Irwindale Speedway report 2001-08-11

Five racing divisions and six main events entertained 6,126 spectators Saturday at Irwindale Speedway on three tracks. Fastest qualifier Todd Burns swept the featured twin-40-lap Auto Club of Southern California NASCAR Late Model main events on...

Five racing divisions and six main events entertained 6,126 spectators Saturday at Irwindale Speedway on three tracks. Fastest qualifier Todd Burns swept the featured twin-40-lap Auto Club of Southern California NASCAR Late Model main events on the banked half-mile. Burns started tenth in both races in his Villa Roma Sausage Chevrolet Monte Carlo. He took the lead of the 24-car first 40-lap race on lap nine and on lap 21 of the second 40. The victories gave Burns five victories in 15 events this season, and a track-record 18 feature victories on the half-mile. Rip Michels, a winner in Grand American Modifieds and Super Late Models, ranks second with 17 triumphs.

Andrew Phipps, in the NASCAR Super Stock, and rookie Aaron Staudinger, in his American Race Trucks Chevy, won 40-lap features on the half-mile. Bill Everett led all 35 circuits from the pole in the King Taco Legend Cars main. He held off a trio of multi-main event winners in the division on the track's third-mile. Rusty Stewart became the third and final leader of the Pick-Your-Part Figure 8s 16-lap race that concluded racing at 9:59 p.m. on the Figure 8 track through the infield.

The 15-car Figure 8 race added an estimated 1,000 fans to the crowd. They witnessed 11 Figure 8 specially built cars (including four winged cars) and four Super Stocks compete. Two collisions at the X sidelined four cars, but no driver injuries resulted. Tom Smith led the first five laps, but his car was sidelined while leading on lap six by a collision at the X with Sam Fritz. Billy Ziemann led the next four laps until Stewart, winner of the only other $1,000 to win Figure 8 race winner at Irwindale this season, passed him on lap 10. Both drivers drove home-built Figure 8 Specials.

Phipps started second in his Chevrolet Camaro and took his fifth victory in the last six Super Stock features. The all green flag race took only 15 minutes. Phipps has only raced in nine of the 11 S/S races because his car wasn't completed until the third race of the season. Point leader Jeff Green trailed by 1.133 seconds.

On track collisions resulted in the cars of Mike Gilmore and Julianne Seeley being sidelined on the front straight during lap 10. Myan Spacerrelli was black-flagged for his role in the incident. A subsequent crash between Paul Rex and Brian Harrell on the backstretch saw both drivers continue and finish seventh and eighth respectively. However, members of their pit crews exchanged words later in the pits.

Staudinger, an American Race Trucks rookie but a two-year veteran of Grand American Modified racing at Irwindale, won his first main event at the track. His best main event finishes had been second at Irwindale and Mesa Marin Speedways. Staudinger, the fifth race leader, defeated a pressing Robbie Brand by 0.255 seconds.

Leader Val Cummings and Deyon Young battled side-by-side from laps three-18 with Cummings running high and Young low. Young led one lap (the 13th) by inches. On lap 19 their trucks made contact on the backstretch as Young's truck started to pass Cummings on the inside. Young's truck veered into the outer crash-wall and Cummings' truck received front-end damage. Both drivers pitted and did not return. Security personnel later had to intervene as a couple of crewmen from each team disputed responsibility for the crash. Third place Staudinger assumed the point and paced the balance of the event despite two subsequent caution flags.

Legend Cars victor Everett, the fourth quickest qualifier, took the first main event triumph of his career by ten yards after three years of competition at Irwindale. He held off attempts for repeat victories by multiple winners Jim Smith, Tom Landreth and Art Nevill despite two cautions. Everett's wife, Pamela, finished 23rd, a lap down, in a 30 car field. Gene Brokaw's car was disqualified from third place and not classified in the official finish.

The first Late Model 40-lap race was red-flagged on lap 10 when the ninth place car of John Lathrop blew its engine in a huge fireball entering the first turn and spun. He emerged uninjured. Nineteen of the 24 starters finished and 14 drivers ran all 40 laps. The second 40-lap event started 65 minutes later and 21 cars answered the call. The first ten finishers in the first 40 were inverted, giving Burns the tenth starting position for the fourth consecutive feature. The pill draw (# 10) has not been a deterrent. "I don't want it, but if I have to come from tenth as fastest qualifier I'll do it," Burns stated. He alluded to getting lucky and the fact guys not used to starting up front were in the front rows of both 40-lap races. Burns' last main event triumph came with an engine borrowed from Brian Kelley. "This time we used our own rebuilt engine," he said.

Deryk Ward, Rick Miller, Mike Price and Tim Huddleston--all feature winners this year--finished second through fifth in the first 40 as 20 drivers finished. Dave Hessing (from 13th), L/M rookie and S/S grad Doug McComb (the laps one-20 race leader from second starting spot), pole starter John Jones and Brian Kelley finished second through fifth in the second 40. Eighteen cars finished, with 14 on the lead lap. A four-car crash on lap 22 produced the only caution of the race and sidelined the cars of Jeff Saelid and Steve Floyd, who earlier had raced in the first trophy dash of his career.


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Series Stock car
Drivers Jeff Green , Jim Smith , Rip Michels , Tom Smith