Irwindale report 2000-07-22

Irwindale, Calif. - - The most-heard comment in the pits after this particular night of racing went along the line of: "If you didn't like THOSE races, you're at the wrong sport!" No full moon, but full stands (5,608 happy fans), and just...

Irwindale, Calif. - - The most-heard comment in the pits after this particular night of racing went along the line of: "If you didn't like THOSE races, you're at the wrong sport!" No full moon, but full stands (5,608 happy fans), and just plain old great racing in every one of the four featured main events.

Tommy Fry took the race to 'em on Saturday night, the Canyon Country driver was right there all night in the Miller Lite Big 10 Challenge F4L Super Late Model contest as he put away his second win in a row at Irwindale.

But, we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. Before Fry "cruised" home a "whopping" .074 seconds ahead of his nearest pursuer, he had to survive a spectacular first lap red flagged melee that saw North Hills driver Ben Walker's car speared and spewing flaming gasoline all over turn four, and points leader Greg Voigt of Goleta requiring a push start that relegated him to the back of the 27-car grid for the re-start.

In an act of true sportsmanship, Arleta's Brian Kelly offered his #77 car to Walker so he could continue his points chase (Walker was second to Voigt in both seasonal division points and Miller Big 10 Challenge points going into this event). Walker accepted the ride, strapped on Kelly's Chevy and proceeded to drive as good a race as he ever has (even when he's won) by working a completely strange car up through the pack to finish in 5th place on the night, thus catapulting himself into the lead of the Miller Big 10 Challenge and to within 10 points of Voigt in the seasonal points championship chase (484 to 494).

After the races the quiet Kelly explained his move by telling the story of a driver offering a car-less Kelly his ride under a similar situation a few years ago at Saugus. And Kelly then going on to win that championship by the points he picked up with that "guest drive". (Kelly is currently in 11th place in both points series).

In the early stages of the event the show was all Fry and Rod Johnson (also of Canyon Country). Now, the fact that Fry is now driving Johnson's championship-winning ride from last year might have had a bit to do with it; but those two were very hard not to watch for the first twenty laps as they went at it side-by-side all the way around the (thankfully) wide race track. Behind them Tim Woods III (Chino), Charlie Utts (Camarillo), Brandon Miller (Rancho Santa Fe) and Voigt all chewed incessantly at each other lap after lap. And then the 13 car started to move. 13 was Barry Bradshaw, the Bakersfield Bombshell (really he's from Oildale, but that doesn't rhyme with very many good adjectives) who suddenly seemed to tire of running around in sixth or seventh place at the tail end of the lead pack, and simply accelerated past everyone in his way to position his nose mere inches away from Fry's back bumper.

A late race yellow bunched the pack up even closer with a hold-your-breath green-white-checker finish that had everyone in the house on their feet and yelling. You already know Fry won, but Bradshaw was a only coat of paint back in second, Miller got a well-deserved third, Woods duplicated his fourth place Ford LA Street Race Featherlite Tour finish, and Ben Walker got better with fifth. Voigt was credited with 17th place and 22 points for his efforts on the night which sadly ended in the infield with smoke ominously wafting up from under his hood.

PLEASE NOTE: That WAS the story of how they finished on the track. Unfortunately, car number 13 (Bradshaw) and car number 63 (Miller) both failed NASCAR post race tech inspection (non-conforming parts) and were disqualified from the event. Unfortunately, Ben Walker's takeover of Brian Kelley's car netted Brian the race's third place points NOT Walker. Walker gridded the card and took the green flag in the number 35 car, when Kelley turned his number 77 car over to Walker, Walker became (in effect) Kelley's relief driver under NASCAR rules. Walker was credited with 24th place points for the event. This moved Woods up to second on the night, Kelley into third, Dennis Arena from Duarte to fourth, and Lancaster's Shawn Brink to fifth.

The MSRA Pro 4's have really put on some crowd-pleasing races of late, and this one was no exception with Joshua Tree's Mitch Wright winning one another (.004 between first and second. Good thing that Irwindale has the AMB electronic timing and scoring system). Last year's MSRA champ Jim Warden (Malibu) was the millisecond-back second-placer with Kenny Smith (El Monte) in third, Loren Pratt (Hesperia) fourth, and Orange's Ed Reed rounding out the top five.

Big news in the Grand American Modified Division: Rip Michels did not win the main event, stopping the Mission Hills master of the GAMods' string at six wins was the only other driver to win a feature event the fast and tricky Grand Ams, Oceanside's own Dean Kuhn. Not that Rip didn't try everything in his rather large bag of tricks, but Dean was not to be denied on this night. A .926 second difference in first and second place told the story to which Kuhn put a smoky point as he did a series of joyous "victory donuts" that ended with something popping in the motor compartment and setting off a bit of a flashdance in front of Dean's adoring fans. Roger Carufel Jr. (Saugus) was third, Mike Bush (North Hills) was fourth, and Mike Knapp took fifth place honors on the night.

Last, but far from least, the Mechanix Wear Speed Trucks took to the Irwindale 2,640 (feet) for 35 laps of pick-em-up-truck fun and frolic and no one went away disappointed. These every-car-is-equal tailgaters put on a party at IS and everyone got an invite! When the smoke finally cleared it was Phoenix's Darren Young on the top step of the podium by .855 seconds over San Bernardino's Ron Peterson. West Covina's Randy Brown ran third with El Monte's own "iron man" Kenny Smith (in his third race of the night!) taking fourth, and Glendale's Richard Franz skillfully dodging a bit of mid-race mayhem for fifth place points.

Every featured main event at Irwindale Speedway on July 22 was won by a margin of less than one second. Everyone in the place, from the every-race-since-opening-night vets to the first-time-there-fans KNEW that they had seen some RACING. Best news of all is that we'll be back this week with more of the same! Call (626) 358-1100 for advance tickets for the NASCAR Featherlite Home Depot 150 on July 29th!



MILLER LITE FEATURE EVENT NASCAR SUPER LATE MODELS 75 - LAPS Name Car Make Hometown 1) Tommy Fry Chevy Canyon Country 2) Tim Woods III Ford Chino 3) Brian Kelley Chevy Arleta 4) Dennis Arena Chevy Duarte 5) Shawn Brink Chevy Lancaster


1) Darren Young Chevy Phoenix, AZ 2) Ron Peterson Chevy San Bernardino 3) Randy Brown Dodge West Covina 4) Kenny Smith Ford El Monte 5) Richard Franz Chevy Glendale


1) Dean Kuhn Dodge Oceanside 2) Rip Michels Chevy Mission Hills 3) Roger Carufel Jr. Chevy Saugus 4) Mike Bush Pontiac North Hills 5) Mike Knapp Chevy Valencia


1) Mike Wright Joshua Tree 2) Jim Warden Malibu 3) Kenny Smith El Monte 4) Loren Pratt Hesperia 5) Ed Reed Orange Next Week: NASCAR Southwest Series Featherlite Touring, Late Models and Super Stocks.

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Series Stock car
Drivers Tim Woods , Brandon Miller , Ben Walker , Darren Young , Rip Michels