IRWINDALE, California — Brandon Davis “cleaned house” Saturday during NASCAR Whelen All-American Racing Series Auto Club Late Model action on the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale half-mile. The 2010 ACLM rookie of the year again set fastest qualifying time and led all 50-laps of a 21-car feature. He now has five consecutive victories in five races this year and six in a row in ACLM point races dating back to last October. Davis' five wins in a row to start a season tied 2002-03 champion Todd Burns' ACLM series record. The Huntington Beach/Henderson, NV driver increased his track point lead and also made him a major force in the national championship picture for the NASCAR Whelen Series. NASCAR counts drivers' best 18 finishes and awards full points when the starting fields are 20 or more cars. So far this season Irwindale's ACLM feature car counts have been 21, 19, 23, 20 and 21 cars.
Other main event winners Saturday in front of a sub-four figure main grandstand audience on a gray/overcast evening were:
> Ryan Partridge – in another entertaining 40-lap King Taco Super Truck three-way duel that he won only three days before his 23rd birthday.
> Jeff Williams – in a 35-lap Southwest Tour Trucks main.
> Brent Scheidemantle – in a 35-lap race for Echo Equipment Legend Cars on the third-mile. He became a surprised winner after the two leaders tangled in the final turn on the last lap.
> Rookie Ricky Lewis, 12, from Oxnard, scored his first feature triumph in Jan's Towing Bandolero action Saturday on the third-mile. He started second and led all but the first three laps of a 20-lap event. Making his victory even more special, he defeated two drivers who have won all prior 2011 races. Two-time winner Danny Nikolai and four-time winner Christian McGhee chased Lewis to the checkers. On Friday night during the weekly open practice session for all series, McGhee set the fastest qualifying time, a new track record, started and finished first in a 20-lap race at 8:20 pm.
ACLM – Before qualifying at 7:30 pm, drivers knew the feature would be a straight-up start with fastest qualifiers in front. Drivers qualified by point rankings in reverse order from lowest to highest in points. Fast time changed hands three times before 18th and final qualifier Davis clocked 18.642 (96.556 mph) on his first of two laps to secure fast time. Satisfied with that run, he slowed and pulled into the pits on his second lap. Three late models (two LA Racing school cars and a HPR car) did not qualify but tagged the field. The 18 qualifiers included a first-time racer known as “The BRAT” who had no prior racing experience. Bailey Rae Ann Thompson (BRAT) is a diminutive (under 5 feet and 100 pounds) 19-year old from Bakersfield. She practiced Friday and Saturday and ran low 20-second laps in a Racecar Factory-built ex-No. 45 Scott Youngren Chevy, a prior multi-feature winning car at Irwindale. Although she qualified 18th fastest, her 20.287 (88.727 mph) came after she put an “Irwindale strip[e” on the right side of her No. 5 Chevy in turn three during afternoon practice. Bailey, who dated Bakersfield driver Ryan Reed last year, is the daughter of driver Shane Thompson, the 1993 Mesa Marin street stock champion, who raced modified stocks at Mesa from 1994-97 and late models from 1998 through the Mesa Marin closing in 2005. He raced his No. 14 late model in Irwindale's Canidae (Natural Pet Food) Classic last November 27 when he qualified 14th fast of 21 qualifiers and finished on the lead lap--13th in the 73 lap feature. The new team towed their recently bought Chevy to TS@I on a throwback open trailer.
The ACLM main ran 50 laps in 23-minutes with one yellow flag on lap 24 to check for fluid on the track. Davis, in the Applied Computer Service No. 55 Chevy, opened a 25-yard lead by the lap 24 caution. His team owner and three-time ACLM champion, Tim Huddleston, started second and ran in P.2 to lap 9 when Bakersfield's Chris Holloway moved his Four Star Fruit 44 around Huddleston's No. 50 on the outside as they exited turn four. Rookie Dylan Lupton, the 17-year old 2010 S2 track champion, passed his HPR team owner for third a lap later. Then Lupton engaged Holloway in a close battle for second during the final 40 laps aboard his Lupton Excavating No. 56. Davis, who still has “Will You Marry Me?” on the hood of his ACLM car after receiving an affirmative answer on April 2, beat Holloway by 1.424 seconds. Lupton trailed the winner by 1.565 for the best finish in his brief ACLM career. Huddleston placed fourth, 2.400 back.
Travis Irving, still angry about an officials' decision after an on-track incident recently, drove his CHP-No. 85 to fifth place. It is the car Derek Thorn drove to victory in the Canidae Classic as No. 4 for Holloway's team last November. Irving said both of his cars are four sale and he only came back to race for fun, his sponsors, and to end the winning streak of Davis and his HPR 55 team. ACLM rookie Taylor Miinch, 16, Kyle McGrady, rookie Nik Romano, 20, Toni Marie McCray and Mike Johnson completed the top ten. Sixteen drivers finished and 12 ran all 50 laps. Neophyte driver Bailey “the BRAT” ran 46 laps and finished 16th. Then she drove the car onto their throwback open trailer for their drive home. She was smiling and said she “loved it” on the track and can't wait to return for their next race on June 11. Her father works with the K & N Pro West Series Luis Martinez, Jr. team and he will be attending the May 28 Iowa Speedway race with them.
KTST – Sixteen trucks raced on the half-mile in event three this season for the truckers. A four-truck inversion by qualifying times put 20-year old Connor Cantrell outside row two. The front row had Todd Cameron, the last feature winner (April 30) on the pole, with ten-time 2010 series winner/reigning champion Ryan Partridge alongside. The lineup promised another thrilling duel between the two rivals as each driver tried to win his second 2011 KTST race. They lived up to expectations and traded the lead five times. With Partridge outside and Cameron inside, Ryan led laps 1, 3-26 and 30-40. Todd led lap 2, 27-29 in his Bowden Development Chevy S-10. FQ Cantrell also joined the leading duo to make it a trio. He even took second on a lap 25 restart with his inside pass entering turn three, but a caution negated his pass. The 40-minute race, slowed by four cautions for spins and crashes, had double-file restarts in which Ryan and Todd each launched from inside and outside front row positions. On lap 30 P.3 Cantrell switched to RR braking and slapped the third turn wall with the RR end of his truck and continued as the caution light flashed. Two trucks spun behind him. Cantrell had to restart a the back for triggering the caution, but he charged forward quickly during the final 11 laps to regain third place. Partridge's Toyota Tundra won by 0.359 over Cameron and 0.524 over Cantrell. A white-flag crash at the second turn exit caused the P. 3-4 trucks to fall back; Kenny Brown's No. 17 truck bounced off the wall and went to the infield trailing sparks. Twelve of 16 trucks finished and all completed 40 laps.
SWT TRUCKS – Series 2006-07 champion Jeff Williams, driving his No. 28 Ford F-150, set fast time, started seventh in a 12-truck field, and led laps 3-35. He won by a straightaway (5.280 seconds) over Neil Conrad. L 2 leader Ronnie Davis, Jr. (-10.982) and Brady Helm (-18.839) were the only other drivers on the lead lap. Ed Cutler finished fifth. Dustin Vandermooren, 24, returned for his first race in three years after the birth of his daughter and buying a house. He set seventh fastest qualifying time. He started from the pole, led lap 1 and finished sixth. He is seeking a sponsor for his No. 71. Kirk Knostman, Cecil Phelps, Barry Kelperis, Jr. and Dan Coburn followed. Only one truck dropped out from the 12-minute, all green-flag race.
EE LEGENDS – Series sponsor Echo Equipment drew many spectators to its chalet village display to push a baseball with an Echo Equipment hand-held blower along a wood-lined path and into the hole of a box. Successful persons received an Echo cap. Fourteen Legends on the third-mile took the green with an eight-car inversion. FQ Chad Schug, 24, again drove his own No. 29 coupe that Tony Green rebuilt following Chad's flip during a March road race in Las Vegas. Schug won the first three 2011 TS@I features in Green's No. 88 coupe. The race had five lead changes and five leaders as 36% of the starting field led a lap. Gary Scheuerell led lap 1 and Jared Torres paced laps 2-9. Seventh starter Eric Gunderson, 17, was in front from laps 10-32 in his No. 97 coupe. The top four cars (97, 29, 24 and 98) changed positions frequently during exciting mid-race action. Schug made a bump and run pass entering turn three on lap 33 and led two laps. Gunderson used the same technique on lap 35 entering turn three, but his bump sent leader Schug spinning to the infield as Gunderson went around him on the outside. Past winner Brent Scheidemantle, 18, and fourth starter Mitchell DeJong shot past Gunderson on the inside in the fourth turn and finished 1-2, with Gunderson third.
DeJong, a 13-year old rookie in only his fourth Legends race, is a five-time karting champion who also races the No. 524 truck in Lucas Oil off-road races. The talented driver from Temecula is a Red Bull Racing developmental driver, just as Cole Whitt, the 2008 USAC National Midget Champion and current front-running NASCAR Camping World Truck Series No. 60 Red Bull Chevy Silverado truck driver. Whitt, 19, led laps and finished a close second to Kyle Busch at Dover, DE 200 last Friday and ranks third in 2011 NCWT point standings. Both Whitt and DeJong are small in stature and personable with heavy throttle feet and the ability to avoid trouble. During finish line interviews with the top three drivers, Gunderson said he just wanted to tap Schug and apologized for causing his spin. Gunderson added that he didn't deserve to finish third and officials agreed, setting him back to 13th position as the last car on the lead lap. Gunderson placed one position in back of Schug, who drove across the finish line last. All 14 cars finished. Torres earned a career-best third. Donnie St. Ours was fourth and Aaron Wells fifth.
BANDOLEROS: Sat. - FQ/pole starter C. McGhee led the 17-car field for three laps. Second quickest R. Lewis then took charge with an inside pass through the third and fourth turns and led the final 17 laps. The top three drivers ran in close formation all the way in a 6:09.266 all-green light event. Lewis, who raced several times last season, won by a slim 0.144 over Danny Nikolai, who passed McGhee for second on lap 5. Lewis ran the fastest lap of the race at 18.093 (66.258 mph) on lap 3. Mikael Lovas placed fourth. Brandon “Shorty” Weaver, 10, was in P. 10 after lap 1. Then he charged forward in his Briggs & Stratton-powered No. 4 and took P. 5 on lap 19 of 20. Michael Womack, Austin Farr, Blaine Perkins, Troy Wesolowski and Ricky Schlick completed the top ten. Seventeen drivers finished and 15 ran all 20 laps. ... Fri. - McGhee set a NTR of 18.088 (66.088 mph) and led all 20 laps from the pole. Weaver started fourth and finished second, 0.865 back. Lewis was third, with Lovas and Nikolai fourth and fifth. All 15 starters finished and 14 completed every lap. The all-green light event took 6:07.907. Lovas and Lewis also bettered the old track record of 18.151 set by Lovas two weeks earlier. Bando drivers have lowered the one lap track record five times this season.
NTR: On Saturday two divisions had new track records set during qualifying. Schug's 16.436 (72.937 mph) beat the 16.457 set by Matthew Hicks on 10.16/10. Second quickest Gunderson's 16.449 also beat the old mark. Schug and Gunderson also ran the two fastest laps in the feature with Schug's 16.501 (L 8) the gold standard and Gunderson's 16.531 (L 6) the next best. Winner Scheidemantle's fastest lap was 16.531 on L 6. ... In SWT Truck qualifying Jeff Williams' 19.748 (91.148 mph) eclipsed Dean Kuhn's 19.862 (90.625 mph) mark set way back on 5/29/04. when the series was called West Coast Pro Trucks. Williams beat the second fastest qualifier (88.757 mph) by half a second.