IRWINDALE, California — Six Toyota Speedway at Irwindale main events Saturday had three races on the half-mile, a pair on the third-mile and a train race on the Figure 8 course. All moms were admitted free for Mother's Day; about 1,800 persons watched in person despite the NASCAR Sprint Cup Darlington 500 being on Fox-TV from 4:00-8:45 pm. The 14-car Pepsi One Super Late Model 50-lap feature was the most exciting race. A three-car battle for the lead on the final lap resulted in the first two cars coming together entering the first turn. The impact sent Jason Patison's leading car spinning into the crash-wall and officials sent the second place car of Justin Johnson to the back “for being involved” in the incident. As a result third place Dusty Davis, from Las Vegas, inherited the lead in his Vision Airlines Ford Fusion and held it for an exciting second consecutive victory at Irwindale. Davis, the 17-year old youngest SLM main event winner in track history, won a three-way, intense duel with fellow teenagers Ryan Reed, 16, and Randel King, 18, over the green, white, checkered flag final two laps. He won by 0.353 over Reed, who shot past King for second in the final yards of lap 50 and edged King by a scant foot (0.007 officially).
Other victories on the half-mile went to Neil Conrad in the 11-truck Southwest Tour Truck Series 35-lap event, and Kenny Smith, from Oak Hills, in a nine-car, 25-lap race for Langers Juice S2 cars. Winners on the third-mile were: Daryl Scoggins, the 2009 series champion, in a 35-lap Justice Brothers Mini Stock event, and Brent Scheidemantle, 17, in a 17-car, 35-lap Echo Equipment Legend Cars contest. The team of driver Robert Rice and brakeman Keith Johns led all eight laps of a race composed of three “trains”, each with three cars hooked together, to form a single “train”. The event used the watered Figure 8 third-mile course and raced in a counter-clockwise direction.
PEPSI SLMWith 15 cars in the pits, including three from the Vision Airlines stable, 14 cars took the green flag with the first four starters inverted based on afternoon qualifying times. King (No. 30) and Johnson (No. 98) occupied the front row, with second quickest qualifier Patison (No. 17) and fastest qualifier Davis (No. 94) starting from row two. Johnson led the first three laps before Patison, from Corona, took the lead. The 2010 K & N Pro Series East driver made his first TS@I start this season in his brand new Port City SLM ride sponsored by E3 Spark Plugs. With Patison on the inside and Johnson on the outside, the lead duo were joined by Davis on lap 46 as it became a three-way dogfight for victory.
On lap 49 Patison, trying to win his first ever TS@I feature, wiggled a bit leaving turn four as the lead pack raced towards the waving white flag. Johnson cut to his left and pulled almost even with Patison as they began the final lap. They raced into the first turn and the two lead cars went towards the same track position, making contact. Patison's car spun up the track and hit the wall hard on the left side of his car. He was uninjured, but his new car had to be towed to the infield, trailing sparks. Johnson continued in first place with his teammate second. Davis said, “I saw an accident coming and backed off.” Officials conferred and relegated Johnson's “involved car” to the back of the now nine-car field for a double-file restart. For the lap 49 restart, new leader Davis took the outside with King on the inside. Reed and Ryan Partridge occupied row two. Davis sped into the lead at the green. Reed shot to the inside of King entering turn one, making it three-wide to the third turn. Davis later stated, “My spotter said three-wide and I stuck it on the outside. I closed my eyes for a second it was so close and kept my foot in it.” He held a narrow lead over King and Reed after lap 49 and about three yards (0.355) at the checkered flag.
Rookie Reed, the TS@I 2009 Legends champion from Bakersfield, provided fans a thrill by darting to the inside near the finish line, nipping King by a foot for his second runner-up finish in just five SLM mains. The three teens spoke to fans. Reed said,“It felt like a victory we worked so hard for it. That was good, hard racing. I had so much fun.” Winner Davis dedicated his victory to his mom and grandmother (from Victorville) who were sitting in the grandstand as usual whenever he races. Davis credited TS@I track master and three-time track champion Rip Michels for his resurgence this year, his second at Irwindale (and 16th TS@I start). “Rip definitely knows how to run this track and he's helped us. He taught me how to run the bottom groove. Thanks also go to my crew chief Sonny Wahl.” Davis said, “Randel (King) leaned on my back fender” during the late race three-way action. When asked about the P 1-2 skirmish in front of him entering the first turn, he replied, “The two cars came together like a V and ran out of room. My car came in after about 20 laps.” Davis used a standard open engine while Reed and King used the GM spec or “crate” engine approved for 2010. The 75-pound weight penalty for the spec engine was discontinued since the last race.
Partridge started fifth in one of three Eshleman Racing entries and finished fourth (-0.662). Kevin Thompson came from eighth to place fifth in his own car. The first five cars finished within 0.926 in a 26-minute race with two caution flags. Johnson carved his way back to sixth position during the final two laps. David Beat, Jeff Eshleman and Tucson's Scott Rueschenberg were the other finishers. Thompson received the hard charger award. Patison was called from the pits to receive the new hard luck award posted for several divisions by El Matador Restaurant of Irwindale. Patison told the crowd, “My car was tight through the center, but I had enough to win. The guy (Johnson) drove in too hard and took us out. I was fishing for a faster line and got taken out.” Johnson now leads the point standings with 224 after five of 20 races. Rookie Reed is second with 216. Davis and King are tied for third place with 214 and Partridge is fifth with 206. SLM track champion Nick Joanides was not present following an engine failure at the last race and he now ranks tenth in points with 166.
SW TOUR TRUCKSEleven trucks (ex-West Coast Pro Trucks) took the green flag with a fully-inverted lineup, and two rookies moved to the back. Arizonan Tom Mikla started third and led the first five laps until sixth starter Neil Conrad, a retired fire department captain in nearby Arcadia, passed him on the inside leaving turn four. Fastest qualifier Jeff Williams, winner of the last three 2010 mains, was third from laps 2-6. He took second on lap 16 after the P 2-3 trucks of Mike Zimmerman and Mikla came together on the front straight. Mikla bounced off the wall near the starting line and he parked his truck in the infield. Officials repositioned Zimmerman at the back, handing P 2 to Williams for the lap 16 green. Williams fell to fourth spot before regaining second on lap 22. He trailed Conrad by 50-yards and eventually by almost a straightaway (4.435 seconds) at the finish. It was Conrad's second career feature triumph at Irwindale and his first since 2003. Conrad, as did other winners, thanked fans for attending and wished all mothers a happy mother's day. Disappointed Williams said, “I started off loose and the engine didn't go after the yellow.” Brady Helm enjoyed his career-best (by one position) third place finish after starting fifth. Ed Cutler and Zimmerman (from the back after the lap 16 incident) rounded out the top five. Nine drivers finished and six drivers completed all 35 laps in a 19-minute event slowed by two yellow flags. The $25. El Matador Restaurant hard luck award went to Mikla. The hard charger award went to Zimmerman. Conrad now trails point leader Williams by six points.
LANGERS S2A season-high nine cars used a fully-inverted start and clicked off 25 green flag laps in 8:40.891. Third starter Kenny Smith, 63, again sub-drove his own Quick Pick Motor-sports S2 for his recuperating grandson to his second straight victory in the two year old TS@I division. He led all the way and won by 0.678 over newcomer Bobby Kelley, the fifth starter, in the Position One Motor-sports No. 03. Rookie Dylan Lupton, 16, came from seventh to lead four High Point Racing “blue crew” cars at the finish. Fastest qualifier Joe Anderson, from Valencia, made his S2 debut and came from ninth to fourth, with HPR teammates Roman Lagudi,, the 15-year old new point leader by ten over teammate Lupton, and David Busby the next finishers. Kendell Lopez, and 50+ year old brothers Bill and Gary Waters followed. All nine drivers completed 25 laps. Anderson was the hard charger and Gary Waters was the hard luck award recipient.
JB MINI STOCKSTwelve of the season-high 13 minis started and Richie Altman paced the first 23 laps. Fast timer/reigning series champion Daryl Scoggins worked forward from tenth to second by lap 18. He put his Ford Pinto into the lead on lap 24 with an inside, third turn pass. Scoggins opened a 30-yard winning margin (1.650 seconds) over Altman at the end of a 10:13.186 contest. Rod Schmitt, the second fastest qualifier and ninth starter, earned third. Dennis Croasmun and Dustin Morgan completed the top five as all 12 drivers reached the finish line with seven drivers on the lead lap. Chuck Gay received the $25 El Matador Restaurant hard luck award and Morgan earned hard charger honors. He wished his wife “happy birthday today” and thanked “my 87-year old mom for buying me a set of tires to race.” Point leader Scoggins increased his lead to 14 points after four of 13 scheduled races.
ECHO LEGENDSA four-car inversion was in place for the 17-car Legends field. Point leader/FQ Scheidemantle started fourth and led laps 3-35 for his 0.410 edge over third starter Chad Schug. It was his second victory in four events this season. Mark Borchetta started second and led the first two laps before dropping to P3 on lap 8. He trailed the winner by 0.851. Pole starter/Reno-resident Hunter Colodny, 15, finished fourth in the HPR No. 51. His older brother Dallas drives the HPR No. 51 late model. Mark Iungerich came from ninth to place fifth. Josh Geer, Rick Clark, Gary Scheuerell, Don Teller and Jordan Hyland rounded out the top ten. Fifteen of 17 starters were circulating at the end and 13 drivers completed all 35 laps. USAC open-wheel driver Todd Hunsaker bought a Legends car two weeks ago in Colorado and made his series debut. He logged laps in the 16-minute race that had two cautions for spins on laps 4 and 17. Zac Bozanich received the El Matador Restaurant hard luck $25 for coming home 11th after being involved in the lap 4 two-car spin.
TRAINSRobert Rice and his brakeman Keith Johns are veterans of fan-favorite zany events such as demolition derbies, skid plate, trailer, and train races. They teamed to lead all eight laps of the first “train” race this year. The event ran counter-clockwise on a track thoroughly soaked track by a water truck. The all-female team of Q. B. King and Sarah Atkinson made numerous loops and were lapped early. They collided with the back car of the No. 443 train at the intersection on lap 5, stopping action with a red flag. The No. 1 train logged eight laps, while the runner-up No. 443 of Richard “Flipper” Walker and John Zimmerman completed seven laps. It was the 15th Irwindale victory for versatile Rice. He and Johns have won three of the last four train races.
The fully-inverted start, 4-lap S2 trophy dash for the four slowest qualifiers went to Smith over B. Waters, Lopez and G. Waters in a 1:23.828 race at 7:17 pm. Fastest qualifiers on the half-mile were: (SLM) – Davis, 17.952 (100.267 mph); (SWT Trucks) – Williams, 20.046 (89.793 mph) and (S2) – Anderson, 20.336 (88.513 mph). Quickest on the third-mile were: (Legends) – Scheidemantle, 16.818 (71.281 mph) and (Minis) – Scoggins, 17.084 (70.171 mph).