IRWINDALE “BACK TO SCHOOL” NASCAR NIGHT – By T. Kennedy with K. Rockwell input

Irwindale, CA., Aug. 10 – It was “Back to School Night” at Irwindale SpeedwaySaturday for the monthly NASCAR Night on the half and third-miles. Students with appropriate proof of school enrollment were admitted free of charge. Track management presented a six series, seven main events program that attracted almost 3,000 spectators with temps in the low 80s and high 70s.

Series included NASCAR Pick Your Part Late Models that raced a pair of 35-lap features that opened and closed competition. Also racing on the half-mile were: the Southwest Tour Truck Series, plus Irwindale Race Trucks and Spec Late Models (formerly called S2 cars) in a combined race with separate points and winners. Series racing on the third-mile were: INEX Legend Cars, Progressive Paint Super Stocks, and the Tucker Tire Enduro Series.

1ST LATE MODEL 35: Eleven drivers used a straight-up starting lineup based on their qualifying times. Fastest qualifier Jace Jones, a 14-year old series rookie, started on pole with Blaine Perkins alongside. Perkins, 19, led all 35 laps aboard the Alan family No. 21 and beat runner-up Ryan Vargas by 0.035 for his third triumph in 14 features this season.

Jones finished third, 1.135 back.Trevor Huddleston started fifth and finished fourth, 5.668 seconds behind the winner. Dean Thompson came from eighth to fifth. Lucas McNeil, Nick Joanides (who came back from replacing a flat tire), Andy Allen, Bakersfield’s Tanner Wattenberger, and septugenarian Rodney Peacher completed the top ten. All ran 35 laps. The 11:40.638-timed race averaged 89.918 mph. Perkins turned the fastest lap of 92.659 mph.

2ND LATE MODEL 35: Eleven cars returned several hours later for the final race.They used an eight-car inverted starting lineup based on finishing positions in the first 35. That put Perkins outside row four and A. Allen on the pole. The race took 25-minutes and concluded at 10:10 pm. A caution flag flew on lap 14.

A three-car crash on lap 4 in turn two involved Allen, Thompson and Wattenberger and caused a ten-minute red flag. All three damaged cars were removed to the pits. Afterwards, Thompson, 19, showed possible concussion symptoms at his HPR No. 51 pit. LA County Fire Dept. paramedics were called and evaluated him; an ambulance took him to a hospital for medical evaluation.

Second starter Joanides, 49, led the first four laps. Fifth starter Huddleston led laps 5-9. Perkins led laps 10-34 and then slowed entering turn one with a mechanical problem on the final lap. Huddleston won his fifth late model feature this season and his 49th career main event at IS, including a 150-lap NASCAR K & N West race on March 30.

Runner-up Joanides, in Joe Nava’s No. 77, trailed Huddleston by 4.406 seconds. L. McNeil, Jones, Perkins and Peacher completed the top six and logged 35 laps. David Sear was the final finisher and he was down one lap. DNFs were: Vargas, and crash victims Allen, Thompson and Wattenberger.

IRT/SPEC LATE MODELS: The combined IRT/Spec Late Models 40 on the half-mile had a green to checkers first place run by trucker Andrew Porter, 24. He dueled all the way with his maternal grandfather/third starter Kenny Smith, 72. He beat grandpa by 0.898. Porter received 50-points as the IRT winner. Smith also received 50-points as the first spec late model finisher. Smith is the reigning spec late model champion and oldest IS champion since the track opened in 1999.

July 13 winner Andy Partridge (spec LM) finished third, 3.421-seconds in arears. Trucker L.McNeil, spec late model drivers Ron Nava, Jagger Jones and John Watkinson placed fourth through seventh. Jacob McNeil, Ed Cutler and first-time IS racer Takuya Okada, 22, from Japan, completed the top ten. The Japanese visitor, a two-stroke, 125cc kart racing veteran, raced Joe Nava’s No. 88 spec LM that was Craig Yeaton’s No. 24 last year. Thirteen of 14 finishers raced all 40 laps. The 13-minute contest averaged 85.905 mph. Winner Porter ran the fastest lap of 88.383 mph.

SWTT 25: Southwest Tour Truck Series raced at IS for the third and final time this season. The race was added at IS after a scheduled Madera race was canceled for a flea market event. Point leader Ronnie Davis, Jr., from Whittier, won his second Irwindale feature of 2019 and extended his SWTT 17-point lead over Whittier’s Mike Kelperis, who finished third. Runner-up Austin Edwards, from Mentone, finished 0.193 off the lead. He is a 14-year old veteran of Bandolero, and Junior Late Model racing at IS and Madera Speedway.

Robert Vandermooren, Steve Reeves, Gary T. Howard, Barry Kelperis, Jr., and Arizona resident Curtis Burns finished all 25 laps in that order. George Perret completed 24 laps. Edwards ran the quickest lap of 87.861 mph. The SWTT series races in three states at five speedways—Las Vegas Bullring, Lake Havasu (AZ) 95 Speedway, Madera, Willow Springs and Irwindale. The series has three 2019 race dates remaining.

SUPER STOCKS 25: Nine super stocks were present and eight raced 25 laps on the third-mile. Jason De Long led the first nine laps. His older brother Rich De Long III took the point and led laps 10-25. Jason finished second, 3.333-seconds back. Robby Harryman, from Anaheim, placed third in his first race this year at IS.

Newcomer Greg Bartlett was nine seconds off the lead and the last driver on the lead lap. Six of eight starters were racing at the finish of the 11-minute race. The winner’s 71.468 mph was the fastest lap. It was his sixth consecutive super stock victory of the season in his No. 84 Chevy SS. He won the IS 2018 series track championship in the same car.

LEGENDS 35: Eight legend cars used a fully-inverted starting lineup based upon qualifying times. That put fastest qualifier Cameron Morga, from Albuquerque, N.M, outside row four. That was not a problem for the 19-year old March 9 Irwindale 35-lap winner. He became the third race leader on lap 10 and led the final 26 laps. He won by 0.321 over July 13 Irwindale legend car winner Ricky Schlick.

Five-time series champion and three-time 2019 IS legends winner Darren Amidon finished third, 0.511 behind the winner. Rookie Jake Bollman, 12, and Tyler Hicks, in a borrowed replica 1934 Ford sedan No. 80 owned by co-worker Jimmy Hansen, followed. Ricky Leigh, three-time series track champion Chad Schug, and Christen Bazen, 12, all logged 35 laps in that order. The 9:40.810 race averaged 72.240 mph. Schug led the first four laps and Schlick paced laps 5-9. Then Morga took charge and won his third IS feature victory. He also won an Irwindale legends main at age 16.

ENDURO CARS 30: Seventeen four-cylinder enduro sedans raced 30-laps on the usual course. Cars were divided into the stock class and more powerful super class. Both classes awarded separate points so there were two winners. Irwindale is awarding points for enduro cars for the first time in 2019 and there will be champions iin both divisions.

Honda Accord drivers Robbie Salcido (L 1-9) and Robert Rice (L 10-14) led the initial laps after starting first and third. Then 14thstarter Bory Molina, from Glendora, led laps 15-19 before yielding the point. Sport class No. 18 driver Bobby Ozman, the ninth starter, led laps 20-24. Molina was back in the lead on laps 25-30 and won his first enduro feature aboard his No. 71 Toyota Celica.

Six-time enduro sport class winner and fastest qualifier Rodney Argo, from Gardena, was sidelined in a crash that involved Joseph Bereiter, whose No. 27 Acura Integra flipped. Ozman finished second. Third place Salcido received 50-points for the stock class victory. Rick Conti (sport class No. 88 Acura Integra) came from 16th starting to fourth place overall. Sport class drivers Kirk Kubik and Ian Rotundo finished fifth and sixth.

Rice placed seventh and received 48 points as the stock class runner-up. Dewitt Jones finished eighth and was third in stock class points. Stock driver Brad Stellman was ninth and sport class Mike McIntyre tenth and the last driver on the lead lap. Thirteen of the 17 starters were racing at the finish. Argo’s No. 9 Honda Prelude ran the fastest lap of 73.879 mph before his early exit.

The next Irwindale Speedway event on Saturday, August 31 will be another of the popular “Night of Destruction” events with NASCAR late model twin-features also on the schedule.