EXCITING TOURING SERIES NIGHT @ IRWINDALE SPEEDWAY – Bt Tim Kennedy
IRWINDALE, CA. Aug. 16 – Three touring series on the half-mile and two local series on the third-mile competed at Irwindale Speedway Saturday on “Back to School Night”. The result was the largest car count in the crowded pits since 2011. There were 110 cars on track during Friday practice and/or Saturday races. Some 4,682 spectators watched Saturday competition from the grandstand, 12 suites and pits in 80+ degree shirt-sleeve weather. They witnessed five features, a B-main and trophy dash for a total of 296 laps.
Feature winners on the half-mile were:
> Spears SRL Southwest Tour stock cars 51 FIFTY Energy Drink 100 presented by AmeriPride Services – Greg Voigt, of Goleta.
> Lucas Oil Modifieds Loan Mart Super Fast 75 –Rookie Dylan Cappello, 18, from Peoria, AZ.
> Spears SRL S2 Series 35 – Rookie Blaine Perkins, 14, from Bakersfield.
Third-mile feature winners were: Point leaders Brent Scheidemantle, 21, from Alta Loma in the INEX Legend Cars and undefeated after eight features Ryan Vargas, 13, of La Mirada, in Universal Studios of Hollywood INEX Bandoleros.
SPEARS SRL SWT 100: A season-high field of 23 cars practiced/qualified and 21 started after a crash in Friday night practice and Saturday qualifying sidelined two cars. An inversion of the six fastest qualifiers put quick timer Derek Thorn, from Bakersfield, outside row three. Action started on the first lap when Irwindale regular/SRL rookie Toni Marie McCray, who started ninth, was hit by the No. 19 Brandon White car on the backstretch. She spun twice (360 degree loops) in mid-pack and was not hit by alert drivers following closely. She continued without stopping as the yellow flag flew for the next three laps. Officials aligned cars two-by-two for the lap 4 green with McCray now 21st—last.
Pole starter and laps 1-3 leader Voigt took the outside lane and rookie SRL driver Christian McGhee, driving the Jackson Race Cars 2003 chassis formerly raced by his mentor/champion driver Nick Joanides and Kenny Shepherd, shot into the lead from the inside row. McGhee, 16, pulled away gradually to a three-quarter straightaway lead by lap 30. Rookie Garret Archer, 18, took P. 2 from Voigt and 15th starter Ross Strmiska was third by lap 28 with Voigt fourth. Local fan favorite McCray, driving her own new No. 77 Hamke chassis from North Carolina, carved her way through the field from last position on the lap 4 green to fifth by lap 25.
McCray, the Irwindale NASCAR Super Late Model Series 2014 point leader, passed four drivers quickly when the green appeared and used an extremely low groove. When she encountered cars running in her low line she went three-wide, passing cars in the middle as they raced three-wide. McCray took P. 4 on lap 41 as the three leaders—McGhee, Archer and Voigt—ran virtually nose-to-tail each lap. Voigt took second from his Newberry NTS Motorsports teammate Archer on lap 46. A lap later Voigt passed McGhee for the lead. Contact between their cars cut McGhee's right front tire. It later started deflating and caused a vibration that slowed him in the closing laps.
The halfway lap 50 running order was: Voigt, McGhee, Archer, McCray, White, SRL 2013 champion Derek Thorn, Jeremy Doss, Strmiska, Jacob Gomes and Keith Spangler. The top 20 cars were on the lead lap. A lap 63 caution enabled some cars to stop at the infield work area between K-rails when caution laps stopped counting after three circuits. On a lap 66 two-by-two restart Archer took the lead from Voigt. He used the outside groove to repulse inside-running Voigt lap after lap. Thorn took third and McCray fourth simultaneously on lap 69 and dropped McGhee to fifth. With 25 laps remaining the top four—Archer, Voigt, Thorn and McCray—ran in close formation as lapping slower cars became a factor.
Voigt passed Archer on lap 80 as they lapped two cars in turn four. Thorn took second from Archer on the inside in turn four during lap 89 and made moves for the lead immediately. Doss took fifth from slowing McGhee on lap 91. At lap 95 Voigt lapped two cars and Thorn lapped only one. Then P. 12 David Ross spun in turn four on lap 96, causing the fourth and final caution of the race. No caution laps counted in the final ten laps and a single-file restart followed. Voigt led two laps before Thorn again challenged for the lead. McCray took third from leading SRL rookie Archer on lap 98 and closed on Thorn for second. McGhee dropped to P. 9 on lap 97 and tenth on lap 99. He finished 12th, the last driver on the lead lap.
Voigt, the fourth different winner after seven of ten scheduled 2014 SRL SWT events, was the 2000 NASCAR Super Late Model Champion at Irwindale Speedway. He raced in a NASCAR touring series shortly thereafter. He won his last SRL SWT feature last September at the Pikes Peak (Colo.) International Raceway mile in the same No. 29 NTS Chevy. Thorn, a five-time SRL winner last season and three-time winner in 2014, trailed Voigt by 0. 301. McCray trailed Thorn by 0.123 in her Jimco Construction/Pinnacle Peak Steak House Chevy. Archer, Doss, Gomes, White, Strmiska, Tracy Bolin and Spangler completed the top ten. All 21 starters finished. McGhee's 18.384 (97.911 mph) was the fastest race lap. MAV-TV Network taped the SRL Irwindale race for telecast on Saturday, October 18 from 2:00-3:00 pm Pacific time.
The SRL SWT race was the first of three for the new 2104 Pat Pettit Memorial Triple Crown Series, a three-race series funded by Jim Pettit, father of three-time Spears SWT Champion Jim Pettit II, to honor his late wife Patricia. She passed away in 2010. Irwindale winner Voigt received Pettit Memorial's $5,003 in addition to the regular SRL winners' purse. Round two will take place September 28 at Pikes Peak Raceway where the winner will receive an extra $15,003. Round three on November 1 will be at Kern County Raceway Park and that winner will receive $10,003. The three race series top point driver will be awarded a commemorative trophy and $1,003 bonus at the annual SRL championship awards banquet. The unusual 003 at the end of each award is for the long-time Pettit car number—03.
LUCAS OIL MODIFIEDS 75: A season-high car count for the traveling ten race series came from eight states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina and Texas. There were eight different chassis builders. The feature paid $1,500 to win and $300 to start. Fastest qualifier Dylan Cappello, a recent high school graduate from Peoria, AZ, competed at Irwindale for the first time. He drove the No. 11 Garcia Racing STR chassis that Nik Romero raced at IS last year as No. 7. He will be enrolling at Northern Arizona at Flagstaff soon to major in mechanical engineering. He started fourth and was one of three race leaders. All three came from the first two rows.
Doug Hamm, from outside row one, led the first eight laps. Pole starter/2013 series champion Chris Gerchman, 28, used an inside turn four pass to take charge from laps 9-41. Cappello led lap 42 by inches. The top three, including P. 3 Jason Patison, from eighth starting, ran in close formation each lap. Gerchman, who became a first-time father of a daughter on Monday, led laps 43-62. Series rookie Cappello took the point on lap 63 and led each lap to the lap 75 checkers. He earned his initial LOM triumph after a 45-minute event with four caution flags. Gerchman trailed by 0.850. P. 3 Patison, the 2013 Irwindale LOM winner, was 1.941 off the lead. Third starter Jason Irwin, from Albuquerque, placed fourth, 5.732 seconds off the lead.
Matthew Hicks took fifth with a late race pass of early leader Hamm; they trailed the winner by 12 seconds. Past Irwindale champion Rod Johnson, Sr. made an infrequent start and raced from tenth to seventh. Eddie Secord drove his No. 84 from ninth to eighth. Coloradan Tripp Gaylord and Linny White completed the top ten. P. 11-14 Tim Morse, “Grampa” Larry Gerchman, 59, Roger Brown and Doug Carpenter also completed all 75 laps. Eight drivers ran 74 laps with 25 of 30 starters racing at the finish. Hamm logged the fastest race lap of 19.121 (94.137 mph) while leading.
Cappello set a new series one lap track record in late afternoon qualifying for the 35 entries. His 18.891 (95.283 mph) beat the three year old mark for the Lucas Modifieds that use grooved Hoosier tires, unlike the Grand American Modifieds that used slick Hoosiers. The personable rookie also took over the series point lead with three races remaining in Blythe (September 27), Lake Havasu City, AZ (October 18) and at the Las Vegas “Bullring” (November 22). The MAV-TV Network taped the race for telecast on Thursday, September 25 from 2:00-3:00 pm Pacific time.
SPEARS SRL S2 SERIES 35: An all-time SRL car count of 15 S2 Racecar Factory-built cars (every S2 built to date) raced Saturday. Rookie Blaine Perkins, a 14-year old Bandolero and Legends graduate, set fastest qualifying time and led the final 29 laps of a 35-lap feature. It was his second straight victory at Irwindale and third in a row in the series for the point leader. It also was victory number six in nine races this season for the No. 50 HPR 350 cu. in. Chevy owned by Tim Huddleston. Trevor Huddleston, 18, won twice and veteran Bill Sedgwick also won in the same car. The traveling series has raced at Madera, Kern County Raceway Park, Las Vegas “Bullring” and will return on October 18 for the fourth Irwindale event in the 12 race series.
Kenny Smith, 67, started fourth and led the first five laps in his own Quickpick Motorsports No. 43. The one-time S2 2014 winner finished second, 0.867 off the lead. NASCAR late model veteran Johnny Butler, 56, returned to racing in the S2 series this season in his own No. 59 and placed third. S2 point leader Brandon Weaver, 14, from Bakersfield, traded P. 4 with Uli Perez on lap 33 and beat Perez to the finish line. P. 6-10 were: Cory Elliott, in the No. 29 NTS Chevy, rookie Carlos Quintero, returning NASCAR late model driver Craig Yeaton in his first S2 race, Dave Lowenstein, and Bill Waters. Nine drivers completed all 35 laps with 13 of 15 starters still racing at the conclusion. Owner/driver Chris Morrison, of Bakersfield, had his No. 99 'in P. 3 on lap 31 when he bounced hard off the backstretch and stopped near turn three with race-ending damage. The 17-minute race had one caution flag. Perkins ran the quickest lap of 20.523 (87.706 mph).
INEX-SRL LEGENDS 35: A season-high car count of 23 legends topped the prior season-high of 17 in June with the addition of cars from Las Vegas, Bakersfield and Northern California. Fast timer Brent Scheidemantle, 21, started fifth in his No. 98 coupe and became the fourth race leader on lap 8. He retained the point all the way. It was victory number four of six IS races this season. Cale Kanke, son of SRL driver M. K. Kanke, led the first two laps from the pole. Chad Schug led laps 3-6 and Ricky Schlick, 17, paced lap 7; he chased the winner to the finish and trailed by 1.051.The winner increased his point lead to 28 over Darren Amidon.
Third place went to impressive SRL Legend Series point leader Tony Mangini, 26, from Benicia. He started fourth in his first IS start. His brother Tim Mangini, 24, also from Benicia, enjoyed Irwindale racing also and came from ninth starting to earn sixth place. Kanke settled for fourth, 2.115 seconds behind the winner. Amidon took fifth place, nine seconds back. P. 7-10 were: Jordan Hyland, Aaron Wells, Mark Borchetta and July 19 IS legends winner Brandon Weaver. Twenty-one of 23 starters finished and 12 drivers ran all 35 laps. Kanke logged the fastest lap of 16.404 (73.080 mph).
INEX BANDOLEROS: Twin 20-lap mains on both Friday during the 5:00-10:00 pm open practice session for all series and Saturday went to dominant Ryan Vargas, 13. He has won all eight bando main events at IS this season and has a perfect score of 400 points. He set fastest qualifying time each night until Saturday when rapidly improving Allison Gay, 14-year old daughter of driver Danny Gay, from Lakeside, beat Vargas for quick time by 0.004. Vargas has two No. 23 Briggs & Stratton-powered cars and both are for sale at $5,500 each. The teen plans to step up to super stock racing in 2015.
Friday: A season-high 14 cars, including three from Las Vegas, raced Friday at 7:20. From pole, Mckenzie Eshleman, 15, led lap 1 over FQ/P. 4 starter Vargas. He took charge and paced the final 19 laps, topping the young lady by 2.021 seconds. Allison Gay finished third, 2.270 back. Jacob Ulrich, 13, and rookie Johnny Dressler, 11, followed. Twelve of the 14 drivers finished and all completed 20 laps. Kyle Keller hit the turn four wall on lap 7. His car exited on a rollback and was too damaged to race Saturday. Vargas ran the quickest lap at 66.357 mph.
Saturday: Thirteen drivers started the bando main at 6:40 pm. Pole starter Ulrich led lap 1 before P. 4 starter Vargas passed him and again led the final 19 laps. Quickest qualifier A. Gay traded second through fourth positions with Levi Jackson and Ulrich during mid-race laps before she took P. 2 from Jackson on the final lap. Ulrich and Eshleman completed the top five. All 13 drivers finished and only one driver was lapped on the last lap. The all-green race took 6:09.498 and averaged 64.888 mph.
Lucas Oil Modifieds were designated by IS officials to run the BILSTEIN/Super Gen of Monrovia trophy dash. The LOM series runs a $50 BILSTEIN Shocks dash at each race and Super Gen offers $150 for an IS dash at every race date so the winner received $200 cash. The six fastest modified qualifiers raced six laps with a fully inverted lineup based on qualifying times. Gramps Gerchman led every lap from the pole and collected the cash. Gaylord, Hamm, C. Gerchman and Jason Irwin followed. Cappello dropped out on lap 1.