Irwindale race summary 2003-05-24

Irwindale, CA., May 24 - Irwindale Speedway saluted the Indianapolis 500 and Charlotte 600 Saturday by presenting five racing divisions, with five main events and 250 laps--all on the six to 12 degree banked half-mile. The three plus-hours of racing ...

Irwindale race summary 2003-05-24

Irwindale, CA., May 24 - Irwindale Speedway saluted the Indianapolis 500 and Charlotte 600 Saturday by presenting five racing divisions, with five main events and 250 laps--all on the six to 12 degree banked half-mile. The three plus-hours of racing action attracted 4,672 spectators to the track's annual Memorial Day weekend event.

Feature winners were Rip Michels (75-lap Jani-King Super Late Models), Todd Burns (50-lap Auto Club of Southern California Late Models), Lee Ladd (35-lap Vista Paint Super Stocks), Ryan Arciero (50-lap Ultra Wheels Super Trucks) and Dave Lyons (40-lap West Coast Pro Trucks). Ladd and Michels led all the way from the front row, while Burns, Arciero and Lyons started from the second row in their races. Ladd, Michels and Burns are defending Irwindale track champions in their respective divisions.

Newlywed Burns, 29, married Renee Valk, sister of his car owner James Valk, Friday. He delayed his honeymoon and celebrated the nuptials with his 30th Irwindale career feature victory-all in the Villa Roma Sausage Chevy Monte Carlo. He gave his bride Renee a kiss at the starting line following his fourth consecutive victory in the six races run this season. "We put the race car to bed early on Wednesday because of the wedding deal Friday," Burns told the crowd. They had the car working well enough to set third fastest qualifying time.

Later, SLM point leader Michels, the fourth fastest SLM qualifier, started on the pole after the fastest qualifier spun the wheel to determine the starting inversion and the wheel stopped on four. Michels kept his Ladco, Pick Your Part Chevy Monte Carlo out front of runner-up Nathan Wulff for his second consecutive triumph and third in the Last four features.

It was Michels' 30th Irwindale main event victory and put "the Ripper" back into a tie with Burns for the honorary title "winningest IS main event driver". It was Michels' 13th Late Model feature trophy, to go along with his 17 feature trophies in the Grand American Modified division. Michels broke a tie with 12-time IS Late Model winner Ben Walker for most L/M triumphs at Irwindale. Walker finished third Saturday.

Arciero, 27-year old son of Frank Arciero, Jr and grandson of veteran CART car owner Frank, Sr, charged from third grid position into second place on the initial lap in his Chevy truck. He dueled fast timer/pole starter Dave Blankenship, the last IS winner in the series, all the way. Inside-running Arciero made his move at turn two on lap 48. However, his truck drifted up, bumped the left side of Blankenship's truck and moved the race-long leader up a lane. Blankenship dropped to fourth position that lap and remained fourth to the finish.

"My apologies to Dave for moving him up. I didn't mean to hit him," Arciero told pit announcer Larry Naston and spectators. "My truck was as good on the last lap as it was on the first lap," Arciero added. The feature victory was the second at Irwindale for Arciero, a truck rookie last season and winner of two late season mains at Irwindale and Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield. Arciero's victory Saturday elevated him from third in IS series points to the point lead.

Lyons became the third and final leader of the WCPT main that was shortened from 50 to 40 laps by time constraints. A lap 16 three-truck crash in the fourth turn started when the second-place Ford truck of Chris Johnson blew the engine. Johnson's truck slowed abruptly, causing the third and fourth place trucks of Michael Thomas and Michael Hahn to slam into his truck. Officials sent Thomas and Hahn to the back of the lead lap trucks. Thomas raced back to fourth place, 2.077 seconds behind winner Lyons in the 22-truck field.

Lyons scored his first main event victory of the year and first since a pair of triumphs at Irwindale several years ago. Lyons' Chevy led laps 21 and 37-40. Aaron Staudinger led laps eight-20 and 22-36. Early leader Tony Forfa paced the first seven laps, but a slower truck got into his truck and broke a tire valve stem, causing a flat tire that sent him to the sidelines after 17 laps. Staudinger finished ten yards behind Lyons. Second-year truck racer Mike Pennington was 25 yards in back of the runner-up for his initial podium finish and sponsor plugs on the PA system.

Super Stock point leader Ladd, the 2002 series rookie of the year, had a trying day en-route to his fifth victory in five races this season and sixth in a row dating back to last year. During late afternoon qualifying laps Ladd spun and backed hard into the first turn wall, inflicting heavy damage to his Camaro. His team cut and welded the wrecked car back into racing condition in about 90 minutes. Ladd, the respected 64-year old proprietor of Ladco Racing, started second and led all the way to defeat race-long runner-up Danny Renko by 1.034 seconds. "I had a senior moment," Ladd told the crowd. He added that as a 1950s military veteran and he wanted to honor veterans on Memorial Day weekend and offered to give each veteran a racing T-shirt and shake their hands in thanks for their sacrifices.

We also heard from a couple of the veterans that they compared notes with others on line and found that they were "in country" or on duty at the same time as other Irwindale fans -- Some interesting conversations were heard. Lee Ladd is truly one of Irwindale's hidden treasures)

A season-high 136 racing vehicles competed Saturday. The SLM Division had 22 cars, Late Models had 29, S/S fielded 31, UW Super Trucks 32 and WCPT 22. During time trials title-contender Jess Flores set a new track record of 18.929 (95.092 mph) to eclipse the 18.937 (95.052 mph) mark set by Tim Huddleston on 10/12/02. Michels won the six-lap trophy dash for the six fastest SLM qualifiers. Three drivers received hard charger awards. They were Brian Harrell (12th to fifth in S/S), Brian Harris (15th to third in the UW Super Trucks) and Gary Jenkins (17th to ninth in SLM).

Point leaders: Michels expanded his SLM point lead from 12 to 16 after six of 19 scheduled SLM races. Flores lost four points from his L/M point advantage and now leads Scott Youngren by two (256-254). Burns jumped from fourth to third and now has 252 points. S/S leader Ladd added to his 26-point lead and now is 36 points ahead of second position after five of 13 races. Super Truck leader Arciero now leads former track point leader Blankenship 144-142 after three of 13 races. Thomas leads WCPT drivers and has a four point cushion over Jeff Williams after two of 14 races at IS.

Fast Time: Aaron Staudinger, 20.323.

Main: Dave Lyons, Staudinger, Mike Pennington, Michael Thomas, Jim Satterfield, Steve Dyer, Jeff Williams, Dale Cromwell, Don Helgeson, Craig Baker, Michael Young, Kirk Knostman, Bret Carlson, James Ross, Val Cummings, Richie Altman, Michael Hahn, Barry Kalperis, Jr, Chris Johnson, Tony Forfa III, Charlie Carder, Kirk Baerwaldt.

Fast Time: Dave Blankenship, 19.355.

Main: Ryan Arciero, Jim Kondziela, Brian Harris, Blankenship, Carson Woods, Rich Geisler, Ron Peterson, Dan Moore, Jim McGill, Pat Mintey, Frank Steiner, Greg Adler, Mark Laeger, Louis Mammolito, Tom Stanton, Scott Davidson, Cody Brown, Sonny Shelly, Eric Humphries, Darren Sigwing, Ken Davis, Reggie Church, Ed Ragains, Larry Hinderman, Zeke DeRose, Paul Brennan, Kyle Evans, Ron Norwood, John Sereika, Jim Madrid, Joe Herold, Barry Karr.

Fast Time: Lee Ladd, 21.722.

Main: Ladd, Danny Renko, Chris Houwen, Larry Sampson, Brian Harrell, Greg Benner, Will Cottrell, Steve Gilmore, Jim Appleby, Jr, Niles Stiever, Julianne Seeley, Curtis White, Mike Gilmore, Ken Brown, Greg Crutcher, Paul Howard, Jeff Beard, Dan Rodgers, Jose Martinez, Tim Gardner, Brian Tully, Sean Vincent, Mike Hall, Victor Wu, Roy Moore, Marcelo Canel, Cliff Conklin, Garry Howell, John Arlotti, Derk Rogers, Ed Dazzo.

Fast Time: Jess Flores, 18.929 - NTR (old TR 18.937 by Tim Huddleston on 10/12/02.

Main: Todd Burns, Doug McComb, Tim Huddleston, Scott Youngren, Keith Spangler, Darren Cheek, Robbie Brand, Flores, Dave Hessing, Jeff Saelid, Mike Price, Andrew Myers, Guy Tripp, Andy Bargaehr, Mike Johnson, Todd Conrad, John Ahrendt, Deryk Ward, Guy Goldstein, Jim Conklin, Tim Harris, Tony Green, George Ruark, Ron Schartau, Del Dalrymple, Jameel Saied, John Jones, Jerry Woods II.

Fast Time: Russell White, 18.192.

Dash: Rip Michels, Tony Bruncati, White, Kevin O'Neil, Greg Pursley, Ben Walker.

Main: Michels, Nathan Wulff, Ben Walker, Bruncati, Greg Pursley, Terry Limberopoulos, Dan Moore, Shawn Brink, Gary Jenkins, Michael May, Ed Hoffman, Dean Cato, Stephan Sadler, Tim Buckley, Chris Oddo, Tony Jackson, Andy Coyle, White, Brandon Loverock, Kevin O'Neil-DNS-Alan Crittendon.


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