IRWINDALE, Calif.-Jul. 11 – Irwindale Speedway NASCAR Advanced Auto Parts Racing Series round two took place on the second Saturday of July, four weeks after the June 13 season opener. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic-plagued season again ran without grandstand spectators. Fans watched the seven division, ten main event program from home via www.irwindalespeedwaytv.com. Track co-announcers Tommy Mason and Jeffrey Best provided commentary via their LBTV telecast that racers present also heard.
There were 68 competitors present for five races on the half-mile and five races on the third-mile totaling 295 laps. Opening ceremonies were at 4:00 pm on the hottest day for racing in IS history. It was still 102 degrees when the first race started at 4:20 and it was still 88 when the final checkered flag flew at 7:49. Track lights were not needed.
Competing on the half-mile were:
> Pick Your Part NASCAR late models in a pair of 35-lap features;
> Lucas Oil Race Trucks AND YouRaceLA spec late models (former S2 cars) in a combined 40-lap race that awarded both series full points;
> Super late models for a $1,500 to win 50-lap event.
Racing on the third-mile were:
> INEX Legend Cars in a pair of 30-lap mains;
> Tucker Tire enduro four-cylinder sedans in a pair of 25-lap mains;
> Super stocks in a 25-lap race.
The event again attracted drivers eager to race from northern, central and southern California, six from Nevada, and one from Japan. There were first-time Irwindale main event winners in the spec late model and late model series. Both rookies raced at IS for only the second time after they debuted at IS on June 13.
Teenage Reif brothers, from Henderson, Nevada, reminded long-time racing observers of Kurt and Kyle Busch, from Las Vegas. The current NASCAR Cup drivers raced legend cars at Irwindale in 1999 during the first season of IS competition. Tanner Reif will celebrate his 15th birthday on September 9. He became the fourth ever 14-year old winner on the IS half mile and third-youngest late model winner. Tyler Reif turned 13 on June 5 and is looking forward to racing on the half-mile when he turns 14. Both brothers want to race in the NASCAR Cup Series eventually.
Last month at IS, Tyler was fourth fastest of nine qualifiers and placed fourth in each legend feature. On July 11 he was the fastest of nine qualifiers and finished second and third. Tanner (older by 21 months) finished seventh in a 14-car field in late model race one. He started second and won the second 35-lap race. He led the final 33 laps in his family-owned No. 43. He debuted at IS in June with fifth fastest qualifying time in an 18-car field; he placed eighth and fifth in the 35-lap mains.
FIRST LM 35: Fastest qualifier Dean Thompson, 18, started on pole in a 14-car field. He led all but the first lap, which second starter Dylan Garner led. Thompson, from Anaheim Hills, graduated from high school Friday and celebrated his big weekend by leading laps 2-35 in the RCF-built HPR No. 51 Chevy He won his first LM feature in the same car on 6/8/19 after making his LM debut in April 2018. He is not related to the late 410 sprint car champion with the same name who raced at Gardena’s Ascot Park.
Thompson won by 1.668 over teammate and three-time IS and California champion Trevor Huddleston in a caution-free race. Ryan Schartau, Garner, and Lucas McNeil completed the top five. Twelve of 14 starters finished with eight drivers on the lead lap. Tanner Reif started ninth and finished seventh in the 11:48.573-timed event that averaged 88.911 mph.
SECOND LM 35: Event six was the second LM 35-lap race. The eight-car inverted lineup put past IS series champion Nick Joanides on pole. Reif started alongside in his family-owned PGC Power Components black No. 43. Lawless Alan, IS 2018 late model champion and an SCCA road racer last season, dropped out on the pace lap. Joanides led two laps. Reif executed an inside pass at the starting line on lap 3 and ran away. He won by 2.838 seconds Thompson. The race was restarted after a tangle involving Dustin Vandermooren, Huddleston and Garner.
A one car spin on lap 7 caused a two-by-two restart, but Reif again opened a ten-yard advantage over Joanides. Thompson dropped Joanides to third on lap 11 and Garner took third on lap 22. Joanides placed fourth in Joe Nava’s No. 77, 10.391 back. Schartau earned fifth with seven drivers on the lead lap, including Huddleston who came back from the pits after the opening lap crash and started last.
Reif, a LVMS short track veteran, clocked the fastest lap at 91.338 mph. Last year he was a six-time feature winner in the Junior Late Model Series (for drivers age 10-16) with about 16 drivers usually competing at the Madera Speedway third-mile. Reif now is the fourth youngest winner on the IS half-mile. Jace Jones (in the HPR No. 55) became the youngest LM winner ever on 8/31/19 at 14 years, six months, nine days. Blaine Perkins (HPR No. 55) won a LM 30-lapper on 9/27/14 at 14 years, seven months.
On 8/2/14 Perkins won a S2 (spec late model) 35-lap main at 14 years, five months, five days. Bandolero and legend cars graduate Ryan Cansdale became the still all-time youngest winner on the IS half-mile at 14 years, one month, 26 days on 4/27/13. He drove his family-owned No. 37 to the 30-lap spec LM victory.
RACE TRUCKS / SPEC LM 40: The usual combined race with both series on the half-mile produced a surprise overall winner—rookie Jake Drew, 20, from Fullerton. The karting veteran and current karting instructor at three So Cal karting tracks, including Adams Karting in Riverside, started fifth; he led all 40-laps in the No. 56 HPR Chevy. He finished second last month at IS in his first stock car race. Drew got the spec LM ride thanks to IS co-promoter Bob Bruncati, who was impressed by Drew when he instructed his grandson in karting.
Drew beat runner-up Andy Partridge’s spec LM by 3.506 seconds. Enduro car graduate/spec LM rookie Bory Molina placed third in Joe Nava’s No. 88. Andrew Porter, 26, finished fourth overall and first in the truck division for the second race in a row. He ran the fastest race lap–87.328 mph. Fellow trucker Dennis Arena was fifth overall. Reigning champion Kenny Smith, 73, finished sixth. Lap 2 contact at the starting line caused his car to veer through the infield to the backstretch. He continued non-stop in P. 11 and climbed back to sixth overall.
SLM 50: Fast timer Dylan Lupton, from Elk Grove, started first and led all 50 laps of the five-car event. He won his eighth Irwindale feature since 2010 and collected $1,500 aboard the Lupton Excavating, Fatal Clothing No. 4. The Butch Van Doorn Cars (Michigan)-built chassis is owned by his father Ken Lupton. The 26-year old driver finished fourth in the same car during the Sunrise Ford All-Star Showdown 200-lap event on February 1 at IS with 30-cars present.
Rod Johnson, Jr. started and finished second, 10.823 seconds back in the No. 15. He last raced at IS in 2017. Kevin Furden finished third. Jim Vermillion, from North Carolina, driopped out on lap 68; Las Vegas veteran SLM driver Chris Clyne pulled to the infield on lap 1 with a broken rear end housing. Lupton ran the quickest lap of 17.724 (101.557 mph).
FIRST LEGENDS 30: A fully-inverted lineup put FQ Tyler Reif, 13, inside row five. Las Vegan Jovan Fox and James Hansen led the first led the first 12 laps. Ricky Schlick, 23, started fifth, led the final 18 laps and won by 2.097 seconds. Hansen, Tyler Hicks, and Fox completed the top five. Reif, in his second race at IS, ran the fastest lap of 71.011 mph. Eight of nine starters finished and no drivers were lapped.
SECOND LEGENDS 30: There was a five-car inverted lineup for the second legends feature, which was the final race at 7:36 pm. The race had three leaders and eight lead changes in an entertaining contest. Hansen led laps 1-13 and 15. Schlick paced laps 14, 16-21, 25, and 28-30. Hicks led laps 22-24 and 26. Schlick won his 23rd IS feature by 0.232 over Hicks, with Reif 0.525 back and Hansen 0.798 back in a four-car dogfight. Rookie Amelio Thompson, 13, was fifth with fellow Las Vegas resident Donna Gunther sixth, 2,787 back. Hicks’ 71.468 was the fastest race lap.
SUPER STOCKS 25: Former late model and super stock driver Craig Rayburn, 56, made his first race at IS in years. He started fourth in a nine-car field and led six laps before his Camaro pulled into the infield with a problem. Reigning two-time series champion Rich DeLong III was out front during the final 19 circuits and won by a straightaway;. He drove his usual No. 84 Chevy SS.
Bryan Harrell, 58, won the last series race in Larry Sampson’s No. 94 Camaro and placed second aboard the same car. Newcomer Tyler Gallup, James Vermillion, and Robby Harryman followed and were the only other drivers to complete all 25 laps. Eight cars finished the all-green light race that averaged 70.424 mph. DeLong’s 72.178 mph was the quickest race lap.
FIRST ENDURO 25: Nineteen cars started and ran a six-turn “R-oval” course on the third mile with jogs into the backstretch infield and onto the half-mile front straight. Two divisions (stock and sport) within the series raced for separate points. Each winner received 50 points. All sport division cars started in back of slower stock division cars.
John Beard started second and led the first 24 laps in a stock Honda Accord. Another car made contact at the start of the final lap and he spun briefly before continuing. P. 2 Robert John Rice inherited the lead and won his first-ever IS main event in his No. 50 Accord by 0.296. Sport class winner Bobby Ozman was runner-up in a 1998 Acura Integra. Beard recovered and place third, a few lengths behind Ozman. FQ Mike McIntyre was fourth with Rick Conti fifth overall. The all-green race took 10:43.907 and averaged 69.886 mph. Sixteen of 19 drivers finished and 13 completed all 25 laps.
SECOND ENDURO 25: Beard led the first ten laps from pole position. Last stock class winner Chris Voight, from fourth, paced laps 11-21. Conti’s 1999 Acura Integra, from 12th, led the final four laps and won by 3.534 seconds. Ozman, from the back row, was the runner-up. Beard took third overall and won the stock class. Voight and Robert Rice were fourth and fifth respectively. The 10:35.485 race winning speed was 70.812 mph.