An intense, lead-swapping duel between Greg Pursley and Tony Bruncati in the 75-lap NASCAR Lucas Oil Super Late Model feature thrilled every one of the 4,000 spectators assembled on Saturday night at Irwindale Speedway. Five lead changes among...
An intense, lead-swapping duel between Greg Pursley and Tony Bruncati in the 75-lap NASCAR Lucas Oil Super Late Model feature thrilled every one of the 4,000 spectators assembled on Saturday night at Irwindale Speedway. Five lead changes among four drivers, capped by Pursley's victorious last lap final turn pass of Bruncati, surely earned the event "race of the year" honors. (So far, Tim -- remember we've got a lot of season left and the All-Star in November -- ed.)
Fastest qualifier Pursley, the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series eight-track Sunbelt Region performance index leader, started eighth in the 24-car field. He charged his King Taco-sponsored Chevy Monte Carlo forward quickly on a five-racing division King Taco Night at IS. Pursley became the race leader on lap 21 when he executed an inside pass of laps 16-20 leader Mike Price, a past IS Super Stock champion and SLM series rookie.
Pursley led laps 21-71. Sixth starter Bruncati powered his Sunrise Ford Taurus into second place on lap 47 and quickly closed on Pursley starting on lap 65. During lap 72 Bruncati made an inside pass in the fourth turn and led the next two laps. Two separate cautions on lap 74 for one-car spins set the stage for the thrilling green, white checkered flag finish. Bruncati, now running on the outside, barely edged inside-running Pursley by 0.559 seconds on lap 74. On the final lap Pursley shot to the inside in the third turn, drew even with leader Bruncati and moved him up the fourth turn banking. It was just enough for Pursley to beat Bruncati to the waving checkered flag by a mere 0.045 seconds.
The top three cars completed cool-off laps and stopped at the finish line for interviews. Pursley and Bruncati climbed from the cars, hugged each other and shook hands enthusiastically. Bruncati told the crowd, "Racing Greg that way was awesome. It was tough to lose, but it was the most fun race I've ever lost. Running side-by-side like that was fun. I tried everything I could do, even changing up. Greg raced me hard and clean. It was rough."
Pursley, winner of five of the last six Irwindale features and seven of 11 this season, then told fans, "That was the best race of the year. That Tony can really drive I tell you." Charles Price, a Redlands resident making his first start at Irwindale, came from tenth starting spot to finish third, 0.594 seconds back. He earned the hard charger award from race control staff. Sixteen of 24 starters finished and 11 drivers completed all 75 circuits. Pole starter Brandon Loverock led the first 15 laps before fading with a problem and dropping out after 60 laps.
Deryk "X-man" Ward won his fourth main event this season in the NASCAR Auto Club of Southern California Late Models 50-lap feature. He started his Pontiac Grand Prix fourth and paced laps 20-50 after taking the lead in turn four. Outside front row starter Tim Huddleston led the first 19 laps and slowed briefly in turn four on lap 20 when Andy Bargaehr spun out from turn four to the infield without causing a caution flag.
Point leader Doug McComb, driving his rebuilt Dodge Intrepid that cost Some $5,000 in parts to repair following a multi-car crash last week, finished in second. He was 0.905 seconds behind Ward. McComb passed Huddleston for second on lap 33 at the starting line. Huddleston finished third, four-seconds back. Ben Walker and Mike Johnson completed the top five in a 22-car field. Nineteen drivers finished and 13 ran all 50 laps.
The final race on the half-mile was the second ASA Speed Truck Challenge 75-lap feature, which a TV crew taped for telecast by the Outdoor Channel during the first week of August. Point leader Lee Hatch, from second starting position, continued his season dominance by leading all the way in his Ford Ranger.
It was his eighth victory in nine main events this season. He also won the touring truck series April 10 IS main. His only non-victory was a second place at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield. Pole starter Scott Franchimone ran second all the way and trailed by 1.821 seconds at the finish. Kevin Fedderson was third in a 21-truck field. A grinding, five- truck crash as the field approached the starting line on a lap 49 restart sidelined all five trucks. No drivers were injured. Hatch also won the six-truck, six-lap trophy dash that began the evening.
Action on the third-mile track featured a 35-lap King Taco Legend Cars main won by track champion Tom Landreth. It was his third victory in four features this season. Rookie Kenton Gray, the outside front-row starter, finished second, 0.168 seconds behind the winner. Dustin Ash, a 16-year old first time IS visitor from Las Vegas, started on the pole and led the first five laps before third starter Landreth took charge for good. Impressive Ash held second until lap 20 when he drifted high in turn four and Gray shot under him for his career-best finish. Twenty-six of 30 starters finished and 22 drivers completed every lap.
Kevin Bernhardt came from third grid position to lead all but the first six laps of the 35-lap Mini Stock race. It was his first triumph this year. Front row starters Jim McNear and Dustin Morgan, the early leader, finished second and third respectively. All 19 starters finished and 14 drivers ran all 35 laps. Hard charger award winners were: (SLM)--newcomer C. Price (tenth to third), (L/M)--series rookie Richie Altman (P. 13 to P. 10), (M/S)--Steve Rogers (P. 14 to P.8).
Friday racing on the third-mile track followed the weekly all divisions' 5:00 to 9:00 p.m practice. The first Bandolero race at IS went to Austin Murphy in a ten-car, 20-lap race that took only 6:36.170. The 12-year old driver from Lancaster started fourth and led all the way. He ran the fastest lap of the race at 17.883 and won by half a lap over Chris Yentes. He became the youngest main event winner in six years of competition at IS. All cars used identical twin cylinder 35-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engines.
Then a 14-car field took the main event green flag in the Pure Stock
Division, the track's new entry-level class. Bill Bartleson became the seventh different winner in eight main events run at IS. He started 14th in his 1977 Pontiac Ventura and charged into second position on lap 30. A lap 35 yellow flag for a spun car bunched the field and deprived pole starter, race-long leader John Mattie of his 20-yard advantage.
When the green flag flew on lap 38 Bartleson went to the inside in the first two turns, charged past Mattie and led the final three laps. Mattie's 1977 Chevy Nova trailed by 0.606 seconds, with Jason Estes third in a 15-minute race. Only one of 14 starters failed to finish and eight drivers ran all 40 laps. Kenny Shearon, crew chief for Mike Price's SLM team, volunteered and drove the No. 17 1976 Chevelle "house car". He dropped out on lap 11 with an engine problem. Jimmy Insolo, the 61-year old 1978 NASCAR Winston West Champion, was scheduled to drive No. 17, but he was a no-show.
A Women's League Pure Stock race started seven cars in the second such event. Michelle Rouse led all 10 laps from the pole in her 1974 Chevelle. Stacey (Mecham) Estes, winner of the first IS race on May 22, started sixth in her new husband's Chevy and took second place during the third lap. She finished 40-yards behind Rouse. Mini Stock driver Amee Blue was third and Super Stock veteran Julianne Seeley was sixth in the No. 17 "house car".
Friday, July 9:
Heat 1: Jimmy Rouse, Jr, Chris Yentes, Michael Greenberg, Ryan Bragdon, Andre Prescott.
Heat 2: Austin Murphy, Broc Murphy, Gina Yentes, Donald Greenberg, Kenny Christian.
Main: A. Murphy, C. Yentes, B. Murphy, Rouse, D. Greenberg, Prescott, Christian, Bragdon, M. Greenberg, G. Yentes. Time-6:36.170.
WOMEN'S LEAGUE PURE STOCKS:
Main: Michelle Rouse, Stacey Estes, Amee Blue, Kelly Young, Kim Unruh, Julianne Seeley, Izzy Lewis. Time-3:12.051.
Main: Bill Bartleson, John Mattie, Jason Estes, Paul Vitale, Michelle Rouse, Jimmy Rouse, Sr, Bob Bartleson, Dave Foster, John Jennell, Harry Michaelian, Blake Usilton, Izzy Lewis, Peter Bryk, Kenny Shearon. Time-15.02.9.
Saturday, July 10:
KING TACO LEGEND CARS:
Fast Time: Kenton Gray, 17.035.
Main: Tom Landreth, Gray, Dustin Ash, Bob Landreth, Jim Smith, Matt Hicks, Austin Grabowski, Scott Fortier, Tom Lovelady, Ryan Schug, Bill Everett, Mark Gaiser, John Barnett, Jeff Scott, John London, Steve Twilligear, Brian Wong, Kevin Wong, Jim Paintier, Ed Rashid, Bill Watson, Mitch Brissii, Dave Kalawaia, Brent Jones, Lynn Sours, Jim Rose III, Larry Alsop, Chad Schug, Jason Alsop, Brian Vandehey. DNS-Cory Miles, James Kalawaia.
Fast Time: Greg Tucker, 17.616.
Main: Kevin Berhhardt, Jim McNear, Dustin Morgan, Robert Lovas, Tucker, Eric Reed, Rich Garver, Steve Rogers, Carl Farless, Bob Reed, Amee Blue, Tom Dye, Virgil Young, Dennis Croasman, Brenda Pugh, Fred Adams, Kris Melleby, R. C. Zimmerman, Rod Schmitt. DNS-Ron Schmitt, Tyler Rogers.
ASA SPEED TRUCKS:
Fast Time: Scott Franchimone, 20.104.
Dash: Lee Hatch, Kevin Fedderson, Franchimone, Terry Young, Darren Young, Kenny Smith. Time-2:03.837.
Main: Hatch, Franchimone, Fedderson, T. Young, Ron Nava, Steve Guccione, Robert Kroeker, Joe Farre, George Antill, K. Smith, Joey Mogar, Alex Haas, Patrick Britain, Kirk Szalznek, D. Young, Spencer Clark, J. D. Gardner, Colin Dickinson, Bobby Sayers, Gary Bryant, Alan Sanchez.
AUTO CLUB of SO. CALIF. LATE MODELS:
Fast Time: Mike Johnson, 19.177.
Main: Deryk Ward, Doug McComb, Tim Huddleston, Ben Walker, Johnson, Andrew Myers, Ron Daniel, Andrew Lewis, Scott Youngren, Richie Altman, Brian Kelley, Dan DiGiacomo, Ron Schartau, Todd Conrad, George Ruark, Robert Rice, John Ahrendt, Dennis Schlarbaum, P. J. Baker, Andy Bargaehr, Mike Mulhall, Candace Muzny.
LUCAS OIL SUPER LATE MODELS:
Fast Time: Greg Pursley, 18.034.
Main: Pursley, Tony Bruncati, Charles Price, Mike Price, Jason Patison, Russell White, Gary Jenkins, Tim Buckley, Nathan Wulff, Scott Conaway, Andy Coyle, Ed Hoffman, Tony Jackson, Jeff Shafer, Scott Calvin, David Ross, Dan Moore, Brandon Loverock, Rod Johnson, Kevin O'Neil, Chris Oddo, Mike Brusco, Jim McGill, Terry Elliott. DNS-James Bruncati, Dean Cato.