Hurry up and wait! That was the theme on Saturday night at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. But for 2007 Auto Club Late Model champion and current points leader,Tim Huddleston, the evening couldn't have been any longer.
Rain circle over TSIA all day. Huddleston and his High Point Racing crew sat eagerly awaiting the decision from track staff as to whether or not races would be postponed. With a 6 point lead in the championship hunt, Huddleston was confident that he would be able to wrap up his season with the points title. It would require him to keep his blue #50 Justice Brothers/Racecar Factory late model within 3 positions of the #77 car of Nick Joanides.
With the only laps of the day coming in a rain delayed practice, Huddleston laid down an impressive 18.95 second lap. The only competitor to be under 19 seconds flat, The #50 team proved that their car was the one to beat if and when the green flag would drop.
With qualifying cancelled the field line up by points. Huddleston started on the pole with Joanides outside him. At the start of the race, third place Andrew Myers made a move and was able to pass Huddleston for the lead. The two battled for the lead as Joanides and HPR teammate, Colin Fleming closely followed. On lap 43 the top four drivers started radioing that it was getting harder to see out of their front winshields. The race ran to lap 51 under caution before the red flag was brought out due to rain. Huddleston sat on the back stretch refusing to exit his car until the decision was made if racing was going to continue.
"When I climbed into my car, I told myself I wasn't getting out until we had won the championship" Huddleston said.
"Last week we were down and out of the hunt when a racing incident left me with no clutch. Sometimes being an old dog means having a bag of tricks and I remembered a race back in 1993 where my clutch went out. My brother-in-law, Cal, shot the bell housing with a fire extinguisher and it actually got it cooled enough to work again. My crew thought I was crazy last week when I started shouting to get the fire extinguisher and there was no fire, but it got the clutch freed up and we went on to finish the race."
Huddleston's dramatic finish to the season was the first in his new three link racecar. The car was built during the off season after the decision was made to put Drive For Diversity driver, Lindsey King in the 2007 championship car. It's the third championship for Huddleston and the fourth in a row for his High Point Racing team. High Point Racing is looking forward to returning next year to defend their title on the "Drive for Five!"