precautionary evaluation. He remained at the track.

Officials penalized several drivers because they had not stopped promptly for the red flag. Front row starter Jim Kalawaia was disqualified for driving too far and causing an emergency truck to brake.

Title contenders Bill Everett and Ricky Wildman had to restart at the back of the 27-car field because of their tardy stopping on the front straight The duo then raced through the field together. They were 10th and 11th respectively when Everett went to the pits on lap 28 after an accordion-like nose-to-tail impact prior to a restart after a caution period. Officials then fined Everett $50 for exceeding the five-mph speed limit entering the pits, making his night a complete washout. Points leader Wildman finished seventh.

Super Stock driver Julianne Seeley returned to racing for the first time since May 25 when she crashed and was flown by helicopter to a hospital. With her Camaro now junked, inactive driver T. K. Karvasek loaned her his Camaro to race Saturday. Seeley was ranked 11th in point standings, only four points from tenth, after seven races. She did not post a qualifying time and started 33rd. Seeley had raced up to 14th place when the right front ball joint failed and she retired the car, trailing sparks on the front straight. She finished 27th as 20 only of the 36 starters reached the finish line.

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About this article
Series NASCAR , Stock car
Drivers Michael May , Mike Johnson