SWS: Irwindale race report

Hey, if it isn't already, it should be - Matt Crafton's nickname has got to be "Crafty". The Tulare 24-year old was crafty, calculating, sly and (most importantly) victorious in the 150-lap Food 4 Less Featherlite Southwestern Tour Series race...

Hey, if it isn't already, it should be - Matt Crafton's nickname has got to be "Crafty". The Tulare 24-year old was crafty, calculating, sly and (most importantly) victorious in the 150-lap Food 4 Less Featherlite Southwestern Tour Series race on Saturday. It was a race that was supposed to be a long, tactical battle and turned out to be just that, with Crafton letting his two toughest contenders run right by him and then "reeling them in" over the last 20 laps for a popular win with seemingly no problems at all. Setting fast time for the forty-one "Tour " cars in attendance, Matt also set the tone for a good night at Irwindale. Leading the season's points coming into Irwindale, Crafton takes an even bigger lead (163 points) into the last two races of the season at Bakersfield and Phoenix.

Redding's Craig Raudman was one of the drivers that Crafton saw get around him, as did Auggie Vidovich of Lakeside. Both drivers seemed determined to drop Crafton back a place or two, but Crafton was having none of that noise.

Vidovich is running second in the 2000 point chase and was content with a good third place finish. Raudman, who won the Ford L.A. Street Race, but who has not run the full series was looking for another 2000 season win but settled for a hard-fought second when Crafton just proved too strong (for anybody) at the end.

Regular Irwindale competitor, crewman, car-builder, motor-maven, and movie set race car wrangler Keith Spangler, from Chatsworth, finished fourth after a race that looked (to him) like more of a "Dodge'Em" car ride at an amusement park. If there was traffic on the track, Spangler hit it everytime and at exactly the wrong time. He could not get arrested trying to get up there with the lead three, in the end he was wishing for at least 20 more laps and for "Australian Pursuit" rules to kick in during the last ten laps.

The unofficial (but unanimous) "Drive of the Race" honors have to go to Tucson's Paul Banghart who raced his way into the Food 4 Less 150 fireworks feature via the B-Main and then proceeded to make a super run up the lap charts from the twenty-eighth starting slot all the way to fifth place. The crowd of 5,540 enthusiastic NASCAR Tour fans were treated to a beautifully-driven "race-within-a-race" watching Banghart blow his way past car after car on his relentless race to his well-deserved top five finish. It was the kind of gritty, determined driving that's not only the very essence of shortrack racing, but, which makes many a sponsor sit up and take notice.

The NASCAR "Featherlite's" are back on Irwindale's 2001 schedule which will be out in just about a month ... Mark your 2001 datebook for the show.

Its hard to tell the exact moment that Jeff Green, of Long Beach, won this year's NASCAR Super Stock crown at Irwindale. After the last race, he left 50 the facility points ahead of his nearest rival Mike Price of San Pedro ... Some would say that it was then. Others contended that the Green gang had to show up, not blow up, and get to the main event grid and fire up for the deal to be official. He did both, ran a smart and speedy third in the main, and became this year's final NASCAR Weekly Racing Champion. "Mr. Wild Thing" was magically transformed into "Mr. Super Stock Champion" and his cast and crew put on a real celebration over that fact!

Mike Price won the S/S race with TK Karvasek, that constant co-conspirator of consummate conviviality, aka "The Man from North Hills" slipping and a'sliding around right behind in second place. It was a redeeming win, a strong second place and a title-clinching third that the fans cheered for long and loud.

Jim Smith of Orange bested Victorville's Don Pinkus in the Legends Cars 30-lap main which was not without its own share of drama. Gene Scheuerell of Temecula got third, while regular Tom Landreth (Alta Loma) took fourth, with Jim Kalawaia from nearby Garden Grove coming in fifth. Tom's brother Bob got a good sixth place in the eight minute and thirty-nine second race which featured 24 buzzin' finishers. - DS



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Drivers Jeff Green , Matt Crafton , Craig Raudman , Auggie Vidovich , Jim Smith