Irwindale crowns three champions

Irwindale, Calif. - - In what was the longest "truck" race ever run at Irwindale Speedway, San Bernardino's Ron Peterson won the Dr. Pepper-sponsored 50-miler for Speed Trucks and Phoenix, Arizona's Darren Young took the series' title. Both ...

Irwindale, Calif. - - In what was the longest "truck" race ever run at Irwindale Speedway, San Bernardino's Ron Peterson won the Dr. Pepper-sponsored 50-miler for Speed Trucks and Phoenix, Arizona's Darren Young took the series' title. Both drivers have been regular winners on the Mechanix Wear Speed Truck Challenge trail, but neither was ready for 901/2 roaring laps of green flag racing from the git-go. But that was exactly what the Speed Trucks did, they ripped off 90 clean laps of spirited driving before a minor (no contact) spin/stall slowed the whirlwind racing down enough for tires to cool and for the field to bunch up rally nice and tight behind the two leaders for a final ten-lap sprint to the finish and all the glory.

This race was contested hard by every one of the 30 Speed Trucks that took the green. The only problem was that the front-running high-energy entertainment duo of "Peterson and Young" just flat upstaged all the 28 other trucks on the premises. Chris Hines, for example, Troy Decuir for another, and young Randy Brown for a third. Hines, from Tempe, Arizona, finished a fine third on the track and in the annual points battle as well, the Moreno Valley's Decuir who showed both speed and poise on the circuit this year got a good fourth, West Covina's own seventeen year-old speedster Randy Brown took a well-driven fifth place in the 100-lapper and, even better, became the 2000 season Rookie-of-the-Year in the division.

In another hotly-contested touring division the Modified Stock Racing Association Pro4 Modifieds came to Irwindale Speedway with their own championship to decide.

In results similar to the Speed Truck finale, second place in the on-track battle won the season-long "war". Eddie Secord of Lakeside won the 40-lap feature event after early race leader Jim Warden, of Malibu, had his motor go south on him. Secord dominated the rest of the event, at least "on paper" but the show behind him was really the big race.

Mike Wright and Kenny Smith, who came into the evening's adventure only 15 points apart in the seasonal championship were the focus of everyone's attention. Wright, from Joshua Tree, and Smith, from El Monte were screaming and scheming about the title. In the end, traffic blew Smith's chances for a very desired championship in the fast little four-bangers as Wright slipped through a heavy gaggle of racers, and Smith was caught up in a "pick" play that saw him hit the binders to avoid hitting a lapper, thus handing the season's win to Wright.

It was a class move on Smith's part. He might have just bulled his way through and risked wrecking somebody (himself included) but he chose to take the high road of sportsmanship and good sense. Sometimes THAT's the indication of a winner just as much as the name inscribed on the tin cup or plastic plaque that they hand you in Victory Square. Ed Reed of Orange and Tim Gardner of Sunland finished fourth and fifth respectively in the "Pro4's".

In the Legends Car 30-lap main event, we had one of those: "All he has to do is key the motor to win the championship," deals. And, sure as shootin' the guy who ran second place in the race was the guy who took home the season's honors.

Jim Smith of Orange needed only to fire up and take to the track toe become the 2000 champ in the "diminutive-but-dynamite" Legends division.

Not only did he do that, but he fought his way to the front and a second place finish behind Upland's Jim Kalawaia only .160 seconds behind the cruisin' Kalawaia.

Tom Landreth from Alta Loma was third, with Jamul's Harold Grafton fourth, and Temple City's Kevin Krauss fifth.

3,704 fans (the lowest attendance of the season) braved some very cold weather to watch some very hot racing. With relatively little "down time" (track clean-up from incidents) the races were finished up in almost record time and it was nice to see most of the fans not scurrying to the warmth of their automobiles and heading on home; but filling up the pit area with good cheer and camaraderie.

The after-race family visit to the Pits with camera and program to autograph was certainly warm and well at Irwindale on Saturday night regardless of the thermometer which read a chilly 41 degrees at race's end.

Irwindale Speedway's final race of its second season takes place on this coming Thursday, November 23. Known for many years as the "Turkey Night Grand Prix for USAC Midget Cars" the race will be the 60th renewal of an event that was first run in 1934 at the great Gilmore Stadium located at 3rd and Fairfax in Los Angeles.

On Thursday night, the most coveted title in Midget Car Racing will once again be on the line. That title: "Turkey Night Winner" simply resonates with the realization of the men who have proudly worn that title. Forty men, among them Roy Russing, Danny Oakes, Bill Vukovich, Johnny Parsons, Joe Garson, Tony Bettenhausen, A.J. Foyt, Mel Kenyon, Sam Sessions, Parnelli Jones, Rick Goudy, Ronnie Shuman, Brent Kaeding, Bubby Jones, Stan Fox, Billy Boat, Jay Drake, Chuck Gurney, and Jason Leffler have claim to that exclusive designation.

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Series Stock car
Drivers Jason Leffler , Billy Boat , Jay Drake , Johnny Parsons , Bill Vukovich , Darren Young , Tony Bettenhausen , Jim Smith , Kevin Krauss , A.J. Foyt