Irwindale, CA, Apr. 4 - Rain forced postponement of racing Saturday night at Irwindale Speedway following time trials until Sunday afternoon. About 1,500 spectators braved light showers that hit the track about 5:30 during the on-track autograph...
Irwindale, CA, Apr. 4 - Rain forced postponement of racing Saturday night at Irwindale Speedway following time trials until Sunday afternoon. About 1,500 spectators braved light showers that hit the track about 5:30 during the on-track autograph session. Rain cells passed and track rescue vehicles towing huge tires had the half-mile track almost race-ready after an 80-minute delay. Then more light rain soaked the track.
Track management announced the postponement about 8:15 and said gates would open at noon Sunday with racing at 1:30 for all four divisions. It was the track's sixth rain postponement in six years of operation and the first since May 3, 2003. The event was the inaugural live radio broadcast of all Saturday races at the track by Harold Osmer and Kane Crawford on KTIE-590 AM from 7:00-11:00 p.m. They conducted interviews with drivers and track staff during the rain delay and signed off two-hours early once the postponement was announced.
A sunny 72 degree day Sunday allowed all four divisions to complete the event from 1:30 to 4:25 p.m. The regular $5.00 IS race program was given free to the almost 1,000 spectators who returned for the first NASCAR Sunday racing in track history. The only other IS oval track race on a Sunday was a live nationally televised American Speed Association 300-lap stock car race on April 7, 2002. Greg Pursley drove the "lucky No. 13" King Taco Chevy Monte Carlo to the first feature victory Sunday in a 20-car, 75-lap Lucas Oil NASCAR Super Late Model race. He also captured one of the twin 50-lap mains two weeks ago in the season opener. Andrew Phipps, the 2003 track champion and series rookie of the year, won the second main of the day in a 12-car, 35-lap Grand American Modified 11-minute race. The GAM class used a fully inverted field and awarded passing points for the first time.
J. D. Hendley led all the way in a 31-car, 25-lap King Taco Legend Cars feature for his first feature trophy in his green 1934 Ford coupe replica. Aaron Staudinger, the series 2003 track champion, won the West Coast Pro Trucks 50-lap feature that concluded Sunday afternoon racing. Many fans said they enjoyed the different look at IS racing action. Daylight racing gave drivers a new challenge to add to their racing experience.
Pursley, the IS 2003 Miller Lite Big Ten Challenge champion and third quickest qualifier, started on the pole after the inversion wheel stopped at three. He trailed outside front row starter Tim Woods III Chino Hills Ford-sponsored Taurus for 21 laps. Pursley ducked to the inside in turn four and beat Woods to the starting line on lap 22 and pulled away to a straightaway lead by lap 70. Dan Moore caused a caution flag on lap 71 when he spun and backed into the fourth turn outside wall, shortening his car several inches. The final two laps were green flag laps and Pursley beat Woods by ten yards (0.623 seconds).
Brandon Loverock, a newlywed of two weeks, finished third. Fastest qualifier Kevin O'Neil, Nathan Wulff, Mike Price, Rsssell White, rookie Jim McGill, Ed Hoffman and Las Vegas driver Jeff Schafer completed the top ten and all completed 75 laps. Fifteen of the 20 starters finished the 26-minute race that was slowed by four yellow flags. Pursley said, "It was like a skating rink. You had to race like you had an egg under the throttle. You really had to take care of your right rear tire." The other top five finishers met the media in the press box and added the heat brought up oil from the track surface and gave them a very different feel to racing at Irwindale.
Second starter Tim Morse led the GAM race for the first five laps. Then a red flag flew for 25-minutes after Dennis Schlarbaum came back from a second lap two-car spin leaving the fourth turn and spun solo entering the third turn. Third place Mike Morrisey slammed into Schlarbaum's spinning car in mid-track, badly damaging both cars and necessitating track cleanup for spilled fluids. Phipps took command on lap six in the ex-Rip Michels Ladco car now sponsored by Stock Building Supply. He built a straight-away lead by Jim Overley's checkered flag. John Watkinson took second from Joe Ruggles on the final lap with an inside pass approaching the finish line. Ruggles' car bounced off the wall under the starting stand and bent the RF wheel. GAM crew chief/former CRA Sprint car driver Jim Peacock, 60, ended his 24-year retirement and made his first racing start since a 1979 race at the clay Ascot Park in Gardena. The Temple City driver started ninth and finished eighth after running on the lead lap until lap 34 of 35.
Hendley, from the pole, led all 25-laps in the Legend Car main, the only race on the third-mile. An opening lap multi-car crash in turn three sidelined nine cars. Only 22 drivers finished and eight completed all 25 circuits. Track cleanup required 20-minutes and another three-car crash in turn two involved and sidelined two-time track champion Tom Landreth. The 7:55.062 clocked race took 44 minutes to complete.
The WCPT 16-truck final feature of the day had three leaders during the 18-minute race. Pole starter Brian Pannone dropped out on the second lap when an engine belt came loose. Second starter Staudinger, in the Pick Your Part Chevy, led lap two. Then third starter/paraplegic Michael Young, from Fontana, put his truck in front with an inside pass at the line at the end of lap three. Staudinger was in front from lap four through 50. Young, starting his second full season of racing after being paralyzed in a motorcycle accident eight years ago, pitted from third place on lap 18.
All four divisions completed group time trials late Saturday afternoon under cloudy conditions ideal for speed before the light rain started. Kevin O'Neil, the SLM 2003 rookie of the year from Long Beach, broke the SLM one-lap track record set during the track's first season (1999). O'Neil's 17.967 in a Dodge Intrepid bought during the off-season from Bakersfield driver Kevin Small, broke the 17.973 (100.150 mph) mark set by Pursley in his No. 98 Chevy Monte Carlo ride on July 17, 1999.
KING TACO LEGEND CARS:
Fast Time - Tom Landreth, 16.737.
Main - J. D. Hendley, Art Nevill, Bob Landreth, Austin Grabowski, Scott Fortier, Larry Meredith, Evin Powell, Steve Twilligear, Jason Alsop, Pete Sands, Mark Gaiser, Brian Vandehey, Lynn Sours, John Barnett, Kevin Wong, Kenton Gray, Bill Everett, Micah Nourse, Brian Wong, John London, Ryan Partridge, Jim Painteer, Tom Landreth, Cory Miles, Mark Iungrich, Bill Bonney, James Kalawaia, Mitchell Thorpe, Sam Jones, Ed Rashid, Dave Kalawaia. Did Not Return Sunday - Alex Hoose, Jim Smith, Bill Watson.
WEST COAST PRO TRUCKS:
Fast Time - Brian Pannone, 20.127.
Main - Aaron Staudinger, Sean Bennett, Jeff Williams, Dave Lyon, Don Helgeson, Jim Satterfield, Neil Conrad, Chad Daly, Ron Mongenel, Matthew Black, Richie Altman, Chris Johnson, Ryan Black, Michael Young, David Timewell, Pannone. Did Not Return Sunday - Steve Dyer. GRAND AMERICAN MODIFIEDS: Fast Time - Andrew Phipps, 18.391. Main - Phipps, John Watkinson, Joe Ruggles, Travis Thirkettle, Eddie Ernst, Tim Morse, Brent jones, Jim Peacock, Jamie Barnett, Mike Trottochau, Mike Morrisey, Dennis Schlarbaum. Did Not Return Sunday - Dennis Eckert, Jim Smith.
LUCAS OIL SUPER LATE MODELS:
Fast Time - Kevin O'Neil, 17.967 (old TR 17.973 -100.150 mph by Pursley on 7/17/99).
Main - Greg Pursley, Tim Woods III, Brandon Loverock, O'Neil, Nathan Wulff, Mike Price, Russell White, Jim McGill, Ed Hoffman, Jeff Schafer, Scott Conaway, Tim Buckley, Dan O'Donnell, Dan Moore, Terry Elliott, Charlie Wahl, Mark Perry, Tony Bruncati, Rod Johnson, Chris Oddo. Did Not Return Sunday - James Bruncati, Kevin O'Connell, Jason Patison, Mike Brusco, Andy Coyle.