Friday, April 17, 2009

Toyota Speedway At Irwindale Weekend Preview

Week five gets under way tomorrow night at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, and there is a full slate of competitive racing. The tracks featured series returns, as the ACDelco Super Late Models ditch the twin 25s from two weeks ago in favor of a 50 lap event. Defending series champion Nick Joanides of Woodland Hills looks to continue his dominance of the series. Joanides has two victories this season, with a second place sandwiched between them. He currently holds an 18 point lead over Irwindale legend Rip Michels of San Fernando. “The Ripper” is still searching for his first victory of the season. Dan Moore, Travis Thirkettle, and Matt Hicks round out the top five in points right now. Look out for up and comer Bear Rzesnowiecky of Las Vegas. After mechanical issues kept him from running a lap opening night, Bear secured two top fives in the twins on April 4. This may be the week for the youngster to break through.

A developing story to watch this weekend will be the addition of 40 pounds back to the Chevrolets. The Chevys has been running with a weight break to make up for the horsepower advantage the Fords have, but this week Toyota Speedway officials have evened the cars weight, which could give an advantage to Michels and Moore, both Ford drivers. Also, watch for Luis Martinez Jr. “Hot Sauce” had a brilliant showing on opening night, vying for a win and taking home second, but he was disqualified from both races two weeks ago for an illegal restrictor plate. It will be interesting to see how his team will respond.

The series responsible for one of the best races of the year returns tomorrow as well. The King Taco Super Trucks will take to the track for a 40 lap event. Two time defending series champion Pat Mintey Jr. of Quartz Hill leads the points after two races, with a win and a third place finish to his credit. But it’s the youngsters who are making a move in this class. Mason Britton of Sacramento took home the victory in a thrilling finish on April 4. That race saw Britton and RJ Johnson of Canyon Country battle side-by-side for the final 14 laps, with Britton edging Johnson by two tenths of a second. Johnson, who won the final two events of 2008 as well as Rookie of the Year in the division, had ignition problems on opening night, but rebounded nicely and is primed for his first win of the season. The father-son combo of Ron and Jeff Peterson both currently sit in the top five in points, and could also provide a feel good story for the weekend. Ron, the 2006 Super Truck champion, is looking for his first win since his return to the cockpit, while his son Jeff, the runner-up in the rookie standings last year, is still looking for his first victory at Toyota Speedway.

The ever-popular Legends series returns to Toyota Speedway for a scheduled 35 laps. In the closest race of the year so far, Chad Schug used his bumper to get around Donny St. Ours in turn 4 on the final lap. Schug, from Oak Hills, beat the Greg Biffle Development Driver by nine-hundredths of a second. St. Ours, from Upland, used a similar move earlier in the race to get around Brandon Toy. Toy, a Bakersfield native, finished third in the season opener, followed by Josh Geer and Kenny Maler Jr. in the top five. Maler made his first appearance in the top five, and could be one to watch this weekend. Ryan Reed and Tom Landreth made contact in the closing laps, sending them to 17th and 16th place finishes respectively. Landreth has won six of the eight championships in the series, including last year's, while Reed finished second in points last year, and recently signed on as a development driver for High Point Racing, where he will compete in the new S2 division later this year.

The tracks resident kids’ series returns as well, with the D and D Construction Bandoleros taking to the third-mile for 15 laps. Ryan Cansalle was awarded a victory after Al Simpson’s carburetor was found illegal in post race tech after the first race of the season. Also returning for the first time since opening night is the Pick Your Part Outlaw Figure 8s. Rod Proctor cruised to a victory in the first race of the season, beating Steve Stewart and Bare Foot Billy Ziemann.

Toyota Speedway is offering Buy 1, Get 1 Free tickets on their website for tomorrow, with racing scheduled to begin around 7pm.

On a side note, Helio Castroneves and his sister were acquitted of tax evasion charges earlier today. The jury was hung on a charge of conspiracy, but the six tax evasion charges were all cleared. I personally hope to see him back in an Indy Car sooner than later. Also, a big congratulations to NASCAR Camping World West Series driver Jason Bowles. Bowles piloted his Sunrise Ford sponsored entry to a victory last night in the Jimmie Johnson Foundation 150 at Phoenix International Raceway, passing former Sprint Cup driver Steve Park in the closing laps. Series point’s leader Eric Holmes came home second in that event.

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