Irwindale race report 2002-07-6

Ben Walker, in a Ford Taurus, won his third NASCAR Jani-King Super Late Model main event of the 11-race old season in a 75-lap race Saturday on the Irwindale Speedway banked half-mile. The 22-car race before 4,496 spectators was round five of the...

Ben Walker, in a Ford Taurus, won his third NASCAR Jani-King Super Late Model main event of the 11-race old season in a 75-lap race Saturday on the Irwindale Speedway banked half-mile. The 22-car race before 4,496 spectators was round five of the $10,000 ten-race Miller Lite Big Ten Challenge series-within-a-series.

Walker now leads the Miller series and all three of his triumphs came in Big Ten Challenge races. His 50 points earned Saturday moved him from third into second place behind overall series point leader Tony Green - 450 to 432. Eight of 19 scheduled races remain before the point season concludes at the end of September. Walker and Green are both seeking their first track championships at Irwindale.

Tim Huddleston recorded his fourth Automobile Club of Southern California NASCAR Late Model 75-lap feature victory in nine races. Earlier, he set fastest qualifying time in his Ladco Leasing Pontiac Grand Prix with a new track record (18.951) that beat his own month old mark by 0.012 seconds! Huddleston started sixth in the 27-car field and led laps seven-75 to defeat his car builder Todd Burns by half a straightaway. In doing so, Huddleston jumped from third to second in series point standings. He now trails four-time winner Burns by ten points - 358 to 348 - with ten of 18 races remaining. Both drivers are pursuing their first Irwindale track title and have alternated main event victories since race two.

Terry Young, in from Las Vegas, drove his 2000 Chevy from sixth grid position to a hotly-contested second consecutive victory at Irwindale in the 26-truck, 75-lap American Race Truck feature. On lap 24 Young passed outside front row starter Robbie Brand, the leader of the first 23 laps. Young led the final 52 laps. Fox Sports Net2 taped the race on the half-mile for telecast on August 8. FSN2 also taped the two stock car races for airing on the one-hour "Racing from Irwindale" show July 25 and August 1.

The fourth main event took place on the third-mile. King Taco Legend Cars staged an exciting 35-lap race for the replicas of 1930s coupes and sedans Ricky Wildman, a 17-year old student at Yorba Linda High School, started 15th in a 29-car field augmented by three drivers from Las Vegas. He became the fourth different race leader on lap 33 and won over two-time winner Tom Landreth, who took second on lap 34. Point leader Wildman now has four victories in the seven races at IS this year.

Wildman arrived in second position on lap 17; he then dueled James Kalawaia, the laps 17-32 leader. J. D. Hendley was in front during laps 10-14. Mark Gaiser paced the first six laps. Bob Landreth led laps seven-nine and 15-16. The Landreths, who began racing at the track in 1999, accomplished a family milestone when all three Landreths finished in the top five positions. Sons Tom and Ted finished second and fifth respectively and their father Bob was fourth.

The worst-looking crash of the night took out cars running in the first four positions on lap seven of the Late Model feature. Mike Price, in second place, tried to pass leader Mike Johnson on the inside at turn four, but his car pushed up and collected Johnson's car. Both vehicles received severe damage. The third and fourth place cars of Scott Youngren and Doug McComb, following closely, piled into the crash near the outside wall. All of the drivers were OK, but their mounts were a different story. With fifth place Huddleston now assuming the lead, Johnson's was on its way to the pits on the business end of a tow truck. Price, Youngren and McComb limped their cars back to the pits and all three returned later, minus many laps and most of their hoods and front-end bodywork.

Veteran driver and 2000 series champion James Weston, made his first Late Model start of the year and finished a rousing third, half a length in front of Kevin Wood. Ron Schartau had his first top five of the season. Only eleven of the 21 cars running at the finish had completed all 75 circuits.

ART veteran Robbie Brand started and finished second in his Stagg Chili-sponsored 1998 Ford truck. He was 0.554 seconds behind Young. Randy Nelson's Chevy was third, with Aaron Staudinger's Chevy fourth. ART point leader Michael May, 18, earned the most difficult fifth position of his career. After a flat tire during time trials left him as the 21st fastest qualifier, May started 21st and was in fourth place by lap 35.

In three abreast racing with Staudinger (P.5) and Tony Forfa (P.6) in the fourth turn, inside-running Forfa tried to take fifth from Staudinger. Their trucks touched and Staudinger's truck moved up into May's mount. Both May and Forfa spun out low while Staudinger continued non-stop. The two spinners had to restart at the back. By lap 70 May had raced back to fifth, where he finished, only 4.277 seconds behind the winner. Nineteen trucks were running at the conclusion and 13 ran all 75 laps.

In the SLM feature, inside-running Nathan Wulff battled Walker intensely, but cleanly, from laps 12-75. He tried to take the lead on laps 67 and 75. However, his overheated RR tire caused him to get loose and forced him to settle for his third second place finish of the season, only 0.438 seconds back. Winston West driver Tim Woods III Ford Taurus was third, 2.525 seconds behind the winner. Tony Bruncati's Ford took fourth. Stephan Sadler enjoyed his best IS finish when he drove his Pontiac Grand Prix from 19th to fifth with 18 cars racing at the finish.

Kazuto Yanagawa started fourth and had his inside-running Chevy Monte Carlo in second position from lap 12-53. Then his engine blew in a cloud of smoke on the backstretch. He pulled into the infield as an appreciative audience applauded his best effort to date. He received the evening's tough luck award and more applause from fans at the finish line. Winner Walker walked over and raised Yanagawa's arm in saluting his strong run and bid for his first feature victory at the track.


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About this article
Series NASCAR , Stock car
Drivers Michael May , Tim Woods , Mike Johnson , Ben Walker , Scott Young