Irwindale, CA., Aug. 7 – Irwindale Speedway’s monthly NASCAR night on the second Saturday of August added a twist—a “Chain Racers Figure 8” and a ten-minute post-racing aerial fireworks show. It helped boost attendance from 2,000+ on July 10 to about 5,000 for the August event. The nine division racing program had 84 vehicles in the pits for races on the half and third-mile ovals.
When the evening concluded three drivers in the top four on the list of IS feature winning drivers added to their main event victories. Another aspect of the event was the addition of many rookie drivers and numerous first-time racers in various divisions. Many of the newcomers are teenagers making their initial forays into oval track racing. Most jumped into INEX Legend Car racing, but some debuted in the pro late models.
Three-time IS track and state late model champion Trevor Huddleston, 25, won both NASCAR LKQ Pick Your Part 35-lap races. He increased his victory total to 70, three more than long-time leader and now retired Rip Michels. Robert Rice won the 20-lap chain race Figure 8 and bumped his total wins to 64. Ryan Partridge won the spec late model/trucks combined 35-lap race for his 62nd IS victory in several divisions.
The first 35-lap pro LM main started at 7:04 pm and used a straight-up lineup with the fastest qualifiers in front. Fastest qualifier Huddleston had pole position with HPR Chevy teammate Jake Drew, 21, alongside in a 13-car field. Drew led the first five laps and Huddleston paced the final 30 laps. He beat Drew by about 40 yards (2.195 officially). Fifth starter Cody Kiemele, 15, finished third, six seconds from the leader. Fellow rookie Jake Bollman, 14, started seventh in his IS pro LM debut and finished an impressive fourth. The Legends and junior late model 2018 rookie on third-mile drove the Naake & Klauer No. 54 from central California. Ryan Schartau, 18, earned fifth, 7.556 seconds off the lead.
Dean Thompson, the 2020 IS champion, Nick Joanides, Takuya Okada, 24, from Japan, in the Naake & Klauer No. 88, Dustin Vandermooren and Lucas McNeil completed the top ten on the lead lap. All 13 starters finished including Roseville point leader Thomas Martin in the Krebs No. 9. Highland resident Ethan Cheek, 16-year old son of 2013 IS truck champion Darren Cheek and nephew of retired racer Tru Cheek, made his first race start in the family-owned No. 62 and qualified ninth fastest. He started last and, was 12th until lap 30, when he and P. 13 moved lower to allow the leader to lap them. The all-green race took 11:41.984; the winner averaged 89.746 mph. Huddleston logged the fastest lap of 19.343 (93.057 mph).
The second pro LM main started at 9:18 and inverted the first eight finishers from race one. Second starter Joanides led the first two laps. Schartau, from fourth, led laps 3-6 as Huddleston moved to third by lap 3. Huddleston took command on lap 7 and opened a 20-yard advantage over Schartau by lap 30. Thompson took third on lap 31 and used an inside pass leaving turn four on the final lap to nip Schartau by 0.010 for second.
Impressive series rookie Bollman, from Huntington Beach, started fifth and finished fourth, only 1.351 off the lead. Drew, Joanides, Kiemele, Okada, McNeil and Vandermooren rounded out the top ten. All 13 starters completed 35 laps, including Rodney Peacher, 72. The all-green race took 11:52.722; the winner averaged 88.394 mph. Huddleston’s 19.686 (91.436 mph) was the quickest lap.
Spec LM / Trucks 35: With six cars and only three trucks present, car fast timer Ryan Partridge started fifth and truck quickest qualifier Andrew Porter started second and led laps 1-3. Partridge, 33, used an inside pass exiting turn four to take the point and led through lap 15 on the outside. Porter challenged closely on the inside lap-after-lap. Porter executed an inside pass at start/finish and led laps 16-17. On lap 18, P. 3 Jacob McNeil’s truck received a hit in the LR corner that shot his No. 97 up into the crashwall and hard contact smashed the RF corner. He was uninjured, but the truck was towed to the pits.
Under a lengthy yellow flag, P. 2 Partridge drove to the pits where a loose/burned spark plug wire was removed by his No. 43 Kenny Smith crew. He returned to the back of the now eight vehicle field for a two-by-two green flag on lap 18. Brother Andy Partridge, 31, took the lead from Porter and paced laps 18-27. R. Partridge was sixth after lap 18, third at lap 20 and second on lap 22 after passing Porter low from turn four to the start/finish line. Ryan challenged Andy on the inside and on lap 28 he used an inside move to take the lead leaving turn four. Ryan led the final eight laps and Andy trailed by 0.580 (ten yards).
Porter placed third and earned 50-points as the first truck finisher. Griffin Steinfeld, 26, from Newbury Park, made his first race start in eight years. The former super late model and NASCAR K & N West driver for his family No. 31 team, drove the No. 56 HPR spec LM for the first time and trailed the winner by 4.219. His movie actress sister Hailie Steinfeld was present as was their father. Troy Andersen, Nevin Iwatsuru, Dennis Arena, Ed Cutler also completed 35 laps in P. 6-8. The race took 20-minutes; Ryan’s 20.499 (87.809 mph) was the fastest lap.
1st Enduro 25: Seventeen four-cylinder sedans took the first green flag at 5:17. Fifth starter John Beard led every lap and won the stock class 50-points for the fifth time this season. Former 410 ci sprint car driver Rodney Argo started 14th and finished second overall to earn the sport class (OHC) 50-points. Fastest qualifier Ian Rotundo, who set a new track record of 22.728 (79.197 mph) during qualifying erasing Argo’s month-old mark of 22.814 (78.899 mph), placed third. Rick Conti and Jason Woolcott finished fourth and fifth. Nine of 15 finishers completed 25 laps. Conti recorded the fastest lap of 79.453 mph.
2nd Enduro 25: Second enduro winner Jason Woolcott started his N. 19 on pole and led every lap to earn his second stock class 50-points. His mentor Argo started last (17th) and raced to second in his No. 9 1999 Honda Prelude. It was his 32nd IS main event 50 points ride as the sport class winner. He trailed his buddy by five seconds. Rotundo, Bobby Ozman and Robert Rice finished third through; fifth with nine of 15 finishers on the lead lap.
Legends 30: A season-high 18 cars raced 30 laps, with three caution flags for spins, in 24-minutes. The field included three female drivers and nine rookies, including three drivers making their initial Legends starts. Three of the new drivers were racing for the first time. Fast timer/Saugus High student Christian Bazen, 16, started eighth and won for the fourth time in six IS events this season. The race had five leaders. Polesitter Mike Vanderlip led the initial three circuits. Tyler Hicks paced lap 4 and Chad Schug led lap 5. Second fastest qualifier Evan Garvy, from San Juan Capistrano, came from seventh starting to lead laps 6-20. Bazen, who was second by lap 6, executed an inside pass entering turn one on lap 21 and took the point for good in his No. 43 coupe. Garvy, the June 12 feature winner, battled closely in his No. 33 sedan to the checkers but trailed by 0.207.
Schug, rookie Gavin Ray, 15, from Las Vegas, newcomer Joshua Gross, 30, truck racer Andrew Porter in his first Legends race, Hicks, Vanderlip, first-time racer / 7th fastest qualifier Sean Hingorami, 14, and Jim Smith completed the top ten. Eleven of 15 cars racing at the finish completed all 30 laps. Smith’s 19-year old daughter Tanner, from Orange, made her racing debut, spun, lost two laps and finished 15th. It was the first time at IS that a father raced his daughter in the same race. Nathaniel Edwards, 13, from Bakersfield, made his IS debut in his family-owned No. 7 white and orange best-looking car. He lost a lap late and placed 14th. Garvy ran the fastest lap of 16.609 (72.178 mph).
Mini Stocks: Six drivers used Ford Pintos and a 1990 Toyotas pickup truck. The field used a fully inverted lineup based on time trials. Drivers raced 25 all-green laps in 7:38.826. Fast timer / winner Jim Snow, 60, led the final 24 laps and averaged 65.319 mph. Kyle Cline, Joe Perez, Matthew Gilbert and lap 1 leader Greg Didoha, 67, completed all laps. Mike Hindman finished 24 laps in the Toyota pickup. Perez clocked the fastest lap of 17.925 (66.879 mph).
Street Stocks: Five drivers used primarily Camaros, also used a fully inverted starting lineup by qualifying times, and ran 25 laps. Robby Harryman led the first lap from the pole. Jim Vermillion’s Chevy Monte Carlo paced laps 2-3. Fourth starter Craig Rayburn led laps 4-25 in his No. 18 Camaro and won for the fifth time in six IS 2021 races. He held a straightaway lead for most of the event. The caution-free race took 9.35.975.
INEX Bandoleros: Five drivers (ages 11-15) raced a pair of 20-lap mains in two days. Bandos raced Friday during open practice night at 8 pm with 25 cars from all divisions present and again at 5 pm Saturday. It was the first of two preliminary mains prior to the fan autograph session at 5:45. The straight-up starting lineup had fastest qualifier Logan Chambers, 15, from Bakersfield, on pole both nights. He won both nights in his No. 13 with a new Briggs & Stratton engine and led all laps. .
Following Chambers on Friday were: Daniel O’Donnell, from Oak Hills, Caden Cordova, from Bakersfield, Chase Burgeson, from Yucaipa, and Steven Bazen, from Saugus. The winning time was 7:24.467. Burgeson ran the fastest lap of 18.222 (65.789 mph). On Saturday Chambers beat Burgeson, O’Donnell, Cordova and Bazen. The winning time was 7.39.148 in an all-green flag race. Chambers ran the quickest lap of 18.130 (66.122 mph).
Chain Racers Figure 8: Eleven two-car teams used a driver in the first car and a brakeman in the trailing car. Six feet of chain enjoined duos as a single entry. Drivers used the usual F-8 third-mile and infield intersection course. No major collisions occurred despite numerous close calls at the X. The race started at 9:32 and ran 20 scored laps in 18 minutes. Scorers showed the No. 7 Honda Accord team of driver Robert Rice and brakeman Robbie Salcido won. P. 2 was the No. 99 Steve Cook / Billy Altfather team; P. 3 went to Cody Pearlstein / Prince. The first dropout (P. 11) was Rodney Argo / Jason Woolcott. A ten minute fireworks show concluded a few minutes past 10 pm.
The next IS event on Saturday, August 17 will be the second traveling circuit ARCA Menards West Series 150. It is the fifth of nine scheduled events at seven speedways in five western states. Jesse Love IV, 16, won the July 3 series race at IS in an 18 car field aboard a Toyota Camry. Usual Night of Destruction events will complete the program.