VEGAS' GAUGHN HOLDS THE WINNING HAND IN THREE-LAP CRAP-SHOOT AT SPEEDWAY The (very) personable Brendan Gaughn went from being a TV weatherman's sidekick to victory circle in the Winston West 250-lapper at Irwindale in fine style on Saturday...
VEGAS' GAUGHN HOLDS THE WINNING HAND IN THREE-LAP CRAP-SHOOT AT SPEEDWAY
The (very) personable Brendan Gaughn went from being a TV weatherman's sidekick to victory circle in the Winston West 250-lapper at Irwindale in fine style on Saturday night. The NAPA-mounted Orleans Racing star lead plenty of laps, followed for a few, was lucky when luck counted, and (very) fast anywhere on the track all night long. He also was the man in the lead when Irwindale Speedway served up yet another green-white-checker finish (the fifth or sixth such finale so far this season at Irwindale) for a whole houseful of on-their-feet-and-roaring NASCAR fans.
Gaughn won his second-straight Winston West race and his first at Irwindale.
Of course, his luck has something of a built-in side, being sponsored by a Las Vegas casino (The Orleans), but his size XXX right foot and ability to stay out of trouble with lapped traffic were the deciding factors in what was Gaughan's first Winston West win on a track that he just can't seem to say enough nice things about in both pre and post race interviews.
Prior to the very well received (we'll do it again, plan on it!) on-track autograph session for the Winston West drivers, the suitably sagacious Gaughn got a part-time gig working as CBS2 TV weatherman Tony Williams' on-air associate in a live broadcast from trackside. Gaughn was the perfect interview, talking in equal measure about the fun and excitement of Winston NASCAR racing and his desire to win a West race at his favorite short track.
The 250 was a true driver's race with plenty of drama and multiple possibilities for the winner's circle right until the last few laps when Gaughn got the lead and just wasn't about to relinquish it. Saugus' Sean Woodside, who had a car that would only run low (but really, really fast way down there) made a strong move with 10 laps to go and cut a 2 second lead to 0.7 as the laps ran out. Unfortunately Woodside caught the lap-down Austin Cameron (El Cajon) first and the two touched in turn one. Woodside went way sideways and Cameron went the other way which sort of left hard-charging Sammy Potashnick (Siskeston, MO) and series new-comer Mike David (Modesto) with nowhere to run to (and nowhere to hide). Both cars suffered massive front and rear damage putting drivers out of what was a fine night's effort for each.
Woodside skinneyed through the scary scene unscathed, but, by then his mission to get to the front was thwarted. Pole-winner and points leader Mark Reed, aboard the Food 4 Less entry, sized the day and snuggled up into second place, after fighting a fourth-gear only handicap for most of the race. Gaughn, who missed most of the action behind him said, "…I saw the yellow come out and then Mark come up behind me, but I really couldn't figure out what was going on back there." What was going on was Potashnick and Davis dropping back on the leaderboard and Sean Woodside ripping by Spokane, Washington's Kevin Richards for a podium.
Acton's own two-time Winston West champion, Bill Sedgwick followed in fifth place with Scott Gaylord (Lakewood, CO) recovering from a ride through the grass in the turn 2 inner brow for sixth. Johnny Borneman, had a long night but the Ramona driver salvaged some points with a seventh, while Potashnick limped his badly torn up car around for eight place points. For the second time in an Irwindale WW feature Steve Portenga ran out of fuel before the end of the race, this time in a semi-spectacular fashion as the green flag was waved and Portenga seemed to hit reverse as everyone clambered around his suddenly stuttering Chevy.
Earlier in the evening eight place Portenga put up an admirable performance as Track VP Pat Patterson's color commentator on a FX-taping of the Villa Roma 75 for Automobile Club of Southern California Late Models. Rounding out the top ten was Australian driving star Neville Lance on board Joe Bean's regular #77 ride. The one-off drive netted the team what they had hoped for, a top-10 finish in a tough league, on a track that road racing expert Lance first saw at about 10 am that morning. Good Day? We'd sure say so in light of the names that finished behind him on Saturday evening.
In the supporting Villa Roma 75 for Automobile Club of Southern California Late Models, San Pedro's Mike Price took a very popular win in what was only his fifth race in the Late Mods. The 1999 Super Stock track champion did it the sleepless way too. After choughing an engine on Friday night in practice for the TV race, he and his crew pulled an all-nighter to get the new mill stuffed-in and plumbed for Saturday's soirée. New motor, no sleep, whatever the secret was, the popular Price was dominant and got a well-deserved first place trophy for his heavy efforts.
"The X-Man" (Deryk) Ward was a tight second to Price, the Palm Springs-based driver doing everything that he could to get by Price right up to the last lap of a spin-filled, wall-kissing 75-lapper. Points leader and driver of the race sponsor's #4 Monte Carlo Todd Burns looked to have just a bit less steam on the straights and settled (this time) for a solid third thus retaining his points lead in the highly-competitive division.
A terrifically-improved Mike Haney (Alta Loma) and a surging Jeff Saelid (Covina) got the fourth and fifth slots respectively in the division that saw 29 cars take the green in front of an appreciative crowd of 6,654.
The Auto Club machines will be back for more on Saturday next (20th) in a "Twin 40" format, while the Winston West machines go on the road to Laguna Seca (oops, make that "Mazda Raceway" at you-know-where … Zoom, zoom). But the steadfast men and women of the 'West will be back at Irwindale for their next installment of NASCAR super steel-bodied "door-slammer" excitement on July twenty-first. Mark your calendars for some super-heated Saturday night racing action at IS.