LATE MODEL TWIN-30s, LEGENDS & TRUCKS @ IRWINDALE – By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., May 28 – Promoter 211 Entertainment presented NASCAR late model twin-30-lap main events and two series of truck racing on the half-mile, plus legend cars on the third-mile on “Armed Forces Appreciation Night” Saturday. Honorary starter and grand marshal was US Navy Captain Joseph “Charlie” Plumb, 73, who spent almost six years in North Vietnam prisons as a POW after his jet was downed over North Vietnam in 1967.
The first Pick Your Part Late Model 30 started 17 cars and used a straight-up lineup with point leader/fastest qualifier Trevor Huddleston, 19, on the pole. He responded by leading every lap in his dad Tim's No. 50 HPR Chevy. He ran the fastest race lap of 96.210 mph and won by almost two seconds. Nick Joanides, Christian McGhee, Jeff Peterson and series rookie Dylan Garner followed.
After all racing events concluded track officials penalized Joanides two positions and placed him fourth officially, behind McGhee and Peterson. They cited unsportsmanlike conduct by Joanides, who ran Peterson's No. 38 up the track into the fourth turn wall while taking second place from him on lap 22. They said Joanides remarked it was payback for a prior race at another track. “We felt Joanides should not finish in front of Peterson for intentionally taking him out and not serving a position penalty during the race.”
2nd LM 30: The second late model 30 started 14 cars after three damaged cars from the first race scratched. Fastest qualifier Huddledston started inside row three and was one of five race leaders. Garner led lap 1 from pole position. Lupton, a two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series driver at Phoenix and Fontana this year, paced laps 2-3. Huddleston made an inside pass in turn four and led laps 4-24.
A double-file restart on lap 25, after one of four caution flags for spins, had Joanides inside and Huddleston outside. At the second turn, Joanides' Joe Nava No. 77 was even with Huddleston. His car pushed up the track and Huddleston slammed broadside into the wall, sending sparks flying as his car slowed on the backstretch. He completed the lap in P. 8 before exiting to the pits under caution. Officials directed Joanides to leave the track and go directly to the post-race inspection area in the pits. He was disqualified from the race “for avoidable contact”.
McGhee recorded the fastest lap of 94.797 mph and led laps 27-30. He won by 1.361 seconds over Lupton, who competed for the first time in 2016 aboard the Kevin Bowles No. 21 Chevy. Kyle McGrady engaged Lupton in a spirited duel for second position but trailed by one length (0.324) at the checkers. Garner finished fourth. Rodney Peacher enjoyed his best Irwindale career feature finish--fifth.
Huddleston's crew replaced a broken panhard bar and repaired bodywork under a brief red flag. He returned at the back of the decimated field in P. 6 and ran slower laps to gain as many points as possible. He finished last. Following tech inspection of top finishers, McGrady's family-owned K & N Filters No. 11 was cited for use of non-conforming parts and penalized from third to 11th position. That moved Garner, Peacher and Huddleston to P. 3-5 respectively.
The Seidner's Collision Centers Irwindale Race Trucks Series had the lowest truck count ever--seven. The prior lowest IRT count was 11 trucks in 2011. The 1,120 spectators present on the three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend saw fastest qualifier Connor Cantrell, 25, start and finish first. He led all 30 laps in his No. 9 Chevy S-10 that was heavily damaged in a three-truck crash in the third turn on lap 6 of the feature during the last race on May 14. Cantrell took a post-race precautionary ambulance trip to a hospital for medical tests.
Cantrell, the IRT 2011 track champion, became the third winner after five events this season. Saugus resident/three-time winner Lucas McNeil, 23, started second, dropped to third on lap 1, and ran second from laps 2-30. He trailed Cantrell by 2.502 seconds. Dennis Arena (-8.740 seconds), Ken Brown, Zack Green and Jeff Williams followed. Rookie Jacob McNeil, the only other driver, finished seventh, down one lap. The all-green light race took 10:03.714 and averaged 89.446 mph. Cantrell turned the fastest lap of 91.190 mph.
The Robertson Solar Southwest Tour Truck Series started 15 trucks on the second visit to IS this season. Ronnie Davis, from Whittier, started third as second quickest qualifier and led all 40 laps in his No. 78 US Metals Chevy Silverado. He won by 2.113 seconds. Ed Cutler, fastest qualifier/P. 4 starter Zack St. Onge, 14, Mike Brooks and Nevada resident Josh Davis completed the top five. Thirteen trucks finished. The all-green flag race took 14:01.793 and averaged 85.532 mph. Davis ran the fastest lap of 87.553mph.
A 17-car INEX Legend cars field used a four-car inverted starting lineup with fastest qualifier/Bandolero graduate Johnny Dressler, 14, inside row three. The race had three leaders. Pole starter Jordan Hyland (laps 1-4) and past champion/point leader Darren Amidon (laps 5-22) led early. Then Parker Steele, now 15, led laps 23-35. The Peoria, Arizona resident became the first repeat IS legend car winner of 2016 after five events. He closed to within four points of the series point lead.
Amidon trailed Steele's No. 5 coupe by 0.253 with past track champion Chad Schug third, 2.253 seconds in back of the winner. Ricky Schlick and Dressler finished fourth and fifth. Sixteen of 17 starters were racing at the finish; 12 drivers completed all 35 laps. Hyland, Cale Kanke, Tyler Hicks, Austin Farr and Matt Bowen finished sixth through tenth. Hailie Deegan, 14-year old daughter of off-road/rally driver Brian Deegan, drove her No. 38 sedan to a pressing 11th place finish.
The next IS race on June 11 will be a standard NASCAR Whelen All-American Racing Series program topped by late model twin 30-lap features. The Saturday, June 18 event was added to the IS schedule a month ago. It will feature the second Spears Southwest Tour stock car event at IS this season. Promoters Tim Huddleston and Larry Collins added to the program four of the touring
Monster Trucks”, including Bounty Hunter. They also scheduled a celebrity race with up to ten drivers in the RCF spec late models (former S2 Cars), a jet car to burn down an old sedan, and daredevil “Doctor Danger”, who uses dynamite to blow-up his enclosure. The card is sure to attract fans of “Nights of Destruction” events.
FOOTNOTE: Grand marshal “Charlie” Plumb and his family were guests in one of 12 IS suites and enjoyed their visit. He smartly climbed the nearly vertical stairs to the starters' stand to wave the green flag and start one of the two truck features. Later he visited the press box and answered questions about his POW ordeal. He flew F-4 Phantom jets off the carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) during the Vietnam war. He had completed 74 successful missions and was only five days short of deployment home.
On his 75th mission, Charlie and his co-pilot (both LTJGs) were shot down by a heat-seeking missle from behind. Their jet was crippled. As they parachuted to the ground they were shot at from below by enemy soldiers. They were captured in May 1967 and spent 2,190 days in captivity until liberated in February 1973. Charlie was in solitary confinement in an eight by eight foot room and was tortured often by being bound up into a ball for long periods. Medical and dental care were non existent. He said POWs had to improvise cutting devices to cut out their own teeth to relieve toothaches.
MIA-POW wrist bracelets for American citizens with names of individual US military personnel eventually brought heat on the North Vietnamese. It caused them to improvement treatment of POWs. They were moved periodically to outlying prisons. After failed rescue attempts, POWs were placed in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” in the city of Hanoi. They were housed in bigger rooms with about 40 or so POWs together in the room. A hole in the floor was their “bathroom”.
Charlie said fellow POW Senator John McCain, his training officer, was a prisoner there when he was a POW in Hanoi. When asked over the infield mic at 7:00 pm how he was able to persevere during his captivity, Charlie said it was his faith. Charlie distinguished himself among POWs during his captivity by being an expert in underground communications for POWs. He served for two years as the group chaplain to help keep spirits as high as possible.
When liberated and upon his return to the USA, Charlie tried to catch up on world news from the time he spent as a POW. He learned he had been promoted twice to USN Captain. He also received military honors/awards--two Purple Hearts, Legion of Merit, Silver Star, Bronze Star and POW Medal. Charlie has appeared as a guest on many national TV programs and has been a motivational speaker for many years.