Irwindale, Calif. - - With two more season championships right on the line on Saturday night what better way to say "-- THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR LOYAL SUPPORT THROUGHOUT THE YEAR --" to Irwindale NASCAR fans then to take a third right off the top on...
Irwindale, Calif. - - With two more season championships right on the line on Saturday night what better way to say "-- THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR LOYAL SUPPORT THROUGHOUT THE YEAR --" to Irwindale NASCAR fans then to take a third right off the top on all adult seat tickets and to let all kids 12 and under in FREE on September 28. "We'll have a number of other prizes and surprises for fans on Saturday night, thanks to the help of our sponsor for the night, the 'always there' Automobile Club of Southern California." said marketing manager Jennifer Saltis.
The Auto Club has been a track sponsor since the day that the track opened in 1999, not only sponsoring races but putting their name on the track's very competitive Late Model division as well.
One of the "unsung" benefits of the Auto Club's partnership with the raceway is that their roadside assistance patrol vehicles are there at every NASCAR race at Irwindale and are on duty to assist fans with all manner of automotive woes such as flat tires, drained batteries, and those dreaded "I thought YOU had the keys Honey." lock-outs. Nary a night goes by but that the friendly on-site Auto Club technician is called upon to help a carload of (momentarily) stranded fans get (happily) on their way home.
And, speaking of the very competitive Automobile Club of Southern California Late Models: they've got a 2002 points championship to be decided on Saturday. Riverside's Todd Burns, who last week tied the all-time track win record, is poised for the championship with a thirty-four point lead over Agoura Hill's Tim Huddleston 756 to 722. No one else on list has a chance to overhaul either of these two fine drivers, but every driver in the division wants to win one (or "one more") and this is the very last chance for that. No one is going to soft pedal this final Auto Club points race, and that's a fact, Jack!
POINTS NOTE: 50 for 1st, 48 for 2nd, 46 for 3rd, 44 for 4th, 42 for 5th and so on.
The points championship has already been decided in the Jani-King Super Late Models, that was clenched by Rip Michels a week or so ago, but there's another race to win on Saturday night (which would take Mr. Michels out of the all-time IS winner tie with Mr. Burns) AND the Miller Lite Big 10 race-within-a-race championship to win.
The Miller Lite points show Michels (Mission Hills) with a tenuous lead over Brandon Loverock (Norwalk), Tony Bruncati (Glendora), and Tim Woods III (Chino Hills) 352, 338, 314, 310. A DNF (did not finish) instead of a points number after one's name could loom large here in this $10,000 contest. Everyone must drive to win, driving aggressively but smart; knowledgeable fans might expect each crew chief to be equipped with a large read-out calculator up on the spotters' stand this Saturday eve.
The second championship to be decided at Saturday night's Fan Appreciation Night is the West Coast Pro Trucks Series, formerly known as "American Race Trucks" -- whatever on calls these speedsters, they're some mighty fast and fine-looking racing machines. Michael May leads the troops with a nice neat 500 points. The Huntington Beach dude's closest competitor is Val Cummings from nearby West Covina with 460. That's a forty-point lead with 100 still on the table in two races so the question is will MM go conservative or go for the win? Winning races AND championships is the preferred style for this youngster -- We reckon that he'll think conservative but race for the win -- What do you think?
On paper there are five drivers still capable of winning the WCPTS championship but Valencia's Aaron Staudinger, currently shown as third in the points at 452, has been suspended by the WCPTS officials for his and his crew's misconduct at the last Irwindale race. The action effectively takes him out of the battle for the divisional crown in this class.
In the Legends Cars division, a son and father bracket two "young guns" as the races boil down to the final two. 2001 champ, Tom Landreth (Alta Loma) has used his "old pro" driving talent to keep a narrow lead (448-440) over Ricky Wildman (Yorba Linda). Landreth's three race wins, but better finishing record belie Wildman's five main event triumphs. Bill Everett (Fontana) at 356 and "the other Landreth" (there are 3 racing) Bob at 344, have a chance of overhauling the two ahead but it will take some good luck (for them) and some not-so-good luck for the lead duo. But, then again, isn't this why we watch this action-packed class with all the colorful and quick "little" cars?
(this is repeat) GENERALLY SPEAKING: In all of the above, winning the Championship is paramount -- Failing that a top 5 is great -- and a top 10 year is a high mark of honor in anyone's book. Hard work has been the hallmark of every competitor who raced even once at Irwindale this season, putting a championship year together is an accomplishment that every team aims for but competing for it is the true test of a racer and race team.
The above nice thoughts on finishing in anything but first place aside ... Here's to the Champs! None of them will have backed into their championships, every one of them had to work at it every week. And that's why they'll all deserve all the praise that we plan to heap upon them.
The track gates open at 4PM on Saturday afternoon, with a hot local band playing live and in person, the "party atmosphere" King Taco Autograph Session right on the race track at 6PM, and Irwindale's own "Know Your NASCAR" audience-participation game show played right in the stands. Racing will start at 7PM with the singing of the national anthem.
Prizes are also awarded to lucky number holders in the track's colorful and informative weekly program. Adding further to the program's worth is the fact that each program cover becomes a collectible mini-poster when opened and laid flat.
Great tickets are always available on-line at www.irwindalespeedway.com or by phone at 626-358-1100, and in person at the track's on-site box office. Discounted group rates are availble for as few as 20 people.