Irwindale, CA, Jun. 10 – Another Advance Auto Parts NASCAR Night at Irwindale Speedway took place Saturday with seven oval track races (two on the half-mile and five on the third-mile). A wild RVs towing boats on trailers Figure 8 race and aerial fireworks concluded the entertaining three hour evening in front of about 3,000 spectators. Forecasted light drizzle arrived and greeted attendees with wet windshields when they returned to their vehicles in the parking lot shortly after 10 pm.
Pick Your Part Late Models: A pair of 30-lap features on the half-mile with 11 starters opened and closed the oval track portion of the program. Trevor Huddleston started second with fastest qualifier Linny White on the pole in race one. Huddleston raced in the touring ARCA Menards West Series point race at Sonoma Raceway late Friday afternoon. He dropped out after 12 laps with an electrical problem and flew back to SoCal to race Saturday at IS. The trip home paid off for him with his 81st feature victory at his home track.
Huddleston ran the outside in his HPR No. 50, while White used the inside and seldom trailed him by more than a car length. Point leader White fell a mere 0.239 short of Huddleston after 30 green flag laps. Huddleston’s winning time was 9:57.452 (90.384 mph). The winner’s 94.285 mph lap was the quickest of the race. Parker Malone (from fourth), Ethan Cheek (from third) and Christian Bazen (from eighth) followed. Spears late model veteran Mike Weimann, Nick Joanides, who finished 14th Friday with ARCA at Sonoma, Niko Mongenel, and Dennis Arena also completed 30 laps.
The second late model 30 inverted the first eight finishers from race one. That put Mongenel and Joanides on row one with White and Huddleston in row four. Mongenel, fresh from his truck race victory in the prior race, led four laps in his ex-Mike Johnson No. 17 Chevy now wears Mongenel’s familiar No 44. White jumped from eighth starting slot to P.2 by lap 3. On lap 5 he passed Mongenel for the lead on the inside nearing the starting line. White remained out front and won by 25-yards (1.815 seconds) over Huddleston, who took second on lap 12. Mongenel placed third, 5.284 behind White, with Bazen and Weimann rounding out the top five.
Joanides, driving Mike Garcia’s No. 57 for the first time, Malone, Cheek, and Arena also logged 30 laps. The all-green light race took 11:55.708 and averaged 75.450 mph. White ran the fastest lap of 92.350 mph. White’s successful 2023 season has him leading BOTH the NASCAR pro late model points at IS and the touring Spears Mfg pro late model circuit. He has won five of seven NASCAR IS mains this season. Huddleston won two IS mains. White has won all three of the Spears series mains at IS in the same Clay Wooster-owned No. 55 Chevy.
YouRaceLA Spec LM / Irwindale Race Trucks 40: The combined series with similar lap times raced together for separate points. Both winners tallied 50 points. Eight cars and two trucks competed just before the second late model 30. Mongenel’s No. 44 truck started second and led the initial 16 laps. Overall winner Andrew Porter started third in his grandfather Kenny Smith’s No. 43 car and moved to second on lap 11. Porter took command on lap 17 with an inside pass on the backstretch. It was his second victory this season and 26th at Irwindale in various divisions.
Andy Partridge, the fastest qualifier overall, was fourth when he dropped out with a mechanical problem. Tanner Huddleston, 19, came from seventh starting to pass Mongenel on lap 27 with an inside slider at turn two. He trailed winner Porter by 1.456. Troy Andersen took third on lap 29 after a yellow flag following Jacob McNeil’s solo spin in turn four. P.4 Mongenel scored 50 points as the first truck finisher. He edged fifth finisher Kevin Carter by 0.095. Rookie Andrew Chapman beat trucker McNeil by two seconds. Robin Andrews was the final finisher and also ran 40 laps in the 21-minute contest.
The opening race on the third-mile was the new IS Junior Spec Late Model division for drivers ages 12-17. They race all-new RCF-built spec late models with restrictor plates to limit top speed. All cars are owned by and rented from IS co-promoter Bob Bruncati, who is trying to develop talented young stock car drivers. There were five cars in action this week after seven last month. Some drivers were not available because of a big karting event. Charlie Carty, 12, again set the fastest qualifying time during afternoon group qualifying. He broke his own 16.053 lap record with a 16.023 on his fourth of six timed laps.
Carty started fifth while second fastest qualifier/karting veteran Rowe Luckinbill, 15, started on the pole and led all 25 laps. It was his first IS victory in just his second try in the series. His father Thad, an actor/movie producer, won the May 20 celebrity race at IS in a spec late model owned by Robert Arevalo. Lanky, blond Luckinbill opened a 50-yard lead over Carty by 1ap 13 after Carty had claimed P.2 by lap 2 but could not catch the fleet leader.
New driver Skyler Schouppe spun out on lap 14 in the second turn, causing a brief yellow flag. For the two -by-two restart Luckinbill chose the inside with Carty alongside. Adhering to pre-race advice, Luckinbill did not let Carty get inside his car and opened a steady ten-yard advantage in winning the 25-lapper by 0.931. Carty, who won all four prior main events, settled for second and added to his point lead. Ryan Schank, Mikey Killen, and Schouppe followed in the eight-minute event. Luckinbill clocked the fastest lap of 16.195.
Combined Street Stocks / Pro Trucks competitors (19) ran 30-laps together for separate points. The largest field of the season—six trucks and 13 cars—raced. Most trucks started at the back with fastest overall qualifier Jeff Williams No. 28 Ford F-150 starting 19th. Jim Vermillion, the fastest car pilot, started seventh. Kevin Furden started second in his Camaro and led the first five laps. Zack Green, in the black and gold No. 28 Camaro, made an inside pass in turn four to take a lead he extended to 3.911 at the finish.
The three-time (2013-15) IS super stock champion returned to racing last season following his hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic. He won his 26th IS feature and 50-points. Green, from Long Beach, credited his new engine built by VanDyne Engineering. The Huntington Beach firm is well known in open-wheel racing as the builder of successful engines for midget racing. Vermillion was second overall and earned 48 points.
Jeff Williams, long-time leader of the West Coast Pro Truck Series, made his first start of the season and was impressive. The Newbury Park driver charged forward from 19th and finished third overall and first in the truck series IS points. He trailed winner Green by 5.777 seconds. Furden and Arizona-based truck racer Curtis Burns completed the top five. Sixteen of 19 starters finished and 13 drivers ran every lap. Green ran the fastest lap of 73.040 mph as he extended his lead. Williams scored his 22ndIS victory.
INEX Legend cars raced 35-laps with a six-car inverted starting grid. That did not deter fastest qualifier Nathan Quella, 17, from Yorba Linda, from winning his second consecutive main event. He drove the No. 42 coupe, one of three cars former driver Ricky Schlick rents by the race, and stormed into the lead on lap 11. He passed laps 2-10 leader Logan Chambers, of Bakersfield, a 2023 IS feature winner who settled for second. Stephen Bazen led lap 1 and finished third. Legends track champions Tyler Hicks and Chad Schug finished fourth and fifth with Stephen Brucker sixth. Junior spec late model main event winner Luckinbill, 15, made his legends debut in the No. 1 coupe owned by Schlick. He started and finished seventh in an impressive debut. Mike Vanderlip, rookie Daniel O’Donnell, and veteran Jim Smith were the last drivers on the lead lap. Seventeen of 18 starters completed the 14-minute event that had a lap 29 caution flag for a spinning car.
Fourteen four-cylinder enduro cars used the five-turn r-oval course this week instead of the six-turn layout marked by cones. Nine slower stock sedans started in front of five faster OHC-equipped sport sedans. Robert Rice started second and led three laps. Mikey Killen, who also raced junior spec late models, started fifth and led laps 4-6. Rodney Argo, a 410 ci sprint car winner, came from row six to lead laps 7-35 in his silver No. 9 Honda Prelude. It was his 40th feature triumph at IS. He ranks tenth in IS main event victories after six years of racing for fun.
Fastest qualifier/reigning enduro champion Bobby Ozman came from last grid position to second by lap 15 but he could not catch Argo. Third finisher overall Killen, 17, earned his second stock enduro 50-points as the stock class winner. Jason Woolcott was fourth and Rice fifth. The top four drivers completed all 35 laps with ten drivers still on track at the finish of a 13-minute contest. One caution flag waved on lap 3 for a stalled car. Argo recorded the fastest lap of 18.570.
The 15-lap RVs towing trailers with boats ran about 13-minutes in the “entertainment” event. Rice started first and led every lap and lapped most competitors without any contacts taking place at the X-intersection. Eight of ten RVs, most without trailer contents, were still circulating when the starter waved his checkered flag. The usual ten-minute fireworks show followed and most spectators reached their cars before the light drizzle started.
The next IS oval event on Saturday, July 1 will be the second touring ARCA Menards West Series race at IS this season. Up to 20 stock cars will race 150-laps on the always competitive progressively-banked half-mile.