IRWINDALE, California — A pair of 17-year old Auto Club Late Model rookies—Devon Ostheimer and Taylor Miinch—won their first ACLM main events Saturday in Toyota Speedway at Irwindale twin-30 lap features with 20-car fields. ACLM cars raced the first and fifth mains in a five division, six features night. Almost 2,000 Labor Day weekend spectators attended on Back to School/Labor Unions Appreciation Night. The other winner on the half-mile was Eric Sunness, in a 25-lap Vista Paint Super Stock event. Chad Schug took the Echo Equipment Legend Car 35-lap race, and Danny Nikolai, 14, won the Jan's Towing Bandolero 18-car main in the two third-mile track races. Event six was a ten-car Pick Your Part Outlaw Figure 8 race through the infield. Jay Henson took the $1,000 first place check. A lap 5 hard collision at speed occurred at the intersection. The impact eliminated the first place Rod Proctor and fifth place Jerry Toporek. The two drivers were uninjured.
"This is my first late model win and it came on my 17th birthday."— Taylor Miinch
ACLM 1ST 30: Thirteen late models qualified during afternoon time trials. Lap 1 determined the first 30 lineup order and lap 2 set the second 30 lineup. Point leader Brandon Davis, 25, set quick time on both of his laps and had inversions of six and five for the two features. The first race had six High Point Racing blue Chevy Monte Carlos in it and they occupied five of the first six starting positions. Three late models that did not qualify and four super stock tagged the field. At 7:11 pm pole starter/sixth FQ Ostheimer, a sprint car veteran last year on dirt at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville, out-dragged second starter Austin Dyne, 19, at the start. Third starter Miinch ran third for two laps. Three HPR cars followed closely. Ostheimer ran the fastest lap of the race at 18.880 (95.339 mph) on lap 2. Nik Romano, Dylan Lupton and Davis followed closely. Romano took third on lap 3 and Davis claimed the position four laps later. The only caution flag flew on lap 16 for a solo spin while Ostheimer held a 20-yard lead. It interrupted the P. 2 duel between HPR teammates Dyne and Davis. On the double file lap 16 green flag, Davis shot into the first turn on the inside of Dyne entering the first turn and took second. Davis closed in quickly on outside-running Ostheimer, but he could not pass his junior team member. At the end of the 13-minute race, relieved Ostheimer won by 0.254 over Davis, a nine-time ACLM feature winner this season. Dyne, Lupton and Miinch finished 2+ seconds back in close quarters. Larry Cerquettini, Romano, Chris Johnson, Toni McCray and Kyle McGrady completed the top ten. Jeff Williams and Rodney Peacher, the only other finishers, also ran all 30 laps.
ACLM 2ND 30: ACLM race two started with a bang literally. The 20 cars started at 8:44 pm and three HPR blue cars ran three-wide through the third and fourth turns. Lupton was on the outside, with Romano and Dyne to his left. At the exit of turn 4, Lupton's 56 car back end came around and he spun onto the front straight. Impacts started immediately and involved six cars, including four of the six HPR “blue cars”. Johnson and McGrady cars received damage and stopped as well. The scoring pylon showed Romano and Miinch as the first two cars to cross start/finish as the starter waved the red flag. The red light was on 24 minutes as tow trucks cleared damaged cars. Only the McGrady and Lupton cars returned from the pits to restart among the 15 cars that restarted lap 1. Lupton's car raced without hood and fenders and ran low and slow to the end, losing five laps, and finished 12th. Rookie Dyne's left arm began swelling in the pits and he went to a hospital with a possible broken arm. The restart front row had Romano and Miinch (Position One Motor-sports No. 03 Monte Carlo-the ex-No. 77 Loyd McGhee owned Nick Joanides 2009 ACLM track championship car). At 9:08 pm Miinch took command with an outside pass in turn 4, with 14-year old Andrew Murray, from Murrieta, second and Romano third. Larry Cerquettini took third on lap 3 and the top four ran in that order as Miinch opened a 40-yard lead by lap 20. He took the checkers after 30 green flag laps in 10:06.079. The three way battle for second had Murray, Cerquettini and Romano in close proximity on the white flag lap. Cerquettini, the track 2009 VPSS champion and winner of nine of 12 races that season, made his move on the final lap entering the third turn. He shot to the inside of teenager Murray and moved him up a bit in the fourth turn as he took P. 2 leaving turn 4. Runner-up Cerquettini trailed Miinch by 2.813 seconds. Murray held on for third (-0.164 behind P. 2). Murray barely edged P. 4 Romano by 0.082. Toni McCray, McGrady, the 58 HPR car (the oldest HRP car RCF chassis # 7) driven by Davis from the restart renumbered as 55, was seventh. P. 8 Peacher was the last driver on the lead lap. J. Williams, Benjamin Mahan, 15, and Paul Ebersbacher all completed 29 laps. Twelve of 20 starters reached the 9:18 pm checkered flag.
Winner Miinch told the crowd, “This is my first late model win and it came on my 17th birthday.” He dedicated the victory to the mother of his best friend and fellow high school football player. Later, he said she succumbed to cancer on August 28. Miinch, a former front-running ASA Speed Truck driver in 2009-10, said he and his fellow Christian High of El Cajon football players are wearing black wristbands in her memory. Miinch, the first string kicker on his high school football team, missed a game Saturday to race in Irwindale. “I'd rather be lucky than good. I'm usually a bottom feeder at this track. My spotter told me 'They're going three-wide entering turn 3'. I was alert, but my car got hit in the crash. I made it through and stopped under the red on the backstretch” Asked about his racing goals, personable Miinch told media members he would love to race in the NASCAR K & N West Series, but he lacks sponsorship presently. Afterward, race control officials ruled that the seventh place 38 points went to Andrew Anderson, who started the No. 58 HPR car, not to relief driver Davis, who drove it all 30 laps after the restart. Davis received only 18 points for the 55 car that he had started in the second 30. Davis entered the twin 30s with a 64 point lead over Lupton and earned 66 points for the twin 30s compared to 72 points by Lupton. Second year ACLM driver Davis now leads Lupton by 58 points (754-696. Miinch entered the twin 30s 68 points behind Davis, and his 92 points Saturday lifted him to second place in ACLM points with 712, only 42 in back of Davis. Miinch is now the leading rookie by 16 points over Lupton, with third place rookie Romano only 8 points in back of Lupton and 24 points in back of Miinch. So the ACLM championship is now a four-way contest and the rookie of the year duel is an even closer three-way battle with only two races remaining on September 17 to settle both titles.
VPSS: A two-car inverted lineup put second fastest qualifier Eric Sunness on the pole. He led all 25 laps in his Camaro and defeated series point leader Curtis White by 0.898. Former point leader and reigning 2010 series champion Rich DeLong III placed third. White extended his point lead to six points (410-404) over DeLong. Gary Read, Brad Keegan, FQ Gary Frankovich, and rookie Michael Parr finished in the top seven. Jason DeLong was eighth, down a lap. The only non-finisher was rookie Zach Green, 21-year old son of the TS@I VPSS 2000-01 VPSS champion Jeff Green. His Camaro blew the engine while in P. 3 on lap 10 after a connecting rod let go and oiled the fourth turn causing P. 5 Frankovich to spin.
EELC: A field of 13 legend cars had fastest qualifier Brent Scheidemantle starting outside row two and 2010 series champion/2011 point leader Chad Schug alongside. Pole starter Cale Kanke led lap 1 and Schug took charge for good on lap 2. He beat challenger Scheidemantle to the lap 35 checkers by three lengths (-0.406). Schug drove the Tony Green Racing No. 88 coupe in which he won the first three features this season. Schug now has three wins in his own No. 29 coupe and four in the Green 88 car. He has won seven of 14 events this year. Mark Borchetta, Tony Green (own No. 89 coupe), Jordan Hyland finished third through fifth. Aaron Wells, Gary Scheuerell, Mark Iungerich, and 14 year old Bandolero point leader Christian McGhee finished all 35 laps in that order. The 16-minute race had two cautions, including a lap 30 incident involving P. 6 Ryan Cansdale spinning in turn 2 and being rammed by newcomer Ryan Troutwine, of Corona. Both cars were sidelined. Kanke dropped out of P. 5 on lap 26. Schug's fastest lap of 16.352 (73+ mph) and Scheidemantle's quickest lap of 16.393 both came on lap 30.
BANDOLEROS: (Sat.) - The 18-car field Saturday had FQ Danny Nikolai, 14, on the pole and he led all 20 laps on the third-mile. It was his ninth feature triumph this season and tied the nine win TS@I mark Christian McGhee set a night earlier. McGhee started third and ran second for the first 13 laps when he passed Nikolai entering turn 1. However, a solo spin caused the lineup to revert to the lap 12 order and he was unable to retake the point. In fact, Ricky Schlick, 14, came from P. 4 to take second by lap 18. He trailed Nikolai by 0.168. McGhee was third, 0.533 back. Recent three-time winner Brandon Weaver, 11, placed fourth with rookie Ian Wesolowsk fifth. Mikael Lovas, rookie Troy Wesolowski, Blaine Perkins and Brett Scoggins completing the top ten. All 17 starters finished with three drivers down a lap. The 8+ minute race had one brief caution. Nikolai ran the fastest race lap, a sub-track record 17.857 (67.133 mph), on lap 2 and chaser McGhee turned a 17.950 a lap later..
BANDOS: (Fri.) - The Friday field of 16 ran 20-laps with three caution flags in a 16+ minute event from 7:55 to 8:12 pm during the regular Friday open practice for all divisions. McGhee broke his own one-lap track official qualifying record of 17.988 (66.644 mph) that he set on Friday, 8-19-11. He ran a lap of 17.894 (66.995 mph) during group qualifying in his No. 71 Briggs & Stratton-powered Bandolero. The ever-improving Bando youngsters this season have lowered the one-lap TR seven times despite the use of restrictor-plates to reduce speed. The record began the 2011 season at 18.270 (65.616 mph). Record holders have been R. J. Stearns, Lovas, McGhee, Ricky Lewis, Nikolai, and McGhee back-to-back. FQ McGhee led the first 11 laps from the pole. P. 4 starter Schlick led lap 12 by a few feet after making an inside pass from the fourth turn. McGhee was back in front for laps 13-20 and won by 0.070 over Schlick. Stearns, Lovas, Ryan Gudmestad, Nikolai, Lewis, T. Weslolowski, Austin Farr and Weaver finished in P. 3-10. All 15 finishers completed 20 laps. Schlick logged the fastest race lap of 17.876 (67.062 mph) on lap 3. Four TS@I Bandolero drivers raced in the 14th annual Bandolero Nationals at the Kentucky Speedway quarter-mile last weekend. Schlick finished fifth overall in a 26 car field and received a huge trophy that he displayed in his pit stall Friday. Perkins finished 12th, T. Wesolowski 14th and I. Wesolowski 18th.