WWS: Irwindale finale

Irwindale, Calif.- - Pride is on the line on Saturday night, November 11, in what will be the longest NASCAR Winston West race ever run at Irwindale Speedway. The Home Depot 300, three hundred grueling laps to victory in the last race of...

Irwindale, Calif.- - Pride is on the line on Saturday night, November 11, in what will be the longest NASCAR Winston West race ever run at Irwindale Speedway. The Home Depot 300, three hundred grueling laps to victory in the last race of the 2000 season for the "West" cars. It will also be one last chance for many competitors to move up in the all-important season standings behind points leader and champion-elect Brendan Gaughan from Las Vegas.

Anyone who thinks that anybody (...other than Brendan) who's running in the season's championship isn't coming into this Irwindale season-closer race with the idea of moving up a couple of places on the points pole has got another guess coming. Next year's deals, rides, endorsements all hang on the outcome.

So ... Will young Mr. Gaughan go all conservative on us? Cruising and collecting? Just show up and pick up his winner's laurels (not to mention the dough)? ... Do racers park in the pits? Anyone who knows young Brendan knows that he's not the cruise and collect type of guy. He's "only" won two of the 11 races this year. Third place Bobby Dotter is the only other Winston West driver to win more (three) and Gaughan and his Bill McAnally-led crew are a very proud bunch. Win is what they will try to do, bet the farm on THAT insider tip.

And what about Steve Portenga, a "so near, yet so far" year has kept his name right at the top end of the points chase (second to Gaughan going in to this last race) but without a single "WIN" in the box score next to his name. His eight top 10's and three top 5 finishes actually rating behind the third in points Dotter's eight and four record. Interestingly enough, twice-champ Bill Sedgwick, fourth in points, brandishes that same eight and four (and no wins) record of top 10's and top 5's too. Did we mention that PRIDE is on the line? You had best believe it!

And, how about Eric Norris? The TV stunt coordinator, martial arts expert, and second-unit director was involved in a last-lap scramble with former amateur pugilist Portenga at Mesa Marin in Bakersfield a few weeks ago in race number 11. Norris nudged the checker from Steve for his first win of the season (do we need to say that put Portenga 0 for 11 in the win column?). Think that race number 12 will be a re-match? Think that Portenga, who knows how to win at Irwindale, won't be on it? Think again.

One other question lurks, did Joe Bean, Irwindale's last Winston West race winner, go home and instruct his faithful crew to crazy-glue all the settings on his race car from the August 19 show? That vehicle was so good that it was almost scary. Bean was able to come from very nearly two laps down to a very popular win, in what could only be described as a cakewalk. Would you think that he wants: "... Just one more"?

As an extra added attraction the Mechanix Wear Speed Trucks will stage a 100-lap "enduro" which will be the longest race that the "spec"-type division has ever attempted at Irwindale. Quite an evening of high-octane entertainment!

This race also marks the last 2000 season race at Irwindale Speedway that physically requires pit stops for fuel and tires. All that patented brand of super-heated NASCAR Winston West pit action takes place right in front of the grandstands in a specially-constructed pit area right on the inner 1/3-mile track. Fans never ever miss a moment of the action, as on and off-track activities take place right in front of their seats all race long.

Speaking of seats, there are number of good ones still available for this event and they are easily obtained by calling (626) 358-1100, hooking up with tickets.com on the web, or stopping by the on-site ticket windows at the track Tuesday through Saturday during regular business hours.

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Bobby Dotter , Brendan Gaughan , Steve Portenga , Eric Norris