Three first-time feature winners and wild, crash-marred races highlighted the five series, six event racing program Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. About 5,000 spectators witnessed action during "Auto Club salutes the California Highway Patrol...
Three first-time feature winners and wild, crash-marred races highlighted the five series, six event racing program Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. About 5,000 spectators witnessed action during "Auto Club salutes the California Highway Patrol 75th anniversary, presented by LADCO Night".
A visit by CHP Chief Mike Brown, the CHP color guard, a contingent of 20 line officers, and the singing of Cliff Bemis were all highlighted in the night's opening ceremonies. Rick Lalor of the Auto Club reminded fans of the Highway Patrol's work and that August 14 was the actual date of the agency's founding in 1929. Actor/Singer Bemis, best-remembered by many as Cliff from IHOP for his work in TV commercials, belted-out stirring renditions of both the "Star Spangled Banner" and "The Badge of the CHP", a song he wrote commemorating the CHP that has become their unofficial anthem.
Andrew Myers, sixth-ranked in points, and Scott Youngren, fourth ranked, won 50-lap main events in the featured Auto Club of Southern California NASCAR Late Model Division. Both drivers used "spec" engines on the banked, half-mile track.
First-time feature winner Myers, 24, a second year LM driver from Newport Beach and a veteran of Baja off-road racing, was thrilled by his initial victory. "I can't describe how good it feels. We crashed hard last race (July 31). I was a rookie last year. I wanted a win so bad this year I was counting down the races left this season," Myers told the crowd. Only two of 16 point events remain for the series. Seventh-fastest qualifier Myers, in his No. 44 Toyota of Escondido-sponsored Chevy Monte Carlo, started second in an eight-car inversion. He led all the way and barely held off fourth starter Deryk Ward's Pontiac by 0.084 seconds. Four cautions slowed the 45-minute event and several cars finished without hoods or fenders. Multi-car crashes reduced the 29-car field to 17 finishers, with 12 drivers on the lead lap. Third and fourth place Todd Conrad and George Ruark spun in turn four on lap 49 and caused a final caution, resulting in a green, white, checkered flag 51-lap race.
First-time L/M driver Lee Hatch, the current ASA Speed Truck Series point leader and multi-feature winner this year, started 12th and finished third in Mike Johnson's backup Monte Carlo. After crashing in his primary car, Johnson raced his backup car in the second 50. Andrew Lewis, a 17-year old Corona High senior and LM rookie, started 22nd and finished fourth to earn hard charger honors. Brian Kelley was fifth. Grand American Modified driver Travis Thirkettle made his LM debut and started Tim Huddleston's backup car in the first race. Huddleston drove it in the second 50.
Following two-hours of needed repair work in the pits, 22 teams answered the call for the second 50-lap LM feature. Second starter Ben Walker paced the first 21 laps on the outside as fourth starter Youngren, 34, pressed him on the inside for 17 laps. Youngren, a Fallbrook driver in his own Monte Carlo, made his winning inside pass on lap 22 in turn four. It was his second victory this year and second in the last three races. Youngren was a close second place on lap 43 in the first race when he was involved in a three-car crash in the fourth turn and sidelined with a broken steering center section.
Walker, in Eugene Dewberry's Monte Carlo, held on for second place, 20-yards (0.991 seconds) back. Point leader Doug McComb overcame a mechanical problem and finished seventh in the first race. He started and finished third in the second 50 and increased his point lead from 12 to 38 points after both races with 14 of 16 point races completed. Ward and Kelley finished fourth and fifth as 18 of 22 drivers finished and 13 were on the lead lap, including rookie Candace Muzny, a 27-year old Oklahoman in her best showing-13th place in a Del Dalrymple Monte Carlo. George Ruark's charge from 22nd to sixth netted hard charger recognition. Five cautions for minor incidents or debris interrupted action briefly in a 30-minute race. Ironically,
Tony Green set-up Youngren's winning car. Green drove the second place Dewberry Monte Carlo for this first half of 2004 before exiting the ride that Walker now drives. Myers started on the pole in the second 50 and ran third to lap 25 when McComb passed him. "I hit the wall and broke my right front shock about lap 30," Myers revealed. He faded from fourth to seventh place after damaging his shock. Two drivers passed him during the final three laps.
In another typical fan-pleasing Vista Paint Super Stock race, fastest qualifier Larry Sampson, of Covina, started his No. 94 Camaro tenth in a ten-car inversion and won the first IS feature of his career. He became the third and final leader of the 40-lap race by cutting inside laps 20-38 leader Johnny White, of Phoenix, on lap 39 in the fourth turn. He led only the final two laps and edged White by 0.232 seconds. White, a 19-year old seeking the third IS feature victory of his rookie season, held a steady 30-yard advantage over Sampson from laps 34-39, when Curtis White and Ed Dazzo crashed on the backstretch. The resultant caution flag gave Sampson his chance for victory. Trying hard to reclaim the point, runner-up White spun across the finish line to the infield at the checkered flag.
Ninth fastest qualifier Eric Sunness started second and led 19 laps until ninth starter White dropped him a spot with an inside pass in turn four. Sunness yielded second to Sampson on lap 34 at the same location, but he held on to third, 0.909 seconds behind the winner. Four-time feature winner Craig Rayburn took fourth and jumped his point lead from 11 to 39 over Lee Ladd. Robin Bourgeois followed for an all Camaro top five and 18 of 23 starters ran all 40 laps.
Rookie Kenton Gray, in a replica 1934 Ford coupe, became another first-time feature winner in the 35-lap King Taco Legends Cars race on the third-mile. The karting veteran from LaVerne started third in a six-car inversion and led all but the first lap. "It feels fantastic (to win). My car was really hooked up tonight. We're going to pass tech this week too," the happy winner told the crowd during post-race interviews of the top three finishers. He won the last Legends main on August 7, but a post-race tech inspection disqualified his car for use of a non-conforming part. This week the car passed post-race inspection. His 50 points moved Gray into a ninth-place tie after six of 11 races. Fastest qualifier/track champion Tom Landreth started sixth and reached second position on lap three, but he couldn't reel in Gray and trailed by 0.230 seconds. Teenager Austin Grabowski, point leader Bob Landreth and Matt Hicks followed. Fourteen of 22 starters ran all 35 laps in a 16-minute race slowed by two yellow flags.
An infrequent IS appearance of the touring XRL-Extreme Racing League, an association of TV/movie stunt drivers, produced a seven car field. Match racing through barrels produced a victory by series point leader Lori Van der Veer, a 42-year old stunt-woman from Woodland Hills. She used a Camaro to defeat New Yorker Chris Guzzi, in a 5.0 Ford Mustang.
The final event of the night was a 20-lap, 14-car Pick-Your-Part Figure 8 race. Steve Stewart started first and led the first three laps. Billy Ziemann led lap four but lost a tire and spun out a lap later. Stewart then led the final 16 laps for his second triumph this year. Tony Curtis trailed by a straight. Don Rogers was third and the only other driver with 20 laps. Ten of 14 starters finished the 14-minute race.
Craig Yeaton completed his iron-man effort to raise donations for the City of Hope Medical Center in nearby Duarte. The San Dimas driver raced four different cars (LM, SS, Legend and Figure 8) in five features. He drove his Monte Carlo to 20th and 19th positions in the LM twin 50s. He placed 17th in his SS Chevelle and took 12th in the Figure 8 race. Yeaton borrowed a Legends car from the PRTC driving school at IS and finished 17th in his first Legends race. The marketing firm owner said he hopes to make his "Race for Hope" an annual event.
XRL-EXTREME RACING LEAGUE:
Lori Van der Veer defeated Chris Guzzi in final match race among seven drivers.
PICK YOUR PART FIGURE 8:
Main: Steve Stewart, Tony Curtis, Don Rogers, Rod Proctor, Steve Cook, Jeff Marguet, Craig Yeaton, Robbie Stutzel, Jeff Seeholtz, Don Mathias, Harry Kuenniger, Ron Chaney, Earl Cox, "Barefoot" Billy Ziemann.
KING TACO LEGEND CARS:
Fast Time: Tom Landreth, 17.025.
Main: Kenton Gray, T. Landreth, Austin Grabowski, Bob Landreth, Matt Hicks, Ryan Partridge, Ryan Schug, John Barnett, Mark Gaiser, Jason Alsop, John London, Bill Watson, Micah Nourse, Steve Twilligear, Lynn Sours, Larry Alsop, Craig Yeaton, Chad Schug, Evin Powell, Scott Fortier, Larry Meredith, Dave Kalawaia.
VISTA PAINT SUPER STOCKS:
Fast Time: Larry Sampson, 21.789.
Main: Sampson, Johnny White, Eric Sunness, Craig Rayburn, Robin Bourgeois, Jeff "Hibachi" Grill, Lyle Spangler, Bryan Harrell, Chris Houwen, Henry Miles, Victor Wu, Greg Crutcher, Greg Benner, Tim Gardner, Steve Smith, Dan Rodgers, Craig Yeaton, Lee Ladd, Jimmy Sloan, Curtis White, Ed Dazzo, Kenny Brown, Richard Hanson.
AUTOMOBILE CLUB of SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LATE MODELS:
Fast Time: Jameel Saied, 19.008.
RACE ONE: Andrew Myers, Deryk Ward, Lee Hatch, Andrew Lewis, Brian Kelley, Ron Schartau, Doug McComb, Andy Bargaehr, Mike Mulhall, Robert Rice, Todd Conrad, George Ruark, Candace Muzny, P. J. Baker, Tim Huddleston (#50), Brian Jones, Dan DiGiacomo, Scott Youngren, Dennis Schlarbaum, Craig Yeaton, Dave Hessing, Richie Altman, Ron Daniel, Dan DiGiamarino, Saied, Ben Walker, Mike Johnson (#17), Danny Renko, Travis Thirkettle.
RACE TWO: Youngren, Walker, McComb, Ward, Kelley, Ruark, Myers, Huddleston (#501), Schartau, Bargaehr, DiGiacomo, Baker, Muzny, Johnson (#117), Jones, Schlarbaum, Lewis, Altman, Yeaton, Conrad, Mulhall, Rice.