THOMAS WOLFE WAS WRONG! IRWINDALE SATURDAY NIGHT UNDER THE LIGHTS 07.09.05 By Tim Kennedy Irwindale, CA., Jul. 9 - Who said you can't go home again? Rip Michels did just that Saturday at the half-mile Irwindale Speedway. The 40-year old driver...
THOMAS WOLFE WAS WRONG!
IRWINDALE SATURDAY NIGHT UNDER THE LIGHTS 07.09.05
By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., Jul. 9 - Who said you can't go home again? Rip Michels did just that Saturday at the half-mile Irwindale Speedway. The 40-year old driver from Mission Hills used an open-week in his NASCAR Elite Division Southwest Series schedule to race his green No. 12 Stock Building Supply/Ladco 2004 Chevy Monte Carlo to victory in both Lucas Oil Super Late Model 50-lap features at his home track.
The 2002-03 Irwindale SLM champion (and 2000 Grand American Modified champion) made only his second SLM start of 2005 in his own Victory Circle chassis that his team put together and named Electra. Michels won the 2005 IS season opener in the car. His two victories Saturday gave the lightly raced car four victories in five races. Michels, the leading main event winner at seven year old IS, now has 41 feature triumphs in SLM and GAM divisions. The second most prolific winner, Todd Burns, has 36 victories. His 100 points Saturday moved Michels into 18th place in current SLM track points among 51 drivers with points.
Michels, an ironworker by trade, had not planned to race at IS Saturday. "We have four consecutive tour (Southwest Series) races in California and Colorado. My team sponsor (Stock Building Supply) is sponsoring the tour race at Irwindale August 6 and wanted us to race our SLM to promote that race. We have to finish in the top ten in SW Series points to make the Toyota All-Star Challenge at Irwindale (November 10-12) and that is our focus. I'm now tenth in points," said Michels, the 2004 SW Series rookie of the year and third place finisher in Irwindale's June 18 SW tour race.
Other main event winners Saturday were first-time feature winner Ryan Black (Jasper West Coast Pro Trucks) in his Chevy Silverado. As fastest qualifier he spun a one and started from pole position. He led all 40-laps and defeated second starter/point-leader Chris Johnson's Ford F-150 by 1.307 seconds in a 15-minute race slowed by two caution flags. Neil Conrad passed Todd Cameron on the inside as they raced towards the checkers and took third place by 0.044 seconds over series rookie Cameron.
Rookie Greg Tucker won the shortened Grand American Modified 20-lap main that started a track-lowest ever field of seven cars. It was the second consecutive GAM race on the third-mile. Quickest qualifier Tucker, a past IS mini stock champion, started second and chased pole starter/point leader Joe Ruggles for 12 laps. Then Tucker executed an outside pass through the third and fourth turns and pulled away to his 30-yard (1.567-seconds) victory. It was his initial GAM triumph and came in round six of nine. Tucker now ranks third in series points, 20 behind runner-up Ruggles. John Watkinson was third.
Dodge Super Truck title-contenders Ron Peterson (2003 Dodge Dakota) and Cory Fancy (2000 Chevy S-10) entered the race two points apart with Fancy leading Peterson 378-376. Fastest qualifier Fancy started second and fourth quickest Peterson came from fourth. Louis Mammolito led the first six circuits. Peterson took second from Fancy on lap five and led laps seven-50. Fancy took second on lap seven and chased Peterson to the finish, trailing by two lengths (0.410 seconds) at the end. John Sereika and first-time truck series starter Bill Sedgwick, the Grand National West veteran driver/crew chief, finished third and fourth. After race nine of 14 Peterson and Fancy are tied at 426 points. In the tie-breaker, Peterson has four victories to two for Fancy. Three drivers-Joe Herold, Dave Blankenship and Pat Mintey, Jr-won the other three mains.
SLM title-contenders Todd Southwell and Andrew Phipps experienced similar results. Point leader Southwell finished third in the first 50 and dropped out of the second 50. Rookie Phipps was third on lap nine of the first 50 when his Taurus made hard contact on the right side with the fourth turn wall. Damage caused him to slow to last place in the 29-car field by lap 12. He continued, two laps back, to lap 40 when he dropped out and placed 24th. Phipps used a backup Taurus, started last in the second 50 and finished fifth in a 26-car field. Fastest qualifier Southwell started third in the second 50 and was in fourth place when his car got loose and also contacted the fourth turn wall on lap nine ironically. He pitted and returned 12 laps down and was running at the finish in 25th spot. Southwell increased his point lead by two to 18 (504-486) over Phipps after 12 of 18 scheduled races.
In the first SLM 50 fast qualifier/pole starter Russell White led the initial 21 laps. Sixth fastest qualifier Michels came from sixth on the grid and was second by lap seven. Inside-running Michels went under White from turn four to the starting line on lap 22 and defeated White by 0.489 seconds. Southwell, Dan O'Donnell and rookie Doug McComb, the 2004 IS Late Model champion, completed the top five. Twenty of 29 starters finished on the lead lap in a 31-minute event slowed by three yellow flags.
The inversion was three for the second 50 and Michels (the third fastest qualifier based on the second of two qualifying laps) started from the pole position. He led all 50 laps and won by 0.198 seconds over sixth starter Brian Ickler's Taurus. A lap 40 yellow flag wiped out Michels' 35-yard advantage. When the green flag flew on lap 44, Ickler closed in gradually, but he trailed by two lengths at the finish. It was the career best result for the SLM series rookie. Mike Price, Dan Moore and Phipps followed as 22 drivers in the 26-car field completed all 50 laps. Hard chargers named by officials were SLM drivers Jim McGill and Rod Johnson and GAM driver Garrett Yamada.
Spectators at IS Saturday included GN West car owner Joe Nava, who will field three GNW Fords at IS July 23 for new GNW drivers. Super Truck winner Peterson will drive No. 17. Jason Jefferson, an Elite Division Northwest Series driver, will race No. 77. SLM/truck racer Brian Pannone will drive a new, third Nava car-No.29. Also present at IS for the first time was Dr. Robert Hubbard, Ph. D, a professor of bio-mechanical design at Michigan State University, and the co-inventor of the HANS device head and neck restraint system used by drivers.
GRAND AMERICAN MODIFIEDS: (7 cars)
Fast Time: Greg Tucker, 15.307.
Main: Tucker, Joe Ruggles, John Watkinson, Doug Carpenter, Garrett Yamada, Jerry Toporek, Zack Foster.
JASPER WEST COAST PRO TRUCKS: (16 trucks)
Fast Time: Ryan Black, 20.045.
Main: Black, Chris Johnson, Neil Conrad, Todd Cameron, Rick Wall, Tim McMillin, Jim Satterfield, Barry Kelperis, Roger Harder, Ron Mongenel, Cecil Phelps, Ivan Arias, Don Helgeson, Dustin Vandermooren, Brent Cusick.
DODGE SUPER TRUCKS: (24 trucks)
Fast Time: Cory Fancy, 19.675.
Main: Ron Peterson, Fancy, John Sereika, Bill Sedgwick, Paul Brennan, Logan Henson, Louis Mammolito, Dana Higgins, Scott Fortier, Dave Scarcella, Josh Barker, Darren Sigwing, Ken Maler, Randy Colling, Danny Mathus, Rich Legere, Richard Williams, Bob Barker, Steve Latina, Tim Doyle, Pat Mintey, Jr, Scott Davidson, P. J. Baker, Ryan Fortier
LUCAS OIL SUPER LATE MODELS: (31 cars)
Fast Time: # 1 Russell White, 17.951. # 2 Todd Southwell, 17.956.
Main # 1: Rip Michels, White, Southwell, Dan O'Donnell, Doug McComb, Dan Moore, Van Knill, Jim McGill, Stephen Peace, Andy Coyle, Nathan Wulff, Kevin O'Connell, Mark Perry, Mike Price, Steve Hamilton, Ed Hoffman, David Ross, Tony Jackson, Roger Brown, Brian Ickler, Rod Johnson, Dean Cato, Scott Calvin, Andrew Phipps, Gary Jenkins,. Dennis Arena, Scott Conaway, Steve Teats, Ken Shearan. DNS-Chris Oddo.
Main # 2: Michels, Ickler, Price, Moore, Phipps, Johnson, Conaway, Perry, Jackson, O'Donnell, Jenkins, Knill, McComb, McGill, O'Connell, Hoffman, Calvin, Coyle, Wulff, Brown, Arena, Peace, Ross, White, Southwell, Teats.