IRWINDALE HOSTS SPEARS SWT SUPER LATES & MODIFIEDS – By Tim Kennedy
IRWINDALE, Calif., Jul. 18 – Irwindale Speedway hosted four racing series and 260 main event laps Saturday. Three features used the half-mile and pro late models used the third-mile. Spectators in the grandstand again were not allowed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Spotters were not allowed on the roof and sat in the grandstand, six-feet apart observing “social distancing” in accordance with pandemic safety precautions.
Spears Mfg Southwest Tour Series super late models presented by Earnest Performance, Inc. were the featured attraction. A $25,425 purse paid the 100-lap race winner $5,000 and started all 25 competitors present. The event was televised live by SpearsRacingTV. A tape-delayed telecast will be shown on MAVTV on a date to be determined. Racing started with the temperature 88-degrees and concluded at 81, much cooler than the IS event a week earlier.
Spears Mfg Modifieds started all 15 drivers at 4:15 pm and ran a 60-lap main on the banked half-mile. Southwest Tour Truck Series followed at 4:55 and ran 50-laps with 11 of 12 trucks present on track. All 25 Spears SLM drivers started event three at 5:35 and completed 100 laps in 36-minutes. The fourth main was pro late models. It started all eight cars and ran 50-laps from 6:29-6:48 pm. All racing concluded prior to sunset so track lights were not needed.
The eight fastest Spears qualifiers as usual drew for their starting positions. Fastest qualifier Dylan Lupton started fifth. The entire field qualified within .752. The SLM 100 had one caution flag on lap 13 after contact sent Dean Thompson’s car backwards into the third turn wall. He eacaped injury. Three yellow flag laps counted per Spears rules. Drivers raced three-wide and exchanged positions nearly every lap as usual in the most competitive Spears SRL Southwest Series that started in 2001.
Saturday’s Spears event was the fourth of nine scheduled this season at six speedways in California, Colorado and Nevada. It was the second race at Irwindale after the series ran two events last year. The February 200-lap All-Star Showdown won by four-time Spears SWT champion Derek Thorn paid him $25,000. The Spears season will conclude on December 19 with the third event at Irwindale.
SPEARS SWT: Dylan Lupton set fast time and started fifth. The eight fastest qualifiers drew for starting positions in the first four rows. Cale Kanke, slowest of the eight, drew the pole with third fastest Jacob Gomes alongside. Fourth fastest Dylan Thorn and fifth fastest Kyle Neveau occupied row two. Lupton, the July 11 Irwindale SLM 50-lap feature winner from Elk Grove, and second fastest Linny White were in row three. Row four occupants were IS three-time late model champion Trevor Huddleston and Jack Wood.
Spears starter Noel Dawson waved the green flag and 2015 series champion Gomes shot into the lead His 2018 Fury chassis with a Toyota Camry body, led the initial lap over second generation driver Kanke and Thorn’s No. 43 Campbell Motorsports 2019 Fury with a Camry body. Thorn took second on lap 3. At the lap 13 caution the order was: Gomes, Thorn, Lupton, Kanke, White, Neveau , Huddleston, Carlos Vieira, and 2019 series champion Cole Moore.
At the lap 16 green flag Thorn, 34, passed Gomes on the outside in turn four and led laps 16-39. Lupton used an inside move exiting turn four on lap 19 and dropped Gomes to third. A lap later White took fourth from Kanke. The top five drivers raced in close formation from lap 20 onward. Gomes, 27, and Lupton, 26, exchanged second spot twice. Buddy Shepherd, the Madera Speedway late model champion, took fifth in his family-owned Fury chassis on lap 30. Huddleston dropped Kanke another notch on lap 31 with all 24 cars on the lead lap.
Current Spears point leader Thorn, winner of five Irwindale Spears mains and four of the last five at IS, lapped the last place car on lap 38. White took second at lap 38, battled Thorn closely for the point and took charge on lap 40 in three-wide action. Lupton got into the three-way lead battle and led lap 41 and following laps. At lap 50 crossed flags, Lupton’s No. 4 Chevy led White’s 2019 Rowdy chassis, Tyler Fabozzi, (the 24-year old 13th starter), Huddleston, Thorn and Neveau. On lap 55 Neveau dropped Thorn to sixth. On lap 70, 21 cars were still circulating with 16 cars on the lead lap.
At lap 80, Lupton still led in his father’s Butch Van Doorn (Michigan) chassis. White closed to within one length as Lupton experienced difficulty for several laps trying to lap Vieira. White used that opportunity to pass both drivers and took the lead on lap 82. He quickly opened a 30-yard advantage by lap 90 and maintained half a straightaway advantage at the checkered flag in his Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse sponsored No. 99.
Thorn, who was fifth at lap 80 and conserving his tires for a late run, upped his pace and was third by lap 90. He hoped for a caution flag that never came. Thorn, from Bakersfield, closed in on Lupton and swept into P. 2 on lap 98 in the same car he raced at the January Snowball Derby in Pensacola, Florida. He trailed Colton resident White by 2.921 seconds. Lupton finished third, 3.555 behind the winner.
It was White’s third Spears victory after he won twice in the same car last summer on the Kern County Raceway Park (Bakersfield) banked half-mile. White, 42, won his only other main event at Irwindale in a NASCAR super late model 50-lap feature on October 18, 2014. His current car owner, Earl Robbins, also lived in Colton, but has moved to Washington state.
TOP TEN: Fabozzi, the Spears 2019 rookie-of-the-year, placed fourth (-7.492) in a new 2020 Fury chassis. Huddleston (-7.971) completed the top five and all five were interviewed at the finish line. Second through fifth paid $1,500, $1,250, $1,000 and $850. It paid $400 to start. Spears rookie Buddy Shepherd, 20, Cole Moore, Gomes, IS graduate Christian McGhee, 21, and Kanke, 28, completed the top ten. Neveau and Keith Spangler finished 100 laps in P. 11-12. Twenty of 25 starters finished the 36:06.189 race; the winner averaged 83.095 mph. Gomes ran the fastest lap of 17.691 (101.747 mph). Lupton’s FQ time was 17.267, slightly off his one lap IS record of 17.055 on March 23, 2019.
SPEARS MODIFIEDS 60: The eight quickest qualifiers in a 15-car field drew for starting positions. Fastest qualifier Eddie Secord, the last winner at Bakersfield in his RCF-built No. 84, started eighth. Second quickest Jim Mardis drew the pole for his N. 51 STR chassis. Mardis led the initial 44 laps. Secord and Jeremy Doss, 26, traded second several times from laps 13-31 when Doos, from Upper Lake, secured second.
Following one of four caution flags on a two-by-two restart at lap 44, Doss executed an outside pass in turn four and took the lead from Mardis. He extended his lead to a 1.362 victory margin over Secord, who took second on lap 54. Mardis placed third, -1.493 behind Doss in the Eddie Wilcox red No. 75. Doss earned $2,500. William Guevara started second and finished fourth. Travis McCullough was fifth and Lehi, UT driver Jeff Longman took sixth. All 13 finishers completed 60 laps. There were four yellows in the 28-minute event. Mardis clocked the fastest lap at 93.110 mph.
SWT TRUCKS 50: The touring series based in So Cal and run by past truck champion Jeff Williams brought 12 trucks to IS for the first visit since last August. Seven of 12 drivers were first-time visitors to Irwindale from Arizona and Nevada. All raced competitively. Visitor Ricky Bogart, the fastest qualifier, started last and won the 24-minute race that had two caution flags.
Ronnie Davis, Jr., from Whittier, won two of three series races at IS last season. He started third and led the first 34 laps until his transmission oil dipstick came out of the tube, spraying oil onto the engine. Bogart led the final 16 laps and won by 6.200 seconds. Las Vegan Parker Jones waged a close duel for position from laps 5-60 with fellow visitor Keaton Swane. On the final lap their trucks made contact; Swane spun out to the infield grass and did not finish.
Local driver Steve Reeves finished third, 12-seconds back. Visitor Sean Davis started on pole, spun out of P. 2 on lap 2 and continued in last spot without stopping. He finished fourth, 24-seconds off the lead and was the last driver on the lead lap. Swane received fifth position with 49 laps completed. Nine of 11 starters reached the checkered flag from the IS starter. Davis turned the fastest lap of 20.814 before his unusual retirement.
PRO LATE MODELS 50: The second IS race for this new series produced a smaller than expected field of eight after 22 cars appeared at the February 1 All-Star Showdown. Fastest qualifier Trevor Huddleston started seventh in his RCF-built No. 50 HPR Chevy and won his 54th IS main event, but first on the third-mile.
Mike Weimann, from pole position, led lap 1. Third starter Dean Thompsonm 18, paced laps 2-11 in the HPR No. 51. Huddleston, 24, was second by lap 7 and used a fourth turn inside pass on lap 12 to take command. He beat teammate Thompson by 0.763 in an 18-minute contest. Tyler Herzog, a 22-year old Madera Speedway late model champion, took P. 3 from Robby Hornsby on lap 23 and retained it to the conclusion. He trailed the winner by 1.240.
Hornsby, in fourth, was 3.279 off the lead. Weimann placed fifth. All eight drivers completed 50 laps. Orange Show Speedway (San Bernardino) drivers Kyle Meyer and Parker Malone followed, with IS enduro veteran/late model rookie Bory Molina eighth, 11-seconds back. Huddleston ran the fastest race lap of 15.657 (76.566 mph).
The next scheduled race at IS is a multi-division “NASCAR Night” on Saturday, August 8.