Rip Michels won the NASCAR Jani-King Super Late Models "Advantage Ford 200" open-competition 200-lap race that concluded Saturday night racing this season at Irwindale Speedway. The veteran driver from Mission Hills collected $4,000+ from the ...
Rip Michels won the NASCAR Jani-King Super Late Models "Advantage Ford 200" open-competition 200-lap race that concluded Saturday night racing this season at Irwindale Speedway. The veteran driver from Mission Hills collected $4,000+ from the $12,000+ purse for the longest scheduled SLM race at the track.
An announced 5,220 fans, who skipped watching World Series game six at Anaheim where the Anaheim Angels beat the San Francisco Giants 6 to 5, attended the track's final 2002 NASCAR event. Michels, the Jani-King SLM Series and Miller Lite Big 10 Challenge champion at Irwindale this year, is in his second year of SLM competition. He was one of Irwindale's top 2001 SLM rookies and the 2000 Grand American Modified Series champion.
As the fastest qualifier in a 32-car field, Michels also collected $250 from High Banks Racing Collectibles and started on the pole in his Ladco Chevrolet Monte Carlo. He led 156 of the 200 laps (laps one-12 and 57-200). Michels' 27th career main event victory at IS broke a tie with Late Model champion Todd Burns and made Michels the most prolific feature winner at the four year old speedway. It was his SLM series track record ninth feature triumph of the season.
The other three races Saturday also utilized the banked half-mile. Dean Kuhn, Irwindale's 2001 Grand American Modified champion from Oceanside, won the West Coast Pro Truck 50-lap main event, which carried "National" status for the series. Kuhn joined the truck series late in the season and won his first WCPT main event September 28 at Irwindale. He likes WCPT racing so much he bought the No. 30 truck and will race it as No. 66 next year.
As the fastest qualifier in a 30-truck field, Kuhn started sixth and led the final 41 circuits of the 50-lap race. His 2000 Chevrolet Silverado had a 1.663-second advantage over runner-up Aaron Staudinger at the conclusion. The race attracted seven drivers from Idaho and Utah. Kenny Vanderham, from Idaho, finished fourth behind Las Vegas racer Terry Young. Kuhn out-qualified the second fastest qualifier by half a second during group time trials. His 20.157 (88 mph) was a new track record for the series that eclipsed the year old mark of 20.328 set by Idaho driver Nick Lynch at the November 2001 "National" for the series when it was known then as the American Race Truck Series.
Finishing fifth through tenth were Jeff Williams, Idaho drivers John Wong and Dan Pehrson, Michael Thomas, Kirk Knostman and Dave Lyon. John Newhouse, from Idaho, and Melvin Rodmall, from Utah, finished 11th and 12th respectively. Twenty-one of the 30 trucks finished and the top 15 ran all 50 laps. Joe Herold dominated the Ultra Wheel Super Trucks 100-lap feature. He started third as the second fastest qualifier and led all the way in his Quality Chevrolet Chevy.
The driver from Poway opened half a straight-away lead during the final ten laps of the 100 lap event-the longest race at Irwindale for the "spec truck series" that began in 1996. Herold, an SCCA racer in the 1970s and NHRA veteran in the 1980s, finished fifth in the nine-race Irwindale track point championship this season.
Greg Adler started eighth in the 26-truck field, took second position on lap 60 and chased Herold home. Jon Campbell came from 16th to earn third position. He also won the 15-round UW Super Truck Series Southern California Region 2002 championship by 15 points over 2001 champion Dave Blankenship, the point leader before the race. Campbell, the series 2000 champion, became the first repeat champion in the series.
Carson Woods, Jr., the champion of the nine-race Super Truck series at Irwindale this year, finished fifth behind Jim Kondziela. Woods won overall series rookie of the year honors over Ryan Arciero, who won the last two UW Super Truck features at Irwindale and Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield.
The fourth and final main event of the evening was the first race this year at Irwindale for the MSRA Pro 4 Modified Stock Car Series. The ninth race of the year for the series, which competes at Mesa Marin, El Cajon, Willow Springs and Blythe, used Irwindale's half-mile track for the first time. The MSRA event had 15 starters and three race leaders during the 25-lap race.
Winner Michael Wright led only the last lap. He started eighth in his Ford Thunderbird-bodied car and won by 1.621 seconds over MSRA's new champion Ed Reed, who raced CRA sprint cars in the 1980s. Tony Edwards led the first six laps from the front row. Eddie Secord paced laps 10-24 and he had half a straight-away lead as he started the final circuit. Suddenly his No. 84 Monte Carlo spun out in the low groove between turns one and two in oil dropped by another car. Secord refired quickly and finished seventh as the last finisher on the lead lap.
SLM winner Michels said he took the lead at the green and was willing to allow anyone who wanted to go faster lead; he did so when Keith Spangler came from fifth starting position, passed him in turn two on lap 13 and led through lap 56. Michels returned to the point in turn two on lap 57 and was never headed despite five caution periods during which all laps counted and the field closed behind him and the Advantage Ford Mustang pace car.
Open competition rules for the race required the full field to make a pit stop at the midway point in an assigned pit stall in the infield of the third-mile track. Fuel and change of only two tires were allowed. At the 15-minute mid-race intermission 26 of the 32 cars were still on the track and 19 were on the lead lap.
The final half of the 200-lap race took only 35 minutes compared to 45-minutes for the first 100 laps. Tommy Fry started and finished second in his Crown Disposal Monte Carlo and was only 0.835 seconds in back of Michels. Fry dropped to fourth place on lap nine. On lap 60 he was back in second position, where he remained as the main challenger to Michels. Fry earned $2,000.
Tim Woods III started and finished third in his Ford Taurus. He dropped to seventh place on lap 30 and was sixth on lap 80 when he spun in the second turn to avoid another car. He dropped to 18th position, but by lap 180 he had climbed back to third, where he remained to collect $1,250--the usual first place award at the track.
Nathan Wulff, who lost his original Chevy Monte Carlo several months ago in a turn four crash, started sixth and finished fourth in his new Monte Carlo, a Randers Race Car chassis from Appleton, Wisconsin. He earned $1,000 for his initial race since his crash late summer crash at turn four. Kevin Vernon started fourth and finished fifth in his Monte Carlo for a $750 payday. He ran third until lap 162 when Wulff passed him on the inside in the fourth turn; he was fourth until lap 170 when Woods passed him.
Rounding out the top ten finishers were Southwest Series veteran Nick Joanides, Spangler, Stephan Sadler, SLM rookie/truck veteran Dan Moore and Gary Jenkins. Sadler came from 19th starting spot to eighth in his Pontiac and received the $150 hard charger award. Rookie Chris Oddo, a USAC TQ and Midget veteran, came from 17th grid position and climbed as high as seventh place by the lap 100 intermission. He faded to 11th at the finish. Ray Hooper, Jr was 12th and the last driver on the lead lap with 20 cars still racing at the conclusion.
Fastest qualifiers were Michels (SLM) at 18.118, Kuhn (Pro Trucks) at 20.157 (a NTR), rookie Ryan Arciero (Super Trucks) at 19.383, and Wright (MSRA) at 19.072. Wright's time also was a NTR because the series had never raced on the track's half-mile. With concrete K-rails lining the front and back straights to protect the infield pit stalls, the MSRA cars were unable to compete on their normal venue-the third-mile.
The next and final race of the season at Irwindale will be the 62nd annual Thanksgiving Night USAC Midget "Turkey Night Grand Prix" on November 28.
MSRA PRO 4 MODIFIEDS: Fast Time: Michael Wright, 19.072 - NTR (First time on half-mile) Main: Wright, Ed Reed, Rex Lockwood, Don Minut, Tony Edwards, Kenny Smith, Eddie Secord, Mike O'Hare, Rod Hicks, Tim Clyde, Sam Newcomer, Mike Adams, Steve Bernardi, Tim Gardner, Dave Gibson.,-DNS Dennis Arena.
WEST COAST PRO TRUCKS: Fast Time: Dean Kuhn, 20.157 - NTR (old TR 20.328 by Nick Lynch - 11/10/01). Main: Kuhn, Aaron Staudinger, Terry Young, Kenny Vanderham, Jeff Williams, John Wong, Dan Pehrson, Michael Thomas, Kirk Knostman, Dave Lyon, John Newhouse, Melvin Rodmall, Neil Conrad, Josh Hulsebosch, Dennis Bennett, Cal Vandervoort, Chad Radmall, Val Cummings, Stewart Sprung, Charlie Carder, James Ross, Ray Komar, Don Helgeson, Tony Forfa III, Craig Baker, Dale Cromwell, Michael may, Matthew Stevens, Chris Johnson, Steve Dyer.
ULTRA WHEEL SUPER TRUCKS: Fast Time: Ryan Arciero, 19.383. Main: Joe Herold, Greg Adler, Jon Campbell, Jim Kondziela, Carson Woods, Mark Laeger, Kevin O'Neil, Dan Moore, Paul Brennan, Frank Steiner, Reggie Church, Troy Lindstrom, Dave Blankenship, Darren Sigwing, John Sereika, Tom Stanton, Ron Peterson, Arciero, Rich Geisler, Jim Madrid, James Kalawaia, P. J. Baker, Scott Davidson, Greg Foster, Jesse Poppen, Louis Mammolito.
JANI-KING SUPER LATE MODELS: Fast Time: Rip Michels, 18.118. Main: Michels, Tommy Fry, Tim Woods III, Nathan Wulff, Kevin Vernon, Nick Joanides, Keith Spangler, Stephan Sadler, Dan Moore, Gary Jenkins, Chris Oddo, Ray Hooper, Jr, James Roland, Shawn Brink, Nick DeFazio, James Bruncati, Billy Kann, Brian Dryer, David Beat, Andy Coyle, Steve Prescott, Tony Bruncati, Craig Rayborn, Scott Conaway, Brent Reynolds, David Quartaro, Allen Bruhn, Jon Nelson, Chris Straka, Dan O'Donnell, Terry Limberopoulos, Alan Sadler.