By Tim Kennedy Irwindale, CA., May 14 - Mike Price enjoyed a priceless night at Irwindale Speedway Saturday in the track's premier and fastest division-the NASCAR Lucas Oil Super Late Model Series. The veteran of three IS racing series and ...
By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., May 14 - Mike Price enjoyed a priceless night at Irwindale Speedway Saturday in the track's premier and fastest division-the NASCAR Lucas Oil Super Late Model Series. The veteran of three IS racing series and 1999 Super Stock champion started fifth and led the 25-car, 75-lap main event for the final 60 laps. Price, aboard his AMI Metals, Inc./Brek Mfg. 2004 Ford Taurus, inherited the lead and logged his first career SLM victory.
The 2004 SLM rookie of the year from Harbor City topped his second place earlier this season. He moved from third to second in current points and did so without the presence of his father/sponsor and his crew chief, Greg Pursley, the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing 2004 National Champion and 2005 Elite Division Southwest Series driver. "We were all here Friday night (for the four hour open practice) and we found something that helped us go faster tonight," Price revealed.
Tim Huddleston, the Auto Club Late Model Series point leader, started ninth in his Justice Brothers Chevy Monte Carlo. He became the third race leader of the 23-car, 50-lap main via an inside pass on lap 42 in the fourth turn. He won by 1.522 seconds over his friend Travis Thirkettle, a co-worker at High Point Distributing. Thirkettle paced laps seven through 41. The two dueling drivers ran side-by-side from laps 34-41 with Thirkettle high and Huddleston low. It was Huddleston's 21st IS feature triumph and third in six IS races this season.
Chris Johnson, a 22-year old rising star who started racing as a youth in quarter midgets, won another Jasper Engines West Coast Pro Trucks 50-lap main-his fourth in five races this season. He started his 2000 Ford F-150 third in and battled fastest qualifier/pole starter Aaron Staudinger evenly for eight laps. Johnson then switched from his inside groove and passed the leader on the outside in the third and fourth turns. Johnson opened half a straight-away advantage by lap 45. He won by 3.953 seconds over Staudinger and increased his point lead to 20.
Robin Bourgeois, the second fastest qualifier in a 22-car field, started second and led all 40-laps of the Vista Paint Super Stock main. He won his second main of 2005 and the third of his IS career in his repainted 1976 Cheek Racing Camaro. It was the fourth main of the night on the banked half-mile.
Larry Sampson and fastest qualifier Greg Crutcher followed Bourgeois. The entertaining Mini Stocks kicked off the five-division card on the third-mile with 26 four-cylinder cars, primarily Ford Pintos, competing. Steve Rogers, a former CRA sprint car driver, started second and led all 35-laps with his Pinto. It was his third consecutive victory this season in four races.
Yet, he trails consistent point-leader Kevin Bernhardt by two points (186-184) because Rogers finished ninth in the opener. Bernhardt has a pair of seconds, a third and a fourth.
The SLM main had a straight-up start with quickest qualifier Russell White and point leader Todd Southwell, the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series Division IV point leader alongside. They battled evenly with White outside and Southwell inside. White led the initial 14 laps. The two leaders made contact on lap 15 in the second turn and continued non-stop. However, officials displayed the caution flag to remove debris from the White car. Officials sent both drivers to the back of the 25-car field per track rules because they were involved in the caution-producing incident.
Southwell was unhappy but charged forward from the back for the second consecutive race and finished third in his Monte Carlo. Rod Johnson, IS 1999 SLM champion, finished second, 0.550 seconds behind Price. Southwell's third position, 0.827 seconds back, kept his track point lead at 18 over Price. SLM rookie Doug McComb was fourth and Brandon Loverock fifth. Sixteen drivers finished and 14 ran all 75 circuits. White charged back to seventh place.
SLM rookie Andrew Phipps, the last feature winner, set fast time in the Bruncati Ford Taurus, but had his time disallowed because his team worked on the car following time trials. He started last (25th) and was in 15th position on lap 18 when he spun in the second turn. His car quickly collected the cars of Ed Hoffman, Jobe Spyres and Tony Jackson. No injuries resulted, but tow trucks removed all four badly damaged cars. Three other cautions slowed the 52-minute event.
Late Model fastest qualifier Jameel Saied paced the first six laps before Thirkettle executed an inside pass entering turn three. Huddleston and Saied made contact on lap 34 in the fourth turn as Huddleston took second from Saied. Mike Johnson and Scott Youngren later dropped Saied to his fifth place finish. Nineteen of 23 starters finished and all completed 50-laps. Huddleston and Thirkettle relived their close race with the media. Huddleston said "I'd be disappointed if he (co-worker Thirkettle) didn't give me the strong race he gave me." Hard charger award winners selected by track officials were (L/M) Youngren, 12th to fourth, (S/S) Jimmy Sloan, tenth to fourth, and (SLM) Dan Moore, 22nd to ninth.
MINI STOCKS: (27 cars)
Fast Time: Brian Johnson, 17.395.
Main: Steve Rogers, Eric Reed, Tim Ross, Kevin Bernhardt, Rich Garver, B. Johnson, Virgil Young, Glenn Duffin, Dustin Morgan, J. D. Manger, Jim McNear, Tyler Rogers, Daryl Scoggins, Dennis Croasmun, Rod Schmitt, R. C. Zimmerman, Kory Russell, Lauri Wong, Tom Dye, Bobby Carmack, Brenda Pugh, Ron Schmitt, Larry Haw, Kris Melleby, Jack Roberts, Bob Reed. DNS-Phil Griffin.
VISTA PAINT SUPER STOCKS: (22 cars)
Fast Time: Greg Crutcher, 22.048.
Main: Robin Bourgeois, Larry Sampson, Crutcher, Jimmy Sloan, Ed Dazzo, Steve Gilmore, Bryan Harrell, Lee Ladd, Kenny Brown, Steve Smith, Jeff Grill, Victor Wu, Tim Gardner, Dan Rodgers, Bill Shoemaker, Rich DeLong III, Keith Wood, Jamie Barnett, Richard Hansen, Ricky Collins, Garry Howell, Eric Sunness.
JASPER ENGINES WEST COAST PRO TRUCKS: (23 trucks)
Fast Time: Aaron Staudinger, 20.191.
Main: Chris Johnson, Staudinger, Don Helgeson, Michael May, Richard Black, Neil Conrad, Tim McMillin, Buddy Antunez, Ryan Black, Jeff Williams, Rick Wall, Barry Kelperis, Jr, Roger Harder, Cecil Phelps, Ron Davis, Ron Mongenel, David Timewell, Kirk Knostman, Todd Cameron, Jim Satterfield. DNS-Ivan Arias, George Parrett, Robert Leininger.
AUTO CLUB LATE MODELS: (23 cars)
Fast Time: Jameel Saied, 19.003.
Main: Tim Huddleston, Travis Thirkettle, Mike Johnson, Scott Youngren, Saied, Brian Kelley, George Ruark, Dan DiGiamarino, Johnny White, Brian Jones, Robert Rice, Craig Yeaton, Jeff Saelid, Richie Altman, Chris Carmody, Austin Grabowski, Chris Houwen, Candace Muzny, David Whitson, Daniel DiGiacomo , Mike Mulhall, Rodney Peacher, Dennis Schlarbaum.
LUCAS OIL SUPER LATE MODELS: (25 cars)
Fast Time: Russell White, 18.040.
Main: Mike Price, Rod Johnson, Todd Southwell, Doug McComb, Brandon Loverock, Scott Conaway, R. White, Jason Patison, Dan Moore, Chris Clyne, Dan O'Donnell, Andy Coyle, Scott Calvin, Dave Lyon, Dean Cato, Brian Ickler, Jim McGill, Kevin O'Connell, Nathan Wulff, Bryan Yeager, David Ross, Andrew Phipps, Ed Hoffman, Jobe Spyres, Tony Jackson.