TWO DRIVERS WIN PAIR OF IRWINDALE MAINS – By Tim Kennedy
TWO DRIVERS WIN PAIR OF IRWINDALE MAINS – By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., May 26 – Ryan Partridge won a pair of 35-lap main events in two different truck series and Trevor Huddleston captured both 40-lap Pick Your Part NASCAR Late Model features Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. He started first and then tenth in the second late model feature. The first scheduled Irwindale oval track event during May ran six divisions and seven main events on both the banked half-mile and third-mile ovals. Main events during the three hour program totaled 230 laps.
The IS event this week was presented by Life Stream, which collected blood donations from fans for area blood banks. Track management also saluted USA military members on Memorial Day weekend by providing American flags on poles for all main event drivers to hold above their cars during slow parade laps on the half-mile prior to the first late model race at 7:10. Management also offered grandstand spectators $2. hot dogs and $3 beers to celebrate the patriotic holiday.
1ST LM 40: Huddleston, who will celebrate his 22nd birthday on May 31, gave himself an early present by driving the No. 50 HPR Chevy to a 0.709 victory over teammate Blaine Perkins, 18, from Bakersfield. Zachary St. Onge, 16, fastest qualifier Nick Joanides, and Lawless Alan completed the top five. The race took 27-minutes because of two yellow flags. Huddleston ran the fastest lap of 93.014 mph.
On the opening lap Billy Helgeson dived to the inside of sixth starter Hailie Deegan, 16, a 2018 NASCAR Next driver from Temecula. Their cars made contact and spun to a stop. Deegan’s No. 56 HPR and HPR teammate Jagger Jones (No. 55) collided, inflicting significant damage to both cars. Part of the 55 car protruded from the right side of the 56 Chevy. Deegan and Helgeson had to restart at the back of the field. Jones’ car went to the pits for major bodywork and returned to the race, 15 laps down, minus the hood and both front fenders. It looked like a modified.
Second year late model driver Ryan Schartau, Lucas McNeil (who drove his own late model and also ran in a truck race), Helgeson, Craig Rayburn and Dylan Garner finished sixth through tenth respectively. P. 11 Deegan was the last driver on the lead lap in her hastily repaired car. Thirteen of 14 starters, including Jones, reached the checkered flag.
2ND LM 40: The second main event, the sixth event of the night, had a ten-car inverted starting lineup that put Huddleston outside row five and Garner on the pole. Garner led the first three laps as charging Huddleston carved his way through the field quickly to third place on lap 3. He took command on lap 4 and won by 0.912 over L. Alan, who took second on lap 9. Perkins, Joanides and Schartau followed. McNeil, Jones (aboard his No. 55 with taped together hood, fenders and door), Garner, Rodney Peacher and Deegan completed the top ten in a 21-minute event. One brief yellow flag on lap 29 occurred after three cars spun in the third turn.
Huddleston chose the outside for the two-by-two restart and ran away from Alan. He defeated Alan by 20-yards. The winner ran the quickest lap of 91.519 mph during his closing sprint to the checkers. It was the third feature victory in eight late model races this season for the three-time (2015-17) IS and California State NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion. He also finished a close second in Whelen National Series 2017 point standings. His 35th Irwindale main event victory moved him into a tie for eighth place with Travis Thirkettle on the list of drivers with IS feature triumphs. He is now only ten victories behind the 45 IS victories won by his father Tim, the IS co-promoter starting in February 2018.
IRWINDALE RACE TRUCKS 35: Partridge was fresh from his NASCAR K & N West touring series 150-lap victory last Saturday at the quarter-mile Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino. He drove his own No. 6 Toyota Tundra to IRT fastest qualifying time in a nine-truck field. He started fifth and led the final 31 laps of the 35-lap race. Partridge, who marked his 30th birthday on May 17, has won three of the four IRT features this season. This race featured three and four-wide racing out of turn four and down the front straight during the initial four laps. Partridge made his winning pass of early leader Andrew Porter on the inside entering the first turn on lap 5.
On lap 19, Porter was only five yards in back of Partridge when his truck got loose exiting the fourth turn. His No. 7 spun from the outside towards the inside of the front straight. The sixth place truck of Jacob McNeil slammed into the front of Porter’s truck and knocked off the front of McNeil’s No. 97, which stopped near start/finish. No injuries resulted. Porter returned and finished sixth.
After track cleanup, Partridge used the outside groove to keep pressing April 7 IRT feature winner and eight-time IRT winner Lucas McNeil at bay and won by 0.378. Other drivers who completed 35 laps in their finishing order were: Ken Michaelian (a three-time IRT winner in 2017), pole starter Dennis Arena, Nico Mongenel, Porter and 2017 IRT rookie of the year L. J. Billings. L. McNeil turned the fastest lap of 88.365 mph during the 24-minute event.
SWT TRUCKS 35: Following his finish line interview, Partridge drove his IRT truck to the pits and climbed aboard his other touring truck series ride as a “guest driver” for his initial SWT start of 2018. He drove the No. 78 Chevy Silverado usually driven by Ron Davis after just defeating the No. 78 driven by L. McNeil in the other truck series. Partridge set fast time in both truck divisions and started fourth in the ten-truck SWT race. He said the slower SWT trucks required more effort to steer and race than the IRT trucks.
Nevertheless, Partridge trailed third starter and early leader Dustin Vandermooren for only four laps before taking the point on lap 4 with an inside pass in the second turn. Early laps had both drivers running three wide with front row starter Ron Nava out of the second and fourth corners and down the straights. Partridge gradually opened a ten-yard advantage that evaporated on on lap 33 when the only caution flag flew for a solo spinner.
The final three laps flew by as Nava, a 2017 SWT winner at IS, took second from Vandermooren on lap 33 with an outside move in the fourth turn. He trailed Partridge by 0.636 at the finish. Vandermooren, a SWT feature winner at IS in 2016 and 2017, placed third dragging debris during the closing laps. Pole starter Ed Cutler and George Perret were the only other lead lap drivers. Nine of ten starters were running at the finish of a 15-minute event. Vandermooren, 31, clocked the fastest race lap (88.863 mph) while leading early.
SHARKEY’s SPEC LATE MODELS 25: Six of the formerly called S2 cars raced in a 25-lap main as the third event of the evening. Fastest qualifier John Butler, 59, from Arcadia, started third in his RCF-built No. 59 Chevy in patriotic colors. He led every lap. The long-time IS late model driver a decade ago said he came back to racing his car after a year and a half absence. He won a Spec LM feature with eight starters at IS on May 14, 2016 driving his No. 59. Butler also kept the May birthday winners theme going. He will turn 60 on May 30.
“Grandpa” Kenny Smith, 71, wants to be the oldest winner of an Irwindale main event. He almost accomplished that goal Saturday by starting second in his own car (the 2017 series championship car and seven-time winner in nine races). Champion Robby Hornsby drove it then but he is taking this year off from racing. Smith decided to drive his No. 43 again and has not lost a step.
Smith set second fastest time during afternoon qualifying. He started the main second and battled Butler from lap 2 to the finish before placing second, only 0.359 from victory. Pole starter/series sponsor Craig Yeaton finished third, 3.327 back. John Watkinson and Robert Arevalo were fourth and fifth, a straightaway behind the winner. Super stock veteran Jason DeLong made his series debut and had front brakes glowing red most of the race. He was lapped on lap 20 and completed 24 laps for sixth. The all-green flag race took 8:39.431 and averaged 86.633 mph. Butler’s 88.283 mph lap was the fastest.
LEGEND CARS 35: The first of two races on the third-mile was the INEX Legends race two of the night. Thirteen cars started with a five-car inverted lineup. Darren Amidon set a new track record of 16.211 (73.950 mph) during 4:30 pm time trials. He erased Chad Schug’s 2016 mark of 16.220. Four-time series champion Amidon started fifth and ran second to pole starter Jace Jones, 13, from Scottsdale, AZ. The younger of two racing sons of racer P. J. Jones, and grandsons of 1963 Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones, led the first 12 laps in his usual Las Vegas “Bulllring” No. 98 coupe.
On lap 12 second-running Amidon slowed with a mechanical problem, exited to the pits and placed 11th. Fourth starter Ricky Schlick, who celebrated his 21st birthday on May 16, passed Jones on lap 13 and led the final 23 laps. Runner-up Jones trailed by 2.355 seconds for his best finish at Irwindale. He had to recapture second spot from three-time IS Legends track champion Schug after dropping to third on lap 13 upon losing the lead. Schug finished third, with Ricky Leigh, Tyler Hicks, and rookie Stephen Brucker, 13, following in that order. Nine drivers finished the 18-minute contest that had three cautions for spins or debris. Schug ran the fastest lap of 73.722 mph.
The first driver down a lap was Colton Raudman, 15, of Cottonwood (near Eureka). The son of long-time touring stock car driver Craig Raudman (NASCAR Southwest and Spears SRL veteran/champion) was making his first start on asphalt. He drove the No. 14 sedan owned by Dave Reed. Young Raudman said he has raced outlaw karts for a decade at Cycleland Speedway, an eight-mile clay track in Oroville, where NASCAR star Kyle Larson got much of his early racing experience. Raudman started 11th, raced competitively to finish seventh, and was not lapped until the final lap.
ENDURO CARS 20: The final event Saturday was a 20-lap race on the third-mile with four cylinder sedans racing in a clockwise direction for a change. IS newcomer Daniel Hudson, of Garden Grove, set fast time during qualifying. He celebrated his 30th birthday on May 20 and kept the May birthday winners theme going by dominating the 20-lap feature in his 1987 Acura Integra. He also set a NTR for one lap after his 17.798 (67.356 mph) eclipsed his own 17.872 standard from four weeks ago.
After starting third, Hudson trailed second starter Dewitt Jones for two laps before passing him on the outside at the starting line. He ran away to a straightaway victory (7.268 seconds). The all-green light race took 6:24.647 and averaged 62.332 mph. Hudson ran the fastest lap of 64.720 mph in traffic. He had never raced at IS prior to 2018 and now has won three of the six enduro sedan features this season.
All 17 starters finished with nine drivers on the lead lap. The battle for second through seventh place was an entertaining, position-swapping contest all 20 laps. James Bolinas took P. 2 from D. Jones on lap 14 and held it to the finish line. Jones was third.
Pole starter Rodney Argo is an eight-time IS enduro main event winner during the last two seasons. He drove his new 1999 Honda Prelude that he bought for $1,500 in South Central Los Angeles after seeing it offered for sale on Craig’s List. Argo, a two-time enduro winner in 2018, finished fourth. Eddie Howell, Mike Hudson, 36-year old brother of the winner, Robert Rice, Jr., Robert Rice, Sr., and Troy Andersen also finished all 20 laps in that order. The final checkered flag waved at 10:12 pm.
The next Irwindale Speedway oval track racing on Saturday, June 9 will feature the touring Spears SRL SW Tour stock cars. Spec late models, junior late models, legend cars, super stocks and mini stocks are also on the six series racing program.