"Professor" Greg Pursley gave yet another driving seminar and dominated the NASCAR Lucas Oil Super Late Model 75-lap featured race Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. It was his ninth victory in 13 mains this season (and third in a row) and his...
"Professor" Greg Pursley gave yet another driving seminar and dominated the NASCAR Lucas Oil Super Late Model 75-lap featured race Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. It was his ninth victory in 13 mains this season (and third in a row) and his seventh triumph in the last eight races on the banked half-mile. He drove the No. 13 King Taco Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
Pursley, leader of the NASCAR 2004 performance index for the eight-track Sunbelt Region, led every lap but the first. He set second fastest qualifying time and started fifth in a 28-car field with a six-car inverted start. Pursley darted into the lead during lap two when he swept past front-row starter/first lap leader Charlie Wahl on the inside as they exited turn four.
The winner, a former motorcycle racer and current mechanic at the track's race training center, consistently turned low 18-second laps. He opened a straight-away advantage by lap 40 and won by 1.802 seconds over Tony Bruncati's Sunrise Ford Taurus. It was Bruncati's seventh runner-up finish this season and the sixth time he chased Pursley across the finish line. Pursley now leads Bruncati by 62 points (596-534) with five point-races remaining in the track championship chase. Russell White, Brandon Loverock and Kevin O'Neil followed Bruncati. Eight drivers ran all 75 laps.
In the most exciting race of the night, point leader Doug McComb won his third Auto Club of Southern California Late Model 50-lap main in 11 races. He also has three seconds and third thirds. McComb leads track Late Model points by 50 after 11 of 16 scheduled events. As seventh quickest qualifier in the 22-car field, McComb started outside in row one. He trailed pole starter Ron Daniel to lap 18 when he executed an inside pass through turns three and four.
The lead pack of eight cars ran in close formation and exchanged positions frequently. At lap 25 the lead pack had grown to ten cars. McComb led Deryk Ward, Tim Huddleston, Andrew Myers, rookie Andrew Lewis, Ben Walker, Daniel, Brian Kelley, Mike Johnson and Ron Schartau. All ten participated in the dicing and slicing. At lap 34 Huddleston and Ward cars made contact leaving the fourth turn. Ward got out of shape and slowed briefly. The right side of Myers fourth place car climbed the left side of Ward's car and Lewis got involved. All drivers continued, but debris on the track caused a yellow flag until lap 39. Myers and Lewis pitted and returned later.
McComb ran the final 12 green flag laps and won by 0.233 seconds over Ward, with Huddleston 0.900 back. Kelley and Walker were fourth and fifth and 17 of the 18 finishers completed 50 laps. Four-time winner Ward and three-time winner Huddleston concluded the night tied for second position in points at 442. McComb leads with 492.
McComb told the crowd, "This is the second year in a row I've won the main on USG (Inc.) night. I want to give credit to my Victory Circle chassis." Ward (also known by his nickname: "The X-Man") responded to praise for his incredible driving (during the lap 34 incident) by saying, "Incredible or lucky, I thought we'd be wadded up over there in turn four."
Craig Rayburn won his second Vista Paint Super Stock 40-lap main this year in the first race of the night. He also won the season opener but his car did not pass post-race technical inspection. The ninth fastest qualifier started second in his Memory Lane Camaro and followed pole starter Robin Bourgeois to lap five. At that point Rayburn took command for good and led the final 36 laps. Bourgeois finished a career-best second, 0.767 seconds back, in his Camaro.
Larry Sampson took third as 23 of 25 starters finished and 18 completed all 40 laps. Rayburn's victory propelled him into the track point lead for the first time by three points. His 443 points now lead 2003 IS Super Stock champion Lee Ladd, the point leader entering the race. Rayburn told the crowd, "I drove 500 miles today from Utah and came back from our family vacation to race. It was worth it. I'm going back tomorrow to continue our vacation."
The touring West Coast Pro Trucks ran a 50-lap main event and fastest qualifier/sixth starter Dean Kuhn won his second feature this year. The driver from Oceanside became the third and final leader on lap six with an inside pass in the fourth turn. His Mirka Abrasives Ford F-150 opened a three-fourths of a straight lead by lap 40. However, a one-truck spinout caused the yellow flag to fly from laps 42-46 and reduced his winning margin to 15-yards (0.921 seconds) over Aaron Staudinger. Although Kuhn has two victories in his two races, he missed two races and ranks only 11th in points. Third place Sean Bennett, the first lap leader, took a two-point lead (176-174) over former point leader Jeff Williams, the laps two-five race leader who finished sixth. All 20 trucks finished and 15 ran all 50 circuits in a 26-minute event.
The only red flag incident of the night flew on the second lap of the SLM feature. A nine-car, high-speed crash in turn two involved fourth place James Bruncati, the fastest qualifier, and eight closely bunched drivers behind him. Extensive body damage sidelined six cars, but all drivers escaped injury.
Hard Charger $50 awards went to Eric Sunness (S/S) 16th to 11th; Dan DiGiacomo (L/M) 18th to 9th; Don Helgeson (WCPT) 9th to 4th, and Dennis Arena (SLM) 21st to 11th. Note-AMA dirt track motorcycle star Brett Landes, from Los Gatos, started the SLM main 23rd and finished 8th, on the lead lap, but he was not eligible for the award. According to track officials, Hard Charger winners must have logged a qualifying time during time trials and Landes did not make a qualification run.
WEST COAST PRO TRUCKS:
Fast Time: Dean Kuhn, 20.328.
Main: Kuhn, Aaron Staudinger, Sean Bennett, Don Helgeson, Chris Johnson, Jeff Williams, Michael Young, Jim Satterfield, Dennis Bennett, Neil Conrad, Richard Black, Kirk Knostman, Richie Altman, Mike Hahn, Steve Dyer, Brian Pannone, Ryan Black, Barry Kalperis, Cecil Phelps, Ron Mongenel. DNS-Chad Daly.
VISTA PAINT SUPER STOCKS:
Fast Time: Johnny White, 22.117.
Main: Craig Rayburn, Robin Bourgeois, Larry Sampson, Bryan Harrell, Chris Houwen, Victor Wu, Kenny Brown, Jimmy Sloan, Lyle Spangler, Lee Ladd, Eric Sunness, Greg Benner, Steve Gilmore, White, Ed Dazzo, Tim Gardner, Henry Miles, Dan Rodgers, Marcelo Canel, Pat Rummerfield, Bob Reed, Mike Gilmore, Brent Cusick, Greg Crutcher, Brian Tully.
AUTO CLUB of SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LATE MODELS:
Fast Time: Tim Huddleston, 19.086.
Main: Doug McComb, Deryk Ward, Huddleston, Brian Kelley, Ben Walker, Ron Schartau, Mike Johnson, Scott Youngren, Dan DiGiacomo, Todd Conrad, Andy Bargaehr, Robert Rice, Richie Altman, Brian Jones, Craig Yeaton, Mike Mulhall, George Ruark, Andrew Lewis, Andrew Myers, Ron Daniel, Dennis Schlarbaum, Eric Richardson.
LUCAS OIL SUPER LATE MODELS:
Fast Time: James Bruncati, 17.904.
Main: Greg Pursley, Tony Bruncati, Russell White, Brandon Loverock, Kevin O'Neil, Nathan Wulff, Gary Jenkins, Brett Landes, Jim McGill, Andy Coyle, Dennis Arena, David Ross, Terry Elliott, Dan Moore, Tony Jackson, Scott Conaway, Chris Oddo, Charlie Wahl, Jeff Shafer, J. Bruncati, Charles Price, Kevin Thompson, Tim Buckley, Ed Hoffman, Shawn Calderwood, Doug McComb, Tim Huddleston, Andrew Lewis. DNS-Candace Muzny.