Three local track racing series competed Saturday at the banked half-mile Irwindale Speedway in support races for the touring NASCAR Southwest Series 150-lap race. The four main event card attracted 5,500 Memorial Day weekend spectators on...
Three local track racing series competed Saturday at the banked half-mile Irwindale Speedway in support races for the touring NASCAR Southwest Series 150-lap race. The four main event card attracted 5,500 Memorial Day weekend spectators on Southern California Pipe Trades Night. (See separate story by Derrick Shannon for results of SW Series 150 won by 23-year old former USAC Western States 360 Sprint Car Series driver Burney Lamar.)
Track officials started the Grand American Modified 35-lap main event at 6:00 p.m, right before the weekly fans on-track driver autograph session. It was a make-up race for the April 17 rained-out race. Travis Thirkettle started second and led all the way in the 11-car race for his first triumph this season.
The second feature of the evening was a Vista Paint NASCAR Super Stock 40-lap feature with a 33-car field and a fully inverted start. Passing points were awarded based upon starting and finishing positions. The exciting race featured three and four wide racing each lap throughout the field as faster cars charged through a competitive field of slower cars. Three cautions slowed the hectic pace. The race had eight lead changes and six different leaders-Craig Yeaton, Steve Gilmore, Victor Wu, Bryan Harrell, Craig Rayburn and Johnny White.
Rayburn started 20th in his Camaro and won his third series feature of the five race-old season. He led laps 24-40 after fastest qualifier White, the 30th starter and last main event winner a week ago, led lap 23. However, White was tapped and spun out and second place Harrell's Camaro, the lap 16-22 leader, received heavy front-end damage in the incident. Gilmore, the 14th starter and an Irwindale veteran since 1999, was seeking his first main event triumph at IS. He finished one length behind Rayburn and said it was his sixth or seventh IS runner-up finish.
Lee Ladd, the series 2003 champion, came from 16th in his Camaro to finish one length behind Gilmore. He drove his backup Camaro because his primary Camaro broke the engine during the regular IS Friday night open practice session. Wu, who hails form Hesperia, enjoyed a career night by starting 11th, leading laps three-15 and finishing fourth. Point leader and 29th starter Chris Houwen finished fifth and ran his point lead from 28 to 31 points. Twenty-two cars finished, with 19 completing all 40 laps.
Following the featured Southwest Series race, the West Coast Pro Trucks ran the second of nine scheduled events at Irwindale. Fastest qualifier and new track record holder Dean Kuhn started his Mirka Abrasives Chevy Silverado on the pole and led all 50 laps. The all green flag, 23-truck race took only 17:26.172 to complete.
Aaron Staudinger, the 2003 series champion and winner of the only other WCPT race at IS this season, started and finished second. He trailed Kuhn by ten yards (0.441 seconds). Third place Chris Johnson was 15 seconds behind the winner. Jeff Williams, Dave Lyon and paraplegic driver Michael Young followed and the top six all ran 50 laps. Seventeen trucks reached the checkered flag.
After leaving the starting grid, Andrew Phipps, the fastest qualifier and scheduled pole starter, pitted before the green flag to fix a radio problem so he could have the required radio contact with his spotter and Race Control. He then started last in the 11-car field and charged into second place on lap five. He closed ground gradually and trailed winner Thirkettle by only 15-yards (0.856 seconds) at the checkers. Phipps increased his point advantage from nine to ten over Thirkettle with six of nine scheduled GAM races remaining on the schedule.
Hard charger award winners selected by the race director were: (GAM)-Joe Ruggles for coming from ninth to fourth; (S/S)-Houwen, for charging from 29th to fifth, and (Pro Trucks)-Jim Satterfield, for racing from 17th to tenth. During mid-afternoon group qualifying, Kuhn broke his own one-lap Pro Truck track record. His quickest lap of 19.862 (90.625 mph) beat his own 20.021 run on August 2, 2003. Rookie White's S/S fast time was 22.055 (81.614 mph). GAM quick timer Phipps clocked a 18.661 (96.458 mph).
GRAND AMERICAN MODIFIEDS:
Fast Time: Andrew Phipps, 18.661.
Main: Travis Thirkettle, Phipps, John Watkinson, Joe Ruggles, Tim Morse, Mike Trottochau, Chad Daly, Garrett Yamada, Jamie Barnett, Dennis Eckert, Brent Jones. DNS- Eddie Ernst.
VISTA PAINT SUPER STOCKS:
Fast Time: Johnny White, 22.055.
Main: Craig Rayburn, Steve Gilmore, Lee Ladd, Victor Wu, Chris Houwen, Greg Crutcher, J. White, Henry Miles, Jimmy Sloan, Robin Bourgeois, Eric Sunness, Tim Gardner, Larry Sampson, Brent Cusick, Rick Crow, Ed Dazzo, Mike Gilmore, Bobby Dezarov, Randy Jackson, Dan Rodgers, Scott Corrigan, Greg Benner, Sean Garrett, Lyle Spangler, Derk Rodgers, Bryan Harrell, Kenny Brown, Craig Yeaton, Steve Rhoads, Bill Shoemaker, Curtis White, Richard Hanson.
WEST COAST PRO TRUCKS:
Fast Time: Dean Kuhn, 19.862 (90.625 mph) -NTR (old TR - 20.021 by Kuhn on 8/2/03).
Main: Kuhn, Aaron Staudinger, Chris Johnson, Jeff Williams, Dave Lyon, Michael Young, Brian Pannone, Don Helgeson, Sean Bennett, Jim Satterfield, Ryan Black, Dennis Bennett, Chad Daly, Steve Luecht, Steve Dyer, Ron Mongenel, Richie Altman, Matt Black, Cecil Phelps, Barry Kalperis, Neil Conrad, Rick Harbaugh, David Timewell.