IRWINDALE -- FIVE DIVISIONS, SIX MAIN EVENTS – By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., Aug. 13 – Irwindale Speedway presented five racing divisions and six main events Saturday on “Back to School Night” in front of 1,948 spectators. Three features used the banked half-mile oval while three series raced on the four-degree banked inner third-mile. The Enduro Figure 8 race utilized the usual infield intersection.
PICK YOUR PART LATE MODELS: With 19 NASCAR late model cars present, second fastest qualifier Nick Joanides, 46, started second in Joe Nava's No. 77 King Taco Chevy and led all 30 laps in the first feature. Fastest qualifier/pole starter/series point leader Trevor Huddleston, 20, challenged closely all the way. He trailed by 0.409 at the finish aboard his dad Tim's No. 50 High Point Racing Chevy. The victory was number 49 at Irwindale for 2008-09 three-time track champion in late and super late models. Joanides, third ranked driver in total IS victories, trails only leader Rip Michels (67) and current K & N West driver Ryan Partridge (51).
Sean Woodside started seventh and finished third, 1.637 off the lead. Ryan Vargas, a 15-year old rookie, started sixth and finished fourth in Dave Eshleman's No. 23 Chevy. Mike Johnson, rookie Dylan Garner, 17, Jeff Williams, Chris Trickle, a Las Vegas resident making his first 2016 visit to Irwindale, Brian Pannone, and Glen Schwenger rounded out the top ten. Thirteen of 19 starters finished and all completed the full 30-lap distance. The race took 26 minutes. Joanides clocked the fastest lap of the race at 95.486 mph.
PYP SECOND LM 30: The two fastest qualifiers started the second 30 lap feature hours later from the fifth row using a ten car inversion based on their second of two qualifying laps. Late model rookie Lawless Alan, 16, led the first half of the race from second starting position in his No. 25 Chevy. Three and four-wide racing was common. Huddleston took the lead at lap 15 and beat Joanides by 0.238. Woodside again started seventh and finished third in his No. 45 Chevy ride. He trailed the winner by 0.888 in race two.
Christian McGhee, now 18, finished fourth. Rookies Alan and Vargas earned fifth and sixth positions. Veterans Williams and Johnson, rookie Garner and Pannone completed the top ten and all logged 30 laps. The race took 28 minutes. Huddleston ran the fastest race lap of 93.892 mph. Post-race tech inspection of the top three finishing cars plus the cars of Vargas and Johnson took more than an hour. Inspection required pulling the transmission, clutch and carburetor for official inspection by track officials. All cars passed inspection.
Following the two features for the premier division in the track's NASCAR Whelen All-American Racing Series the points chase was tight. Ten time main event winner Huddleston has 920 points. Seven-time winner Joanides trails by 52 in second with 868. Third ranked McGhee, a two feature winner in 2016, has 860 points.
With 19 races in the books, only two races—on August 20 and a double-points race September 10—remain to settle the track championship A maximum of 150 points are available, with the winner on September collecting 100 points. Huddleston won the series title last season. To date 38 drivers have scored points.
SEIDNER'S COLLISION CENTERS RACE TRUCKS: A ten-truck field ran 35-laps in 15:35.876. Fastest qualifier Lucas McNeil, a 23-year old Saugus resident, started fourth and won by 0.589 over 2011 series champion Connor Cantrell, 25. from Valencia. It was McNeil's fifth victory in nine events this season. Ken Michaelian and Dennis Arena finished six seconds behind the winner in third and fourth.
Truck rookie/2013-14 Irwindale super stock champion Zack Green, 25, finished fifth. Ken Brown, Nico Mongenel, rookie Jacob McNeil, 19-year old brother of the winner, and Jeff Williams finished in positions six through nine. All completed 35 laps. Mark Perry, Jr was tenth, a lap down. McNeil leads three-feature winner Cantrell by 22 points (440-418) with two races remaining
THIRD-MILE RACING: The six-car INEX Bandoleros, and 16-car INEX Legend Car fields used the four-degree banked third mile oval. The ten-car Enduro four-cylinder cars Figure 8 race used the usual Figure 8 course.
BANDOS: Fastest qualifier Madison Gay, 12-year old daughter of late model driver Danny Gay, started from pole position and won her first ever main event. The six-car 20-lap race was the first main event at 7:15 pm and tenth this year. Kayla Eshleman, a 14-year old Jurupa Valley High School freshman from Fontana, started and finished second. She trailed Gay by 1.832 in the double-points Bando season-ending race. Gay broke the 2014 one-lap track record set on 10/18/14 by 2014 series champion Ryan Vargas for Bandoleros with restrictor plates. Her 17.609 (68.079 mph topped the 17.822 (67.265 mph) run in 2014 by Vargas.
K. Eshleman, the granddaughter of former Fontana mayor Dave Eshleman, culminated her three season Bandolero career by winning her first championship. Her first cousin Mckenzie Eshleman, 17, won her first Bandolero championship last season. Both girls also raced legend cars Saturday. Kayla tallied 532 points to 518 for Gay as 14 drivers earned 2016 Bando points.
Cody Brown, from Las Vegas, started and finished third, 3.705 seconds in back of the winner. Jesse Bowen did not post a qualifying time, started last and raced to fourth place. Olivia Manke, 17, started and finished fifth, 12 seconds in back of the winner. Cody Kiemele placed sixth, a lap behind the winner. Gay ran the fastest lap of 66.386 mph.
Five Bandolero drivers were present during Friday open-practice for all divisions. At 8:20 pm they ran their ninth race of the season for regular points. Fastest qualifier Kayla Eshleman started last but led all 20 laps. It was her fourth consecutive main event triumph. She beat M. Gay to the finish line by 0.278. Kiemele, Brown and Manke battled for third all the way and all finished just over six seconds off the lead within a half-second of each other. Gay ran the fastest lap of 67.002 mph.
LEGENDS 40: Fastest qualifier/Lakeside resident Darren Amidon, 31, started fourth and won a 40-lap feature, five more laps than usual for the series. Donny St. Ours, from Upland, started on the pole and finished second, 1.286 back. Point leader Parker Steele, a 15-year old from Peoria, AZ, started and finished third. Ricky Schlick, Tyler Fabozzi, Colton Page, Gary Scheuerell, ex-Bando driver Austin Farr, Tyler Hicks and Matt Bowen completed the top ten as the only other drivers on the lead lap. Scheuerell turned the fastest lap of the race at 73.406 mph.
Steele is still the Irwindale Legend Cars series point leader by two points (334-332) over two-time (2007 and 2013) series IS track champion Amidon. Only one race remains on September 10. Some 39 drivers have scored points in the popular driver development division so far.
A 7:00 pm Legend Cars trophy dash of six laps for the ninth through 14th fastest qualifiers used a fully inverted starting lineup. Bowen and Farr ran one-two from the back row. The all-green race took 1:43.982 and averaged 69.174 mph. Farr's 70.052 mph was the quickest lap.
ENDURO FIGURE 8: The final event of the night was a 20-lap enduro cars Figure 8 race. It used a six-car inverted starting lineup based on time trials. That put Steven Belling on the outside front row and fastest qualifier Mike DiGregorio sixth. Belling took off in his No. 25 Toyota and won by 0.635 over Robert Rice's No. 7 Honda. Third place went to James Bolinas over DiGregorio, Sean Brennan and Robbie Salcido. Those drivers finished every lap with nine of ten starters running at the end of a 7:21.116 race that concluded at 10:08 pm.
Next Saturday (August 20) will have a single NASCAR Late Model main event of 50-laps as the second event of the evening. The usual “Night of Destruction” mayhem-type events so popular with spectators are on the program. NoD events scheduled are: enduro cars oval and Figure 8 races, skid plate cars race, trailer race and a demolition derby.