Irwindale, CA., Sept. 1 – NASCAR Late Model twin-35-lap features and the “Night of Destruction VI” presented by LKQ Pick Your Part were co-featured attractions Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. Throw in a ten-minute post-racing aerial fireworks show and the event lured almost 7,000 spectators to the track on a warm Labor Day weekend evening.
Fans filled the main grandstand from top to bottom rows, 12 suites and the bleachers near the fourth turn exit. They witnessed a three and a half-hour entertaining program. Cars were lined up west and east of the track entrance to the 605 Freeway at the advertised starting time of 7:00 pm. Some spectators did not get to the seats until after the first event started at 7:12.
NASCAR Whelen All-American Racing Series late models were events one and three on the progressively-banked half-mile. Hectic, mayhem events were events four through six and event eight. Sandwiched between the two late model mains was a 25-lap enduro race for four-cylinder sedans on the third-mile, five-turn “r-oval” course. It used a jog into the backstretch infield and a wide arc marked by large tires so participants crossed the start/finish line on the half-mile.
Between racing and mayhem events there was a “You Race LA” demonstration by one of the IS race driving school cars. Also, the LKQ-PYP pickup truck “Inferno”, with an aircraft jet engine mounted at the back, used flame-bursts to melt an old Chevy sedan in the infield amid flying pieces of metal. A ten-minute pyrotechnics show capped the show at 10:21 pm and kept fans in their seats until the final aerial burst at 10:31. As usual car alarms went off in the parking lot.
Event winners were the usual subjects. They were:
> Trevor Huddleston, 22, set fastest qualifying time for the third time and won his tenth IS feature of the 16 races this season. The three-time and reigning series champion started on pole and led all 35-laps in the RCF-built No. 50 HPR Chevy. He missed the first two nights of the season that had twin main events. So Huddleston’s 42nd career victory kept him in sixth place in series points because he missed 25% of the season.
> Lawless Alan, 18, won the second 35-lap main for his fourth series triumph this season. He recaptured the series point lead after losing it August 18 when dropped out of a main with a tire problem. The same fate befell point leader Ryan Schartau, 15, this week in the second feature.
After finishing second in the first 35, he started ninth in the ten-car inverted lineup based on first 35 finishes Schartau, who also races in the Lucas Oil Modified Series, led laps 2-27. He slowed leaving turn four to P. 6 on lap 28 with a loose wheel and spun out on lap 29 at turn two after losing the wheel. A wrecker towed his car to the pits; his DNF dropped him to second (-14 points) in standings. Alan now leads 694-680.
> A fully-inverted 23-car field of four-cylinder enduro cars raced on the third-mile “r-oval”. Point leader Daniel Hudson, of Garden Grovc, started 20th and led laps 7-25. It was his sixth victory in nine races this season, his first in Irwindale. He won three in a row for the second time this year in his No. 17 Acura Integra. IS started awarding track points to the enduro division for the first time in 2018. Hudson now leads by 72 points (394-322) over his fellow IS newcomer/brother Mike Hudson (No. 117 Integra). The all-green light event took 9:53.689. Fastest qualifier Eddie Howell’s Honda Accord was eliminated by a lap 1 crash in the first turn.
> Fastest qualifier Rodney Argo, a former 410 ci sprint car feature winner at Perris, led all 25-laps of the enduro cars Figure-8 race with 12 cars. The Gardena resident won by 8.947 seconds in his No. 19 Honda Accord despite being hit by another car in the right rear fender at the intersection on lap 9 while he held a straightaway lead. Fans gasped audibly at the impact. Argo spun towards the third turn and continued with a ten-yard lead over past winner Dewitt Jones. Jones cut the lead to a car length by lap 12. Then Argo rebuilt his lead to a straightaway by the lap 25 checkers. He won for the fourth time in seven F-8 races this season. The all-green flag race took 9:40.483 and averaged 58.451 mph.
> Skid Plate Cars all-time race winner Mike De Gregorio, from Menifee, won again. He drove his same black No. 18 Honda Accord that he has used in all 21 of his SPC victories. Only 64 events have been run since the IS series began in 2009. The winner, who began racing at IS in 2013, started at the back of the 18-car field and became the race leader on lap 5. He won by 21 seconds and lapped up to third place. The all-green light race took 14-minutes and averaged 42.117 mph with metal skid plates on both back wheels instead of tires.
> Demo Derby – Five compact cars ran on a watered section of the third-mile infield between large tires marking the battleground. The final two cars running were a husband and wife team who were rookie demo derby drivers. Andrew Hegbie beat his wife Stephanie in their two-car duel. The event took nine minutes to crown a new DD winner. Two cars had passenger side airbags go off after hard hits.
> Trailer race – The fifth 2018 trailer race had a field of 13 and thoroughly littered the third-mile oval in just 18-minutes of action that concluded at 10:13 pm. Only four vehicles were still moving. Robert Rice, “Irwindale’s master of mayhem”, won for the third time this season in a vote of five judges brought from the grandstand to the race control both. They picked the top three.
Rice garnered the most votes for providing the most entertaining trailer hits. He drove his usual No. 7 orange Chevy El Camino and pulled his decorated “pirate” boat on the trailer. He also won the $250 cash posted by track promoters for the best-looking trailer. Ray Reyes and James Bolinas finished second and third in voting by judges.
Jan’s Towing brought a large, single-wide mobile home that was abandoned on the shoulder of the 210 Freeway in Glendora. It was towed in the race by a flat-bed, half ton truck. Both offered unique and prized targets for other drivers. The mobile home was upended at turn two and drivers de-roofed it quickly as spectators cheered.
1ST LM 35: It ran 20 laps before the only caution flag flew for a spin after contact between cars. On lap 21 Lexi Gay, a 17-year old from Georgia, making her Irwindale NASCAR debut in the No. 51 HPR Chevy, spun low in turn two. She was one of the Toyota Racing Development drivers who participated in a three-day combine at Irwindale Monday-Wednesday, August 20-22. Two male teenagers and six females (five teens) participated in the combine using four HPR late models used by the IS race driving school. Toyota’s TRD Director of Team & Support Services, was present Saturday in race control to watch them race.
The lap 21 caution flag wiped out leader Huddleston’s 15-yard advantage over runner-up Schartau and resulted in a two-by-two restart. Schartau trailed Huddleston by two lengths for the final 15 laps but could not mount a passing attempt. He trailed by 0.387 and third finisher Alan was 3.281 off the lead. Past champion/part-time racer Sean Woodside and Zachary St. Onge, 16, followed.
Tucson, AZ super late model veteran Brandon Farrington, 22, Nick Joanides, Dylan Garner, second TRD combine driver Brittney Zamora, 18, from Kennewick, WA, in the HPR No. 56, and Lucas McNeil completed the top ten. All 16 starters finished with 14 on the lead lap. Huddleston clocked the fastest lap of 93.448 mph.
2ND LM 35: The second late model race took 34-minutes because of three caution flags, including one for debris. Pole starter McNeil led lap 1. HPR teammates Huddleston and Gay brought out the initial yellow on lap 2 after making contact battling for tenth and spun out low in the second corner. Both restarted. Ninth starter/point leader Schartau was sixth after one lap and the race leader on lap 2. He led through lap 27 when a loose wheel caused him to slow in turn four and drop to sixth. He then lost the wheel low in turn two on lap 29, causing another caution. A wrecker towed his car to the pits.Alan started eighth and was in third position by lap 8. He waged a close battle with Woodside from lap 8-28 when he took second in turn two. Alan quickly inherited the lead when Schartau had his wheel problem. The lap 29 green flag had a two-by-two lineup and the top four had victory in mind as they dueled closely. Alan led laps 28-35 and won by 0.601 over St. Onge, who took P,. 3 from Huddleston on lap 29 and then took second from Woodside on lap 31. It was his late model career-best finish by one position.
Huddleston passed Woodside for third place on the final lap. Woodside, Garner, second starter Brittney Zamora, an Evergreen Speedway veteran in Monroe, WA, Joanides, Farrington , Billy Helgeson, and McNeil completed the top ten. Thirteen drivers ran all 35 laps, including 12th place Lexi Gay, from Canton, GA. Leader Schartau ran the fastest lap of 92.317 mph. Jeffrey Best announced on the PA mic that winner Alan had flown into LA Airport that morning from the University of Alabama to race at IS.
TOP FIVE FINISHERS BY SERIES:
> Enduro – D. Hudson, Bory Molina, R. Argo, James Bolinas, Robbie Salcido.
> F-8 – R. Argo, Dewitt Jones, Robert Rice, Eddie Howell, J. Bolinas.
> SPC – M. De Gregorio, R. Salcido, R. Rice, J. Bolinas, Sean Brennan.
> Demo Derby – Andrew and Stephanie Hegbie, J. Bolinas, Ray Reyes, Cole Schmitt.
> Trailers – R. Rice, R. Reyes, J. Bolinas, R. J. Rice, Cheryl Hyland.The next IS race date (Saturday, September 8) will feature late model twin mains, Irwindale Race Trucks, spec late models, junior late models, legend cars, enduro cars, and a Figure 8 race.