Irwindale Speedway - 2002 season summary
Irwindale, CA. - Irwindale Speedway, in its fourth year of racing, crowned champions in a track record ten categories, up from eight champions last year. Two touring truck series-Ultra Wheels Super Trucks and West Coast Pro Trucks-raced for track ...
Irwindale, CA. - Irwindale Speedway, in its fourth year of racing, crowned champions in a track record ten categories, up from eight champions last year. Two touring truck series-Ultra Wheels Super Trucks and West Coast Pro Trucks-raced for track titles for the first time. All track champions received their trophies and point fund checks at the annual championship awards banquet November 23.
Rip Michels, a second year NASCAR Super Late Model driver and 2000 track champion in Grand American Modifieds, won his first Jani-King SLM title by 86 points after 19 races. He also took the SLM ten race Miller Lite Big Ten Challenge Series by 32 points for a $5,000 bonus. His victory in a 200-lap open competition race October 26 was his record ninth victory of the year and his track record 27th feature triumph including all divisions. Other main event winners were Tony Green, Ben Walker, Tony Bruncati, Tim Woods III, Brandon Loverock and Kevin Vernon.
Todd Burns, who has won NASCAR Late Model features every year of the track's existence, earned his first Auto Club of Southern California Late Model crown by 24 points. He won five of the 18 features, giving him 26 career victories at Irwindale. Other main event winners were Johnny Lathrop, Tim Huddleston, Scott Youngren, Kevin Wood, Doug McComb and Jess Flores. Darren Cheek captured five main events and his first NASCAR Vista Paint Super Stock championship by 50 points in a 14-race series. Other S/S Division winners were Will Cottrell, Dan Fitzgerald, Andrew Phipps, Shawn Garrett and Lee Ladd. John Watkinson III became a first time NASCAR Grand American Modified champion by a mere two points despite not winning any of the 12 main events. Dean Kuhn, Roger Carufel, Jr, Travis Thirkettle and Rod Johnson won GAM features.
Terry Limberopoulos drove his 1970s Renault to victory in six of the 12 races and captured his first Modified 4s sedan title by 34 points. Greg Tucker and Guy Tripp won the other features. Teenage Ricky Wildman won five times and entered the 12th and final King Taco Legend Cars event in a close contest with the defending champion before winning the series title by 40 points. James Kalawaia, Tom Landreth, Brent Jones and Art Nevill won the other Legend mains.
James Altman captured the Figure 8s championship by eight points. Appropriately, the series ran eight races. There were three race winners and the new champion wasn't one of them. Chris Williamson, Tom Smith and "Barefoot" Billy Ziemann won the mains. Consistent Altman finished second three times.
Carson Woods won Irwindale's first Ultra Wheel Super Truck championship, also without benefit of a main event victory. He garnered enough points in the ninth and final race to win the title by two points. There were eight different winners in ten races, including a 100-lap open competition "National" race on October 26. Winners were Mike Brusco, Greg Adler, Ron Peterson, Dave Blankenship, Jim McGill, Rich Geisler, rookie Ryan Arciero and Joe Herold.
Michael May, 19, took Irwindale's inaugural West Coast Pro Trucks championship by 74 points after winning six of the 14 events. The national series was known as the American Race Truck Series until mid-season when ART discontinued operations. WCPT became one of three new regional sanctioning bodies for the former ART teams. Other Irwindale winners in the series were Aaron Staudinger, Terry Young, Jeff Williams, Dean Kuhn and Michael Thomas. Drivers established five new one-lap track records in time trials during the year.
Other touring circuits that raced at IS during 2002 included:
NASCAR Winston West and Southwest Series, ASA stocks, USAC National/Western States Midgets, W/S 360 Sprint Cars and Ford Focus Midgets, Jim Russell Pro Series, MSRA Pro 4 Modifieds and Mechanix Wear Speed Trucks.
FMS: Jan Leaty, Branich Motorsports ready for 2003
2002 Award Ceremony notes