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GILLILANDS (THREE GENERATIONS) RACE SUPER LATE MODELS @ IRWINDALE – By Tim Kennedy

Irwindale, CA., Jul. 19 – You could call Saturday at Irwindale Speedway the Gilliland Grand Prix. For the first time three generations of the family raced in the same race, a NASCAR-sanctioned Pick Your Part Super Late Model 75-lap feature on the banked half-mile. A crowd of 5,982 (including 200+ Gilliland family members and friends, plus drivers Walker Evans and Porsche factory driver Patrick Long attended. It was bargain prices night at track concession stands and five track divisions raced six main events. When the checkered flag flew, grandson Todd Gilliland, 14, won the family battle with his grandfather Butch, 57, and his father David, 38. Jason Patison, of Corona, won the 75-lap feature for his second victory in four SLM mains at IS this season. The other feature winner on the half-mile was Toni McCray, 37, from Highland, in the Clay Wooster-owned No. 90 Jimco Construction/K & N Chevy Impala SS. Two weeks ago she won the twin-30-lap Lucas Oil Late Model mains. Her second consecutive late model twin-30s sweep gave her four victories in a row and five for the season. That total tied five-time winner/point leader Ryan Partridge in victories. She trails him by only 12 points (572-560) with seven races remaining in the track's premier class for Whelen All-American Weekly Racing Series national points. Brandon “Shorty” Weaver, 14, scored an impressive first INEX Legend Cars 35-lap victory on the third-mile. He won his first IS main event on the same track August 6, 2011 in a 20-lap Bandolero race. The sub-5'0” driver with a heavy throttle foot started third Saturday in his ex-No. 84, now No. 15 replica 1937 Ford coupe and led laps 3-35. The Bandolero graduate and current SRL S2 cars point leader is a personable charger with a racing career goal. He defeated pressing Legends point leader/2013 title runner-up Brent Scheidemantle, two-time track champion Darren Amidon, and two-time track champion Chag Schug. Robby Hornsby made his first start of 2014 in the Seidner's Collision Centers Mini Stock Series and set fast time during late afternoon time trials. He was the third race leader and led laps 14-25. He became the fourth different mini stock winner in five features this season. Hornsby drove the same No. 61 Ford Pinto in which he won three times and placed second four times en-route to the 2013 track championship. Ryan Vargas, 13, won the INEX Universal Studios Hollywood Bandoleros 20-lap features Friday and Saturday. He has won all six features this season. He also set fastest qualifying time both nights. Vargas plans to advance to the super stock division next season. SLM 75: A season-high super late car count of 16 took the green flag as the fourth of six mains. Off-road racer Walker Evans, 76, waved the green flag. He said he feels like he is 45. FQ Patison, 33, started from pole position in a straight-up lineup based on qualifying times. He led all 75 laps in his No. 80 MAV-TV, E3 Spark Plugs Chevy. He also won the May 31 feature. All prior SLM mains this season were 40 lap events. Jack Madrid, 19, started fifth and ran second from lap 38 to the finish. He won the season opening main but dropped out early with rear end/transmission failure in his last race. He trailed Patison by 2.151 seconds after 75 laps. The 44-minute race was slowed by four caution flags. Patison ran the fastest race lap of 18.102 (99.437 mph). The Gilliland clan qualified and started seventh (David in the Speed Wong Racing ex-No. 89 now No. 88), ninth (Butch in the Dennis Furden No. 20 now No. 38), and tenth (Todd in the Speed Wong ex-No. 20 now No. 98). David, who won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Daytona 400 pole and led the first four laps two weeks earlier, raced forward quickly. The 15-time Irwindale Speedway feature winner told the media Irwindale is his favorite track in the country. He used his off-week from his Front Row Motor-sports No. 38 Ford Sprint Cup duties to prepare the two Speed Wong cars at their shop in Santa Ana. David, who wanted his son to experience racing at IS, and Todd spent dawn to post-dusk hours all week repairing and replacing almost everything on the two cars. The cars had not been raced since 2010 (No. 20) and 2011 (No. 89). David was sixth by lap 19 and fifth a lap later using inside passes. He took fourth from Linny White on lap 25. A lap later, following a two-by-two restart after the first caution, David took third place from June 21 SLM feature winner Toni McCray. He used an outside pass in turn four. Then David used an inside fourth turn to starting line pass to take second from Ryan Partridge. At the end of the front straight Partridge contacted David's No. 88, which spun into the first turn crash-wall, ending his impressive run. The yellow flag was waving at the time after fifth place Juan Garcia blew his RF tire and slammed the fourth turn wall hard on the right side. His Joe Nava No. 77 limped slowly to the infield. Wreckers towed both damaged cars to the pits. McCray passed Partridge for P. 2 on lap 34. Two laps later Partridge slowed to P. 10 and then dropped out with a mechanical problem. After yielding second to Madrid on lap 38, McCray lost a straightaway to the two leaders and slowed even more on lap 60 to P. 7 (her finishing position) because a spark plug wire came off. Her goal this weekend was to back up her twin 30 wins two weeks ago with “a triple” this week—two late model mains and a SLM feature. Eyes of Gilliland rooters were focused on the grandfather/grandson duel during the 75-lap race. NASCAR Winston West 1997 champion Butch, who now runs his own construction firm in Thailand, had not raced since 2004 when he won a late model race in Meridian, Idaho. Grandson Todd, from Sherrills Ford, N.C, turned 14 on May 15. He won his first late model main at Ace Speedway in North Carolina on May 2 in a No. 98 car owned by his father. He had never raced on a full half-mile and in a faster super late model. All three Gillilands practiced at IS Thursday and Friday. Todd said, “I really like Irwindale, it's a fun track.” His mom Michelle and sister Taylor, 11, also were present. Todd proved his racing talent and maturity during his Irwindale experience. He passed Butch for tenth on lap 1 and the family ran ninth, tenth and 11th in the 16 car field for the first nine laps. Butch passed his grandson on lap 15 as they lapped a car. Todd re-passed Butch on lap 30 and they ran in that order to the finish. They were in P. 6 and 7 on lap 37. Todd was fourth at lap 59 and Butch sixth a lap later. On lap 62 Todd made an inside pass near the starting line to take P. 3 from veteran Linny White. That clinched his first IS podium finish of third on his first racing visit to the track and in his first SLM ride. The third generation Gilliland racer had no pre-race expectations. His goal was to learn and have fun racing his dad and granddad. His quiet confidence reminds one of Bill Elliott's 18-year old son Chase, a three-time NASCAR Nationwide Series winner this year. Proud father David rushed from the pits to congratulate Todd during interviews of the top three finishers. There is a chance Todd might return to Irwindale to race again later this season in the same car. Car owner Daryl Wong and his stock car /sports car racing driver son Brian, 24, attended the race. Barry Karr, in the ex-Rip Michels car, and Butch completed the top five. White, McCray and Jeff Eshleman followed in sixth through eighth and all completed 75 laps. Grandpa Kenny Smith, 67, from Oak Hills, finished ninth, a lap down in his own No. 7 Lefthander chassis. NASCAR three-time Cup champion Tony Stewart had raced the same car as No. 143 a decade ago at IS. Smith now races the car primarily at the Willow Springs Raceway road course in Rosamond. LM 1st 30: Toni McCray, the fastest qualifier in a field of 18, won both ends of the twin-30 lap races. They were run as main events two and six. She started the first 30 from pole position in the straight-up lineup and led every lap. Trevor Huddleston, 18, ran second all the way in his dad's No. 50 High Point Racing Chevy. He trailed by 0.812 at the checkers. Point leader Partridge, 26, started and finished third, 1.902 in back of McCray. Series rookie Christian McGhee, 15, placed fourth, five seconds off the lead. Andrew Porter, Luis Martinez, Jr., June 21 winner Mike Johnson, 14-year old LM rookie Blaine Perkins, Billy Helgeson and LM rookie Ricky Schlick, 17, rounded out the top ten. College student Kyle McGrady placed 11th in his first race of the season. All 18 starters finished with 15 drivers on the lead lap. McCray ran the fastest lap at 18.930 (95.087mph). LM 2nd 30: A drawn number made the starting lineup inversion “5” for the second main. McCray, who logged fast time on both laps one and two in 4:30 pm time trials, started fifth in race two. McGhee and Partridge were in row one, with Porter and Huddleston in row two. Partridge led the first two circuits. On lap 2 McCray took P. 2 from McGhee. She executed an inside pass in the fourth corner on lap 3 for the lead and remained out front to the end of the all-green light race. Her winning time and speed were 9:47.223 (91.958 mph). McCray and Partridge ran side-by-side from lap 7 to the conclusion. Partridge trailed McCray by a length (0.260) at the end. Huddleston took third from McGhee on lap 5 and P. 4 Martinez dropped him to fifth on lap 12. Porter, Johnson, Perkins, Schlick, and McGrady completed the top ten. P. 11 Ryan Cansdale, 15, also completed all 30 laps in the competitive event; 17 of 18 starters finished. McCray ran the fastest race lap of 19.130 (94.093 mph). LEGENDS: Three races on the third-mile were entertaining. Brandon “Shorty” Weaver, 14, won his first INEX Legend Cars 35-lap feature. All the personable under five feet tall driver from Bakersfield did was start third and lead all but the first two laps. He had to withstand intense pressure in the closing laps. A lap 32 yellow flag for a solo spin by P. 5 Aaron Wells wiped out his half-straightaway lead of 2.813 seconds. The Bandolero graduate and 2014 S2 feature winner survived a two-by-two lap 32 restart and finished five yards (0.349) in front of three-time IS Legends 2014 feature winner/current point leader Scheidemantle, 21. Frequent winner Darren Amidon, IS Legends 2007 and 2013 champion, led the first two laps and finished third, 0.952 back. Chad Schug, the 2010-11 Legends track champion and another frequent winner, placed fourth, 1.596 off the lead. Mark Iungerich, 68, Tyler Hicks, Wells, newcomer Robbie Meyer, 24, May 31 winner Ricky Schlick and Gary Scheuerell completed the top ten. All 13 drivers finished with nine drivers on the lead lap. Weaver logged the fastest race lap of 16.318 (73.465 mph). That lap was just off the Legends one-lap track record of 16.312 set by Amidon on September 24, 2011. The first race of the night was a Super Gen six-lap trophy dash for the six fastest legend cars. A fully inverted lineup had pole starter Schug out front for about 95% of the distance. Scheidemantle, the fifth starter, took the lead on the final lap and won by 0.164. The race time was 1:40.563 (71.525mph). FQ Schlick, Weaver, Wells and Amidon chased the top two finishers across the finish line. BANDOLEROS: The Universal Studios Hollywood backed Bandos are powered by 570cc Briggs & Stratton Vanguard motors, make 13 horsepower and weigh 550 pounds. Youngsters age 8 to 15 race these buzz-bombs that reach speeds of 66 mph around the third-mile. Bandos have proved their value in developing race drivers with many past and current Legends, S2 and late model drivers advancing through the ranks. The 13-car field this week included five girls—two daughters of driver Danny Gay, first cousins from the Eshleman family, and veteran Alexis Mann, 15, in the pink No. 66. Mckenzie Eshleman, 15, uses a neon green No. 10 in tribute to Danica Patrick and her cousin Kayla, 12, uses black and pink No. 90 in tribute to her favorite driver Toni McCray. Friday 20: During Friday evening open practice for all divisions Bandos practice and then race a 20-lap main event about 8:00 pm. FQ/point leader Ryan Vargas, 13, started sixth and became the third leader on lap 4 and led the final 17 laps. Levi Jackson, 13, led laps 1 and 3; Johnny Dressler, 12, led lap 2. Allison Gay, 13, finished second (-1.628) and Jackson third (-3.312 seconds). Mckenzie Eshleman and Austin Farr, 14, completed the top five as all 11 starters finished 20 laps. Vargas logged the fastest lap of 18.218 (65.803 mph). Saturday 20: Bando drivers began the six main event show at 7:11 pm with FQ Vargas starting fourth. From pole, Allison Gay led the initial ten laps in her yellow No. 89. She engaged Vargas in a spirited two-car dogfight. Vargas made his winning pass on lap 11 on the inside entering the third turn. He won by 1.586 over Gay, from Lakeside. Mckenzie Eshleman placed third, 2.007 off the lead. Levi Jackson and Ryan Dunkleberger, 13, completed the top five. Twelve of 13 starters finished, with two drivers down a lap. Vargas, from La Mirada, ran the fastest lap of 18.151 (66.046 mph). ###########################