August 12 NASCAR Night @ Irwindale – By Tim Kennedy

Irwindale, CA., Aug. 12 – Racers and fans went three weeks without a race at Irwindale Speedway following the July 8 event. That unusual summer hiatus for oval trackers resulted in a large turnout of racers and spectators on the second Saturday of August. The event was the monthly Advance Auto Parts NASCAR Night with numerous divisions in action. There were eight main events with three mains having winners in two divisions. A “mayhem machine demo” by Robert Rice and a ten-minute fireworks show concluded the busy three hours and 15 minutes

About 4,500 persons at the speedway witnessed action on a shirt-sleeve, mid-70s evening. Racers turned out in droves as well. There were 86 cars/trucks in the pits and the first Chain Figure 8 race had two cars and two drivers in the nine entry field for a total of 95 vehicles. There were 240 laps of racing on the half and third-mile ovals and the usual Figure-8 course. With racing at some speedways concluded or paused during hot summer months the IS car count increased with some new entrants. Drivers came from Utah, Las Vegas, Reno, plus northern and central California. Six drivers (in INEX Legend Cars, pro late models, and junior late models) made their first competitive laps at IS.

PRO LATE MODELS – 1st 30: Fastest qualifier Linny White, from Colton, started from pole position in the first race at 7:00 and led all the way in Clay Wooster’s No. 55. Trevor Huddleston, a three-time IS series champion (2015-17), came from fifth starting spot to P. 2 on lap 17 and trailed White by 1.974. The all-green light race took 10:05.557 and White averaged 89.174 mph. Cody Kiemele, 17, started second and earned third, 3.318 behind the winner. Jeff Peterson, the LVMS Bullring 2023 champion from San Bernardino County, started third in Clay Wooster’s No. 90 and placed fourth. Nick Joanides started fourth and finished fifth in Joe Nava’s 2023 Jackson Race Cars newest No. 77 Chevy.

Positions six through nine went to Christian Bazen, Nash Youngren, Ethan Cheek and Dennis Arena in his new 2023 Racecar Factory-built No. 4. All completed 30 laps with all 13 starters on track at the checkers. Tenth finisher Kylie Ith, 18, from Salt Lake City, UT, started 11th and made her IS debut in her father’s No. 19. She practiced Friday and qualified 11th fastest of 14 qualifiers. She has raced since age 5 in quarter midgets, Ford Focus midgets and late models at tracks in Idaho, Utah and Nevada. She will turn 19 in September and said she likes IS.

PLM – 2nd 30: The final race at 9:46 was the second PLM feature. The first eight finishers in the opening main were inverted. That put Cheek, 18, and second generation driver N. Youngren, 20, on the front row with opening 30 winner White, 45, outside row four. Cheek led the first two laps and Peterson paced laps 3-7. White took second on lap 4 and passed Wooster teammate Peterson on lap 8. Huddleston came from seventh starting slot to second by lap 9 and chased White to the finish. He trailed by 1.542 at the conclusion of the 10:08.718 all-green race.

White averaged 88.711 mph. It was his eighth feature triumph in 12 races run so far in the 15-race season. Huddleston, 27, has won four times. It was the 17th main event triumph at IS for the driver who also races in the touring Spears Mfg Southwest Tour Series and is chasing the championship there as well. Kiemele, Peterson, N. Youngren, Bazen, Arena, Mike Weimann and Cheek also completed all 30 laps. Newcomer Ith finished 11th after remaining on the lead lap to lap 28. There were two dropouts–Joanides (overheating) and Rodney Peacher (power steering problem)–and again only 13 of 14 cars present started. Scott Youngren (Nash’s father) was sixth on lap 22 of the first 30 when a mechanical problem slowed his pace and he lost a lap. His No. 45 placed 12th but was a non-starter in race two.

SPEC LATE MODEL & SPEC TRUCKS 40: The other series that raced on the half-mile was the YouRaceLA Spec LM and IS Spec Trucks that have similar laps times. Separate winners earned 50 points toward IS season championships. Third generation driver Tanner Huddleston, 19, started fourth in the High Point Racing No. 50 owned by his father Tim, the IS co-promoter. He took the lead on a lap 34 restart and won by 1.032 over lap 1-33 leader Andrew Porter, who started on the pole. He is the third winner in six races this season. It was 2022 series rookie Huddleston’s third Spec LM triumph.

Huddleston started the lap 34 two abreast lineup inside newlywed Porter, 29, in his grandfather Kenny Smith’s No 43 car. Ironically, the restart followed a spin by Jeff Seifert, who drove Smith’s No. 43 truck for the first time and spun into the turn two infield, damaging the front end seriously. So one Smith entry likely cost the other Smith entry a victory. Porter held a steady ten-yard lead when the only caution flag in the 20-minute contest appeared with seven laps remaining. Troy Andersen, driving the now Joe Murphy-owned ex-Jan Qualkenbush No. 98 car, finished third, 1.366 off the lead. Fastest qualifier/rookie Andrew Chapman, 14, placed fourth and HPR teammate /rookie Kevin Carter, 51, was fifth, 2.341 behind the winner. Last lead lap driver Jacob McNeil finished sixth and was the highest finishing of two trucks so he earned 50 points. He has won three of six 2023 races.

JUNIOR SPEC LATE MODELS 25: The second race of the night was on the third-mile oval for the new IS division created by IS co-promoter Bob Bruncati for drivers ages 12 and older. All eight cars built so far by Jeff Schrader’s RCF and assembled by Bruncati’s crew were in action. Four cars have Ford Mustang bodies and four have Chevrolet Camaro bodies.

Fastest qualifier/point leader Charlie Carty, 12, from Jamul, started on pole and led all 25-laps for his fifth victory in seven races. Pacific Palisades driver/June 10 winner Rowe Luckenbill, 15, finished second, 1.125 back. Fourth starter/enduro sedan racer Mikey Killen, 16, placed third. He won the July 8 25-lapper. San Dimas resident Keegan Kaminski, 14, took fourth, with Johnie Stamps, 12, fifth. Ryan Schank, 13, from Barstow, was sixth. Newcomer Micah Morris, 12, from Henderson, NV, was seventh in his first race at IS. Skyler Schoppe, 12, from Clovis, finished eighth, down a lap after spinning on the final lap in turn two and not crossing the finish line. The 11-minute race had one caution flag on lap 22 for a solo spin.

INEX LEGEND CARS 35: A strong 20-car field raced on the third-mile as usual and inverted the five fastest qualifiers. Teen Brendan Tracy, from Las Vegas, started second and led lap 1. He won the July 8 feature on his first visit to IS. Season-opener winner and Huntington Beach resident Jake Bollman, 16, started fourth. He led the final 34 laps in his No. 71 replica 1934 Ford coupe and beat Tracy by 0.743. Fastest qualifier Nathan Quella, 17, finished third, 0.863 behind the winner. The second year Legends driver won two of six mains this season. April winner Logan Chambers, 14, from Bakersfield, took fourth spot, 1.164 back in an extremely competitive race.

Past Spears SWT super late model star David Mayhew, 40, from Bakersfield, started ninth and finished a closing fifth in his LC debut. He drove the No. 17 coupe, one of three newly purchased fluorescent orange legend cars by his long-time MMI No. 17 car owner. MMI’s Steve McGowen, from Bakersfield, bought two cars in Las Vegas and one from North Carolina. Rookie Taylor Mayhew, David’s 12-year old son, started tenth in his first IS race and finished 11th, only 5.141 behind the winner. He drove the No. 17m coupe. Colorful MMI replica sedan No. 17w, had former NASCAR super stock No. 50 driver Johnny White, now from Bakersfield, driving. He started 12th but exited on lap 6. Nineteen of 20 starters reached the checkered flag with 16 drivers on the lead lap and 13 cars within eight seconds of the winner.

Stephen Brucker, from San Diego County, finished sixth, 2.266 off the lead. Past champion Tyler Hicks was seventh, -2.405. Rookie LC and Spec LM driver Rowe Luckenbill, 15, started sixth and finished eighth (-2.791) in his second LC race. Stephen Bazen, and first-time IS racer C. J. Dizney, from Madera, completed the top ten. Five-time series IS champion Chad Schug was 12th in the tough field that had 16 of 19 starters on the lead lap in the 16-minute race slowed by two caution flags for spins.

STREET STOCKS / PRO TRUCKS 30: The combined divisions used the third-mile with 12 starters—eight cars and four trucks. Jesus Quintero, 18, from Adelanto, started second in his No. 72 Ford F-150 and finished first. Street stock winner (P. 2 overall) Jay Verduzco, from Covina, trailed in his Camaro by 0.973. Pole starter and first eight laps leader Kevin Furden’s Camaro finished third, 1.381 behind the winner. Newcomer Steve Flood, from Redlands, placed fourth in the lime green No. 8 truck. Zack Green (Camaro) earned fifth. Robby Harryman, Jim Vermillion, a spin victim after contact on lap 16, trucker Clayton Byers and Jerry Toporek were the other finishers in a 26-minute contest slowed by three caution flags.

TUCKER TIRE ENDUROS 35: Fourteen enduro sedans raced on the five-turn r-oval. Robert Rice, from the pole, led the initial seven laps in his stock class Honda Accord. Fastest qualifier Bobby Ozman started 12th in his sport class No. 18 Acura Integra. He led laps 8-35 for his fifth 2023 victory and 21st since 2018. The two-time sport class champion won by 7.236 seconds over stock class winner Mikey Killen, 16, who passed Rice for second overall on lap 18 in turn two. Sport class runner-up Mike McIntyre placed third overall, 7.686 back. P. 4 Rice was 20 seconds behind Ozman. Rider Gardner earned fifth as the last lead lap driver.

CHAIN RACER FIGURE 8: Nine enduro sedans, with a second car driven by a team driver, had metal chains connecting each car. The ten-minute race on the F-8 course had close calls but no collisions surprisingly at the X intersection. The No. 35 team led the first two laps, but the No. 7 team of R. Rice and Robbie Salcido aboard the second car led laps l3-15 for a convincing victory over the No. 5 and No. 89 teams. Eight of nine teams finished.

Robert Rice then came out in his huge mayhem machine and demolished a pair of sacrificial old motorhomes parked on the third-mile front straight. A traditional IS aerial fireworks show launched from the backstretch concluded the entertaining evening. The next IS oval track action will be Saturday, August 26. A single 50-lap NASCAR pro late model points race will kick off the evening. It is the 13th of 15 scheduled points races before NASCAR weekly racing series points conclude in mid-September. The usual Night of Destruction events will follow.