HUDDLESTON FAMILY AFFAIR @ IRWINDALE SPEEDWAY – By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., Apr. 9 – You could call what happened at Irwindale Speedway Saturday during the Advance Auto Parts “NASCAR Night” a family affair. Seven divisions and a chain Figure-8 race attracted about 3,000 spectators to the multi-course speedway. Tim Huddleston, 51-year old IS co-promoter since 2018 and winner of 45 IS main events, basked in the glory of his TWO racing sons success on the half-mile.
Trevor Huddleston, 25, won both 30-lap LKQ-Pick Your Part Late Model features after setting the fastest qualifying time in a 13-car field during the afternoon. He started the first 30 at 7:10 from pole position and led every lap in the Racecar Factory-built No. 50 HPR Chevy. He started eighth in the second main after officials inverted the first eight finishers from race one for the second 30 that started at 9:29. Trevor battled to the front by lap 14 and won his 72nd main event, the all-time IS record by five over 67 wins by retired Rip Michels and active Robert Rice.
Younger brother Tanner Huddleston, 18, joined his family victory lane celebration by also setting the fastest qualifying time in a field of 14 spec late models and race trucks. The two divisions have similar speeds and race together for separate IS points. With six races under his belt in enduro sedans on the third-mile, Tanner made his second start on the half-mile in his dad’s No. 50 HPR Chevy. He started eighth and was one of three race leaders. He engaged in a sprirted duel with veteran Ron Nava before winning his first main event in his second start on the banked half-mile.
Tanner, a junior college student studying business, began racing recently and now trails his brother Trevor by 71 main event victories. He finished second on March 12 in a 40-lap spec late model in his half-mile debut. His father Tim manned the pit microphone as usual and interviewed both sons at the finish line. Proud mom Lisa joined the victory interview to congratulate her younger son.
FIRST LM 30: Polesitter Trevor Huddleston opened a 50-yard lead by lap 15 when the only caution flag waved because of debris scattered on the front straight. With a double file restart, Huddleston chose the inside with Colton resident Linny White outside. White, driving Sean Woodside’s No. 45 Rowdy chassis raced evenly and executed an outside pass in the third and fourth turns to lead lap 16. He maintained a slim advantage on the outside with Huddleston challenging closely.
At lap 23 Huddleston trailed by a mere half-length. On lap 24 Huddleston used an inside pass in turn two and took command for good. He quickly opened a 30-yard lead by lap 26 and extended it to 50-yards by the lap 30 checkers in a 15-minute race. Huddleston ran the fastest lap of 93.100 mph. White beat third finisher Nick Joanides (Joe Nava No. 77) by 1.363. March 12 winner Parker Malone was fourth, only 0.184 off Joanides’ pace. Actor Frankie Muniz, a series rookie from Scottsdale, AZ, started and finished fifth in Huddleston’s HPR team No. 56.
All 12 starters completed 30 laps. Andrew Porter (Joe Nava No. 88), Scott Youngren, Kevin Furden, Lucas McNeil and Tegan Harlan finished sixth through tenth. Rodney Peacher, 73, had a new front clip installed at the nearby RCF shop following his third turn crash a month ago. He took his 11th place on lap 20 and edged second generation driver Ethan Cheek by 0.121 in their personal duel for position. They trailed the winner by 11 seconds.
SECOND LM 30: After finishing eighth in race one, Kevin Furden, of Santa Clarita, had the pole for race two with Fallbrook’s Scott Youngren alongside. He used the pole to lead the first eight laps and claimed his career-best finish—third. Seventh starter White was second by lap 7. He used an outside pass in turn two to lead laps 9-13 following a double-file restart. The only yellow flag flew after Muniz backed hard into the third turn crashwall, shortening his car, after contact by another car. Huddleston also passed Furden high in turn two on lap 9 to renew his first feature duel with White. Huddleston took the lead on lap 14 via an inside pass at the starting line. He extended his advantage to 30-yards (1.530 seconds) over runner-up White.
Third finisher Furden (No. 34) was 4.603 back. He said his best prior finish was fifth. Malone again placed fourth, 4.975 off the lead. Youngren, 51, took fifth in Tim Cash’s turquoise blue No. 13. Porter, Harlan, L. McNeil, Dustin Vandermooren, Joanides and Peacher followed. Vandermooren did not start race one while he replaced a broken rear end with one borrowed from a competitor. All 11 finishers in the 13 car field completed 30 laps. Huddleston logged the fastest lap at 90.983 mph.
YouRaceLA Spec LM/Irwindale Race Trucks 40: The other race on the banked half-mile was the combined spec late models (former S2 cars) and race trucks with nine cars and five trucks. They raced evenly and winners in each division received 50-points towards IS championships. The race had three leaders and four lead changes. Trucker Jacob McNeil started third and led the initial 20 circuits over Ron Nava aboard Kenny Smith’s No. 43 Chevy.
Nava took the lead on lap 21 and Tanner Huddleston took second from McNeil a lap later. Huddleston passed Nava for his initial lead on lap 23 and opened a ten-yard advantage over Nava by lap 30. Then Nash Youngren, winner of the March 12 main, brushed the crashwall and stalled with a broken tie rod. Another caution flag flew a few laps later after Chris Clyne’s damaged No. 89 truck stopped at the backstretch wall. The two-by-two restart helped Nava recapture the lead inside of outside-running Huddleston during laps 35-36.
On lap 37 Huddleston made an inside pass on the backstretch and led laps 37-40. He edged Nava by 0.571. Pomona’s Nico Mongenel, nephew of former truck racer and speedways bike competitor Ron Mongenel, finished third overall (-1.812) and won his second consecutive truck main. Troy Andersen was fourth with Nevin Iwatsuru fifth. J.D Partridge, Aaron Combs, early leader McNeil, trucker Bory Molina, Dylan Interlicchia, and Robin Andrews followed in P. 6-11 and all finished 40 laps. The 33 -minute contest had four cautions. Huddleston’s 20.353l (88.439 mph) was the quickest lap.
INEX LEGENDS 35: A season-high 17 cars raced 35 laps on the third-mile with several teen rookies making impressive debuts. Three drivers towed from Las Vegas and one from Bakersfield. Fastest qualifier Christian Bazen, 16, started sixth and that put Las Vegan Gavin Ray,15, on the pole in his black No. 18 sedan. Bakersfield’s Logan Chambers, 13, started second in his No. 7 coupe in only his second event at IS. Ray led the first ten laps over veterans Tyler Hicks and four-time legends champion Chad Schug. Chambers, Bazen and Nathan Quella made it a tight six-car lead pack.
Schug took second from Hicks on lap 7 and ducked inside to pass leader Ray on lap 11 entering turn one. Hicks took second on lap 13 and Bazen, who won four of eight IS features in 2021, followed to third. At lap 21 fourth-running Ray had a serious mechanical problem and stalled in the third turn. He finished 17th. His 13-year old brother Colton Ray, in the No. 67 coupe, made his first IS start and came from 13th starting to place 11th on the lead lap.
Bazen took the lead on lap 28. Hicks tapped his back bumper entering turn three, causing Bazen to spin out and hand the lead to Hicks, who led laps 29-30. Schug executed an inside pass of Hicks entering the third corner on lap 31 and remained in front during the final five laps. Hicks trailed by 0.278. Quella took third on lap 34 and trailed the winner by 1.530. Impressive Chambers was fourth, 1.602 away from his first win in only his second series start. Bazen restarted last and passed nine cars during the final seven laps to finish fifth, 1.737 back. Eleven of 17 starters completed 35 laps and 15 were on track at the conclusion of a 23-minute contest. Bazen ran the fastest lap of 16.574 (72.330 mph).
Street Stocks/So Cal Pro Trucks 30: Four cars and four trucks (formerly called West Coast Pro Trucks through 2021) raced on the third-mile. Fastest qualifier Jim Vermillion led all the way from the pole in his 1988 Chevy Monte Carlo No. 43. Jay Verduzco, third fastest in afternoon time trials, took second on lap 14 from past two-time IS super stock track champion Zack Green and kept it. Green was driving his self-built 1987 Camaro (now painted all black with his gold-leaf No. 28) in which he ended a three-year retirement last season.
Verduzco trailed the winner by 0.195. Whittier’s Mike Kelperis, in his lime-green No. 8 Ford F-150, finished third, 2.511seconds from the lead and earned 50 points as the truck victor. Green was fourth. Jesus Quintero placed fifth, with fellow trucker Ed Cutler sixth and Robby Harryman’s Camaro the final finisher. The lapped Toyota Tundra of George Perrett dropped out on lap 24. The all-green light race took 8:31.901 and averaged 70.256 mph. Quintero clocked the fastest lap of 72.655 mph in his No. 72 Chevy Silverado.
Tucker Tire Enduros (on six-turn R-oval): Fifteen four-cylinder stock and sport class sedans raced 35 laps on the third-mile with left and right turns in the backstretch infield. It also had a cone-marked jog to the start/finish line on the half-mile. Eight slower stock sedans started in front of all seven faster (OHC-equipped) sport sedans. The race had four leaders. Cheryl Hyland’s pink No. 3 paced lap one. Robbie Salcido led the next two laps. Tenth starter Ian Rotundo led laps 4-24 and 13th starter Rodney Argo led laps 25-35. The Gardena resident and former 410 sprint car winner won his 35th IS main event and moved into 11th place all-time in IS victories in just the last four years.
Past sport class winner Rotundo trailed Argo by 0.551. Fastest qualifier Bobby Ozman came from 15th to finish third, 9.583 seconds behind Argo. Salcido’s Honda Accord finished fourth and earned 50 points as the stock class winner. Jason Woolcott and Robert Rice were fifth and sixth and the last drivers on the lead lap with 13 of 15 starters still circulating. The all-green flag race took 13:35.582. Rotundo ran the fastest lap—22.486.
Chain Racer Figure 8: The first chain race of the year had ten teams of two cars chained together with drivers in both cars and started at 9:48 pm. The hectic event ran about 12 unscored laps with one collision mid-race between cars of one team and another. The loud impact caused a red flag as a fire truck and ambulance rushed to the intersection. All four drivers involved escaped injury. Several more laps were completed by seven remaining teams when the checkered flag flew at 10:04 pm. Track announcer Tommy Mason said Robbie Salcido’s team won.
A ten minute aerial fireworks show followed. The next IS oval track racing event will be another NASCAR Night on Saturday, May 14. Check the track website for Irwindale’s other events on the premises during the next month.