IRWINDALE SPEEDWAY NASCAR NIGHT TWO
Irwindale, CA., Apr. 8 – The second NASCAR Advance Auto Parts and LKQ Pick Your Part night of 2023 had eight Irwindale Speedway divisions race in seven main events. There were 82 racing cars/trucks present. They vied for victories during a three-hour program in front of about 3,000 spectators on a mid-60s evening. The event honored youth baseball and softball players and many youngsters present wore their team uniforms to the speedway.
PRO LATE MODEL FIRST 30: The premier NASCAR national points series at IS had 14 cars race in a pair of 30-lap features as the first and last races of the night. The first 30-lapper started all cars straight-up in order of qualifying speeds. Fastest qualifier Linny White, from Colton, started on pole and led every lap in Clay Wooster’s No. 55 Chevy. He defeated second quickest qualifier Cody Kiemele, 16, by 1.288 seconds. The second generation driver drove a new No. 48 Fury chassis that replaced their car that was destroyed late last year in a disastrous fire that destroyed several cars stored at the shop of 2022 IS series champion White.
Trevor Huddleston, 26, started and finished third in the HPR No. 50, owned by his father Tim, the IS co-promoter. Sean Woodside was fourth and Parker Malone fifth, 5,379 seconds behind White. Nick Joanides, Christian Bazen, 17, Ethan Cheek, Scott Youngren, and Andy Allen completed the top ten. The race had two sets of fathers and sons. Allen had his 23-year old son Braden make his IS debut. Youngren’s son Nash drove a late model after two years experience in spec late models. The all-green light race took 9:59.972 and averaged 90.004 mph. White’s 19.113 (94.177 mph) lap was the quickest lap. All 14 starters finished with 13 on the lead lap.
PRO LM SECOND 30: The starting order for the final race of the night inverted the top eight finishers in the first race. That provided an entertaining race with passing plentiful. Teenage Bazen had the pole with past champion Joanides, 52, alongside. Bazen, from Saugus, led 19 laps before sixth starter Huddleston took command on lap 20 after running second during laps 4-19. Huddleston led the final 11 laps and won his IS track leading 79th main event. More than 625 drivers have won at least one feature since the track opened in 1999.
Malone, from Redlands, started fourth and finished second, 1.135 seconds behind Huddlston, the 2015-17 Irwindale and California late model champion. White started eighth and placed third, 3.381 seconds off the lead. Veterans and past champions Joanides and Woodside completed the top five. Kiemele, Bazen, rookie Brayden Allen, S. Youngren and A. Allen completed the top ten. The all-green race took 9:59.953 and averaged 90.007 mph, almost identical to the 90.004 mph average in the first 30-lap contest. All 14 starters again finished, with only one driver down a lap in his first night of IS Pro LM competition.
YouRaceLA Spec Late Models / Spec Trucks raced 40-laps also on the half-mile. Ten of 12 vehicles present (nine cars and three trucks) competed. Fastest qualifier and former IS spec truck champion Andrew Porter started seventh in the No. 43 car owned by his grandfather and past series champion Kenny Smith. Porter led all but the first nine laps as for his 25th IS feature triumph in various classes. He now ranks 20th in a four-way tie for most IS victories.
Pro truck winner/second fastest qualifier Nico Mongenel, from Pomona, led the initial nine laps and trailed Porter by 15-yards (0.955). Third generation driver Tanner Huddleston, 19, started fifth and placed third in his Racecar Factory-built HPR No. 50 spec LM, which debuted as a series in 2009. Cars of Troy Andersen and Nevin Iwatsuru completed the top five. Trucker Jacob McNeil, Robin Andrews, and rookie Kevin Carter also completed all 40 laps. The 18-minute race had one caution flag on lap 38 for debris. Andersen recorded the fastest race lap of 20.373 (88.352 mph). Porter and Mongenel both received 50-first place points in their respective series.
JUNIOR SPEC LM 20: The second ever race for the new IS division, created by IS co-promoter Bob Bruncati, was a 20-lap race on the third-mile oval for RCF-built Junior Spec Late Models. A growing field of six racers ages 12-17 lined up with the fastest qualifiers in front. Charlie Carty, 12, from Jamul (San Diego County) was on pole and he ran in front all 20 laps . He also won the March 18 inaugural race for the series designed to develop talented young stock car racers. All cars use a restrictor plate to limit top speed.
Logan Chambers, 14, took second spot on lap 3 and trailed the winner by five yards. The all-green race took 5:27.389 and beat the race time of 5:29.628 set by winner Carty last month. Carty’s lap of 16.095 this week was the fastest during the race. The one-lap qualifying mark of 16.129 by Chambers on March 18 fell to Carty’s 16.059 on April 8. The six-car field was evenly divided into three Chevy Camaros and three Ford Mustang bodies. All of the RCF-built cars are owned by Bruncati and are rented by families or sponsors of the teens.
Cars are numbered No. 1 through No. 6 and up to 10 or 12 cars should be racing this season. Two drivers are age 12, one 13, one 14, and two 17. All drivers had some type of racing experience, primarily in karting, but bandoleros, legend cars and enduro cars were in the racing background of some drivers. All drivers expressed a desire to advance to NASCAR stock cars and one said he would like to race Indy cars or even Formula One.
The combined street stocks and pro trucks race had 30-laps on the third-mile oval using a straight-up start by qualifying times. Pole-sitter Jim Vermillion set a new track record of 16.235 that beat his 16.241 mark set three weeks earlier. The Moreno Valley resident put his No. 26 Camaro into the lead on lap 4 after passing third-starter Zack Green’s Camaro. Vermillion edged Green by 0.724. Truck winner Mike Kelperis, from Whittier, was 1.604 off the lead in third overall. Robby Harryman and Ken Michaelian completed the top five with seven cars on track at the finish. The race had four yellow flags for crashes, oil and debris. Vermillion’s 16.401 was the fastest race lap.
LEGEND CARS 20: INEX Legends ran a national points race on a brand new road (R-oval) course with six-turns (four left and two right) marked by K-rails in the infield. Cars raced on the first two turns of the third-mile and in turns 3 and four of the third-mile. K-rails across the infield and through the Figure-8 intersection connected both ends of the third-mile. Drivers turned right at the third-mile turn four and turn three. The challenging and entertaining course had K-rails placed at the beginning of the turn three crash-wall that directed cars onto the third-mile backstretch. Cars made a sharp left turn onto the half-mile backstretch about where cars enter the track from the staging road. Cars used the half-mile third and fourth turns as turns five and six of the new course and raced onto the half-mile front stretch across start/finish before cutting left into the third-mile first turn.
The event had a season-high 21 entries, including five from the Modesto-based Legend Cars Touring Series that races at Madera, Roseville, Stockton, Ukiah and now Irwindale. Saturday was the second race this season for the traveling series that has eight races scheduled (one a month) at four speedways in California. LCTS had 22 cars at the March 18 opener in Madera and officials said they would like to have more races in Irwindale. Four of their five drivers at IS never had raced a legends car at IS. Drivers said they would like to return following Friday practice from 5 to 9 pm and Saturday racing.
The 20-lap race used a straight-up start that put IS legends driver Nathan Quella, 17, from Yorba Linda, on pole in one of Ricky Schlick’s rental legend cars. His No. 42 coupe led the first seven laps and by lap 8 had opened a 50-yard advantage over P. 2 Tyler Hicks, the 2020 IS legends champion. Quella, seeking his first legends victory, had his left front hook the large tractor tire at the K-rail as he entered the half-mile backstretch from the third-mile backstretch. Damage caused his exit and he placed 16th.
Hicks inherited the lead and led laps 8-19 and he received the white flag. On the final lap his car and two other drivers hit and ran through K-rails marking the outside of turn two. All three cars were sidelined. Second place Logan Chambers, a 14-year old second-year Legends driver from Bakersfield, had finished second in the earlier Junior Spec LM main event. He inherited the lead and won his initial IS feature in his No. 13 family-owned coupe. Four-time IS legend cars champion Chad Schug, 35, trailed the winner by 2.469 seconds. Bakersfield’s Colton Page, 23, took third, 5.110 seconds back. The touring LCTS driver raced at IS regularly in 2021-22 on the third-mile oval.
Stephen Bazen, 13, and Harry Burton, 16, from San Francisco’s Noe Valley district, completed the top five. Veteran Jim Smith, from Orange, rookie Daniel O’Donnell, 14, Stockton’s Kayci Phillips, 19, Roseville’s David Shelley, and Carlsbad’s Mike Vanderlip also completed 20 laps. The race took 24-minutes. Quella, grandson of 1950s-60s Indianapolis 500 chief mechanic/car builder Danny Quella, ran the fastest lap of 31.700. His 31.607 time trial lap, during time trials in groups, was an automatic new track record on the new course that fans and drivers want to see used again soon.
ENDURO 15: Stock and sport four-cylinder enduro sedans used the same six-turn, K-rail lined course used by legend cars. Enduros lineup also placed faster cars at the front. Rodney Argo, who raced 410 ci sprint cars for decades until 2009, started second and led all 15-laps in his silver No. 9 Honda Prelude. The El Segundo resident scored his 38th main event triumph at IS. He said he started racing enduro sedans at IS in 2017 for fun. He now ranks tenth all-time in IS main event victories at the speedway that opened 24 years ago. Bobby Ozman drove his Acura Integra from third-starting spot to second on lap 3 and trailed Argo by ten-yards (0.944) in the 8:53.696-timed race. Fastest qualifier Jason Woolcott set an automatic NTR of 35.026 during afternoon group qualifying for each third-mile division. Woolcott finished third, 1.506 behind his mentor Argo.
AMA Speedway bike D-2 racer Bruce Marteney, from San Dimas, started and finished fourth in his second race with his purple 2001 Honda Prelude. It carries No. 48 for his Daniels Jewelers sponsor which opened its four state retail business in 1948. He still owns his No. 56 Acura Integra. Mike McIntyre, of Glendora, finished fifth and was the last sport class driver. Robert Rice finished sixth and won the 50-first place points in the stock class. It was his 76th IS victory in various divisions, primarily enduro cars.
The three-hour non-stop racing action evening came to a close following the 9:46 pm conclusion of the second Pro LM feature and a Robert Rice “Mayhem Machine Destruction Demo”. He drove his large military-like armored vehicle through an old sacrificial mobile trailer parked on the front straight of the third-mile. The usual ten-minute aerial pyrotechnics show launched from behind the backstretch billboards followed at 9:55. The next IS oval racing event will be the third NASCAR night of the season on Saturday, May 13.