IRWINDALE, California — Six divisions participated in Toyota Speedway at Irwindale NASCAR Whelen All-American Racing Series action Saturday and racing was close in all six features. Sports car/road racing star Brandon Davis, 25, continued his career-year in stock car racing on ovals by setting fast time, starting fifth and leading the final 28 laps of a 40-lap main that had a green, white checkered flag finish. It was his ninth Auto Club Late Model victory in 14 events this season. He won his first ACLM main event last October during his rookie NASCAR season while driving the same High Point Racing Chevy on the banked half-mile. The other half-mile feature winner was Jeff Williams. He took his sixth win in six Southwest Tour Truck Series 2011 features. He drove his Ford F-150 from sixth starting spot as fastest qualifier and led all but the first lap. Williams had his toughest battle of the season and edged runner-up Neil Conrad by 0.380. It was the opening main of the evening in front of about 2,000 spectators.
The third-mile inner oval had three hotly-contested mains and a unique skid plate race. A season-high 21 Jan's Towing Bandolero drivers raced 20-laps. Brandon “Shorty” Weaver, 11, came from inside row three to lead every lap but the first, which FQ/pole starter R. J. Stearns, 11, paced. It was 4'5” Weaver's first feature victory at Irwindale. The Bakersfield resident became the fourth different winner in 19 TS@I races this season, which has been dominated by eight-time feature winners Christian McGhee, 13, and Danny Nikolai, 14. Rookie Ricky Lewis, 12, has two triumphs.
Seventeen of 18 Echo Equipment Legend cars present competed in a 35 lap event. The competitive race had four leaders and three lead changes in the first 18 laps. Fastest qualifier Brent Scheidemantle, 18, started sixth, led laps 18-35, and won by 0.575. He finished the race tied for the series point lead with 2010 champion Chad Schug, who finished third. Eleven Justice Brothers Mini Stock drivers outdid themselves and gave fans a lead-swapping duel, also with four drivers sharing the lead. They exchanged the lead six times, including a final lead swap on the white flag lap. Ryan Bragdon, 19, won his second main this year by passing 2009-10 series champion Daryl Scoggins, a two-time winner this year. Scoggins inherited the July 16 victory after apparent winner Robby Hornsby's Pinto was DQ during a post-race inspection for using 8” tires instead of 7” tires specified in TS@I series rules. Bragdon's 1979 Ford Mustang II on a Pinto frame beat Scoggins' Pinto by one length (0.144). Hornsby, an Orange Show Speedway veteran, returned and finished third for his first TS@I points.
The sixth and final race—a Seidner's Collision Centers Skid Plate race—also took place on the third-mile. It started 26 cars using spark-producing metal skid plates attached to both rear wheels instead of tires. The fifth such race this year tied the season-high car counts of events one and four. The cars ran 20 counter-clockwise laps in 12 minutes, despite numerous spins and fender-benders and a red flag to remove a car stalled broadside in mid-track. The $450 winner for the fourth time in five events was James W. Altman, 61-year old father of driver Richie Altman and a veteran of Ascot Park, Gardena stock car racing. He started 12th in his same race-winning 1992 Ford Escort that had a few new dents at the right rear to match prior body damage. He became the third and final race leader on lap 7 and won by 31 seconds over Angela DeFazio, daughter of track GM/COO Bob DeFazio.
ACLM 40: Series rookie Nik Romano, 21, led the first 12 laps until a caution flag for a spinner. A double-file restart put FQ/fifth starter Davis alongside and Davis shot into the lead on the lap 13 green flag. He extended his lead to 40-yards before a white flag two-car crash in turn 2 made it a green, white, checkered flag finish (41 laps). Rookie Dylan Lupton, 17-year old 2010 S2 champion, took P. 2 from his HPR teammate Romano on lap 35. Taylor Miinch, 16, took third from Romano on the white flag lap in his Position One Chevy to break up the all HPR “blue crew” monopoly of the podium positions. Romano and HPR rookie Devon Ostheimer, 17, finished fourth and fifth to give Tim Huddleston's HPR team four of the top five positions. Kyle McGrady, Toni McCray, Jeff Williams and Rodney Peacher were the other finishers. Andrew Murray, 14-year old rookie in Kevin Bowles' No. 21, set fourth quickest qualifying time and started second. He ran second to lap 11 when Lupton passed him. He was sixth at the lap 39 caution when he “heard engine noises and pulled into the pits to avoid causing a crash on the restart”. The thinking teen placed tenth. Only 13 cars qualified shortly after 7:00 pm, but five additional cars started the main in back of qualified cars to make it 18 cars for the feature.
SWT TRUCKS 35: Williams had to fend off Neil Conrad's frequent passing attempts from lap 15 to a lap 31 caution after Cecil Phelps blew his transmission in turn 4 for the only race caution. Williams beat Conrad by two lengths (0.380). Ronnie Davis, Jr, Brady Helm, Kirk Knostman, Ed Cutler and Tony Curtis all completed 35 laps in that order as nine of ten trucks finished.
BANDOS 20 (Sat.) - Diminutive and popular Bando veteran Weaver charged to his first-ever Irwindale victory in the largest 2011 field (21 cars). Two drivers from the Las Vegas Bullring and a Salinas 13-year old who races in Ukiah, CA competed. Weaver also led the Friday 8:30 pm main for 13 slaps after starting on the pole as fastest qualifier. Danny Nikolai came from third spot to lead the final seven laps in a close, five-car finish. Ricky Schlick, Weaver, McGhee and Mikael Lovas completed the top five as all 18 starters finished with only three drivers down a lap. The 17-minute race had three cautions. Saturday's Bando main also took 17 minutes because of three yellow flags. After getting a smell of victory Friday, determined Weaver stormed from fifth grid position to lead laps 2-20 despite intense pressure from Nikolai after a lap 15 caution. Weaver beat Nikolai by 0.407. Lovas, Ricky Lewis and Schlick completed the top five as 18 of 21 drivers finished with 15 on the lead lap.
EE LEGENDS 35: Cale Kanke, 19-year old son of SRL driver M. K. Kanke, led the initial two laps from the pole. On lap 3 Schug was on top as the first three drivers waged a close duel. On lap 4, fifth starter Eric Gunderson made an inside move in turn 4 and took charge until lap 18. Then FQ/sixth starter Scheidemantle made an inside move and shot from third to first. Schug took P. 2 on lap 19, but Gunderson retook P. 2 on lap 26 and held it to the checkers. P. 4 Kanke trailed Schug by a second. Blake Dunkleberger, 2009-10 Bandolero track champion Ryan Canasdale, 12, Jared Torres, Chancellor Tiscareno, Mark Borchetta and Aaron Wells completed the top ten as 16 of 17 starters finished. The race marked the debuts of two Bandolero TWO drivers in Legends. Christian McGhee, 13, started 16th and finished 12th. Bando rookie Ian Wesoloski, 12, started 17th and finished 15th, the last driver on the lead lap. Visiting drivers included Ian Anderson (Las Vegas) and Racin Vernon, 12-year old son of NASCAR and SRL stock car driver Kevin Vernon.
JB MINI STOCK 35: Pole-man Dennis Croasmun led the first 11 circuits. On lap 12 Kevin Bernhardt went low in the third turn and took charge in a five-car lead pack. As Bernhardt rode P. 2 Hornsby high in turn 4 on lap 15, Bragdon shot to the inside and moved from third to first and pulled away leaving three drivers fighting for second. Scoggins came from P. 4 to second after a lap 21 caution and took on Bragdon. The traded the lead on laps 27, 28, 30 and 34 before Bragdon prevailed by half a length. Hornsby, Croasmun and Dusty Morgan followed. Rod Schmitt, Bernhardt and Ron Schmitt were the only other finishers on the lead lap in a 19-minute contest with three caution flags.
SEIDNERS SKID PLATE 20: The fan-pleasing event had one brief red flag so track official Mike Atkinson, driving the track's ex-LA Sheriff Dept. patrol car with flashing red lights, could push a stranded car to safety. The ex-cop car took a glancing blow from a competing skid plate car. The 12-minute event, which paid $35 to start, had 19 of 26 starters racing a the finish. Only two drivers—winner Altman and runner-up DeFazio-- logged all 20 laps. Todd Hartwig, Robert Rice, Steve Dien completed 19 laps. Past track champions Nick Joanides (ACLM and SLM) and Daryl Scoggins (JBMS), Jonathon DeStgefano and Adam Ditto logged 18 laps for P 6-9. Next in order were pole starter April Shaw-Johns, 26th starter Joe Anderson and Rick Dial. Bando veteran/Legends rookie Christian McGhee started the No. 44 Skid Plate car and placed 20th with nine laps in his third race of the night. Altman ran the fastest lap of the race at 31.696 (37.822 mph) on lap 14. Anderson's 32.765 on lap 16 was second fastest. The race had four female drivers, two Scoggins brothers and the father/son team of Tom and Nick Joanides. All drivers raced front wheel drive foreign or domestic four-cylinder sedans.