Irwindale Speedway Round 2 - 6 Winners
-By Tim Kennedy
IRWINDALE, California — Irwindale Speedway round two, presented by JEGS, featured six classes in action, three on the half-mile and three on the third-mile Saturday night. There were 106 racing cars/trucks in the pits and about 3,000 fans in the grandstands and suites. Car counts by series were: 14 bandoleros, 11 SRL S2 cars, 19 legends, 23 trucks, 11 super late models and 28 skid plate cars. Winners on the half-mile were: Rip Michels (NASCAR SLM), Ken Brown (Progressive Painting Race Trucks) and Ryan Cansdale (SRL S2 Tour Cars). Third-mile oval victories went to Donny St. Ours (Legends), Ricky Lewis (Bandoleros) and Sean Brennan (Pick Your Part Skid Plate Cars).
Highlights of the racy evening were multiple race leaders and frequent lead changes in five of the six features. Record setting also was part of the evening. Michels, a 2002 Grand Am Modified and three-time SLM track champion, increased his Irwindale-leading main event winning total to 62. Second place Tim Huddleston, a three-time Irwindale late model champion, has 44. At age 14 Cansdale, the 2009-10 Irwindale Bandolero champion, became the youngest ever feature winner on the Irwindale half-mile. His birth-date is March 1, 1999, 26 days before Irwindale Speedway ran its inaugural race on March 27. He broke the youngest Irwindale half-mile winner record set two years ago in a Lucas Oil Modified race by then 16-year old Escondido resident Austin Barnes (No. 51A).
Cansdale, perhaps the next phenom like Ryan Reed, Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson, raced Legend Cars last season at three tracks. This year his father, Mark, bought the ex-No. 44 S2 car from Huddleston, who saw Andrew Anderson drive it to several victories. Cansdale drove his first S2 event on March 16 and finished second and fifth in twin 25s at Madera Speedway. His run in his now No. 37 S2 at Irwindale was his third race in the car and his first ever competition on any half-mile. He said he enjoyed the half-mile more than shorter tracks. He set fastest qualifying time in the 11-car field, started eighth, and as the fourth and final leader led laps 11-30. He did so despite wearing a cast on his left forearm after breaking a bone during a fall while skate-boarding several weeks ago on spring break.
Another winner of note was Cherry Valley resident Ken Brown, 66. who began racing trucks in 2010. He won his first career truck feature in his No. 17 Ford pickup. The past two-time Irwindale NASCAR Super Stock feature winner in his No. 17 Chevy Camaro was in fourth place on lap 38 of 40. Then misfortune befell the three drivers in front of him. Brown had to hold off fellow super stock veteran/two-time S/S champion (2002 & 2007) Darren Cheek, 38, of Highland. He did so by 0.230 and received one of the new Irwindale coveted gold helmet trophies awarded by new track management to podium finishers. Cheek, driving for owner Scott Corrigan, was second.
The sixth and final feature was the first of seven scheduled 2013 Pick Your Part 20-lap races for skid plate cars. The unique event, popular with fans and competitors alike, uses two metal skid plates instead of back tires on all cars. They produce friction sparks as four-cylinder FWD American and foreign cars circulate the third-mile. With 28 cars entered, 27 started in a unique Chevron, or arrowhead formation in two waves for a standing start. One car was at the point and cars were aligned six or seven wide on each side of the point car. At the end of 20 all-green flag laps, two drivers were on the lead lap, separated by 15 yards as they weaved through spinning and lapped cars. Sean Brennan, a 23-year old from Temecula, competed for only the second time and topped his tenth place at Irwindale's last SPC race in 2011. His victory paid $300. All starters received at least $35 to cover their pit pass cost.
Brennan started near the back of the second wave and drove steadily to second place by lap 4. Early laps 1-9 race leader Robert Rice, the father of Irwindale skid plate racing about four years ago, spun his Pick Your Part Honda Accord across the starting line on lap 10 with charging Brennan only ten yards back. The race had five past skid plate race winners in the field and veteran skid platers staged the best race yet for the event. Race Director Mike Atkinson drove the track's retired ex-police black & white patrol car with flashing light bar to pace the start and to push stalled cars to the infield. Brennan navigated his gold and black No. 33 Ultimate Hobbies.com 1998 Toyota Camry LE flawlessly to his memorable victory. Following a late afternoon skid plate cars practice session, Brennan's car had 311,966 miles on its odometer and the air conditioner worked on the high 70 degree afternoon. His wife and two children celebrated in the pits and inspected two dents on the RF and RR corners. The car looked ready to go for his second SPC victory on May 25.
BANDOLEROS: There were 14 Briggs & Stratton-powered Bandoleros present Saturday for drivers ages 8-14 and 13 cars Friday during the open practice for all divisions. Bando 14-year old veteran Ricky Lewis, from Oxnard, set fast time both nights and led both 20-lap mains all the way. Officials cut Friday's race to 17 laps after a series of cautions pushed running time to 15 minutes to allow other division practice time. Almost 50 cars from several divisions practiced Friday. Ivan Gudmestad, 12, and rookie Ryan Vargas finished in P 2-3 Friday. Gudmestad and Nico Mongenel finished 2-3 after 20 laps Saturday in a 14 car field.
SRL S2: Event two was the first SRL S2 Touring Series event at Irwindale, home of S2 cars since 2008. The now SRL sanctioned S2 cars has seven 2013 S2 rookies, 12 features at five tracks—Madera, Irwindale, Las Vegas, Blythe and Bakersfield's new Kern County Raceway Park. Saturday's race in Irwindale was round three after the Madera twin 25s, won by Kenny Smith and Trevor Huddleston, 16. Eleven cars qualified and raced at Irwindale; the 30-lap main had four leaders and three lead changes. Cansdale's victory propelled him from fourth to first in series points with 505 to 500 for Irwindale runner-up Huddleston. Thirteen drivers have earned SRL S2 points in 12 cars. Cansdale's dad said he still owns Ryan's Bandelero, Legend Car, S2 and a late model stock car for Ryan to race later this year.
Bill Waters, 55, led the first two circuits from pole. K. Smith paced laps 3-4. Waters reclaimed the lead on lap 5, but a caution erased his pass. Uli Perez then led laps 5-10 and Cansdale ran second during those laps. On lap 11 Cansdale made his winning pass on the backstretch and won by 0.874 over Huddleston. Anthony Giannone, from Colorado, Perez and Cory Elliot followed. Nine of 11 starters finished and seven drivers completed every lap.
LEGENDS: All 19 Legends started with a two car inversion based upon qualifying times. Fifteen cars finished. Bando veteran/second quickest qualifier Ricky Schlick, 15, started from pole position and led the first 15 laps over four past Legends winners/champions. FQ/2007 track champion Darren Amidon used an inside pass in turn four and led laps 16-26. On lap 27 Donny St. Ours, 19, drove his new replica 1934 Ford coupe into the lead on the inside in the second turn. He retained the lead to the checkered flag and won by 0.547 over Amidon. Chad Schug, Irwindale's 2010-11 champion, was third, 0.914 back. Schlick impressed the three veterans and placed fourth. Aaron Wells took P. 5 with 14 drivers racing at the finish and 11 on the lead lap. A lap 2 second turn crash sidelined four cars.
TRUCKS: All 23 trucks started with FQ Ryan Partridge's Toyota outside row one and Todd Cameron's Chevy alongside. Cameron led the initial lap by inches and through lap 14. Then Partridge took the point and led to a lap 38 caution when Louie Pagano hit the fourth turn wall after contact. On the lap 38 two abreast restart, Partridge's truck had a fuel pickup problem and slowed. Third place Connor Cantrell, Irwindale 2011 truck champion, rammed the back of Partridge's crippled No. 48 and received significant nose damage to his truck. Cameron and Cantrell then battled for the lead on the next lap 38 green flag. Their trucks came together near start/finish, causing Cameron's truck to spun to the first turn. All trucks evaded Cameron's spinning No. 99. He restarted at the back (19th) and raced up to a P. 10 finish. Cantrell's leading truck experienced handling problems and faded to fourth at the checkers. Brown took the lead from Cantrell on lap 38. Cheek took P. 2 from Cantrell on lap 39. Ex-Bando/Legends driver Blake Dunkleberger, 17, took third on the last lap and edged Cantrell. ASA Truck Series 2012 rookie of the year Cole Loftsgard, 18, placed fifth. The Lake Havasu, AZ driver drove a Chevy Colorado for Kevin Smith of Placentia, CA. Eighteen of 23 starters finished the 33-minute race and 15 completed all 40 laps.
SLM 40: Ten of 11 SLMs present started with fastest qualifier David Ross starting ninth. The race had three leaders and nine lead changes. Joe Altig, 20, started third and led lap 1. Toni McCray paced laps 2-6, 9-11 and 13-20. Michels, 46, started eighth and led laps 7-8, 12, and 21-40. He won the 14+ minute race by a mere 0.093 over McCray, with Ross 0.557 back in third. Altig finished fourth, 11 seconds back. He edged P. 5 John Manke by 0.102. Nine of ten cars finished with seven drivers logging all 40 laps.
SKID PLATE 20: The 11:51.099 all-green light race had 19 of 27 starters circulating at the end. There were five past skid plate race winners in the field. Two cars had transponder problems so scoring was subject to review beyond the top two—Brennan and Rice. Classic stock/demo derby veteran Tommy Mason placed third. With a transponder problem, Daryl Scoggins, a past skid plate winner/2009-11 mini stock champion/S2 rookie, was awarded fourth based on hand scoring sheets. Classic stock/demo derby veteran Jeffrey Best took fifth. Car makes in the event were: Honda Accord and Civic, Toyota Camry and Celica, Ford Escort, Chevy Cavalier, Mazda Protege and 626, Hyundai Accent, Mercury Tracer, Saturn and a Buick Le Sabre.
The next Irwindale Speedway race will be Saturday May 4 with another six feature event using both oval tracks.