IRWINDALE, California — Hard-charging teenagers Ryan Reed, 17, and Dusty Davis, 18, won the NASCAR Pepsi One Super Late Model twin 40-lap Toyota Speedway at Irwindale features Saturday with 22 cars present. Justin Johnson, 25, also celebrated by winning his first track championship in his seven years of racing. He did so in the track's premier weekly racing division. The Las Vegas resident also won the NASCAR All-American Weekly Racing Series California State championship. An enthusiastic sell-out crowd of 6,500 on Pipe Trades Night responded to advertising fliers and watched four monster trucks as well. The behemoths vied in match races over dirt ramps and old cars in the infield and the in the individual free-style event.
Two other track series competed on the half-mile. Following the first SLM 40, the second season of Langers Juice S2 racing resulted in the third feature victory of 2010 for Joe Anderson, 24, of Valencia. The battle for the S2 championship between HPR teammates went down to the 20th and final lap. Dylan Lupton, 16, from Wilton, entered the race with a six-point lead and three victories, compared to one victory for 15-year old Roman Lagudi, an Austtalian now living in Las Vegas. The chaser had to finish four positions better than the point leader to avoid losing the championship based on the tie-breaker factor—most main event triumphs. Lagudi started first and ran second all the way. Fifth starter Lupton ran fourth all 20-laps and won his first track championship by two points (636-634) over his HPR teammate Lagudi.
The continuing saga of Ryan Partridge, 22, and his pursuit of his first King Taco Super Truck championship hit another bump in the road. After starting the season with a single-season record ten consecutive victories (plus ten fast qualifying times in 11 events), his No. 48 again failed to finish. He was the first retiree on lap 5 with another transmission failure after radioing to his crew that “it has a high-pitched whine”. For the second race in a row, a first-time KTST winner celebrated after the checkered flag. This time it was fastest qualifier/pole starter Matt Kimball, 20, from Mission Viejo. The second season KTST driver led all 30 laps and moved from sixth to fourth in points with two races remaining. On August 28 Partridge dropped out of first place on lap 25 and finished 18th, earning only 16 points after his transmission failed. This week Partridge finished 19th in a 19-truck field and received only 14 points. His comfortable 52-point lead fell to 20-points over steady second-place point driver Todd Cameron, who finished third Saturday.
1ST SLM 40: All 22 SLM cars present took the green flag at 7:13 pm with a four-car inversion. Drivers reeled off 40 rapid green flag laps in 12:26.148. Fifteen drivers finished and 12 completed every lap. Pole starter Randel King, 19, paced the first 36 laps in a tight duel initially with fastest qualifier Reed and Davis. Partridge took second from Reed on lap 9 and made it a three-way contest with King and Reed. On lap 17 Partridge bumped the second turn wall and slowed to third place before he retired into the infield on lap 18. Reed, a Legend Car graduate and SLM rookie, battled closely with Position One Motorsports driver King, the 2009 S2 track champion. On lap 37 Reed passed King and opened a ten-yard (0.505) winning margin during the final four laps. Reed became the youngest SLM main event winner in track history at 17 and one month. He took the honor from Davis, a SLM winner earlier this year at 17 and nine months. Reed's average speed was 96.496 mph, and he had the fastest race lap of 18.146 (99.195 mph). King settled for second for the third time this season. Second starter Davis placed third, 4.143 seconds back. Point leader Johnson was the fifth FQ and slated to start fifth. However, he had to move to a back row after his No. 98 Vision Airlines Ford Fusion did not meet a ride height measurement prior to the race. Johnson raced forward quickly to sixth position by lap 18 and engaged Derek Thorn and David Beat in an exciting three-way duel for fourth place for 18 laps. Johnson took fifth from Thorn on lap 36 and fourth from Beat two laps later. His 44 points earned for P. 4 clinched his first track championship. Beat, Thorn, rookie Chris Winter, Kevin Thompson. Casey Kingsland, 25, from Las Vegas, and Tucson's Duane Hunt, Jr completed the top ten.
2ND SLM 40: Only 20 cars appeared for the second race with FQ Reed starting third based on his second of two mid-afternoon qualifying laps. Johnson and King had the front row positions after second FQ Partridge's No. 88 Eshleman Racing mount joined Thorn's No. 22 in the pits as non-starters. Pit officials noted serious right side tire wear after the first 40 lap race, so they announced that new right side tires were permitted for the second 40. Some low budget teams protested so the teams were told not to use new tires. Somehow Reed's No. 4 did not get the message and was the only car in the second 40 with new right side rubber. An opening lap crash involved Mike Eshleman and Dennis Furden and caused a restart. Johnson grabbed the lead and led the first 37 laps in pursuit of his 11th SLM victory this season. At lap 7 with the first four cars in a close pack, Reed and King cars made contact fighting for second. Reed spun 360 degrees and continued non-stop in P. 10. On lap 19 the yellow light flashed after contact between the sixth and seventh place Reed and Thompson, who spun into the first turn wall and out of action. Under caution, second place King's No. 30 went to the pits with a loose left rear wheel and LR vibration. The race went green before King's team rectified the problem, so the third place driver in SLM points placed tenth with only nine of 20 starters running at the finish of the 24-minute event.
During the final 21 laps, Reed brought cheers from the large crowd, including many Monster Truck fans at Irwindale for the first time. He raced from sixth to third by lap 27. Then Reed wiped out a 40-yard deficit to the Vision Airlines leading duo and joined them in a tight, high-low three-way dog-fight for the victory during the final six laps. Davis passed his VAL teammate Johnson on the inside leaving turn four on lap 38 for his first taste of the lead. On the 40th and final lap, Reed used the same inside route in the fourth turn to take second from the new SLM champion. Davis, whose team repaired a broke header after the first 40, led Reed by 0.345 and Johnson by 0.454 at the finish. Beat (-3.359 seconds), Kingsland's No. 18 Hooters-sponsored Toyota Camry, Hunt, Gary Jenkins, Furden and Christopher Evans were the only other finishers and all ran 40 laps. Reed ran the fastest race lap of race two at 18.399 (97.831 mph).
Champion Johnson performed tire-smoking victory donuts on the backstretch for VAL co-owners Steve and Bill Acor and in front of the track administration building between the third and fourth turns for about 100 penthouse patrons. Then he placed the nose of his Ford against the front straight wall under the starter's stand and did a major tire-smoking burnout. Johnson won his first title by 66 points (904-838) over his VAL teammate Davis. The 2010 champ told the media his VAL team plans to race on the NASCAR K & N Pro West and East circuits next season. He said the team has purchased two Michael Waltrip Racing cars and a shop on the east coast. Additionally, they moved into a larger shop in Las Vegas. Personable Johnson thanked his early career car owner Al Budd, his current VAL car owners, his wife Jenna for her support and love and his entire family. He said he will race in the final K & N West race during November at the Phoenix mile and the just announced TS@I $50,000 stock car triple-header Saturday, November 27. He added that the VAL team will race in the January 2011 Toyota All-Star Showdown in two divisions. He advised listeners to follow the VAL team plans on www.VisionAirlines.com.
Pepsi 2010 SLM Season Wrap-up: There were 12 race dates with 19 main events, won by six different drivers. Johnson won ten times (53%). His teammate Davis won four times, giving the Vision team a 74% winning percentage. Reigning SLM champion Nick Joanides won the first two main events this year and only ran the next two races before his team parked the SLM effort because sponsorship did not materialize. Partridge, Andy Allen and Reed won single features. Leading SLM rookie Reed, from Bakersfield, was the high-point series newcomer in seventh place. Remarkably, the son of champion NASCAR touring series driver Mark Reed raced in only 11 of the 19 events. He also finished second three times.
LANGERS JUICE S2: Nine S2 cars built by Racecar Factory in Irwindale started with FQ Joe Anderson launching from outside row one. He led all 20 circuits for his third career S2 victory. He drove the HPR No. 59 Chevy that he had crewed on for first-time stock car driver Michael Lewis at the last race. Anderson won by 0.279 over Lagudi. Andrew Porter, 17, was third, 1.902 back. Lupton placed fourth, 2.512 seconds in back of teammate Anderson. Colin McGinnis, a 22-year old Position One Motorsports team coordinator for its go-kart racing operation, made his oval track debut. As a reward for his year-long team service, he ran four practice sessions Friday night with a best lap of 21+ seconds. Saturday afternoon he qualified third fastest in the nine car field at 20.653 to earn the third starting spot. McGinnis slipped to sixth on the first lap and then passed two-time 2010 winner Dave Busby on lap 8 to secure fifth place. “I want to do more racing like this,” he said in the pits afterwards. Busby, Gary Waters, Kendell Lopez and Bill Waters all finished 20 laps in that order. The all-green light race took only 6:58.314. Anderson ran the fastest race lap at 20.564 (87.532 mph).
S2 SEASON SUMMARY: The 14 race S2 second season unique to TS@I was six races more than the inaugural season in 2009. Three drivers won S2 main events last year, topped by Randel King's six victories in seven starts. This year there were eight different winners in the 14 features and 17 drivers earned S2 points. Nine different cars raced this year (the No. 77 Position One car became the No. 03 after a crash and rebuilding by RCF).
KTST: The straight-up start based upon time trial speeds gave Matt Kimball pole position with ten-time winner Partridge alongside. Kimball led all 30 laps despite two cautions for two-car collisions on laps 22 and 27. When second place Partridge exited to the infield on lap 5 Kimball “only” had to outrun the P. 5 and P. 2 drivers in point standings. He used the inside row in a pair of double-file restarts and easily pulled away to his 0.774 victory over two-time KTST champion Pat Mintey. Todd Cameron was 1.224 back. Andrew Anderson, truck rookie Ken Maler, Jr, Ryan Fortier (the last first-time winner on August 28), super stock veteran Ken Brown, Ryan Schrank from the back in his first race this season, and Kenny Smith completed the top ten. All 16 finishers ran 30 laps in the 18+ minute event. Happy winner Kimball told the crowd, “It feels so good to win for the first time. We worked hard and have had bad luck. I told the boys we'll get it and keep fighting and here we are.” He also thanked his family for their support.
Post-race awards went to C. Kingsland in his second visit to TS@I. He went from P. 13 to fifth in the second SLM 40. Schrank, from 18th to ninth, received the KTST hard charger award in his first race since 2009. Brandon Toy received the KTST hard luck prize after contact from the ninth place truck sent his P. 8 truck spinning across the start/finish line into the infield on lap 27. S2 hard luck went to Porter and hard charger to Lopez. The VAL team had both of their team cars and entire crew posed in victory lane photos at the track chalet village between the pits and main grandstand. VAL crew chiefs are Chuck and Sonny Wahl. TS@I multi-division champion Rip Michels is the VAL set-up master and driving consultant.
MONSTER TRUCKS: The touring monster truck field consisted of four trucks—Bounty Hunter, Iron Outlaw, King Krunch and El Matador. Jimmy Creatnan drove Bounty Hunter and posed for photos in the pits atop his huge truck. Monster trucks competed three times, after the first SLM 40 and the KTST race. They ran Chicago-style match races over dirt mounds and old sedans plus the fan-favorite free-style competition that completed action at 9:35 pm. Bounty Hunter won both events. With the early conclusion, many fans from the biggest weekly crowd this season went to the pits for a closer look at the monster trucks and to talk to oval track drivers as well.
P.S – The regular Thursday night Toyota Drag-strip at Irwindale eighth-mile drag-strip on September 16 was a tribute to a regular runner and record-holder at the site. The candlelight memorial at 8:15 pm honored Hector Urias, 48, who was shot and killed at his Urias Automotive shop in nearby El Monte. According to police, the murder took place on Tuesday, September 7 between 7 and 9 pm. Urias was a well-respected citizen, community leader, little league coach, and soon to-be father of an adopted six-year old girl with his wife Sandra. He was a three-sport star at El Monte High School three decades ago and the eldest of four children. He drove his customized black VW Beetle with a rear wing frequently in the TD@I Thursday night sessions and was well-known at the track. His widow was present at the TD@I and received a box of memorabilia about Hector from the El Monte police chief during the September 16 evening ceremonies. The front page of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on September 17 gave detailed coverage of the Urias tribute. A pickup truck towed his VW Beetle slowly on an open trailer for one final pass down the drag-strip as an estimated crowd of 2,000 family, friends and community leaders remembered Hector. The murderer has not been apprehended yet. Anyone who receives information about Hector's murder may contact the El Monte PD with information to help them solve this senseless crime.