Last Lap Lead Change Gives City Of Walnut The "Mayor's Cup" Win Greg Voigt Hangs In To Win Wild Food 4 Less Super Late Models 100 "It ain't over 'til it's over," said New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra decades ago. That well-known "philosophy"...
Last Lap Lead Change Gives City Of Walnut The "Mayor's Cup" Win Greg Voigt Hangs In To Win Wild Food 4 Less Super Late Models 100
"It ain't over 'til it's over," said New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra decades ago. That well-known "philosophy" was never truer than Saturday, October 13 at Irwindale Speedway on a warm evening before 5,620 onlookers.
Pole starter Tony Bruncati led the non-point NASCAR Food 4 Less Super Late Model $14,650 second annual Mayor's Cup 100-lap feature for the first 98 laps. He held a full straightaway advantage of five seconds approaching the end of the race and his first career victory in the series appeared imminent. Then chaos and confusion took over and resulted in perhaps the most controversial finish in three years of racing at the banked half-mile paved track.
When the checkered flag fell a lap after a lap 99 yellow flag, leader Bruncati finished eighth in his family-owned Sunrise Ford Taurus. Greg Voigt, the 2000 SLM track champion, had his third main event triumph of the 19 race season in his self-built 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo (355 cu. in. Chevy).
Voigt's surprising victory provided his financially strapped team a $3,000 payday. He represented the city of Walnut in the 24-car field that had drivers matched with 24 cities in the San Gabriel Valley. Mayors of many cities were in attendance. The city of Arcadia won the Mayor's Cup last year. Voigt had been in fifth position after 98 laps when an improbable chain of events occurred that left everyone in a state of disbelief.
First, Brandon Loverock, running third, tapped the back of second place Tommy Fry in the second corner on lap 99. Fry spun 360 degrees and continued, as did Loverock. Officials sent both drivers to the back of the lead lap cars under the caution period. Loverock then elected to pit his car in protest.
Next, fifth place James Bruncati,19-year old brother of the 21-year old race leader, spun in mid-track between the third and fourth turns in, "oil from the 74 (Fry) car". His Ford pinned the evading sixth place John Tyczki's Chevrolet against the outer crashwall as Bruncati's car continued to the waving yellow flag without losing a lap.
When the green flag saw racing resumed, the now second place Nathan Wulff's Chevrolet right front contacted the left rear quarter panel of leader Tony Bruncati's Ford exiting turn two and caused Bruncati to spin to the infield. He continued as Voigt and Doug Renno beat Wulff to the white flag and started lap 100. James Bruncati took third place from Wulff during the final lap.
The finishing order was Voigt, Renno (in his personal best finish at the track), J. Bruncati, Fry, Shawn Calderwood, Kazuto Yanagawa, Ron Overman, T. Bruncati, Wulff and Loverock. The top five finishers completed 100 laps. Wulff was fourth across the line but officials penalized him for causing T. Bruncati's spin and officials placed him ninth, behind four drivers who completed 99 laps. Loverock ran 98 laps. Only 13 of the 24 starters finished.
James Bruncati told fans, "My brother won that one." Winner Voigt, who skipped the last six point races because of a cash-short racing budget, said, "Fans got their money's worth tonight didn't they? My car wasn't good early in the race, but with 20 laps to go I said we've got a good shot."
When asked about the surprising conclusion, Voigt said he expected the checkered and yellow flags after Tyczki's car stopped against the crashwall between the third and fourth turns. "It (checkerered flag) should have flown. I'm glad it didn't, but it should've in my opinion. Usually after they throw the white, the yellow and checkered are shown the next lap. The car (Tyczki's) was out of the (racing) line."
The Bruncati family was irate and threatened not to return. Tony had dominated the race and appeared ready to beat his personal best second place main event finish. He was competing in his third Ford Taurus this season after a trying season. Race Director Chris Morgan told the starter via radio to wave the yellow only as a safety measure when cars were on the backstretch because Tyczki's driver side door was facing the oncoming field. Morgan and track officials remained in their office in the pits after the finish discussing the controversial finish. Track security staff and Irwindale Police presence ensured that order prevailed.
The initial lap of the SLM feature resulted in a 25-minute red flag delay following a multi-car crash. The cars of Chris Straka (inside), Bobby James (middle) and David Gilliland (outside) raced three abreast and made contact on the backstretch. The two inside cars veered up the track at speed into the outside wall and made hard contact at the right front. The Straka and James cars received heavy front-end damage. A brief engine fire in Straka's Chevy went out quickly. He was uninjured.
However, James had to be cut from his demolished Chevy that had been rebuilt after a bad crash earlier that sidelined substitute driver Charles Utts. James complained to rescuers about neck and back pain and stiffness. Los Angeles County paramedics arrived and took James to Arcadia Methodist Hospital where he was examined and released the same evening.
Two other non-point features preceded the SLM main. Rookie Andrew Phipps started his Camaro from the outside front row position and led all 50-laps of the NASCAR Super Stock event. It was his ninth triumph in 15 races and his eighth in the last nine events. His self-built car was not completed until the third race of the season or his successful season would've resulted in his first Irwindale championship. Phipps said he hopes to move up to the track's late model division next season.
Darren Cheek pressed Phipps all the way in search of his initial main event trophy, but he trailed the winner by 0.450 seconds. Will Cottrell took third spot. Eleven of the 32 starters raced all 50 laps and 22 cars were on the track at the conclusion.
Terry Limberopoulos won the 40-lap Mod 4s (mini-stocks) main event in his Renault. It was his sixth victory in the 11 races run on the third-mile oval this year and his fourth triumph in the last five mains. He passed early leader Fred Adams on lap five and beat Dave Goldstein by 0.233 seconds.
The runner-up was the crew chief for Mod 4 new track champion Guy Tripp this season. Tripp rewarded Goldstein by allowing him to qualify and race Tripp's Ford Pinto in the season finale. Goldstein set fastest qualifying time in his debut. Tony Lawler finished third in the first start at Irwindale for the Orange Show Speedway regular. Only four of the 20 starters ran all 40 laps-the longest race of the year for the division.
Irwindale Mayor Mark Breceda was the honorary starter for the night. He and city council members hosted invited mayors from 30 nearby cities at a catered late afternoon meal in the track's Chalet Village area. The mayors then enjoyed the races from track suites and rooted for the randomly drawn driver representing their city. The track's premier SLM racing division cars were parked on the front straight and drivers greeted fans and signed autographs for the first time on the race track for 30 minutes before racing commenced.
Fast Time: Dave Goldstein, 17.351.
Main: Terry Limberopoulos, Goldstein, Tony Lawler, Fred Adams, Dusty Morgan, Tom Fowler, Jim Lavender, Greg Didoha, Lennie Tracey, Jim McNear, Scott Corrigan, Richard Bokar, Ron Pugh, Ed Lavender, Dave Tressler, John Brady, Pat Ackley, Steve Rogers, Robert Lovas, Rod Hicks.
Fast Time: Andrew Phipps, 21.554.
Dash: Darren Cheek, Phipps, Myan Spacerelli, Will Cottrell, Dean Cato, Greg Benner.
Main: Phipps, Cheek, Will Cottrell, Spacerelli, Dean Cato, Jay Henson, Greg Crutcher, Dan Rodgers, Greg Benner, Mike Gilmore, Danny Renko, Tom Wilson, John Uribe, Rich Paez, Ken Brown, Mike Hall, Alex Romo, Larry Sampson, Henry Miles, Phil Holt, Bryan Dunn, Ray Moore, Albert Sallie, Robert Young, Curtis White, John Cappi, Robin Bourgeois, Greg Jacobs, San Vincent, Don Zoll, Paul Howard, Greg Bratschie.
FOOD 4 LESS SUPER LATE MODELS:
Fast Time: Rip Michels, 18.183.
Dash: Greg Voigt, John Tyczki, Tony Green, Nick DeFazio, Michels, Tony Bruncati.
Main: Voigt, Doug Renno, James Bruncati, Tommy Fry, Shawn Calderwood, Kazuto Yanagawa, Ron Overman, Tony Bruncati, Nathan Wulff, Brandon Loverock, Rod Johnson, Tyczki, David Gilliland, Dan O'Donnell, Todd Southwell, Jeff Michels, Danny Gay, Kevin Vernon, R. Michels, Nick DeFazio, Dennis Arena, T. Green, Bobby James, Chris Straka.