Irwindale race summary 2002-09-07

First time winners were the order of the night Saturday at Irwindale Speedway before 4,986 animated spectators in a four-division card. Racing featured NASCAR Super Late Models, Late Models, Super Stocks and the newly-renamed West Coast Pro Trucks...

First time winners were the order of the night Saturday at Irwindale Speedway before 4,986 animated spectators in a four-division card. Racing featured NASCAR Super Late Models, Late Models, Super Stocks and the newly-renamed West Coast Pro Trucks (formerly American Race Trucks).

Brandon Loverock won the premier Jani-King Super Late Model 75-lap main event for his first feature trophy since September 15, 2001. As second fastest qualifier in a 20-car field, Loverock started his Chevy Monte Carlo fifth in a six-car inversion. He became the fourth race leader on lap 14 and led the remaining 62 laps. He won his second career main event on the Irwindale banked half-mile by half a straightaway (2.874 seconds).

The race was round eight of the Miller Lite Big 10 Challenge. Two drivers collected the first main event victories of their careers on the half-mile. Jess Flores, as fourth fastest qualifier, started third in a 23-car Auto Club of Southern California Late Model field. He passed point leader/pole starter Todd Burns on the second lap and led the final 49 laps in his So. Cal Roofing/CBA Motorsports Race Car Factory-built Chevy Monte Carlo with a GM spec engine.

Flores had a lapped car and 25-yards at the finish over runner-up Scott Youngren, also a first time winner in the series on July 20. Flores, a first year driver in the Auto Club Late Model Series, raced two years in Irwindale's SLM Division and he also has raced mini stock cars at Saugus Speedway and Kern County Raceway. His last main event triumph came in a mini stock six years ago.

The 31-year old winner from Sylmar became the fourth first time Late Model winner at Irwindale this season after 16 of 18 races.

Jeff Williams, the other first time winner, started his Ford F-150 truck on the pole in a 28-truck field for the first ever West Coast Pro Truck 40-lap main. Williams, a three-year truck racer from Westlake Village, led only two laps-the final two. He chased fellow front row starter Terry Young, a three-time main event winner this season, for 38 laps. A caution enabled Williams to close on the back bumper of Young's Chevy. When the green flag appeared on lap 39 Williams ducked under Young's truck when it drifted up the track in the second turn. He raced back but trailed Williams by 0.150 seconds. Fastest qualifier Dave Lyon finished third.

The other main event was a 40-lap contest for the Vista Paint Super Stocks. Fastest qualifier Andrew Phipps had the pole position in the 28-car field. His Camaro led all the way and won by almost a straightaway over point leader Darren Cheek, the man he trails in track points. Phipps now has five main event victories to four for Cheek. However, Cheek has 588 points to 540 for Phipps with two races (and 100 first place points) remaining in the season.

Loverock, from Santa Fe Springs, demonstrated his speed early by winning the six-lap trophy dash. He started fifth in a six-car field and paced the final two laps. It was his fifth dash trophy in 14 trophy dashes. He said his crew got his car right during Friday night practice and it stuck all night wherever he put it on the track. Loverock said his No. 99 "sponsor wanted" Chevy cracked a piston two races back and broke the oil pump last week.

SLM rookie Deyon Young, the 2001 ART truck champion, started second and led the first four laps. He brushed another car entering the first turn and executed a pair of 360-degree loops in mid-track without being hit by the field. He dropped to 14th and then raced forward. He credited Larry Nava, a Winston West crew chief, for the improved performance of his Monte Carlo.

Tony Bruncati, a two-time SLM feature winner this year, led laps . Tfive-10 hen quickest qualifier/sixth starter Rip Michels took charge . Tand paced laps 11-13. Loverock used an inside move in turn four on . Tseven-time winner Michels during lap 14 for the winning pass .

Point leader Michels chased Loverock and trailed by 10 yards to lap 50, when Bruncati dropped Michels to third position. Rookie Dean Cato, the pole starter, took L/M winner Flores' SLM Chevy of 2000-01 to fourth place, his career best result in L/M racing. Cato passed Tim Woods III for fourth on lap 70 and barely edged Woods, Brent Reynolds and Young. Hard charger merchandise awards went to SLM rookies Cato and Young for their outstanding runs. The only caution of the SLM main came on lap 34 when fourth place Kazuto Yanagawa cut a tire and stalled near the starting line. Bruncati and Michels saluted Loverock's drive. Michels said, "My hat's off to Brandon. I drove my heart out and couldn't catch him."

Flores also drew praise from fellow first-time 2002 winners Youngren and McComb. Flores, who earned $750 for his victory, thanked Youngren in return. "He drove me clean the whole race", especially when from laps 30-40 when they were nose-to-tail and almost side-by-side. Six-time winner Tim Huddleston and four-time winner Todd Burns finished fourth and fifth. Burns lost two points from his 32-point advantage over Huddleston with two races remaining before their championship campaign concludes on September 28.

Burns and his car owner/builder Jeff Schrader split during the week, so Burns borrowed the inactive Monte Carlo of Brian Kelley and installed the Chevy engine he owns. He repainted the car black, added his No. 4 and Villa Roma Sausage sponsorship.

The L/M feature took 27 minutes because of three mid-race cautions. A multi-car crash on lap 14 in the second turn sidelined several cars. On lap 20 fourth place Mike Price spun in mid-turn four and Deryk Ward's passing car clipped Price's front end and scattered bodywork. Both drivers pitted and returned later. Fifteen of 23 starters finished, with eight drivers on the lead lap. Jim Conklin finished seventh and received the hard charger merchandise award.

The West Coast Pro Trucks, which also race at El Cajon and other tracks, saw 20 of 28 starters take the checkered flag. Aaron Staudinger was in second place battling Terry Young closely when he dropped out six laps from the finish. Eighteen drivers ran all 40 laps in a 17-minute event slowed by two cautions.

Remarkably, L/M driver Huddleston set fastest qualifying time for the tenth consecutive race and for the 14th time in 16 races. S/S driver Phipps set his sixth consecutive fast time and ninth quick time in 13 events. Tony Green's SLM car was not yet repaired following his turn one crash after a tire exploded. The Bruncati, Oddo and Vernon teams all offered use of a car but the Greens declined the generous offers.


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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Tim Woods , Jeff Williams , Rip Michels
Teams Williams