PARTRIDGE WINS RECORD THREE IRWINDALE MAINS - By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., Apr. 5 – Ryan Partridge raced to an unprecedented “hat trick” at Irwindale Speedway Saturday in front of 4,190 spectators by winning three main events on the same evening. Each triumph came on the half-mile and in two track divisions on the opening night of all IS series racing on the second of 18 scheduled IS race dates. The 25-year old Rancho Cucamonga resident now ranks fifth in total feature victories at the 15-year old speedway. His 38 feature victories is only two short of tying three-time track champion Nick Joanides for fourth place.
Partridge, a third generation racer and chief driving instructor at the Irwindale Event Center LA Racing Experience, won both NASCAR Lucas Oil Late Model 30-lap features in the No. 48 Toyota Camry plus the 40-lap Irwindale Race Trucks main in Steve Latina's No. 48 Toyota Tundra. He won the March 22 season opener in the IRT series and raced as a rookie the same evening in the touring NASCAR K & N Pro Series-West as a rookie. He led lap 129 of the 150 lap race and faded to eighth place in closing laps because of worn tires. Partridge, Irwindale's 2013 late model and 2010 truck series champion, told media members, “I don't think we can get off to a better start to the season. It has been pretty amazing so far.”
Four track series saw action Saturday with five main events followed by a ten-minute aerial fireworks show launched from beyond the backstretch. Other feature winners on the third-mile included Garrett Green, a 20-year old from Long Beach, in the Seidner's Collision Center Mini Stocks 25-lap race. He finished fifth in mini stocks points last season and was named rookie of the year. Todd Browne, a Jet Blue Airlines Aerobus 320 pilot flying out of Long Beach, won the fan-pleasing Skid Plate Cars 20-lap race that ran just before the second late model main concluded racing.
LM FIRST 30: The first late model 30-lap main started all 21 cars with an eight car inverted lineup based upon 6:30 pm qualifying runs. Pole starter Chris Johnson led the initial two laps. Sixth starter Partridge reached P. 2 by lap 5 and took the lead on lap 7 via a pass on the backstretch. He opened a 30-yard lead by lap 22 when the second of three caution flags flew. Andrew Porter, the 20-year old series 2013 rookie of the year, ran second from lap 7 to the finish. He trailed by 0.500 in a car owned by Kevin Bowles, father of driver Jason Bowles.
Cole Custer, a 16-year old student from Ladera Ranch and son of Stewart-Haas Racing executive Joe Custer, came from seventh grid spot and placed third, 0.766 in back of the winner. The Stewart-Haas development driver also races heavier NASCAR K & N Pro Series stock cars. He won the K & N West 80-lap race at Phoenix International Raceway on February 27 and two K & N East features last season. Custer also finished 12th in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Martinsville, (VA) 250 on March 30. He won the final 2013 Irwindale late model feature last October 5 in the same Racecar Factory-built No. 55 Huddleston High-Point Racing Chevy.
Toni McCray started 13th and finished fourth with late model rookie Christian McGhee, 15, fifth. C. Johnson, Jeff Williams, Ryan Cansdale, 15, Dustin Vandermoorin and Mike Johnson followed. Fourteen of 21 starters finished the first main with only one driver lapped. Porter logged the fastest race lap at 18.952 (94.977 mph). M. Johnson set the fastest qualifying time of 18.517 (97.208 mph).
LM SECOND 30: Nineteen of 21 cars returned for the second main 90 minutes later. Partridge led the first 15 circuits over pressing Custer. The second yellow flag caused a side-by-side restart that resulted in a seven car crash on the front straight. At the green flag P. 3 Mike Johnson “missed a shift from third to fourth gear”. Accelerating P. 5 McCray (No. 90) slammed into the back of Johnson's slower No. 17 Chevy, lifting it off the ground and turning it right into the outside lane where it was drilled in the right side. Cars 28, 57, 70, 35 and 18 were involved. No driver injuries resulted but the red flag lasted 20 minutes for track cleanup. Only eight cars, including McCray's hood-less Chevy, continued. With cars two by two, Partridge selected the inside lane, placing Custer alongside. Partridge led lap 15, but determined Custer executed an impressive outside pass from turn four to the starting line to lead lap 16 by a foot. Outside runner Custer maintained a car length lead over pressing inside runner Partridge lap after lap, thrilling spectators.
On lap 25 Adrianne Murlin's seventh place No. 19 Chevy had a mechanical failure entering turn three. It veered shot up the track and slammed into the outside wall with the battling leaders in mid-backstretch. She was uninjured. On the lap 25 green flag Partridge made an inside pass entering the first turn and came out of turn two leading. He won by 15-yards, (1.045 seconds). Later, he admitted Custer would've won the race without the double-file restart after Murlin's crash. Custer, Trevor Huddleston, 17, McCray and Richie Altman were the only other finishers from the decimated 19 car starting field. Third place Porter slowed and dropped out three laps from the finish. He received sixth place.
TRUCKS 40: All 14 trucks started with fastest qualifier Partridge in fourth slot. Christian McGhee, Irwindale's 2013 truck rookie of the year, led laps 1-4. Partridge took second on lap 4 and a lap later moved to the front with his inside pass from turn four to the starting line. He opened a 25-yard lead by lap 20 and eased his pace to win by 0.521 over Joey Licata's 14th starting ASA truck. McGhee was third, four seconds back. Luis Martinez, Jr., truck rookie/legend cars grad Lacie Price, trophy dash winner Lucas McNeil, Ken Michaelian, Dennis Arena, Todd Cameron and A. Porter completed the top ten. All 14 trucks finished with four trucks lapped in the all-green flag, 13-minute race. It averaged 89.200 mph. Licata recorded the fastest lap—91.403 mph.
MINI STOCKS: All eight Ford minis (seven Pintos and one Mustang II) raced 25 laps. Robby Harryman led the first four laps. He spun in the third turn after contact from P. 2 Aubree Porter. Tommy Genda led laps 5-6. Mustang II driver G. Green led laps 7-25 for his first feature victory. He was the IS mini stock rookie of the year last season. His brother Zack, 23, and father Jeff are past Irwindale super stock champions. P. 2 Dusty Morgan finished almost half a lap back (7.199 seconds). Bud Smith was third as six of eight cars finished all 25 laps. Morgan turned the fastest race lap of 70.257 mph.
SKID PLATE CARS 20: A field of 28 four-cylinder cars, using two metal skid plate instead of tires on the back wheels, took the green flag in the fourth main of the night. Pole starter Austin Lee led the first eight laps of the all-green, 11-minute race. October 26 SPC feature winner Todd Browne, from 11th, drove the same 1988 Toyota Camry with 245,000+ miles on the odometer between cars into the lead on the backstretch during lap 9. His car had been driven on the street for decades by his grandmother and mother. He opened a 35-yard advantage by lap 17 as cars spun with help and on their own and continued.
Even leader Browne looped 360 degrees in turn three after contact and continued without losing the lead. Second place A. Lee closed in on the final lap as the two leaders lapped slower cars. Lee was about to pounce for the lead and victory when he looped 360 degrees while lapping a slower car. He continued and finished second, 3.371 seconds back. Three-time SPC 2013 feature winner Michael DeGregorio (-5 seconds), Andrew Brittain (-24 seconds) and two-time 2013 SPC winner Sean Brennan (-28 seconds) were the only other finishers on the lead lap. Robert Rice, Steve Dien, Steven Belling, Wayne Lee and Robbie Salcedo completed the top ten with 21 of 28 starters racing at the finish. Three female drivers competed and finished 20th, 22nd and 25th.