SIX DIVISIONS & SEVEN MAIN EVENTS @ IRWINDALE – By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., Sept. 13 – Temperature was blistering hot (still 93 degrees at 6:30 pm) and on-track action was hot as well Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. Almost 1,500 spectators braved the heat to witness 88 racing vehicles compete in another entertaining evening on “First Responders Night presented by D & D Golf Cars. Police cars from area cities and CHP, a SWAT armored vehicle, LA County Fire Department fire trucks, and commercial ambulances were parked on the front straight during opening ceremonies. An El Monte Police helicopter made a fly-over. Grand Marshal was Irwindale Police Chief Anthony Miranda, who waved the first green flag. He allowed use of a current Irwindale PD patrol car as the pace car for each feature. The usual IS pace car driver drove it and flashed the caution and red lights.
NASCAR racing on the progressively banked half and third-mile tracks included a pair of Lucas Oil Late Model 30-lap mains, a 40-lap Pick Your Part Super Late Model feature, a 30-lap super stock main and a 35-lap Southwest Tour Truck Series race. Features on the four-degree banked third-mile included a 35-lap INEX Legend Cars race and a 20-lap Seidner's Collision Centers Skid Plate cars event that concluded a full night of racing at 10:04 pm.
1ST LM 30: Seventeen late models started the first 30 at 7:15 with fastest qualifier Toni McCray on the pole. She led the first two laps before point leader/third starter Ryan Partridge took command. A lap 4 crash between P. 3 Mike Johnson and P. 4 Andrew Porter in turn one stopped both cars. Later Porter said he misjudged his passing attempt by six inches and took full responsibility for sidelining his boss. Porter restarted at the back and finished third. The lap 4 green resulted in another multi-car accident after P. 2 McCray's gear shifter broke off in her hand and cars accordion-ed behind her No. 90 Chevy. Cars of Blaine Perkins, Billy Helgeson and Dustin Vandermooren were damaged and unable to continue. Perkins No. 55 HPR Chevy was able to start at the back of the second 30.
McCray restarted lap 4 at the back in high gear. She raced from 13th to seventh before her car began smoking from the back on lap 14. She pulled into the infield and parked with probable transmission or rear end problems. The car did not compete in the second 30. Partridge led laps 3-30 and beat runner-up Ryan Cansdale by 0.850. Porter, Christian McGhee and Zane Smith followed. Ten cars finished the 17-minute contest. Partridge ran the fastest race lap of 94.607 mph. He won his seventh late model main of the season and 13th overall, including six in the Irwindale Race Trucks division. His 13 feature wins this year lifted him to 47 IS triumphs, second highest in 15 IS oval track seasons. The all-time IS record 67th victory was set last year by Rip Michels, who is serving as McCray's team manager this year.
2ND LM 30: The sixth race of the night started 13 of 17 late models and ran with the temperature still in the mid-80s. An invert start number pulled by a fan was eight for Partridge, who set the best qualifying lap on lap two of two. He moved up to outside row three after a car scratched, but he had to contend with five rising young stars who started in front of his No. 48 Toyota Camry. Ryan Cansdale, at age15 and six months, started second and led all 30 laps in his No. 51 HPR Chevy owned by three-time IS Late Model Champion Tim Huddleston. Partridge was still stuck in P. 5 at the halfway mark. Trevor Huddleston, 18, took second from Porter, 20, on lap 25. He closed quickly on his HPR teammate and friend, but fell 0.154 short at the checkers.
Partridge, 26, took fifth from Christian McGhee, 16, on lap 18, fourth on lap 21 and third on lap 29. Porter and Zane Smith, 15, completed the top five. All 13 starters finished with ten drivers on the lead lap. The all-green light race took 9:53.866 for an average speed of 90.930 mph. Cansdale, from Laguna Beach, is the youngest main event winner ever on the IS half-mile. He won two S2 Car features on Irwindale's half-mile last season at age 14. His first and second place finishes in the twin-30s became his best race night ever and his entire family was present. Partridge now leads McCray by 64 points (762-698) with three races remaining, including a double-points event on October 18.
SLM 40: Eight super late model qualifiers were joined at the back of the grid by three late model drivers doing triple-main event duty. Jason Patison started on pole and led all 40 laps over fastest qualifier/second starter/runner-up Linny White. Juan Garcia, a 17-year old from Bogota, Columbia, started and finished third. T. McCray placed fourth. Jack Madrid, 19, was fifth until lap 33 when he slowed with a sour engine and relinquished fifth to Jeff Eshleman. Madrid drove low and slow and was lapped on lap 37. He completed 39 laps for sixth place.
Patison's No. 80 Ole Smokey Moonshine Chevy won by 0.984 in the all-green light, 12:32.490 race. He averaged 95.682 mph for his third consecutive SLM victory and fourth in six races this year. Patison ran the fastest race lap of 99.157 mph. The Corona resident and Lucas Oil Modified Series driver pulled into a first place tie in points at 274 with prior SLM point leader McCray, who finished fourth. However, based on the NASCAR tie-breaking system, Patison is the leader with four feature victories to one by McCray. A double points SLM event is scheduled on October 18 and that outcome will determine a first-time SLM champion.
SS 30: A nine-car super stock field had a four-car inverted starting lineup. Greg Crutcher's Camaro led the first 19 laps from the pole. Henry Miles, the 48-year old first-time IS feature winner in the last event, started fifth and worked forward gradually on the inside. He passed FQ Gary Frankovich on lap 13 and then made the move of the night on lap 15. He shot from P. 4 to P. 2 by going between the cars of point leader Zack Green and second ranked point driver Gary Read. The first seven cars were closely bunched to lap 20. Then Miles made an inside move in turn four to pass leader Crutcher. He quickly opened a 30-yard lead and won by 1.429 seconds over Green, who took second from Crutcher on lap 27. Crutcher, Read and Frankovich completed the top five. The all-green, 10:56.580-timed race averaged 82.244 mph. Read ran the fastest lap at 84.519 mph. Green has used two cars this season to win five of the nine mains.
SWT TRUCKS: A 35-lap main started ten trucks with a nine-truck inverted lineup. That produced three race leaders and made dominant SWT truck/SS Camaro driver Z. Green, from Long Beach, work for his trophy and first place points. Cecil Phelps led two laps, then Whittier-based Ronnie Davis came from seventh grid position to lead laps 3-12. Green was third by lap 2, second on lap 5 and battled Davis to lap 13 when he took command in turn four with an inside pass. He opened a 35-yard winning margin (1.654) over Davis. Ed Cutler came from eighth starting spot to finish third, four seconds back. Shawn Rizzone took fourth from Dan Coburn on lap 34 after a long duel and edged Coburn by 0.815. The other three finishers had been lapped during the all-green, 12:21.586 race that averaged 84.953 mph. Green's 20.710 (86.915 mph) was the fastest race lap. Green, 23, has set five FQ times and won all five 2014 Irwindale mains in the No. 27 Jeff Williams Ford F-150 for the touring series that also races in Madera and Las Vegas.
LEGENDS 35: The 14 INEX Legend Cars had a five-car inverted starting lineup on the third-mile. Brandon “Shorty” Weaver, 15, led lap 1 from the pole. Darren Amidon led lap 2, but on lap 3 his car was hit and spun in turn two. P. 9 Gary Scheuerell hit Amidon's car, sidelining both. Fast timer Ricky Schlick, 17, went to the pits for repairs and restarted last. Point leader Brent Scheidemantle, a 21-year old from Alta Loma, came from seventh starting to lead laps 3-35 over pressing Weaver. He has won five of seven IS mains this year as he attempts to win his first track championship. Weaver trailed by half a length (0.099) at the finish. Schlick charged up to P. 3 by lap 26 and closed on the two leaders before finishing 0.507 in back of the winner. Aaron Wells looped for one of two caution flags but raced back to fourth. Rookie Lawless Alan was the only other driver who completed all 35 laps. Ten of 14 starters finished the 17-minute event. Chad Schug, P. 3 before he dropped out with a smoking engine on lap 26, ran the fastest lap at 72.752 mph.
SKID PLATE CARS 20: The seventh skid plate cars race of 2014 (and 31st at IS since 2009) had a 30-car field. That was the second highest car count this season for the fan-pleasing final event of the night. The four-cylinder cars use metal, spark-producing plates instead of back tires. The usual third-mile course became a six-turn “r-oval” through the backstretch to the infield. Huge white tires marked the detour. The revised course did not hinder the mastery of Sean Brennan, a 24-year old from Yorba Linda. He became the grand master of SPC racing by winning his third SPC feature this year and fifth ever. He broke his tie with James Altman and Daryl Scoggins, who both won their fourth SPC features in 2011. Brennan said he also would like to race in other divisions.
Brennan started in the last row (P. 29) in the two-by-two standing start. Pole starter Jeffrey Best led the first lap over row seventh starter Steven Belling and Chad Schug, who sub-drove the No. 37 car that Ryan Cansdale drove during afternoon practice/qualifying. One-lap track record holder Brennan carved his way through the field rapidly and was fourth by lap 2. Brennan's 1992 Acura Integra was second on lap 4 and first on lap 6-7. Quick timer Mike DiGrigorio's Honda Accord cut between spinning cars and led lap 8. Brennan was back in the lead on lap 9 over Low Budget TV co-host Best and DiGregorio. Then row 12 starter Austin Lee shot into second place on lap 12 and chased Brennan to the finish line. He trailed the winner by half a lap (18.265 seconds).
P. 3 DiGregorio, a three-time SPC winner, was 28 seconds back. P. 4 Robert Rice, the originator skid plate racing at IS, was 38 seconds off the lead and last driver to complete all 20 laps. Robbie Salcido placed fifth and was the first of three drivers with 19 laps. Eight drivers completed 18 laps with 20 of 30 starters still racing at the finish. The all-green flag race took 14:21.969 for an average speed of 27.815 mph. Brennan ran the fastest lap of 38.055 (31.502 mph). IS does not keep points for this division. However, SPC drivers developed their own point system that awards finishing position points. It also gives a point for fast time and two points for most laps led. Undoubtedly, Brennan would be the 2014 SPC point leader in any point system.