IRWINDALE RACE REPORT ... JUNE 18, 2005 By Tim Kennedy Irwindale, CA., Jun. 18 - The featured NASCAR Auto Zone Elite Division touring series followed four Irwindale Speedway point series main events Saturday night as the track presented an ...
IRWINDALE RACE REPORT ... JUNE 18, 2005
By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., Jun. 18 - The featured NASCAR Auto Zone Elite Division touring series followed four Irwindale Speedway point series main events Saturday night as the track presented an entertaining five series racing card before about 5,700 fans. The Elite Division, round six of 14 Southwest Series events at eight tracks in three states, lived up to its name and top billing. Drivers staged an exciting 28-car Advantage Ford 100-lap feature for $49,394 with $3,000 going to winner and series point leader Jim Pettit II.
The Southwest race had two leaders. The finish came down to a lead pack of four drivers in two lines, two drivers outside and two inside within four lengths as they charged to the checkered flag. A green, white, checkered flag resulted after sixth place Dan Holtz spun into the fourth turn wall on lap 97, causing a caution flag from laps 97-103. Pettit, the SW Series 2004 champion, led the first lap and laps 82-105. He ran the outside groove in his un-sponsored Ford Taurus and won by 0.200 seconds over the inside-running Chevy Monte Carlo of Greg Pursley, the IS 2004 Super Late Model champion and Dodge Weekly Racing Series National Champion.
Third place Rip Michels, Irwindale's 2002-03 SLM track champion and 2004 SW Series rookie of the year, led laps two-81 in his Monte Carlo. He got high in turn four on lap 82 and dropped to third. He ran the outside groove and trailed Pettit by 0.299 seconds. Auggie Vidovich, in a Monte Carlo, used the inside groove and finished fourth in a Chevy, 0.524 seconds behind the winner. Nick Lynch was fifth, 0.936 seconds from the lead.
The 48-minute race had five yellow flags and one red flag on lap 90 when SW Series newcomer/IS Late Model veteran George Ruark spun to the second turn wall tail first. His car stopped with the nose of his car facing the infield. Oregon driver Brandon Riehl , the Elite Division Northwest Series point leader and tenth place driver in SW Series points, was running a strong seventh and quickly spun the right side of his Chevy into the left front of Ruark's car. Riehl limped to the pits for repairs. The red flag flew as rescuers came to assist Ruark, who escaped injury from the hard impact. Nineteen of the 28-starters finished with 14 drivers on the lead lap. An engine fire on the starting grid sidelined the car of Stan Silva before the initial green flag.
Two of the regular IS series-the Auto Club Late Models and Jasper West Coast Pro Trucks-ran 50-lap mains on the banked, half-mile. Two IS series-the King Taco Legend Cars and the Grand American Modifieds-utilized the third-mile oval. Four drivers led the 20-car race for Late Models. Tim Huddleston, the second starter and laps 20-26 and 37-50 leader, won his sixth main this season and third in a row. He extended his point lead from 74 to 78 points. Third starter Mike Johnson led the first lap and Brian Kelley paced laps two-19. Fifth starter Travis Thirkettle took second on lap 23 and passed leader Huddleston on the inside entering turn one during lap 27. He led through lap 36.
The second red flag of the race flew on lap 30 for clean-up work following a seven-car crash between the third and fourth turns. Eight yellow flag laps preceded the green flag on lap 37. A flat RF tire immediately sidelined leader Thirkettle and likely deprived the series rookie of his second L/M feature triumph. Huddleston pushed his lead to 1.692 seconds at the conclusion over runner-up Kelley as 11 of 13 finishers ran all 50 laps. The first red flag came on lap 24 when fifth place Brian Jones contacted fourth place Johnson as both drivers went for the same space entering the third corner. Jones' car shot up into the outer wall and ricocheted back across the track to the low groove as following drivers narrowly avoided contact. Jones complained of pain and track emergency crews cut off the top of his car to extract him from his battered Chevy. Ambulance crews examined him, but Jones declined transport for treatment.
Fastest qualifier Aaron Staudinger started second and led all 50 laps in his Chevy Silverado in the WCPT main. He now has two victories and a second in the three races he has run this season. The event had three cautions for spins and a lap 30 two-truck crash that sidelined the sixth and seventh running trucks of Jim Satterfield and Neil Conrad. Thirteen drivers finished and 12 ran all 50 circuits.
GAM teams competed for the first time on the third-mile after racing only on the half-mile since the track opened in 1999. Only eight cars competed as some GAM teams objected to the switch in tracks and boycotted the race. Absent point leader Tim Morse dropped to fifth in points. Joe Ruggles, the third quickest qualifier, started on the pole and led all 35 laps for his third victory in the first five races of a nine-race GAM season. Fastest qualifier John Watkinson started third, made contact with second place Greg Tucker on lap 10 in turn four and spun both cars. They restarted at the back. Watkinson charged to third in the eight-car field by lap 21. He closed rapidly on leader Ruggles and tried outside passes on the final two laps before trailing Ruggles across the finish line by 0.185 seconds (one length) in a 9:24.447 timed race. Tucker raced into third spot on lap 25 and trailed Ruggles by 5.904 seconds. Super Truck point leader/GAM rookie Cory Fancy finished fourth, using an engine from a super stock. Seven drivers finished and five ran all 35 laps.
The entertaining 29-car Legends main had three leaders. Ryan Partridge, the laps 15-35 pacesetter, crossed the finish line 0.360 seconds in front of pole starter Kenton Gray, the laps two-14 leader in a replica 1934 Ford coupe.
Fastest qualifier/second starter Tom Landreth, the first lap leader in his 1934 Ford coupe, was third. Twenty-seven of 29 starters finished and 21 ran all 35 laps. However, officials disqualified apparent winner Partridge, a high school junior, for a chassis that was not "in spec" after a bump in the bent one of his rear fame horns, in his replica 1937 Chevy sedan. Second-year Legends driver Gray won his first feature this season. His 50 points moved him from ninth to seventh in IS points after six of 11 scheduled races.
KING TACO LEGEND CARS; (33 cars)
Fast Time: Tom Landreth, 16.839.
Main: Kenton Gray, T. Landreth, Matt Hicks, Cory Miles, Jim Smith, J. D. Hendley, Bill Bonney, Chad Schug, Steve Twilligear, Mark Gaiser, Connor Cantrell, Lindsay King, Larry Stone, Tom Skahill, John London, Darren Amidon, Van Iungerich, Brian Wong, Lynn Sours, Bree Brewer, Don Teller, Larry Alsop, Jim Pantier, Joseph Daniello, David Gibson, Michael Smith, Ryan Schug, Bob Landreth. DISQ-Ryan Partridge. DNS-Jason Alsop, Dennis Howell, Eric Brett.
GRAND AMERICAN MODIFIEDS: (8 cars)
Fast Time: John Watkinson, 15.283 - NTR - (1st time GAM used third-mile)
Main: Joe Ruggles, Watkinson, Greg Tucker, Cory Fancy, Doug Carpenter, Garrett Yamada, Zack Foster, Stoney Gray.
JASPER WEST COAST PRO TRUCKS: (22 trucks)
Fast Time: Aaron Staudinger, 20.244.
Main: Staudinger, Chris Johnson, Richard Black, Jeff Williams, Buddy Antunez, Don Helgeson, Todd Cameron, Robert Leininger, Barry Kelperis, Jr, Dave Timewell, Cecil Phelps, Ivan Arias, George Perret, Ryan Black, Jim Satterfield, Neil Conrad, Rick Wall, Steve Dyer, Brent Cusick, Ron Davis, Dustin Vandermooren. DNS-Tim McMillin.
AUTO CLUB LATE MODELS: (20 cars)
Fast Time: Brian Kelley, 19.032.
Main: Tim Huddleston, Kelley, Scott Youngren, Chris Carmody, Justin Lofton, Mike Johnson, Austin Grabowski, George Ruark, Mike Mulhall, Dan DiGiamarino, Craig Yeaton, Chris Houwen, Pat Ackley, Richie Altman, Travis Thirkettle, Danny Renko, Robert Rice, Jameel Saied, Daniel DiGiacomo, Brian Jones.
AUTO ZONE ELITE DIVISION SOUTHWEST SERIES: (28 cars)
Fast Time: Burney Lamar, 17.756.
Main: Jim Pettit II, Greg Pursley, Rip Michels, Auggie Vidovich, Nick Lynch, David Gilliland, Greg Voigt, M. K. Kanke, Eddy McKean, Stephan Sadler, Thomas Martin, Bob Lyon, Ryan Foster, David Mayhew, Lamar, Doug McCoun, Dustin Jones, Gary Lewis, Richard Johnson, Dan Holtz, Brandon Riehl, George Ruark, Mike Ledbetter, Don Campbell, Darrell LaMoure, Keith Spangler, Mike Price, Stan Silva, Jr.