Irwindale race notes 2002-07-20

Tim Woods III persevered and won his first NASCAR Jani-King Super Late Model 75-lap feature of the season before 5,836 Saturday on the Irwindale Speedway half-mile. His seventh career triumph ended a victory drought of 364-days. He won his second...

Tim Woods III persevered and won his first NASCAR Jani-King Super Late Model 75-lap feature of the season before 5,836 Saturday on the Irwindale Speedway half-mile. His seventh career triumph ended a victory drought of 364-days. He won his second main last season on July 21 in the same Chino Hills Ford-sponsored Ford Taurus.

Woods, who is driving #54 Fords this season in both the NASCAR Winston West Series and in Irwindale's premier NASCAR Dodge series weekly SLM division, became the fifth different winner this year after 12 of 19 scheduled SLM races. The race, round six of the ten-race Miller Lite Big Ten Challenge Series, went 75-green flag laps in a time of 23:51.102.

With a SLM inversion of ten, ninth-fastest qualifier Woods started second. He dropped to third twice during the first five laps. Woods then chased third-starter Kazuto Yanagawa, leader of the initial 44 laps, amid lapped cars, which slowed Yanagawa from laps 30-44 and eliminated his 35-yard advantage. Woods ducked under "K.Z" for the lead in the fourth turn on lap 45 as they lapped a slower car and then opened a half-straight lead over Yanagawa by lap 70.

Rip Michels took second from Yanagawa on lap 72 and closed to within 30-yards of the winner during the final four circuits. Yanagawa finished third. Twenty-one of the 23-starters were racing at the finish and 12 drivers completed all 75-laps. Fox Sports Net2 taped three of the five features Saturday for one-hour telecasts during the final three Thursdays of August.

Fan-friendly and popular Woods hopes to find a second sponsor to advance his career to NASCAR's Busch Grand National Division "to be the next driver of color" in a national stock car series. To celebrate his victory, Woods climbed from his car at the finish line, sprinted across the track and climbed the fence to salute fans. Later, he told the media, "I'm proud of the fact I'm the only driver to win a SLM main event in each of Irwindale's four seasons."

Rookie Scott Youngren, 32, drove his Chevy Monte Carlo to his first career victory in a NASCAR Automobile Club of Southern California Late Model 75-lap feature. The Irwindale newcomer parlayed his second place main event finish last week and growing confidence to become the fourth winner after 11 of 18 L/M races. He started third, took the lead during lap 15 on the outside in turn four. Youngren held on a two-length victory despite pressure from four cars in another green, white, checker finish. Doug McComb, Kevin Wood and Mike Price followed. The race had four L/M rookies in the top ten-Ron Schartau was sixth, Jeff Green eighth and Pat Ackley tenth.

The L/M feature took 41:38.124 to complete because of four cautions. The second mishap on lap 24 between the first two corners involved five cars, including cars in fourth through sixth positions. Title contender Tim Huddleston's fourth place Pontiac was towed to the pits. He returned on lap 42 and finished last (19th) in a 25-car field.

Terry Young came home first at IS for the third consecutive race in an American Race Trucks 75-lap main. He started his Chevy fifth and led all but the first two laps. He had 30-yards and three lapped trucks between his No. 4 truck and runner-up Robbie Brand at the finish. Randy Nelson and Aaron Staudinger followed.

Remarkably, the first four drivers finished in the exact positions they finished the last ART feature at Irwindale on July 6. The ART race was round nine of 13-point events this year at Irwindale. Point leader and four-time IS winner Michael May started eighth with an older engine and was in sixth position on lap 36 when he became involved in a three-truck crash in turn two. May lost three laps while his crew removed his RF fender. He returned and finished 15th with 16 of the 23 trucks running at the finish.

Dan DiGiacomo, a 23-year old two-year veteran of the Mechanix Wear Speed Truck Series, captured his initial main event victory in the series. The driver from Laguna Niguel started his Ford Ranger on the pole and led all 50 laps. Fellow front row starter Lee Hatch ran second all the way and trailed by 9.390 seconds. Casey Kingsland, from Las Vegas, and Winston West driver Greg Pursley finished third and fourth respectively. The all-green flag race took 16:56.246 and concluded racing at 10:43 p.m. Six trucks did not take qualifying laps so Speed Trucks officials based starting positions on the fastest practice lap for each truck.

The King Taco Legend Cars 35-lap feature on the third-mile track was the first feature of the night. Point leader and second fastest qualifier Ricky Wildman led the 21-car race all the way and beat fastest qualifier Tom Landreth by two lengths. The front row starters battled closely all 35 circuits amid lapped cars in an all-green flag race.

Happy SLM winner Woods came to the press box and related: "It's been a frustrating season so far. You could see the effort by our team and the results weren't there. (Two thirds were his best finishes.) We've lost a rear end on opening night, broken an axle, had a flat tire and were involved in a multi-car crash in the first turn. It's great to start up front and run in clean air." Woods hoped his showing in Saturday's SLM main portends success in Irwindale's July 27 Winston West 200-lap race. He said attendees that evening will include many West Coast legends of stock car racing for a reunion and hall of fame induction and he respects their pioneering efforts. In his winner's interview Woods dedicated his win to the memory of Art Crawford, the track's volunteer press box manager, who had passed away earlier in the week.


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Series Stock car
Drivers Jeff Green , Michael May , Tim Woods , Greg Pursley , Casey Kingsland , Rip Michels , Scott Young