IRWINDALE, California — Toyota Speedway at Irwindale “Super Saturday” action included six series and 236 laps of racing action. Austin Barnes, a 16-year old from Escondido and three-year veteran of Lucas Oil Modified racing, won his first career feature in the 50-lap Lucas Oil Modified first-ever point race at the track. Rod Johnson, Jr, who is following in the footsteps of his track championship winning father, followed Barnes' victory by winning his third NASCAR Lucas Slick Mist Super Late Model 75-lap main after four events this season. It was only his sixth career SLM race. These two main events were taped by Lucas Oil Productions for later telecasts on dates to be determined in separate one-hour Lucas Oil Motorsports Hour programs on the Versus Network.
"These two main events were taped by Lucas Oil Productions for later telecasts on dates to be determined in separate one-hour Lucas Oil Motorsports Hour programs on the Versus Network. "
Andrew Porter won his second Langers Juice S2 Cars 30-lap main to commence half-mile action at 7:10 pm. Then the six fastest of 19 Lucas Oil Modified drivers present raced a six-lap trophy dash with a fully-inverted lineup. Sixth quickest Doug Hamm led all six laps from the pole and barely edged fifth starter Jim Mardis by 0.138. Twenty Jan's Towing Bandolero drivers raced on the third-mile in a 20-lap contest that became an untypical wreck-fest. The 25-minute event had four caution flags for multi-car spins and crashes that sidelined four cars and inflicted an arm injury to Brett Scoggins. Danny Nikolai won the Bando main by ten yards over early leader Christian McGhee, whom he passed on lap 6 with an inside move through the third and fourth turns.
The final two main events of the evening used the infield. Twenty Echo Equipment Legend Cars had a three-car inverted starting lineup for a 35-lap feature on the third-mile. Fastest qualifier Chad Schug, the series 2010 champion, led only two laps (7th and 35th checkered flag lap). He nipped Donny St. Ours, the laps 8-34 leader, by a mere 0.089. The final race was a 20-lap Pick Your Part Figure 8 race that Rod Proctor won by a straightaway (4.732 seconds) over FQ and laps l-4 leader Steve Stewart. Proctor ran the fastest lap of the race (74.388 mph) on lap 12 en-route to his third consecutive victory in F-8 event four of ten at TS@I this season. The final three races ran all the way without caution flags and racing, in front of about 2,000 spectators, concluded at 10:22 pm.
SLM 75: Fifteen SLM cars were present and 13 qualified. All 15 drivers took the green flag with fastest qualifier Jason Patison starting outside row two. May 7 feature winner Kevin Thompson led the first two laps from outside row one. On lap 3 third starter Johnson, Jr, a 2011 SLM rookie and the 2009 King Taco Super Truck and 2010 Auto Club Late Model track champion, took charge in turn four. He extended his lead to as much as 40-yards by lap 25. He won by 1.469 seconds over Patison, who passed Thompson on the inside exiting turn four on lap 14. Ryan Partridge started fifth and passed Thompson on the inside for third on lap 22. Fourth finisher Thompson lost six points from his 12-point series lead over Johnson. A race-long duel between Dennis Furden and 16-year old Race Liberante went to Liberante on lap 63 after he made an inside pass from the fourth turn to the starting line. Furden, the last finisher on the lead lap, earned sixth. Joe DeGuevara, 15-year old rookie Andre Prescott, from La Quinta, Dennis Schlarbaum and Jeff Williams rounded out the top ten. Past track champion Nick Joanides was fifth on lap 16 when a blown engine sent his Loyd McGhee-owned car to the infield parking lot. Pole starter Kyle Neveau gave himself a thrill ride on the initial lap when he spun out at top speed on the backstretch to the infield. He continued in last place without causing a caution flag, but dropped out on lap 24. The all-green race time was 23:25.607 for an average speed of 96.044 mph.
MODIFIEDS 50: Nineteen modifieds appeared for the first of two Lucas Oil Series point races at Irwindale this season. They return on August 13. Seven of the drivers came from Las Vegas and one from Arizona and most of them were racing at Irwindale for the first time. TS@I hosted round four of the ten race series for the traveling circuit. Barnes became the fourth different winner this season at four different tracks in three states. Winners so far in 2011 have been Dylan Kwasniewski, 15, at Lake Havasu, AZ, Doug Hamm at Blythe, CA, and point leader/2010 series champion Jim Mardis at the Las Vegas “Bullring” three-eighths mile oval.
A three car inverted lineup on the fast half-mile put Tim Morse, of Burbank, and Mardis, 25, from Moreno Valley, on the front row. FQ Barnes was in the third slot, alongside fellow teen Kwasniewski, a versatile Las Vegan who has raced Legends, super late and late models, and K & N Pro Series cars. At the first lap green flag eighth starter Mike Salm blew his engine taking the green flag. Other drivers alertly avoided contact with his slowing car, which oiled the front straight and first tow turns, causing a 25-minute delay for track cleanup. At the restart, second ranked point driver Morse led the first two laps over Barnes, Mardis, Kwasniewski and Tom Lovelady. Barnes made an inside second turn pass of Morse on lap 3 and quickly opened a 30-yard advantage by lap 10. Mardis took second from Morse on lap 35. Yellows on lap 36 (for a Garrett Yamada second tur spin) and lap 40 (for debris off a car) closed the field. Mardis used the lap 36 restart to take the lead from Barnes with an inside pass in turn two. Barnes fought back with a crossover move initially, but the lap 40 debris caution was just what Barnes wanted. He used an outside pass in turn four to retake the lead and pulled away to a 20-yard winning margin (1.286 seconds). Mardis, Morse, Kwasniewski, Lovelady, Hamm, Roger Brown, Aaron McMorran, Brian Collins and Doug Carpenter completed the top ten. Seventeen of 19 starters finished and nine ran all 50 laps in the 44-minute race. Barnes' fast time of 19.000 (94.737 mph) eclipsed the series 19.265 (93.434 mph) mark set by Chris Gerchman on 8/7/10.
During his winner's post-race interview at the starting line, Barnes told spectators via the pit microphone, “This is my first ever win. I've been waiting three years for this. Finally!” The personable driver stated later, “I'm happy”, as he reflected upon his hard-earned and deserved accomplishment when talking to the media in the press box. Barnes was one of the 16 Lucas Oil Modified drivers who competed in the August 2010 non-points race. He also used several Friday night open practice sessions to master the TS@I half-mile. He and other series drivers said the loved racing on the fast half-mile.
LANGERS S2: A ten-car field of S2 cars, built by Racecar Factory in Irwindale, used a straight-up starting lineup based on time trials. FQ Andrew Porter, a 17-year old Bandolero graduate and grandson of racer Kenny Smith, led every lap from the pole in his grandpa's Quick Pick Motor-sports No. 43. It was the second career feature victory on the half-mile for the April 9 main winner. Andrew Anderson, 18, came from seventh starting spot to second by lap 2 and trailed the winner by 1.181 in the No. 44. Five High Point Racing “blue cars” comprised half the field. Late model HPR rookie Devon Ostheimer, from Morgan Hill, came from P. 5 to third in HPR's 55 car. S2 newcomer Cole Custer was fourth in HPRs 57 and Malibu's Austin Dyne finished fifth in HPR's 51 car, now sponsored by William Rast, which sponsored Dan Wheldon's winning car in the Indianapolis 500 six days earlier. Classic stock veteran Mike Colato, Jr., USAC Ford Focus Midget 2011 Western Series point leader Jessica Clark, 17 (in HPR 56), Trevor Huddleston (HPR 50), and 50+ year old brothers Gary and Bill Waters followed. All starters completed 30 laps in a 15-minute event with two cautions for solo spins.
LEGENDS 35: Twenty Legends started on the third-mile and used a three-car invert. Pole starter Cale Kanke, 19-year old son of SRL Series star M. K. Kanke, from Frazier Park, led the first six laps over FQ/third starter Chad Schug. On lap 7 entering turn three Schug's car hit the back of Kanke's car, which spun out and stopped in mid-track as cars evaded his car. Schug led only lap 7. Seventh starter Donny St. Ours, 17, passed him on the inside entering the first turn and led laps 8-34. Schug, 24, pressed the leader relentlessly each lap. On the final lap entering turn three Schug's coupe nosed under St. Ours' coupe and took the lead. St. Ours fought back on the outside leaving turn four with the checkers waving, but he fell a slim 0.089 short of his first triumph this season. Schug now has won four of six TS@I Legends 2011 mains. He has done so with two different cars—the No. 88 car of his crew chief, Tony Green, and in his own Green-rebuilt No. 29 championship car. Rookie Mitchell DeJong, a 13-year old from Temecula, finished a close third, only 0.277 back. It was his second podium finish. Matthew Hicks, from 17th starting spot, and Brent Scheidemantle, from 11th, finished fourth and fifth. Aaron Wells, Jared Torres, Mark Borchetta, Austin Reed and 2009-10 legends track champion Ryan Cansdale, 12, completed the top ten. All 20 starters finished, with 18 drivers were on the lead lap. The all-green light event took 9:49.604 for an average speed of 71.163 mph. Schug (16.542 on lap 16) and DeJong (16.585 on lap 9) ran the fastest laps among the top ten finishers.
FIGURE 8: A 13-car field lost two cars before the start, including cars of Jerry Toporek (broken fuel pump and lost oil pressure) and the F-8 Special of Willem Voesten. FQ/pole starter Steve Stewart shot into the lead from pole position and stayed out front to lap 5. Then second FQ Rod Proctor, 41, passed him on the outside entering the third turn and ran away to a straightaway victory. Stewart, Jay Henson and “Barefoot” Billy Ziemann followed. Fifth place Andy Schoening was a lap down. Ron Davis, first-time Irwindale driver/Orange Show veteran Dwayne Blay, Kendall Scheidecker, Patrick Miller and Jeff Marquet finished in P 6-10 respectively. Rob Kiemele's late model ran three laps. The 20-lap all-green light race took 6:15.544. Proctor, from Riverside, averaged 72.279 mph. He clocked his best lap (74.388 mph) on lap 12.
BANDOLEROS: (Saturday) -The straight-up start for 20 Briggs & Stratton-powered Bandolero cars had FQ Christian McGhee launch into the lead and hold it for five laps. Fifth starter Danny Nikolai, 14, passed him entering the third turn and led the final 14 laps. McGhee was 0.692 back at the end. Rookie Ricky Lewis III, 11, finished third, 0.902 back. Mikael Lovas, Brandon Weaver, Mike Womack, Ricky Schlick, Ryan Dunkleberger, Blaine Perkins and Troy Weslowski completed the top ten. Fifteen drivers ran all 20 circuits of a 25-minute event, slowed by four yellow flags.
Friday Bandos: Sixteen drivers competed. Home-schooled Ricky Lewis III, whose father and mother both drove 360 cu. in. sprint cars at Ventura Speedway ten years ago, ran the first track record sub-18 second laps—a 17.987 in practice and a NTR 17.972 (66.704 mph) during time trials. He started the 16-car, 20-lap main from the pole and led 14 laps by a length over McGhee. On lap 15 Dunkleberger spun leaving turn two for the only caution. On the restart, McGhee took the lead on the inside entering the third turn and paced laps 15-16. Lewis made an inside pass to lead lap 17 over McGhee as Nikolai made it a three-way duel. The three leaders were three-wide on lap 18 with Nikolai (low), Lewis (mid-track) and McGhee (outside) racing evenly and without contact. Nikolai led the final three laps over Lewis and McGhee as they finished within one length of each other in a thriller. The 10+ minute race had one caution flag and all 16 drivers finished, with 12 on the lead lap. Second place McGhee led Perkins, Weaver, Lovas, Womack, Schlick, Ian Weslowski, 11, and his brother Troy,10, and R. J. Stearns. Twelve of 16 drivers logged all 20 laps. After the race at a tech inspection, officials disqualified Lewis' car and listed him last in the official finish.