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RACE RECAP: 4-21-18

IRWINDALE HOSTS 6 DIVISIONS & 7 MAIN EVENTS – By Tim Kennedy

Irwindale, CA., Apr. 21 – Irwindale Speedway staged the fourth oval track race night Saturday under the new promotional team led by three-time IS late model champion Tim Huddleston. Events used both the half and third-mile ovals for six divisions and seven main events. Numerous younger drivers demonstrated their racing talent and two series ended the evening with drivers tied for the 2018 point lead in two divisions.

LKQ Pick Your Part NASCAR Late Model drivers ran two 40-lap features as the first and sixth events of the night. Irwindale Race Trucks (event four) and Sharky's Spec Late Models (event five) also used the half-mile. The new IS Junior Late Model Series (event two), INEX Legend Cars (event three) and an enduro cars Figure 8 race (event seven) used the third-mile four turns and infield X intersection.

1ST LM 40: Fourteen drivers used a five-car inverted starting lineup that put fastest qualifier Trevor Huddleston inside row three in his dad's No. 50 HPR Chevy. The three-time (2015-17) track champion and 2017 NASCAR Whelen All-American National Championship runner-up did not compete in the first four features this season on March 24 and April 7. He is concentrating this year on touring series--NASCAR K & N West and Spears SRL SW Tour stock cars.

Pole starter and HPR Chevy teammate Blaine Perkins, from Bakersfield, led the first 25 laps. He reportedly has a NASCAR Xfinity Series ride for the April 28 Talladega (Alab.) 300. Perkins engaged in an entertaining three-way duel with Alec Martinez and Zachary St. Onge lap after lap. They raced three-wide in the turns frequently from lap 20 after Huddleston joined the lead battle.

On lap 26 Huddleston shot from third to first and gradually extended his lead to 40-yards by the white flag lap. The third generation driver won his first 2018 feature by 1.409 over Lawless Alan, who took second on lap 35. St. Onge (-1.674) placed third. Perkins faded to fourth, 4.855 seconds off the lead. Nick Joanides raced from ninth at the start to fifth. Rookie Hailie Deegan, 16, Martinez, Jagger Jones, returning veteran Sean Woodside, and Ryan Schartau completed the top ten.

The all-green light race took 13:29.153 and averaged 88.982 mph. Thirteen cars finished, with 12 on the lead lap. Perkins ran the quickest lap of 92.1567 mph while leading. A multi-car crash on April 7 reduced the car count by four cars this week.

2ND LM 40: The top ten finishers in the first 40 were inverted for the second 40. Schartau, 15, and Woodside, 47, occupied the front row with Alan and Huddleston in row five of another 14 car field. Woodside, also making his first race night of the season, led laps 1-13. Huddleston took second on lap 11 and was the leader by lap 14. He again distanced second place by lap 30 and won by 1.044 over Alan. However, a post-race protest during tech inspection about Huddleston's car for “non-compliance with NASCAR rules” was affirmed. It resulted in a penalty that placed him last in the official finish.

Alan was awarded the victory by 1.602 over third generation driver Jagger Jones, 15. Woodside finished third, followed by Schartau, St. Onge, Deegan, Perkins, P. J. Hernandez, Joanides and Lucas McNeil. Ten drivers finished and all completed 40 laps. Huddleston logged the fastest laps of 91.762 mph. The 48-minute race had five yellow flags, most for debris.

A lap 18 crash between the third and fourth corners involved Dylan Garner, Deegan, Joanides and Martinez. Deegan's No. 56 HPR Chevy had the hood bent upward. She pitted and returned with the hood removed. Perkins lost a lap in the pits but he later received the “lucky dog” pass around the Ford Mustang pace car and finished on the lead lap. Alan's three IS 2018 feature victories (in six of the scheduled 20 races) has him atop point standings by 20 (276-256) over Schartau.

TRUCKS 35: Seven trucks started and five finished on the lead lap. The most entertaining aspect was a three-way duel with leader Ken Michaelian on the outside. Lucas McNeil and then Ryan Partridge took turns on the inside trying to take the lead during three-wide racing in the corners. Michaelian led the initial 17 laps. McNeil had his nose in front officially on lap 18. Partridge led laps 19-35 and won by 2.950 seconds over McNeil. It was his 54th career victory in several series. Partridge and Joanides are now tied for second place in feature victories at IS. Rip Michels leads with 67 triumphs.

Michaelian placed third, 3.285 off the lead. Dennis Arena and Niko Mongenel finished fourth and fifth on the lead lap. Jacob McNeil was a lap down in sixth. Michaelian's 87.916 mph lap while leading was the fastest race lap. McNeil and Partridge are now co-point leaders at 144 points after three races. McNeil won once and Partridge twice.

SPEC LATE MODELS 30: Seven Racecar Factory-built spec late models (formerly called S2 cars) used a fully-inverted starting grid and ran 30 green flag laps in ten minutes. An opening lap one-car accident caused a complete re-start. A wrecker towed the car of Matt Tsou to the pits after contact with the second turn wall.

The race had three leaders—John Watkinson (lap 1-3), fast timer Kenny Smith, 71, (lap 4), and first-time stock car driver Brad DeBerti (lap 5-30). DeBerti, from San Luis Obispo, is known as “Twin Turbo” for the two-month old Discovery Channel Wednesday 10 to 11 pm show “Twin Turbo”. The television show stars Brad and his father Doug, a noted custom car/truck builder whose clients include NASCAR Monster Energy Cup driver Joey Logano.

Brad is a well-known Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series star who has set a career in NASCAR stock car racing as his ultimate goal. He was the 2015 Pro-Light rookie of the year. In 2016 Brad was the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Pro-Light champion.

After stopping his winning No. 50 HPR Chevy at the finish line for his interview, DeBerti told his car owner/infield PA mic interviewer Tim Huddleston, “That was fun. I'm use to racing off-road trucks. I have the best trainer right here,” (pointing to Huddleston). The first time winner in his first IS race then said, “Thanks to my mom and dad, my fiance and God.”

DeBerti won by 0.596 over “grandpa” K. Smith. Series sponsor Craig Yeaton finished third, 1.013 back. Watkinson, Oregon driver David Hibbard, and Robert Arevalo finished in a close pack 15.1 to 16.3 seconds behind the winner. DeBerti's 86.730 mph lap was the quickest.

LEGENDS 35: Darren Amidon is now a perfect three for three in 2018 feature triumphs at IS. Twelve INEX Legend Cars used a four-car inverted starting lineup. Chad Schug started second and led 15 laps. Then fast timer and four-time IS series champion Amidon made an inside turn four pass on lap 16 and led to the lap 35 checkers. He won by 0.789 over three-time series champion Schug. Austin Farr ran third from lap 4 to the finish. Ricky Leigh and Matt Bowen followed and were the last drivers on the lead lap. A three-car crash on lap 30 caused a brief red flag. Amidon ran the fastest lap of 73.236 mph.

FIGURE 8: Eight four-cylinder enduro car drivers used the third-mile oval and the infield intersection and ran in a counter-clockwise direction. Todd Paperny, from Hollywood, started on the pole and led three laps. Sixth starter Rodney Argo fender-tapped his way into the lead entering the first turn on lap 4. Past F-8 winner Robert Rice and fastest qualifier Eddie Howell took P. 3 and P. 4 before Paperny recovered his momentum.

The top three remained unchanged to the finish at 10:26 pm. Former 410 cubic inch sprint car driver Argo won by a straightaway (6.409 seconds) for his eighth career victory at IS in his No. 19 Honda Accord. Rice edged pressing Howell by 0.340. Robert Rice, Jr., Troy Andersen and Paperny followed and all completed 20 laps.

JR LT MODELS: Friday: During open practice for all divisions, five young drivers (ages 11-14) raced full-size late models on the third-mile. Austin Edwards, 13, set a new track record of 15.602 (76.836 mph) that eclipsed the March 23 mark of 15.817 set by Las Vegan R. J. Smothermon. Edwards, from Mentone, beat Las Vegas resident Kyle Keller, 14, by 4.015 seconds for his first Jr. LM victory. Smothermon was 6.588 back. Braden Connor, 11, also from Las Vegas, made his debut in the new IS class and completed 28 laps. Gabe Scheer, from Morro Bay, dropped out on lap 2. Edwards ran the fastest lap of 76.018 mph.

Saturday: Four drivers qualified and raced Saturday. Fast timer Keller led all 30 laps from the pole and won by 6.286 seconds. Racy Edwards and Smothermon exchanged second position three times until the final lap. Then second running Edwards, ten yards in back of Keller, spun out low leaving turn four and lost second to spot to Smothermon.

Connor, lapped on lap 16, spun across the finish line after evading Edwards stalled car. Edwards restarted and crossed the line third. The all-green flag race took 8:12.488 and averaged 73.025 mph. Keller ran the fastest lap of 74.733 mph. After four of 12 scheduled races for the new series, Edwards and Keller are tied at 94 points atop the point standings.

Next Saturday will be another of the wild and crazy “Night of Destruction” events that fans love so much. The schedule includes: enduro car, Figure 8, skid plate cars and trailer races, a demo derby and an added attraction. Stuntman “Dr. Danger” will return to Irwindale for redemption. Last year his stunt car rode up a ramp and cleared five crushed cars stacked in the infield. However, it landed hard nose first near turn three of the third-mile. He was slightly injured, but walked away from the crash.

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