PARTRIDGE & IRVING SPLIT IRWINDALE LATE MODEL TWIN 30s - By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., Apr. 19 – The busiest racing night of the 2014 Irwindale Speedway season presented seven classes and eight main events with 89 racing vehicles in action. Presented by Rocket Fizz Soda & Candy Stores, racing was completed in just over three hours in front of 3,823 enthusiastic spectators. Billed as “a Racing Egg-Stravaganza”, a costumed Easter bunny joined track mascot Lugnut Junior distributing candy to youngsters during the holiday weekend event. Ryan Partridge and Travis Irving shared top honors by winning Lucas Oil NASCAR Late Model Series twin 30-lap features.
Twenty cars started both races in the track's premier division for Whelen All-American Racing Series for national, state and regional points. Partridge, 25, won the first three late model features this season in the No. 48 Toyota Camry, plus two Irwindale Race Truck Series mains in the No. 48 Toyota Tundra. His current hot streak brought his Irwindale Speedway career record to 39 feature triumphs. Irving, 28, has been an infrequent racer since the 2011 season. He raced his own No. 85 CHP-Toyota that he sold to Partridge's car owner Steve Latina. Irving received a call Wednesday from Joe Nava, owner of the No. 77 Chevy, offering him the No. 77 ride. It is Racecar Factory chassis 79 built last year. Irving practiced 35 laps in the car Thursday night.
FIRST LM 30: Fastest qualifier Mike Johnson started fifth in his rebuilt No. 17 RCF Chevy after turning 18.499 (97.303 mph)during the 6:30 pm qualifying session. He almost topped the one-lap track record of 18.455 set by Brandon Davis in 2011. Second quickest Partridge started fourth, next to Cole Custer with 2013 series rookie of the year Andrew Porter, 20, on the pole alongside 2013 most improved driver Toni McCray.
Porter, driving Kevin Bowles' No. 7 Chevy, led the first 21 laps as Partridge advanced to second. He took P. 2 for good on lap 15 after a four-lap position-swapping battle with Johnson. During mid-race Porter ran the outside groove with Partridge to his left in close quarters lap after lap. On lap 22 Porter got a bit loose in turn four and Partridge shot past on the inside. He held the lead to the finish and later praised Porter for driving his best race in a late model. Runner-up Porter trailed by 1.449 seconds. McCray, Custer, Irving, Christian McGhee, Jeff Williams, Ricky Schlick, Richie Altman and Dustin Vandermooren finished third through tenth. On lap 26 third place Johnson spun onto the fourth turn infield grass and lost a lap. Sixteen of 20 starters finished and 12 drivers completed all 30 laps.
SECOND LM 30: Corona-resident Irving started on the pole in a four-car inverted lineup. He led every lap after prevailing about lap 10 over Custer and Partridge in a three-car lead-pack battle. His winning margin was 1.390 and his winning speed was 92.137 mph. It was Irving's fifth career IS late model victory. He won three times in 2009 and on season-opening night April 3, 2010 in his own No. 85 Toyota. Ladera Ranch resident Custer, a 16-tear old Tesoro High School sophomore and pole vaulter, battled Partridge for second to the end. Custer was racing in front of his proud father Joe, Executive VP for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Stewart-Haas Racing team.
Custer executed a perfect outside pass on lap 7 through the third and fourth turns to drop Partridge to third place. Partridge badgered him relentlessly but trailed the teen by 0.428 at the checkers. Johnson, McCray, Trevor Huddleston, 17, Porter, Christian McGhee, 15, rookie Ricky Schlick, 16, and Ryan Cansdale, 15, completed the top ten. Every teenager raced like seasoned veterans after years of racing Bandoleros, Legends and S2 stock cars. Seventeen of 20 starters were racing at the conclusion, with 12 drivers on the lead lap in a 9:46.082-timed race.
SW TOUR TRUCKS: A field of 12 Southwest Tour Trucks used a four-truck inverted start. Fastest qualifier Zack Green, 23, used the No. 27 Jeff Williams Ford F-150 and led the final 21 laps for his initial truck victory at Irwindale. He won last year in the same truck at Madera Speedway. An emotional Ronnie Davis, Jr, of Whittier, started third and led the first nine laps. He drove the No. 83 that 2013 SWTT rookie of the year Mike Gilboy, 50, drove impressively all season, Gilboy lost his battle with cancer earlier in the month. Gilboy's grieving family asked his good friend Davis to race his truck at Irwindale Saturday as a memorial tribute to the late driver from Quartz Hill. He left his own No. 78 truck at home. Davis stated, “My tires were going away so I couldn't hold him off.” Green took command in traffic at turn four.
Davis crossed the finish line 3.040 seconds back. Neil Conrad, the 2013 series champion and winner of all five SWTT features at Irwindale, started from pole position. He finished third, 14 seconds off the lead. Ed Cutler, winner of the series opener two weeks ago in Blythe, placed fourth and was the last driver on the lead lap. Dad Al Rizzone, Cecil Phelps, son Shawn Rizzone, Dan Coburn, Robert Vandermooren and rookie Bandolero and mini stock veteran Aubree Porter, 19, all completed 29 laps for fifth through tenth positions respectively. The all-green light 30-lap event took 10:23.948 (86.546 mph).
SPEARS SRL S2 CARS: A season-high 11 SRL S2 cars qualified and raced event three of a 12-race S2 cars schedule at four tracks in California and Nevada. A six-car inverted start put FQ Kyle Whisner, outside row three. Kenny Smith, 67-year old grandfather of racers Andrew Porter and his sister Aubree, started fourth and led the first five circuits. Fifth starter Trevor Huddleston, 17, made an inside move leaving turn four on lap 6. The 2013 SRL S2 series runner-up to HPR teammate Ryan Cansdale led laps 6-30. He had a 4.156 second victory margin over Smith. It was the third consecutive victory for the HPR No. 50. Huddleston won March 15 in Madera and NASCAR SW Tour veteran Bill Sedgwick drove it to victory in Bakersfield April 5 when Huddleston was racing a HPR late model at IS.
Whisner, a 32-year old actor/producer from Riverside, placed third in his first IS race. Johnny Butler, 55, took fourth. Teenager Brandon “Shorty” Weaver,from Bakersfield, finished fifth after passing two cars on the final lap. Uli Perez, Chris Morrison and Bill Waters followed and logged 30 laps. Morrison was in P. 5 when he bounced off the second turn wall and lost two positions. His No. 99 car slammed into the third turn crash-wall and limped across the finish line with a flat RF tire and crumpled RF fender. Dave Lowenstein, plus S2 rookies/IS newcomers Nastasia Dodd, 16, and Karon Lowenstein (wife of Dave) were lapped but racing at the finish. The all-green race took 10:21.162 and averaged 86.934 mph. After three events,Butler is the S2 point leader with 495 points. Morrison is second with 461. Weaver (458), Whisner (449) and Dodd (438)rank third through fifth. SRL S2 cars have races in Las Vegas, Madera and Bakersfield (at KCRP) before returning to Irwindale for more racing in August.
SUPER STOCKS 30: Ten super stocks, primarily Camaros, used an eight-car inverted start. That put FQ Gary Frankovich's Chevy Impala SS in P.8. Craig Rayburn's Camaro led the first five laps from the pole. SWT Truck winner Zack Green, the IS 2013 NASCAR super stock champion, took the lead in three-wide racing on lap 6. He ran away following a lap 8 red flag to clear the track in turn three after Greg Crutcher blew the engine of his Camaro and pulled to the infield. Holding a 20-yard lead at lap 15, Green slowed a bit as second place Gary Read charged and closed to five yards back during the final laps. His Camaro trailed Green's 1970 Ford Mustang II by 0.503 at the finish. Rayburn, Curtis White, Henry Miles, Frankovich, Paul Howard, Mark Whitson and Ken Cannata followed in that order; all ran 30 laps. Green won four of seven IS S/S features last season and now has won both SS mains this year.
LEGEND CARS 35: The 16-car INEX Legend Cars 35-lap main used a six-car inverted starting lineup. That put FQ Brent Scheidemantle, 21, outside row three. Pole starter Mark Borchetta led the first six laps. Second starter Zane Smith, 14, used an inside pass exiting turn four and led laps 7-11. Fifth starter Chad Schug came to the front in the competitive seven car lead pack and led laps 12 to the mid-20s as Scheidemantle worked forward. The quickest qualifier worked past 2013 track champion Darren Amidon and Schug and prevailed in an exciting, fan-pleasing top five duel to the finish. Scheudemantle, who flipped his No. 98 coupe in turn two last season, drove it to a convincing 0.233 victory.
Teenager Smith, who said he traveled and raced his legends car 79 times last season, placed second. He obviously learned how to race among IS frequent winners. Amidon finished third. Schug fell from P. 2 to P. 5 after a restart following a lap 34 caution (the fifth of the race). S2 driver Brandon Weaver, 13, drove his No. 84 coupe to fourth place after passing Schug on the final lap. Borchetta, Aaron Wells, Gary Scheuerell, Tyler Hicks and Mark Iungerich completed the top ten. All 16 starters finished and 12 ran all 35 laps. A brief engine fire sidelined Bandos grad Blaine Perkins on the last lap. The field included four drivers making their first IS starts. The S2 division also had three Irwindale newcomers as did the Bandolero race.
BANDOLEROS: Ten INEX Bandolero drivers raced both Saturday and at 8:10 pm Friday (during open practice for all divisions). Outcomes were the same. Ryan Vargas, 13, set FQ time both nights and led all 20 laps each night from the pole. The La Mirada resident finished second last year to 2013 Bando champion Ricky Lewis and won two of ten IS 20-lap mains. Vargas, who intends to win championships, has two cars this season (one for IS and the other for KCRP). Mckenzie Eshleman, 14, enjoyed her best results to date by finishing second both nights. Austin Farr, 14, finished third in 2013 final points and took P. 3 both nights. Allison Gay,13-year old daughter of stock car driver Danny Gay, placed fourth. Alexis Mann, 15, rookie Johnny Dressler, 11, Zack St. Onge, 12, Ryan Borchetta, 12, Madison Gay, 10, and newcomer Kayla Eshleman followed Saturday with girls comprising 50 percent of the field.
TRAILER RACE: A 20-lap trailer race concluded on-track action with ten sedans towing trailers with various cargo—boats, barrels, bicycles and even an empty hot tub. The goal is to finish with your trailer contents intact and your competitors eliminated by loss of trailer and/or contents. Contact is encouraged and avoidance of contact could cost victory. Early race leader Robert Rice's Chevy El Camino, towing a boat, dropped out before mid-race. After the lap 20 checkered flag, officials brought five cars to the finish line. The track announcer asked spectators to vote for the winner. Fans cheers and applause resulted in the winner being No. 96 Tommy Mason, from Canyon Country. The Low Budget TV video cameraman/announcer scored his first IS gold trophy> He has driven for years in various IS events, such as enduros, skid plate car races, and demo derbies. Cheryl Hyland, Eric Brown, Low Budget TV's Jeffrey Best and John Zimmerman placed second through fifth in fan voting.