Irwindale, CA., Aug. 13 – Advance Auto Parts racing on Irwindale Speedway ovals returned Saturday after an absence of four weeks. Competitors and fans starved for oval track racing turned out in admirable numbers. They did so despite an ongoing August heat wave in So Cal. Afternoon temperature reached 100 and it was still in the high 90s during the on-track driver autograph session from 5:45 to 6:30. Racing took place with the temperature in the 80s and it was still 79 when the final checkered flag waved shortly before 10:30.
Track management opened the pits at 1:00 pm instead of 11:00 am and cars did not practice until 2:00 instead of the usual noon hour in a concession to extreme heat. About 4,000 attended the usual NASCAR Night with the usual array of racing divisions competing for track championships. Instead of afternoon time trials, officials timed all practice laps and set main event lineups by fastest practice laps. Most early arriving fans sat in the shade under the suites from turn four to turn one until sunset. However, the autograph session took place on the front straight as usual so fans were able to check the 13 Figure 8 RVs parked in the infield.
Competitors seeking racing action also attended in greater numbers than expected. The six divisions event on July 9 had 74 competitors. August 13 had 84 competitors with five of six divisions having increased car counts. INEX Legends had 18 cars present, including five first-time IS entrants. Drivers came from Nevada and Bakersfield. Four of the fastest seven Legend drivers were IS newcomers or only had limited experience at IS.
Some drivers stepped up to faster divisions for the first time. Enduro stock class driver John Beard raced a NASCAR pro late model (Rodney Peacher’s No. 35) for the first time. Veteran drivers in both the street stock and pro truck divisions also returned to racing for the first time in years after not racing during the COVID pandemic. Several race cars rebuilt after recent major crashes also raced for cash and points without missing a race thanks to the unusual IS mid-summer month-long hiatus.
The No. 43 spec LM of Kenny Smith, driven by Ron Nava, cost a reported $14,000 to rebuild at Racecar Factory after its meeting with the turn one attenuator last month in a two-car crash. Jan’s Towing proprietor Jan Quackenbush was instrumental in getting the car repaired. He also got a new Jackson-built pro late model constructed for pro late model car owner Joe Nava. Nick Joanides drove it as Nava’s usual No. 77, but with silver and red as its new colors instead of black and orange and with Jan’s Towing sponsorship of the rear quarter panels.
WINNERS in the six regular NASCAR night racing divisions were:
> Fastest qualifier Linny White, 44, from Colton, led all 30-laps from the pole in the first 13-car pro late model main. He started the No. 90 Clay Wooster Chevy eighth in the second 30 that inverted the first eight finishers on the starting grid. White also won the second 40 after leading all but the first three circuits. Three time track and California State champion Trevor Huddleston, 25, was second fastest qualifier in the No. 50 HPR Chevy and placed second in both features.
> YouRaceLA Spec Racer/Pro Trucks 40: Combined car and truck series with similar lap times raced 40 laps, also on the half-mile. Nine cars and six trucks competed and had 50-point winners in both divisions. Sixth starter Jacob McNeil, from Saugus, drove his No. 97 truck to his second victory this season. He led the final 16 laps and won the overall triumph by 0.204. Event fastest qualifier Tanner Huddleston, an 18-year old rookie, started third in the No. 50 HPR spec (former S2 cars) Chevy and finished second. He won the spec series 50-points for the second time in 2022. Newcomer Shea Barkley started eighth and placed third overall in his IS debut aboard the No. 20 spec LM.
> The combined five street stocks and three pro trucks ran 30-laps on the third-mile oval without incident in eight minutes. Jay Verduzco, from Covina, drove his No. 1 1978 Camaro to his third victory of the season after leading 13 laps. First place in the trucks went to Dallas Leininger, from Bakersfield, who returned to racing for the first time in years. He drove Mike Kelperis’ No. 10 Ford F-150 truck. Fastest qualifier Jim Vermillion, from Moreno Valley, started his 1988 Chevy Monte Carlo first and led the initial 17 laps. He slowed suddenly on the backstretch on lap 18 and dropped to second. He slowly continued in last position until lap 22 when he pitted with a broken rear end.
> INEX LEGENDS: The 35-lap race on the third-mile had an impressive field of newer drivers, including several teenagers from Las Vegas. Fastest qualifier Jordan Holloway, from Henderson, NV, started seventh in the partially inverted lineup. The 18-year old raced once at IS last season but made his first IS appearance this season. Holloway made his first IS start two years ago and won the second 35-lap main that evening. Holloway chased leader and IS newcomer Cody Brown’s No. 88 for nine laps before taking command in his white No. 2 coupe and leading laps 10-35. Brown and four-time series champion Chad Schug followed within 0.9 seconds.
> Tucker Tire Enduro Twin-30s: Mike McIntyre set the fastest time on the five turn R-oval used this week. Nine stock class four-cylinder sedans started each main event in front of the seven faster sport class sedans. Pole starter Robbie Salcido led 28 laps in his Honda Accord, but 13th starter Ian Rotundo, took command on lap 29 in his No. 4 2001 Honda Prelude. The 2021 sport class champ won his sixth sport class main of 2022 by 0.603 over Salcido, the stock class winner. Both drivers earned 50-points and stopped at the finish line for PA interviews. McIntyre placed third overall.
The second 30 lap enduro had the same cast but different winners. John Beard, from Chatsworth, drove his No. 35 Honda Accord and led laps 2-7 before finishing fifth overall behind four sport class cars. Beard earned the stock class 50 points for the fourth time this season. He edged three-nose-to-tail stock class drivers–Robert Rice, Rider Gardner and Salcido as they exchanged positions many times behind him. Bobby Ozman started his No. 18 1999 Acura Integra 11th and led laps 8-30 for his fifth sport class victory of 2022. Ozman beat runner-up Jason Woolcott by 1.742. Rotundo and McIntyre placed third and fourth.
> The final on-track race of the night was the season’s second “Motorhome Mayhem”–RVs towing boats on trailers. The non-scored event had a No. 7 rig on the pole and it led all 15 laps with No.16 the only other rig in the field of 11 on the lead lap. Nine RVs finished and there were no collisions at the intersection. One entrant provided a rare highlight when a speedboat came off the trailer crossing the intersection. The loose boat sped across the half-mile and hit the half-mile crash-wall as IS safety truck number two hastily moved out of the boat’s path. After missing the safety truck and glancing off the crashwall, the boat slid to a halt on the fourth turn infield grass. All nine moving RVs pulled nose first to the front straight crashwall for fan recognition following the ten-minute aerial fireworks show at 10:28 pm.
RED FLAGS: Multi-car crashes marred the event later in the program and caused two red flags. No drivers were injured, but removal of damaged vehicles and track cleanup work consumed 24 and eight minutes after the two incidents. On lap 28 of the 40-lap spec racer event cars in P. 4-5 made contact and spun. Three vehicles following closely piled into them and also stopped. Drivers eliminated were: July 9 winner Troy Anderson, Nash Youngren, Ron Nava (new front clip needed), Aaron Combs and Mike DiGregorio in the No. 33 truck. Officials parked Youngren (No. 13) for causing the crash.The second red flag occurred on the opening lap of the second pro late model feature, which inverted the first eight finishers from the first 30-lap main. On lap 1 the second and third row cars of Cody Kiemele and Parker Malone collided while exiting turn two. Both cars slammed into the crashwall, leaving black marks for about 20-yards before they stopped spinning. Neither driver received injuries, but both the No. 36 of Malone (P.3 in race one) and Kiemele’s No. 48 were towed to the pits by tow trucks from Jan’s Towing. The race restarted at 10:00 pm and ran 30 green flag laps in 11:21.993. White again ran the fastest lap (91.204 mph) and extended his winning margin to 5.138 (a straightaway) over Trevor Huddleston during the final ten laps. Nick Joanides started fourth and finished a closing third (1.1 seconds behind Huddleston) in his new Jackson-built Nava No. 77.The next IS oval track action will be Saturday, September 3 with a Night of Destruction program and fireworks show. Another NASCAR Night will be September 10. September 17 will be the next touring Spears Mfg Racing Series three division program featuring super late models, pro late models and modifieds.