IRWINDALE SPEEDWAY – AUGUST 1 RESULTS – By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., August 1 – On Saturday competitors at Irwindale Speedway raced on both the half and third-mile ovals for the first time since July 4. The speedway experienced its third rain-out of the season July 18. It was the 13th rain-out in the history of the track, which opened on March 27, 1999. Five series raced in six main events from 7:00 to 10:52 pm in front of 2,904 spectators.
Driver rustiness or over-eagerness to race, or a full moon, made racing a string of mishaps with yellow and red flags for crashes. Additionally, a legends car during the main event caused a 19-minute red flag after it oiled-down the track from the start of the backstretch to the front straight. Four-car crashes in both of the late model main events sidelined three cars in each of the co-features.
Feature winners were: Toni McCray (twice) in twin-30-lap main events for Seidner's Collision Centers NASCAR Late Models; Jeff Peterson in touring Pick Your Part Southwest Tour Trucks; Chad Schug in INEX Legend Cars, and Berk Engin in a flag pole race for four-cylinder cars. A Friday/Saturday doubleheader for Universal Studio Hollywood Bandolero cars had two winners. Ryan Vargas, 14-year old “bando” 2014 champion, won Friday during the all-division open practice session. Point leader Mckenzie Eshleman, 16, won Saturday in the 7:05 pm first race of the evening.
LM 1: In race two Saturday a field of 21 late models started the first late model 30-lap main. Fastest qualifier Mike Johnson, 56, earned pole position. He led lap one before second starter/point leader Trevor Huddleston, 19, shot into the lead on the outside exiting turn four to lead lap 2. He led through lap 10. On lap 6 a four-car crash in the third turn sidelined three cars and caused a red flag for removal of damaged cars.
McCray, who had taken P. 2 from Riley Herbst, 16, on lap 8, took the lead from Huddleston on the inside leaving turn four. She withstood a closing charge by Huddleston and won by 0.220 in a 23-minute event. Johnson returned to third place on lap 25. He trailed the winner by 2.007 seconds. Rookie Herbst, from Las Vegas, placed fourth with fellow teen rookie Blaine Perkins, 15, from Bakersfield, fifth. Fifteen of 21 starters finished and all completed 30 laps. Herbst ran the fastest lap at 94.732 mph.
LM 2: Despite the scratching of two wrecked cars, a pair of backup team cars were pressed into service for drivers of the crashed cars. Twenty cars started the fifth event on the program. The race had an inversion of four cars based on the second of two qualifying laps during single-car qualifying at 4:00 pm. That put race one winner McCray outside row two, right behind race one runner-up Huddleston.The race again became a contest between the two drivers.
Huddleston led the first 23 laps and appeared en-route to victory. He held a steady lead over McCray on lap 24 when the yellow light flashed. Pole starter Herbst, running fourth, spun and stalled in turn two. In a two-by-two restart, the cars of McCray and Huddleston rubbed entering the first turn and McCray took the lead. She pulled away gradually during the final seven laps. She held a 15-yard advantage (0.863) at the checkers. Johnson placed third again (-1.709 off the lead). Luis Martinez, Jr and Perkins completed the top five. The race took 18-minutes and had one yellow and one red flag on lap 7 to clear another four car wreck at turn three. McCray ran the fastest race lap of 94.453 mph.
SWT TRUCKS 35: Race four also ran on the half-mile and had ten of the touring SWT Trucks in action. Fastest qualifier Jeff Peterson was to start ninth, but he moved to seventh when the pole driver moved to the back row. Pole starter James West led the first lap. Then sixth starter Ronnie Davis led laps 2-3 and 8-9. Peterson, who did not come to the track to race, had his helmet and racing gear. He said he came to help rookie late model No. 98 driver Jarid Blondel. Jeff Williams raced his late model in both mains and needed a driver for his two-truck team. Peterson has not raced this year and stepped up to drive Williams' No. 26 Ford F-150. All he did was set fastest qualifying time and win the feature.
Peterson came from seventh starting spot to lead laps 4-7 and exchanged the lead with Davis three times before he led laps 10-35. He won his first SWT main by 0.749 over Davis. Neil Conrad, point leader Ed Cutler, and Alec Martinez completed the top five. Peterson ran the fastest lap of the race at 87.831 mph. The race was the sixth of the season and first at Irwindale this year. Peterson became the fourth different winner. Davis has won three times, Cutler and Ron Nava once each.
LC 35: A large field of 23 legend cars raced on the third-mile in the third race on the schedule. Donny St. Ours started third and paced the first 13 circuits in a nose-to-tail dogfight with Jordan Hyland and FQ/seventh starter Darren Amidon. Fourth starter Chad Schug joined the party on lap 8, took second from Amidon on lap 11, and passed for the lead on lap 14 entering turn one. On lap 18, the P. 7 car of Mike Brosius blew the engine and oiled the track from the backstretch to the front straight. A 19-minute red flag ensued.
Schug, Amidon and St. Ours ran nose-to-tail, but no one could prevent Schug from winning his fourth feature in four races at IS. On the final lap Tyler Hicks' fifth place car engine blew and erupted into huge flames on the backstretch with the checkered flag waving. He stopped near turn three and exited the car without injury. Track safety crewman quickly extinguished the flames. The 53-minute race had six yellow flags and the lengthy red flag for track cleanup after the oil-down. Nineteen of 23 cars finished with 15 on the lead lap. Schug's 72.920 mph was the fastest lap of the race.
BANDOLEROS: (Friday)--Seven bandos ran 20-laps and 2014 series champion Ryan Vargas, 14, made his first start this year in something other than his No. 23 Irwindale Race Truck. He shook-down and raced the No. 50 HPR car owned by Tim Huddleston to get it ready for Tim's younger son, Tanner, to race Saturday. Vargas set fast time, started on pole and led all 20 laps over series point leader Mckenzie Eshleman. Zack St. Onge, first-time IS entrant Kale McClenny, 8, from Bakersfield, and Kayla Eshleman, first cousin of the point leader, followed in a race that took 9:43.764. Vargas' 66.276 mph was the fastest lap.
(Saturday)—Seven bando drivers raced Saturday in event one at 7:00. Mckenzie Eshleman, now 16, set fast time, started and finished first in her Danica Patrick green No. 10. It was her fifth win in seven races this season. McClenny, a KCRP track regular in mini-dwarf cars, started and finished second, 0.735 back. St. Onge, K. Eshleman (in her black No. 90 for her hero Toni McCray), and Austin Edwards followed. Tanner Huddleston drove the No. 50 in which his brother Trevor made his racing debut. Both of his grandfathers, including his maternal grandfather/racer Oren Prosser, were present. Tanner qualified and finished seventh. He spun on lap 2 and finished 18 laps.
FLAG POLE RACE: The sixth and final event started at 10:40 and ran 11-minutes in perhaps the most entertaining race of the night. Twenty-four enduro cars used the third-mile oval and a six-turn, all left-turns course through the infield. The K-rail marked track circled around a temporary flagpole with a flag. The loop made cars go through a Figure 8 section through an intersection before racing through the third and fourth turns of the third-mile. Cars lined-up two abreast in 12 rows for a rolling start.
Steven Belling started fourth and led the first two laps. Late model veteran Andrew Porter, from seventh, led laps 3-4. Then 21st starter Sean Brennan, the all-time skid plate feature winner with seven, proved that racing with four tires mounted was a piece of cake too. Brennan put his No. 33 Acura Integra in front and led laps 5-6 over Porter. Fifth starter Berk Engin, who was racing in only his second event, put his orange No. 32 Dodge Neon into the lead on lap 7. Brennan led laps 8-17 as the battling leaders weaved inside and outside of slower cars.
Engin made an inside pass of Brennan in traffic exiting turn six and led the final three laps of the 20-lap event. He won by 25-yards (2.066 seconds) over Brennan with two lapped cars between them. The 11-minute race had one red flag on lap 6 to remove a stalled car from the track. Remarkably, 22 of the 24 starters were still racing at the finish with six cars on the lead lap. Robert Rice, Jim Bolinas, A. Porter, and Tony Cummings finished third through sixth respectively.