IRWINDALE, California — Second-year NASCAR late model driver Brandon Davis shuttled back and forth on the 605 freeway from the Long Beach Grand Prix Saturday to the half-mile oval in Irwindale. He set fastest qualifying time, started fifth, and led the final 31 laps of the third Auto Club Late Model feature this season. Two weeks ago, after becoming engaged at the track, he won twin-40-lap features in the Applied Computer Solutions No. 55 High Point Racing Chevy Monte Carlo. The April 16 feature was part of the second weekend at the Toyota Speedway & Event Center, so named during the first LA Spring Fair. The ten-day event in the track's front parking lot had amusement park rides, games of chance, carnival food, and musical performances. Monster trucks and stock car events on the race track also held sway during the April 8-17 event.
Other main event winners during the five-event evening were: Gerrit Cromsigt, in the Vista Paint Super Stock 35-lap season opener that started on-track competition on the half-mile at 7:05 pm; Chad Schug, the reigning Echo Equipment Legends champion, in his second consecutive victory this year on the third-mile; Joe Anderson, in the first Ken Porter Auctions Open-Competition race of 2011, also on the third-mile, and Tim Lewis, in a wild trailer race on the infield Figure 8 course. The trailer race winner was determined by post-race cheers from grandstand spectators, a track first-time procedure. The audience, estimated at 1,200 at any time during the night, drifted back and forth to the fair and to the racing grandstand. One admission price entitled persons to attend both the fair and racing events. Warmer weather than a week earlier increased attendance for both the fair and races and brought in families and children who never had attended races at the track.
ACLM: Sixteen late models qualified from 7:25-7:40 after the super stocks race. Final qualifier Brandon Davis set quickest time, just shy of his own track record. The 2010 ACLM rookie of the year then spun a five on the inversion number wheel. When the 40-lap feature started at 8:41 the field had grown to 23 cars, including three backup late models and four cars from the just concluded open-competition race. Pole starter Mike Johnson led the first eight laps as Davis, 25, worked forward on the inside to second place by lap 6. Davis, from Huntington Beach, made an inside pass in the fourth turn on lap 9 for the lead and ran away from Johnson. On lap 11 cars behind Davis exited turn four three-wide. Contact damaged cars of P. 2 Johnson, P. 3 Travis Irving, P. 5 Dylan Lupton, and P. 8 Nik Romano. They pitted for repairs under caution. Only Irving did not return. The lap 11 restart had Davis leading Chris Holloway, 17-year old ACLM rookie Devon Ostheimer, 18-year old UC Riverside freshman Kyle McGrady--a third year ACLM veteran, and Chris Johnson.
Ostheimer, a high school junior, set fourth fastest qualifying time, started second and took second spot from Holloway on lap 15. McGrady made an inside pass of Holloway leaving turn four on lap 20 to claim third. That finalized the podium positions. Davis extended his lead to 40-yards and won by 1.689 seconds over Ostheimer. McGrady made a final charge to gain second, but fell 0.184 short. A four-car battle for fourth position waged in close quarters for the final 18 laps. Nine seconds behind third place at the finish (a straightaway), C. Johnson held off Toni McCray by 0.128. She edged 16-year old ACLM rookie Taylor Miinch, an ASA Speed Truck veteran, by 0.335. Darren Cheek trailed Miinch by 0.504. Benjanim Mahan, 15, started 15th and finished eighth. SW Tour Truck champion Jeff Williams, an ACLM rookie, placed ninth. S2 track champion Dylan Lupton, 17, was tenth and the last driver on the lead lap. Romano and M. Johnson also finished, down a lap in damaged cars. Fourth place Holloway dropped out on lap 22 and collected 13th place points in the 23-car field. The 17-minute race had one yellow flag (L 11). Davis ran the fastest lap of the race on lap 12 at 19.265 (93.434 mph).
Teens Ostheimer and McGrady enjoyed their career-best late model podium finishes. On April 2 Ostheimer finished fourth and sixth in the twin-40s and received the ACLM hard charger award. During post-race interviews, third place McGrady, whose best prior finish was fifth, told spectators, “It feels so good to get third after the last race was awful.” (His No. 11 Chevy received race-ending damage during a multi-car crash at turn four.) He thanked his sponsors, parents, crew chief Danny Lewis and team members. “I'm a little bit out of breath. I tried so hard to get second at the last corner at the end.” Later he added his team finished making body and front end suspension repairs earlier on race day at their family-owned team home race shop in Hesperia. Runner-up Ostheimer, from Morgan Hill, told fans over the track PA, “It feels great. Thanks to MGR Machine, car owner Tim Huddleston and High Point Racing, my spotter, crew chief and crew. It feels so good to get a podium here in my second night (third main event). It's a lot different than (racing on) dirt.” Ostheimer finished eighth (out of 55 drivers) in final 2010 point standings for winged 360 cu. in. sprint cars at Ocean Speedway, a quarter-mile dirt track in Watsonville. He drives south to Irwindale with his parents for his foray into late model racing. Later, he stated his goal is to race K & N Pro Series--East stock cars to help him land a ride in one of the top three NASCAR national series.
Winner Davis said, “My car was amazing. The invert of five concerned me. I wanted to get to the front quickly while the tires were good. I missed the big wreck.” He thanked his crew and team. Davis, a veteran SCCA sports car racer, came to Irwindale from the Long Beach GP, where he practiced his SCCA World Challenge car Saturday and posted second fastest time to Patrick Long in a 38-car field. He returned to the street circuit for Sunday morning qualifying and the SCCA race at 4:30 pm following the IZOD Indy Car Series 85-lap race. “I'll try to give em hell tomorrow,” he added. He succeeded. During Sunday morning qualifying Davis, the SCCA 2009 GT driving champion, drove his No. 10 ACS Express/Sun Micro Ford Mustang Cobra GT to second fastest time behind pole winner Patrick Long's Porsche 911 GT3. About 4:30 pm Sunday Davis started second on the 11-turn, 1.968-mile street circuit and led the final 22 laps of the 31-lap SCCA World Challenge race. He won by 2.410 seconds with nine of 36 starters on the lead lap. Long, a two-time super late model stock car racer at Irwindale for Speed Wong racing several years ago, started first, had a penalty and finished fifth.
Davis drove the same Ford Mustang Cobra GT in the 2010 LBGP World Challenge 29-lap race and was runner-up to K. Wittmer (Dodge Viper GT). Boris Said was third in the GT class with his Ford Mustang Cobra. Davis said his 2011 LBGP effort was a “one-off” as he concentrates on his NASCAR career, including K & N Pro Series--West road races. Two weeks ago in the Irwindale pits Davis proposed marriage to blonde model Erica Lindeman. They met two years ago at the famous Road America, Elkhart Lake road course near her Wisconsin home while he was competing with SCCA. Brandon now has won four feature races in a row and counting since Erica said yes to his proposal. Since their engagement he has three wins in late models at Irwindale plus the SCCA street race Sunday. He is the Irwindale point leader and high in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national point standings after three of 18 scheduled Irwindale races..
VPSS: A 12-car field of super stocks inverted eight. Two starters arrived after mid-afternoon qualifying and had to start in row six. Brad Keegan's Camaro led the first two laps from pole position. Then sixth starter Eric Sunness led laps 3-32 in a Camaro before 11th starter Cromsigt took command for good. The Saugus resident stormed through the field and was second by lap 4. He battled Sunness closely from lap 15 to lap 33 when he made his winning move in the second corner as the two leaders lapped the ninth place car. Sunness took the outside as Cromsigt shot to the inside of the No. 94 Camaro and beat Sunness by 0.973. The all-green flag race took 12:38.057. Cromsigt thanked his new Pick Your Part sponsor. Sunness said, “Eight tires corner better than four.” FQ/2010 series champion Rich DeLong III came from eighth to earn third, 6.069 seconds back, in his Chevy Impala SS. Curtis White and Steve Smith followed. Ten of 12 starters finished and seven drivers completed all 35 laps.
EE LEGENDS: As second quickest qualifier, Chad Schug, the reigning series champion, became the third race leader on lap 16. He led the balance of the 35-lap main in a 15-minute event with three caution flags. It gave the Oak Hills driver back-to-back victories in a borrowed car—the No. 88 Tony Green Ford coupe. FQ/pole starter Mark Borchetta led the first ten laps. Brent Scheidemantle paced laps 11-15 and trailed Schug by 0.333 at the end. Aaron Wells started and finished a career-best third. Eric Gunderson and Mark Iungerich followed. An all-time track low of 12 Legends started;11 finished and all ran 35 laps. Borchetta retired from third on lap 18.
KPA OPEN COMP: The first non-point open comp race this season had 11starters, including super stocks, late models, a Figure 8, and a winged modified. Fastest qualifier Joe Anderson started sixth and led laps 3-30. He won the all-green flag race in 7:58.781 at an average speed of 75.116 mph. He ran the fastest lap of the race on lap 4 at 15.176 (78.993 mph). He drove the HPR No. 50, the oldest car in the team's stable of late models (RCF chassis 7). His winning margin was 8.851, or three-quarters of a lap on the third-mile. Second FQ Rich DeLong III drove his No. 84 winged modified from fifth to second. Jerry Toporek, in a winged F-8, placed third, 15.531 seconds behind the winner. The other four finishers—Rick Crow, Robert Dezarov, Steve Smith and Jim Schoening—were lapped. Rich DeLong, Jr, father of the runner-up, drove his son's Chevy Impala SS in his first Toyota Speedway start and parked it on lap 5.
TRAILER RACE: The final event before spectators adjourned to the pits or fair was a 13-minute trailer race with seven participants on the Figure 8 course. Cars towed trailers containing various cargo—jet skis, tires, and even a child's four-wheel toy car. One car towed a small camping trailer that became track debris by lap 3. Following drivers drove through the trailer in turn one and scattered debris, which remained on the track throughout the wild event. The Dittos—Adam (in No. 14) and John (in the No. 11 1990's Ford Thunderbird)--led the first half of the planned 15-lap race. Tim Lewis, in the yellow No. 808 car, had his left front tire stuck atop a separated jet-ski. He lost laps trying to free his car from the impediment. Then he ran laps with his LF wheel atop the jet-ski, trailing sparks, until it dislodged. Only four of seven cars were still racing at the finish. The track announcer then polled fans to select the winner based on performance during the event, not just on laps completed. Overwhelming vocal cheers voted persistent Lewis the winner. Tommy Mason, a classic stock veteran and Low Budget TV video-grapher, earned second. Adam and John Ditto were next in order. DNFs included two female drivers, Shayla Zins and Louise Johnson.