Greg Pursley continued his sizzling season in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series premier division Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. The current NASCAR Sunbelt Region leader from Canyon Country dominated the 75-lap Lucas Oil Super Late Model...
Greg Pursley continued his sizzling season in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series premier division Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. The current NASCAR Sunbelt Region leader from Canyon Country dominated the 75-lap Lucas Oil Super Late Model feature in his No. 13 King Taco Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Five racing classes competed in seven races before almost 4,000 fans.
The IS track management and invited guests, including the legendary Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones, LA Times sports editor Bill Dwyer, Long Beach GP Prexy Jim Michaelian, and representatives from congressional, state, and county offices, honored Los Angeles Times sports writer Shav Glick in on-track ceremonies just prior to the first race of the evening. The dean of daily-newspaper motor sports journalists will be inducted into the Motor Sports Hall of Fame in Novi, Michigan on July 29.
Pursley logged the fastest qualifying time, the only 17-second lap, during afternoon time trials. He started fourth in a four-car inversion and passed early leader/pole starter Russell White on the inside at turn four during the third lap. White re-passed Pursley on lap seven and led two laps before Pursley took charge for good during lap nine. He led by 30-yards at lap 60 and then slowed his pace to win by ten yards (0.287 seconds) over White in a 39-minute race slowed by three yellow flags that consumed 17 laps.
Tony Bruncati provided late race excitement. The elder Bruncati brother started eighth and chased his second starting sibling, James, from laps 31-68 in their family-owned Sunrise Ford-backed Taurus'. Inside-running Tony passed outside-running James on lap 69 and then chased second place White for five circuits. On lap 74 Bruncati made an inside pass and took second spot at the starting line. Determined White charged back during the final lap and roared by Bruncati on the outside at the finish line by inches. White edged Bruncati by a slim 0.007 seconds officially. James Bruncati was fourth, 1.537 seconds behind the winner. Nathan Wulff took fifth, 3.564 seconds back. Sixteen drivers were running at the finish and 14 completed all 75 laps.
Vista Paint Super Stocks provided another first-time winner in Kenny Brown. The 20-car field used a fully inverted start and Brown launched his Camaro from 11th. The 40-lap race on the half-mile had three lead changes. Brown took command on lap 20. He won by five yards (0.386 seconds) over Bryan Harrell, who captured his first IS feature July 3. Henry Miles, Steve Gilmore and Victor Wu completed the top five in their Camaros. Five yellow flags flew, including one for a double spin on the backstretch that involved laps two-19 leader Chris Houwen and fastest qualifier/third place Johnny White. Many cars returned to the race missing fenders, hoods or doors. Remarkably, only one car did not finish and 14 ran all 40 laps.
The Grand American Modified Series ran Twin-20-lap main events to make up an April 17 race lost to rain. Track title-contenders Travis Thirkettle and point leader Andrew Phipps started both mains on the front row and each won a feature. In a 12-car field, Thirkettle started second and led all 20 laps. Phipps trailed by 0.379 seconds. Thirkettle led the first 15 laps in the second 20 and had a ten-yard lead when he slowed with a flat LR tire. Trying to finish for the most points he could salvage, second place Thirkettle caused a yellow flag on lap 18. His LR tire came off as he entered the first turn and it rolled to turn three of the third-mile.
Thirkettle trailed sparks from his left rear corner and pulled up in the infield. He finished last-11th. John Watkinson followed Phipps by 0.844 seconds. Phipps entered the twin-20s eight points in front of Thirkettle and was 26 points ahead following the two races with six of nine scheduled races now completed.
The Pick Your Part Figure 8 Series ran a nine-car, 15-lap race in which three drivers led the six-minute event. Co-point leader "Hot" Rod Proctor paced the first seven laps. Then "Barefoot" Billy Ziemann (tied at 180 points with Proctor) made an inside pass in turn four and led lap eight. On lap nine Proctor hit the back of Ziemann and both drivers spun out, allowing Steve Stewart to take the lead. Ziemann came back to finish second, 50-yards back, and Proctor took fourth. Five drivers ran all 15 laps. Ziemann now leads Proctor 228-224 after five of 11 scheduled races.
Irwindale's new Pure Stock entry-level class had a 16-car field and a fully inverted start for a 40-lap main on the third-mile. It was the second Saturday night event for the usual Friday night IS racers. The race had three leaders and four lead changes. Pole starter Jason Estes led laps one-15, 18-23 and 32-40 in his 1973 Chevy Monte Carlo. He became the eighth different winner after nine of 14 races in the economical entry class. Michelle Rouse came from fifth grid position and led laps 16-17. John Mattie led laps 24-31, got bumped out of the groove by second place Brian Malone and came back to finish second. Malone received the black flag. Fastest qualifier Bill Bartleson, the last IS feature winner, came from 16th to finish third as 14 drivers reached the checkered flag.
Two Pure Stock machines were dubbed with 1970s TV show names from Starsky & Hutch and the Dukes of Hazard. Paul Vitale's red & white No. 24 was "Starsky & Hutch", while Peter Bryk's orange & black No. 01 bore the name "General Lee" for the Dukes of Hazard car. The two cars started near the front and battled for second and third positions for 12 laps. Vitale finished fourth and Bryk fifth. Eight drivers ran all 40 laps and four ran 39.
The seventh and final race was a seven-car Women's Pure Stock ten-lap race using the same 1970s American production cars. Stacey Estes, wife of the 40-lap winner, led the first four laps. However, the bride of one-month spun to the turn four infield and lost a lap. Michelle Rouse led the final six laps and won by a straight-away in her 1974 Chevelle. Kim Unruh was second. Amee Blue and Kelly Young also completed ten laps. The other three drivers ran nine laps.
Ed. Note: The Irwindale AMF Bowling Pure Stocks run on alternate Friday nights at the Speedway and the public is invited to view the races at no charge from the pit grandstands.
This division has produced the greatest-ever number of different winners in one season of any Irwindale racing class -- Stars of the future and gristled veterans having at it on Irwindale's tight and tough third-mile. Fans, fun, and a completely different view of the proceedings from the T1 grandstands! What could be more fun for die-hard racing fans? B-there!
The night's Hard Charger Award winners as selected by race control were: (GAM)-first-time IS racer Kody Swanson, a 16-year old from Kingsburg, who finished sixth in both 20-lap GAM races; (S/S)-Victor Wu (P.14 to P.5); (P/S)-M. Rouse, and (SLM)-Dennis Arena (P.22 to P.13).
PICK YOUR PART FIGURE 8's:
Main: Steve Stewart, "Barefoot" Billy Ziemann, Harry Kuenniger, "Hot" Rod Proctor, Tony Curtis, Don Rogers, Robbie Stutzel, Greg Crutcher, Craig Yeaton.
Fast Time: Bill Bartleson, 18.920.(on third-mile).
Main: Jason Estes, John Mattie, Bill Bartleson, Paul Vitale, Peter Bryk, Jimmy Rouse, Harry Michaelian, Michelle Rouse, Blake Usilton, Bob Bartleson, Thomas Hall, Amee Blue, Izzy Lewis, Brian Malone, Dave Foster, Jeff Elder.
WOMEN'S PURE STOCKS:
Race: Michelle Rouse, Kim Unruh, Amee Blue, Kelly Young, Izzy Lewis, Darla Nicholas, Stacey Estes.
GRAND AMERICAN MODIFIEDS:
Fast Time: Andrew Phipps, 18.704.
Main # 1: Travis Thirkettle, Phipps, John Watkinson, Michael Morrisey, Brent Jones, Kody Swanson, Joe Ruggles, Dennis Eckert, Mike Trottochau, Garrett Yamada, Jamie Barnett, Tim Morse.
Main # 2: Phipps, Watkinson, Ruggles, Morrisey, Jones, Swanson, Eckert, Trottochau, Morse, Barnett, Thirkettle.
VISTA PAINT SUPER STOCKS:
Fast Time: Johnny White, 22.033.
Main: Kenny Brown, Bryan Harrell, Henry Miles, Steve Gilmore, Victor Wu, Marcelo Canel, Robin Bourgeois, Lyle Spangler, Greg Benner, Craig Rayburn, Chris Houwen, Lee Ladd, Tim Gardner, Craig Yeaton, Mike Gilmore, Jimmy Sloan, Larry Sampson, J. White, Eric Bewley, Greg Crutcher.
LUCAS OIL SUPER LATE MODELS:
Fast Time: Greg Pursley, 17.941.
Main: Pursley, Russell White, Tony Bruncati, James Bruncati, Nathan Wulff, Kevin O'Neil, Jason Patison, Charles Price, Roger Brown, Ed Hoffman, Mike Price, Gary Jenkins, Dennis Arena, Brett Landes, David Ross, Scott Conaway, Jeff Shaver, Charlie Wahl, Kevin O'Connell, Chris Oddo, Jim McGill, Brandon Loverock, Todd Southwell, Terry Elliott.