IRWINDALE, California — Chris Holloway worked hard for his money and second-ever Auto Club Late Model feature victory Saturday on the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale half-mile. He had to do so because Brandon “Superman” Davis was at his left rear quarter panel most of the race trying to capture his sixth consecutive 2011 main event triumph in the track's premier division for NASCAR Whelen All-American national points. Davis ranked seventh nationally in Whelen points entering Saturday's race. About 2,500 persons attended on “Armed Forces Appreciation Night” that included an Army color guard and a low altitude fly-over the track by a C-135 tanker during the National Anthem. Holloway, 23, started second as fourth fastest qualifier and led all 50 laps. Fourth starter Davis, who ran second all 50 laps, trailed by a length at the checkered flag. Third year ACLM driver Holloway, from Bakersfield, won his first TS@I feature in a 40-lapper last October 2 in the same No. 44 Four Star Fruit Chevy. He was the last driver other than Davis to win an ACLM points race. Davis won the 2010 season final points race on October 16.
The busy evening had six main events and kept fans attention from 7:00 until the final checkered flag at 10:23 pm. Feature winners on the half-mile also included Eric Sunness in a Vista Paint Super Stock 35-lap race. Fastest qualifier Rod Proctor led all 20 laps from pole position in the Pick Your Part Outlaw Figure 8 race. He now has two wins in a row at Irwindale this season. Three series used the third-mile oval. First-time feature winner Mark Borchetta, a multi-year Legends veteran, won the Echo Equipment Legend Cars 35-lap race. Second-time winner Ryan Bragdon won the 35-lap Justice Brothers Mini Stock main. Second-time 2011 main event winner James Altman took the 15-lap Seidner's Collision Centers Skid Plate oval race run in the usual counter-clockwise direction.
ACLM: Eighteen drivers qualified from 7:36-7:51 following the super stock main. Four additional cars started the feature from rows 10 and 11 for a 22-car field. The inversion number was five, putting series 17-year old rookie Devon Ostheimer and Holloway in row one, 17-year old 2010 S2 track champion Dylan Lupton and point leader Davis in row two, with fastest qualifier Tim Huddleston and 16-year old rookie Taylor Miinch occupying row three. Holloway and Davis ran 1-2 all 50 laps. As the fourth race on $2.00 beers and $1.00 hot dogs night, the 22-minute race had one red flag and one yellow. The red came on lap 2 after a collision in the second corner took out Huddleston and four other drivers. The first of two double-file restarts had Davis on the inside and Holloway on the outside. They launched from the same positions after a lap 35 caution and Holloway maintained the point each time.
Lupton made it a three-way fight for the lead from laps 20-40 and then faded back about ten yards. During the final three circuits, Davis had his RF fender next to Holloway's LR fender., However, he could not pass determined Holloway, who beat him by 0.108. Third place Lupton trailed Holloway by 1.046. Rookies Miinch and Nik Romano completed the top five. Toni McCray started ninth and was in sixth place when a flat tire sent her to the pits under caution. She returned quickly in P. 11 and during three-wide action she raced forward to finish sixth. Chris Johnson, Brandon Loverock, Rodney Peacher and Kyle McGrady completed the top ten. Fourteen drivers finished and 11 ran all 50 laps.
VPSS 35: The first main event at 7:11 pm had a 13-car, fully inverted starting lineup with the fastest cars at the back. Slowest qualifier Brad Keegan led the first two laps from pole position. The Chevy Impala SS of Rich DeLong III paced lap 3. Fastest qualifier Sunness came from outside row six in a DeLong Camaro to lead laps 4-35. He won by 40 yards (2.880 seconds) over Curtis White's seventh starting Camaro. Zach Green came from fifth to earn third, 7.902 seconds back. Gary Read and rookie Michael Parr followed. P 6-10 drivers DeLong III, Steve Smith, Keegan, Gary Frankovich and Mark Brinksma all completed 35 laps. The only caution on lap 11 occurred after Read spun in the second turn after contact. Officials sent 13th starter Gerrit Cromsigt, a late arriving entrant, to the back. He finished down a lap in P. 11 without brakes.
LEGENDS 35: Sixteen legend cars ran a 21-minute event that also had one red flag and a yellow. The most serious crash involved mid-60-year old “Papa” Jim Pantier. He started last and was about to be lapped by the lead pack on lap 12 when he spun out leaving the second turn. The two leaders avoided his stopped car, but third place Brent Scheidemantle, 18-year old feature winner last week, slammed into Pantier's car at full speed. Rescuers used the jaws of life cutting tool to cut off the roof of Pantier's car. He complained about back pain and was taken by ambulance to a hospital for evaluation. Second starter Mark Borchetta led the first 11 laps. Fastest qualifier Eric Gunderson, 17, started from the fifth slot and on the race restart took the lead; he led laps 12-25. Chad Schug, the 2010 series champion, took second on lap 13. After a Lap 26 caution, Schug nudged the back of Gunderson's coupe entering turn one. Gunderson drifted up the track, losing four positions. Borchetta passed his friend and almost “teammate” Schug on lap 26 and beat him to the finish line by 0.197 for his first career victory. Mark Iungerich, Aaron Wells and former USAC Ford Focus Midget racer Todd Hunsaker completed the top five. Gunderson dropped out on lap 28. Eleven drivers finished and nine logged all 35 laps.
MINIS 35: The starting grid inversion number for a 15-car Justice Brothers Mini Stock field was seven for FQ Rod Schmitt's Pinto. Jacob Rogers' Ford Pinto led ten laps before fifth starter Kevin Bernhardt's Pinto took charge through lap 22. The only yellow flag of the 17-minute race on lap 23 had five cars go to the pits and not return. Cars of Bernhardt and Rogers were eliminated. Ryan Bragdon, 18, drove his 1979 Ford Mustang II-bodied car on a Pinto frame to P. 3 on lap 22. Then he passed 2009-10 series champion Daryl Scoggins and led laps 23-35. The now two-time feature winner won for the first time last October 16. Bragdon edged closing Richie Altman's Pinto by two lengths (0.447). Scoggins finished third, 1.230 back. Tom Dye's Toyota Celica and Dusty Morgan's Pinto completed the top five, with seven drivers on the lead lap and nine cars running at the finish.
SKID PLATE CARS: Eighteen cars took part, including two late arriving cars without transponders for electronic scoring. On the first lap the two leading cars spun out in separate loops in turn four. Eighth starting Robert Rice, the innovator of TS@I skid plate racing, saw an opening and skid into the lead with sparks flying from the metal skid plates mounted on his two back wheels. He led lap 1 and laps 3-14. Last skid plate winner James Altman led lap 2 over Jim Smith and Rice with even the experts having difficulty going straight and avoiding spinning cars simultaneously. Rice, Altman and Smith ran 1-2-3 until the 15th and final lap. At turn four Rice drifted high and his right rear brushed the concrete wall as Altman passed him on the inside to win and repeat his April 23 victory. Rice continued off the turn four wall and spun his front-wheel drive orange No. 4 across the finish line backwards in second place. The winner ran the fastest lap of the race on the 15th (final) lap when he sparked his way to a rapid skid plate lap of 31.785 (37.716 mph). Other drivers ran best laps of 24 to 35 mph. Smith finished third, with Randy Kruse and Richie Altman, son of the winner, also on the lead lap. The P. 6-13 drivers finished and all of them were down one to five laps. The all-green flag race took 8:55.051 for an average speed of 33.608 mph. The field included Bandolero driver Ricky Schlick, who turned 14 on May 16 and made his first skid plate race. Angela DeFazio, daughter of the track's VP/GM completed again and finished seventh, down a lap.
FIGURE 8: The third PYP Figure 8 race this season was the sixth race of the night. Quickest qualifier Rod Proctor started and finished first. Two-time track champion Billy Ziemann broke his transmission earlier in the day and left the track. Eleven cars started the 20-lap race straight-up based on qualifying times. Proctor, in his No. 21 Little Green Onions car, led every lap and won by half a lap over four-time F-8 track champion Steve Stewart, the only other driver on the lead lap. Stewart trailed by 7.931 seconds. Outside front row starter Jay Hensen was third, with No. 3-16 driver Andy Schoening fourth and Jeff Marguet fifth. Seven cars finished. There were several close calls, but no collisions occurred at the intersection. The all-green light race took 6:27.116. Proctor ran the fastest lap of the race on lap 13 at 72.753 mph.