IRWINDALE, California — NASCAR Pepsi One Super Late Model point leader Justin Johnson started the 18-car race from row one and led all 50 laps Saturday night in the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale featured event. The 24-year old Las Vegas resident drove one of two Vision Airlines Ford Fusions to his sixth main event victory this season in 12 races and fifth in the last six events. He increased his series point lead from 24 to 34 points over his Vision AL teammate. Johnson said, “We're point racing now. I've won championships in every series I've run so far and the 2010 Irwindale super late model championship is the goal. We came here for points, but wins are always welcome.” The SLM race was the fifth event in a six feature program in front of about 1,800 spectators on family night.
Other main event winners on the progressively banked half-mile were point leader Joey Licata, 18, in the ASA Speed Truck touring series 50-lap race (the third race of the evening); Joe Anderson, in a nine-car Langers Juice S2 Series opening race at 7:05, and Gerrit Cromsigt, in the 12-car Vista Paint Super Stock 30-lap race two of the night. It was Cromsigt's third consecutive VPSS feature triumph. The combined open competition/Ken Porter Auctions Classic Stock 35-lap race used the four-degree banked third-mile. The race had an overall winner, Benjamin Mahan, 14, in a late model, and classic stock winner Harry Michaelian (P. 7 overall) as well. The open class had a late model, super late model, SWT truck, a modified and five super stocks in the 13-car field. A 20-lap Pick-Your-Part Outlaw Figure 8 race concluded racing at 9:38 pm. Fastest qualifier Billy Ziemann was in front all the way for his fourth victory in five events this season.
PEPSI SLM: With a four-car inversion by qualifying times, fastest qualifier Ryan Partridge started fourth in Dave Eshleman's No. 77. First-time TS@I driver Zach Sawyers, 16, from Mesa, AZ, had ninth starting spot, but he pulled to the infield with a broken rear end before the green flag. Fourth quickest qualifier J. Johnson shot to the lead immediately and paced the first lap over Travis Thirkettle and Randel King, 19. The first three drivers waged a nose-to-tail duel in a tight pack to a lap 25 caution for a solo spin after the P. 7 car contacted the lapped P. 12 car. Johnson held his edge throughout the race and increased his lead from ten yards at lap 30, to 25 yards by lap 45 and 30 yards at the lap 50 checkers. The key position changes were between Thirkettle and King, who swapped second place four times from the fifth through tenth laps.
On a lap 25 double-file restart Johnson selected the outside lane. He used it to retain his preferred high grove, forcing Thirkettle to use the inside groove. Partridge briefly ran third on laps 25-26, but he could not hold off King and finished fourth in another tight pack with fifth place Luis Martinez, Jr. and sixth finisher Dusty Davis in the Vision AL 94 Ford. Kevin Thompson, David Beat, Gary Jenkins and Manteca resident Jacob Gomes (-13.322 seconds) completed the top ten and all ran 50 laps. Twelve of the 17 actual starters finished. Johnson won by 1.581 seconds over Thirkettle and 1.781 seconds over King. He praised them for racing him clearly. P. 4 Partridge was 3.909 in back of the winner. P. 6 Davis, 17, ran the fastest lap of the race at 18.344 (98.125 mph). Thirkettle's best lap of 18.345 was the next quickest. Johnson's best lap was 18.383 and King's best was 18.389 in the evenly-matched field.
ASA TRUCKS: Eleven trucks took the 50-lap race green and 24-minutes later Joey Licata, from Van Nuys, had his second ASA truck victory in the three TS@I appearances this year for the touring series. Pole starter Jason Black paced the first three laps as FQ/fifth starter Licata worked forward to third on lap 2. Jimmy Putman passed Black for the lead on lap 4 after Black drifted high in the second turn. Licata took second a lap later. The top three trucks ran in close formation at mid-race with Mike Herda, 21, third. Putman was the leader through lap 34. Then Licata made his winning inside pass on lap 35. He opened a ten-yard winning margin (0.732) over Herda, who passed former leader Putman on the inside at turn four on lap 40. Putman held off Jeff Catlin and June 19 TS@I winner Taylor Cuzick for third place. Nine of 11 starters were racing at the finish. The two retirees exited after wall contact on lap 18 and lap 43 that caused two caution flags.
KPACS/OPEN COMP: The 13-car field had open competition cars in front and the slower classic stocks at the back on the third-mile oval. Fastest qualifier Benjamin Mahan, 14, spotted the early lead to his fellow front row starter Jeff Williams, in his second truck (No. 27-the ex-No. 17 Dave Timewell Ford). After following Williams for seven laps, high school sophomore Mahan made an outside pass in the third and fourth turns on lap 8 for the lead that he would not relinquish. The youngster from Oak Hills now has two TS@I races in his No. 12 Lake Havasu 95 Speedway late model and two victories. He also ran the fastest lap of the race. Mahan also won the second ever open comp race on June 12 after he started 11th and patiently worked his way through traffic. Runner-up Williams trailed Mahan by 1.388 seconds. Robert Dezarov finished third in a super stock Camaro, 16.040 seconds behind the winner. Adrianne Murlin, an Orange Show Speedway driver, drove her super late model from the back to fourth after being lapped on the final lap by Mahan. Camaro S/S drivers Bryan Harrell and Gerrit Cromsigt followed in P. 4-5. The first classic stock finisher was Harry Michaelian in his 1975 Dodge Dart with Curtis Drye next in his Chevelle. P 9-10 went to classic stock drivers Mike Colato, Jr and Ken Michaelian, both down two laps. The 35-lap race took 12-minutes and had one caution for a lap 16 spinner.
VPSS: The 12-car VPSS field ran 30 laps in 17-minutes with two cautions. Eric Sunness, in a Camaro, led the first 22 laps. Second fastest qualifier Cromsigt came from fourth at the start to second on lap 17 when he passed third starter Bryan Harrell on the outside in the fourth turn. Cromsigt went to the inside and passed Sunness on lap 23 as FQ Rich DeLong III, in an Impala SS bodied-car, took third from Harrell. Four laps later DeLong took second from Sunness on the outside leaving turn two. DeLong trailed Cromsigt by 1.128 seconds. Sunness, Harrell and Gary Read completed the top five. On the original first lap Cromsigt spun low in turn four after contact with DeLong. Officials sent both drivers to the back for the complete restart. Both drivers came from the back row to pass the entire field and finish 1-2. All 12 starters finished with 11 drivers on the lead lap. Point leader DeLong increased his point lead from 24 to 2l8 after nine of 15 VPSS races.
LANGERS JUICE S2: The nine-car S2 field ran a 21-minute race with the lead battle a two-car affair between front row starters Nick Johnston (Position One No. 03) and FQ/second starter Joe Anderson (HPR No. 59). Both drivers have scored S2 victories this season and were eager to repeat. They battled evenly and cleanly all 25 laps on the half-mile. Anderson led all 25 laps on the outside and edged inside-runner Johnston by 0.257. Roman Lagudi, Dylan Lupton and Kendall Lopez rounded out the top five. There were three cautions. On lap 7 Andrew Porter got loose leaving turn four and hit the front straight wall almost head-on. He was unhurt but his grandfather Kenny Smith's car needed a new nose clip from Racecar Factory, builder of all S2 cars. Brothers Bill and Gary Waters executed solo spins but finished in P. 7-8. HPR “blue crew” teammates Lupton and Dave Busby were vying for P. 4 on lap 23 when Busby tapped and spun Lupton across the starting line to the third-mile front straight. Both restarted at the back and raced forward again. Hard luck award winner Lupton worked past Missouri's Lopez at the checkers with Busby crossing the line sixth. During victory ceremonies a the starting line runner-up Johnston said, “I drove it in deep until I saw Jesus.” Then winner Anderson added, “I drove it in deep too and saw angels.” The rest of the S2 drivers saw only their back bumpers disappearing in the distance.
PYP OUTLAW F-8: Past Irwindale PYP Outlaw Figure 8 champions Billy Ziemann and Steve Stewart started in the front row as the two quickest qualifiers and ran 1-2 all the way. “Z-man” led every lap and had a straightaway winning margin. Stewart was 6.209 seconds back. Andy Schoening placed third, 6;961 seconds back. P. 4-5 drivers Willy Voesten and Tony Curtis were the only other drivers on the lead lap. Two VPSS Camaro drivers started and were the only non-finishers in the all-green flag 6:13.934-timed race.