Sunday, May 31, 2009
Van Nuys High graduate Larry Dixon won the NHRA top fuel portion of the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas on Sunday. Dixon, driving Al-Anabi Racing, laid down a 3.971-second pass in the final against Clay Millican to win his second race of the year and the 45th of his career.
Dixon’s win comes off a weekend at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee when he lost on one of the closest hole shots in his career in top fuel.
“I’ve had worse weekends [than Bristol], but it wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone to say that I’m not where I want to be driving the car, and I think it peaked out last week,” Dixon said Dixon. “Alan [Johnson, team owner] took his crew chief hat off and put his coach hat on and worked on me and getting me right. We went and ran the car at Atlanta on Monday and Tuesday after Bristol and just made a whole bunch of runs. That was just nice, hitting the throttle and getting runs. They learned a lot from that test, and I learned a lot from that test. I was very excited and there wasn’t anything apprehensive about coming to this event. I just wanted to come here and get the gloves on and get in the game.”
Ron Capps, the leader in the funny car standings, won at Topeka, beating Ashley Force Hood in the final.
“It really came around probably from second round on after we beat John Force in the right lane,” said Capps, who extended his points lead to 119 over Del Worsham. “Everybody was saying there was no way you’re going to get down that track. And (crew chief) Ed McCulloch just kept plugging away.”
Worsham, a driver from Chino Hills, had won the previous two funny car events in a row.
Force Hood was the top qualifier and Capps, who drives from Don Schumacher Racing, said he expected her to put up quite a challenge in the final.
"We figured they were going to step up like they were capable of doing,” Capps said. “They were No. 1 qualifier and we figured they were going to run a mid-4.20 and I was going to have to do my job on the starting line. And for Ace to pull out a 4.26 in the final round on a 125-degree track was incredible.”
Force Hood is third in the funny car standings, 126 points behind Capps.
“We’re gonna keep our sights set on that No. 1 spot,” Force Hood said. “I don’t think it’s out of our reach. We just kind of need to stay focused.and keep fighting the fight.”
Jack Beckman, a driver from North Hills, lost Capps, his teammate at Don Schumacher Racing, in the semifinals.
“We had an air line split on the car right at the hit,” said Beckman. “We did everything right for eliminations. And if you look at the numbers up until the time it ran out of air we were hauling butt. It was going to run a 4.25, it was going to turn the win light on, but our car didn’t get there first, so you have to hand it to the NAPA team.”
Photo: Ashley Force Hood lost in the NHRA funny car final to Ron Capps on Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas.
Huddleston is eight points behind Nick Joanides of Woodland Hills, the leader in the Late Model standings at Irwindale. Joanides finished sixth in the race on Saturday night.
In other races, Jeremiah Wagner of Las Vegas won the ASA Speed Truck Challenge race. He was followed by Randel King of Riverside in second and Cole Carbrera of Exeter in third.
Daryl Scoggins of Sunland won his third straight NASCAR Mini Stocks race. He leads the Mini Stocks standings by eight points over Tyler Rogers of Riverside. Rogers won the first two races of the Mini Stocks season at Irwindale.
Donny St. Ours of Upland won the Legends Cars race. It was his first win in the Legends Cars division at the track. Brandon Toy of Bakersfield leads the Legends Cars standings at Irwindale. He finished seventh in the race on Saturday night.
Dalton Kuhn of San Marcos won the South West Tour Truck Series race. He was followed by Jeff Williams of Newbury Park in second and Ronnie Davis Jr. of Whittier in third.
Hornaday, driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado for Kevin Harvick Inc., started from the pole and led the first 12 laps of the race. Kyle Busch passed him for the lead, but Hornaday dropped in right behind in second place for a while. The right front tire on Hornaday’s truck blew out on lap 34 and he had to pull off the track for repairs.
“I don’t know, no vibration no nothing,” Hornaday said. “We were just a little snug, but I mean, not too bad. I knew Kyle was fast so I let him go and just run with that brake. It just popped, I didn’t even lift yet. As soon I lifted, it popped and I went straight.”
Hornaday wasn’t the only driver who experienced tire problems during the race. Busch blew a tire near the end and Colin Braun, who ran as high as second, blew a tire in the closing laps as well.
Brian Scott won the first Camping World Truck Series race of his career. Hornaday, a three-time Truck Series champion, has a 27-point lead over Mike Skinner in the Truck Series standings.
“That was a major hit,” Hornaday said Saturday night after the race. “We had a really good VFW Chevrolet Silverado. I hate this happened so early in the race. We really had a truck that was capable of contending for the win. I had no warning the tire was going to go. Things like this happen in racing, but I’m definitely going to have a major headache tomorrow. I just want to thank this team for working so hard to give me good trucks week in and week out. They really do not get enough credit for how hard they work. We will go to Texas next week and look for a good run there.”
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Del Worsham, a funny car driver from Chino Hills, will be looking to make it three wins in a row at Heartland Park Topeka, site of this weekend's NHRA races. He won the race at Bristol despite blowing an engine in the semifinals.
“I saw both sides of a team come together, the top fuel and the funny car guys, to put this car back together and basically change every part on it for the final round,” said Worsham, who drives for Al-Anabi Racing. “That shows you what kind of team this is; they all work together. Aaron Brooks leading this team, it’s basically his first full season working as a crew chief and he’s really stepped it up. This whole team has, and I just can’t say enough about all of them.”
Worsham has closed the gap on Ron Capps, the leader in the funny car standings. Worsham trails Capps by 57 points after posting back-to-back wins.
Photo: Del Worsham won the funny car portion of the NHRA races at Bristol Dragway. It was his second win in a row. (NHRA)
Top fuel driver Tony Schumacher won his third race of the season and took over the lead in the top fuel standings after the races at Bristol. It was his third career win at Bristol. Schumacher has a 45-point lead over Antron Brown in the top fuel standings. At least up to this point, he’s not running away with the top fuel championship like he did last year.
He too stayed in Bristol to test after winning the top fuel portion of the races there.
“We need to do that,” he said. “A lot of teams are going to be testing over the next few days, so you don’t want to get left behind. We also want to make sure we’re prepared for the upcoming hot weather months. That’s typically the time period when you see some shuffling in the standings.”
Schumacher has won 59 career NHRA events, but has yet to win one at Heartland Park Topeka. He has also never won at Atlanta Dragway.
"Along with Atlanta Dragway, we definitely want to cross that track off the non-win list," he said.
Photo: NHRA top fuel driver Tony Schumacher celebrates after winning at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee. It was the third win of the season for Schumacher and his third career win at Bristol. (NHRA)
Beckman, a funny car driver from North Hills, said the test session went well. His team didn’t find anything to make his car noticeably faster, but the crew and engineers did gather some valuable data.
“We’re coming off a test session in Bristol last week,” said Beckman, who drives for Don Schumacher Racing. “We made five runs on Monday after the last race and it wasn’t a test session where you say, ‘OK, load this car up, we have the best hot rod now.’ It was a test session where we got a lot of data and it showed us some things. It doesn’t mean that we fixed all of our problems. It means we’re headed in the right direction towards getting a consistently quick car.”
Beckman has one win, two final appearances and is fifth in the funny car standings. Teammate Ron Capps leads the funny car standings with 616 points. Beckman is 137 points behind Capps. The top-10 drivers will qualify for the Countdown to One playoffs after the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Sept. 7.
“We’re not far enough into the season that people are assured of having made it into the Countdown or have broken their chances of making it into the Countdown,” Beckman said. “But we are far enough into the season that if you’re going to have a slump it better not last very long if you want to have an opportunity to win the championship at the end of the year.”
“After a win you always have momentum on your side,” said Hornaday, driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado for KHI. “Winning gives you the confidence to go into the next race and know that you can make it to victory lane. I have always felt this team thrives off winning. Our season up until Charlotte had not been bad, we have not finished outside the top-10 yet, so I would say that we kick started our season in Daytona, we are just now showing our strength.”
Hornaday’s team is bringing one of its older trucks to the next race, Friday night at Dover International Speedway in Delaware. The truck has been in only six races, between 2007 and 2008. But it has never finished worse than fifth. The last time Hornaday ran the truck, he finished second at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2008. Hornaday has never finished outside the top 10 in Truck Series races at Dover. He won the Truck Series race at Dover in 2007.
“Dover can be tough on a driver,” Hornaday said. “The two corners seem to be a different from each other. You may have a different approach going into turn one than you do going into turn three. There are two lines you can run at Dover that are both really fast. We have had some good trucks here at KHI, had we not broken a part in the motor last year we probably would have caught Scott Speed there at the end and made it interesting and I think we’ll be good again this year at Dover.”
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Larry Cerquettini, from Redlands, stayed perfect in the Super Stock division, winning the fourth race of the season. Cerquettini did face his toughest competition of the year though, as Rich Delong III of Santa Clarita led a strong portion of the race before coming home second. Garret Cromsigt made his first appearance of the season, edging Eric Sunness and Ken Brown for third. Only two cautions were thrown during the race, both for incidents involving Brad Keegan. Brown holds a slight advantage over Delong for second in points, with Sunness and Scott Corriagan rounding out the top five in the standing.
The Classic stock division got back to familiarity last night. After defending series champion Tommy Agosta ended Ken Michaelian’s quest to go unbeaten two weeks ago, the 43 Richard Petty lookalike qualified on the pole and led the entire race. Michaelian, from Lawndale, also broke the track record in qualifying. Agosta, racing out of Chino, finished second after starting last. Toyota Speedway requires the previous race winner to start last. Mike Colato, Jr. came home third. Colato, of Chatsworth, also started at the back after missing the drivers meeting. The only two cautions came for mechanical issues. First, the 17 car, driven by Mark Garrett, blew a motor. On the restart, the 96 car of Tommy Mason had his exhaust fall off. Jimmy Rouse, Jr. was disqualified after the race after failing tech inspection. Michaelian leads the points, with Colato and Agosta separated by just two points for second and third. Patrick Miller and Ken’s dad Harry Michaelian round out the top five.
Next week is Teacher and Student Appreciation Night. All students and teachers will get in free with a school identification card. On tap are the Auto Club Late Models, Justice Brothers Mini Stocks, Legends, and two traveling truck series; The West Coast Pro Trucks and the ASA Speed Truck Challenge.
Huddleston, the reigning Late Model champion at the track, got off to a bit of a slow start, trails Nick Joanides of Woodland Hills, by 18 points in the Late Model standings.
Joanides, who has won two Late Model races at Irwindale this year, finished third in the race on Saturday night.
Ken Michaelian of Lawndale won the Classic Stocks race. It was his fifth win in six Classic Stock races at the track.
Larry Cerquettini of Redlands won his fourth Super Stocks race in a row at Irwindale.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Cunningham won the pole and led 14 laps, including the last two, of the 40-lap race around the 2.5-mile oval.
“The whole race was to and fro,” Cunnigham said. “I got to the front early and knew I couldn’t lead all 40 laps, so I fell back because I didn’t want to be leading at the end. I knew I had a fast
car, and it was a matter of being at the right place at the right time.”
Sam Schmidt is a Pepperdine University graduate, former IndyCar Series driver and owner of a three-car team in the Indy Lights series.
Daniel Herrington, driving a car for Valencia’s Bryan Herta and his Bryan Herta Autosport team, was seventh. He was one of 11 drivers in the 22-car field to finish on the lead lap.
“It was a very difficult race for us, actually,” Herrington said. “For whatever reason, we started the race off with a lot of understeer, and it never went away. We tried chasing it the whole time, and really we were just out there trying to hang on and wait for other people to screw up, which luckily some of them did. We came home in seventh place, which isn’t too bad, so we’ll get our points and get out of here and try and get ready to win some of these races.”
Camraillo’s Charlie Kimball, driving a car for the Palm Beach International Raceway team, was 13th, completing on 31 laps after making contact with Mike Potekhen during the race.
“I just went into Turn 3, on the low side of Potekhen, I think it was, and running through the spotter was calling high, high, and I was down on the white line holding it as low as I could and just kept chopping, chopping lower and lower and lower and then finally hit my right front,” Kimball said. “He spun across to the inside, and I just barely kept it off the wall. The right front toe-link was bent. So it’s day done. It was kind of crazy driving with like eight to go or something. It was dumb for him to come down that hard. I was as low as I could get on the white line or below it and he just kept coming on me. Too aggressive, I think.”
Don Johnson raced a No. 15 1957 Chevy convertible to four straight championships from 1969-72 at Saugus Speedway. His son ran the No. 15 at Saugus and Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. His grandson, who races in the NASCAR Super Trucks division at Irwindale. got to run the family 15 for the first time two weeks ago. He won in his debut with the 15, his first win of the season.
FInd out how the Johnsons were able to get the No. 15 back in the family fold in The Signal.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Cunningham was the 19th driver to qualify in the 22-car field. Sebastian Saavedra was the pole sitter at 47.25 seconds at the time Cunningham started his qualifying run.
That’s a good time running by yourself,” Cunningham said. “We were only running marginally quicker than that this morning at 9 with the cool ambient temperatures and a cold track. So I dug deep, and the car was great. I can’t complain. The changes that were made from second practice to qualifying obviously worked. We didn’t do the quickest lap time, but we were more consistent on the second lap.”
Schmidt has three cars in the Indy Lights race. Ana Beatriz qualified fourth and James Hinchcliffe will start 12th.
Charlie Kimball, a driver from Camarillo and driver of the No. 35 entry for Palm Beach International Raceway, qualified seventh.
“We had a starter break at the qualifying line, so we had to push start it,” Kimball said. “The engine wouldn’t turn over. It was a bit tense and very frantic there for a few seconds, but we
got it fired, luckily. It wasn’t an ideal run (because) we didn’t quite get the engine as warm as we wanted before we went out. We didn’t get the setup quite right. With everyone running in practice, there was a little more rubber down than we anticipated. The wind was blowing across the car instead of at our back.
“We’re pretty happy. We have a good race car under us. We’re in good shape. We’re where we need to be to have a good result. From the front four rows, we can make anything happen. The competitive level of this series this year is higher than it’s been in a long, long time. And that lends itself to really tight races and good competition.”
Daniel Herrington, driving for Valencia’s Bryan Herta and his Bryan Herta Autosport team, qualified ninth.
“Yeah, it wasn’t bad,” said Herrington, driver of the No. 28 entrty. “We made a few more changes here before qualifying to get a little more speed out of it. So far, pretty good, but this is the worst part. You just have to sit here and wait and see if your time can hold up. But we made a few changes in the car, and that helped pick up a little bit of speed. It seemed like it did pretty well for us. Now the most important thing is to get a good race car.”
Kevin Harvick Inc. has a new driver, J.R. Fitzpatrick from Canada. He will be driving for Harvick's NASCAR Camping World Truck and Nationwide series teams in select races. Fitzpatrick is set for eight Truck and two Nationwide races. His first start for Harvick will be in the Truck Series at Dover International Speedway on May 29.
“This is a great opportunity for me and I firmly believe that I am joining the best team in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series,” said Fitzpatrick. “I was fortunate enough to meet Kevin Harvick last year at Phoenix and he really helped me out a lot. Since then, I have gone to him on and off the track for advice and he has been great to learn from. Ron (Hornaday) has also helped me before and now that I will be a teammate of his, it gives me more confidence going to tracks that will be new to me. I believe racing is all about confidence and I have that knowing that I am going to be in great equipment driving for Kevin Harvick Inc.”
Fitzpatrick's first Nationwide race will be at Watkins Glen International Raceway in New York on Aug. 8.
Harvick has two trucks, with drivers Hornaday and Ricky Carmichael, in the Trucks Series, and a one-car team in the Nationwide Series.
“We’re glad to have J.R. Fitzpatrick join KHI for the remainder of the 2009 season,” said KHI co-owner Kevin Harvick. “J.R. and I both got our starts in go-karts and he has taken a path similar to mine, moving up through the stock car ranks, during his career. I feel like our equipment speaks for itself and it will be exciting to watch him attempt to take that next step in his racing career.”
Photo: Kevin Harvick and his wife, DeLana, welcome R.J. Fitzpatrick from Canada to their NASCAR team. Fitzpatrick, a driver from Cambridge, Ontario, will race for Kevin Harvick Inc. in the Camping World Truck and Nationwide series. (KHI)
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The NASCAR Camping World Series race at Iowa Speedway on Sunday proved costly for Eric Holmes, a driver from Escalon and the leader in the West Series standings.
He was involved in a crash early in the race and wound up with a 36th place finish. He was last among the West Series drivers in the race.
The Iowa Speedway race pitted drivers and teams from the Camping World Series West and East. There were 37 cars in the race.
Despite his 36th place finish, Holmes maintained his lead in the West Series standings. However, his lead was trimmed significantly after the Iowa race.
Holmes has a 16-point leader over Jason Bowles, a driver from Ontario who was ninth overall and fourth among West Series drivers in the Iowa Speedway race. David Mayhew, a driver from Atascadero who finished third at Iowa Speedway and first among the West Series drivers, moves up to third place in the West Series standings.
Mike David of Modesto is fourth in the West Series standings, followed by Greg Pursley, a Canyon High graduate, in fifth.
Photo: Kyle Busch (18) leads David Mayhew (17) past Johnny Borneman (8) at Iowa Speedway. (Photo Credit: David Purdy/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Kyle Busch won the NASCAR Camping World Series East-West race at Iowa Speedway on Sunday night. The race at Iowa Speedway included drivers from the Camping World Series West and East Series.
David Mayhew of Atascadera won the West portion of the race. Busch, a driver from Las Vegas who races for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, was in the Sprint All-Star race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in North Carolina on Saturday night. Busch was seventh in the all-star race.
Jason Bowles of Ontario was fourth in the West Series portion of the race at Iowa Speedway. Greg Pursley, a Canyon High School graduate, was 12th in the West Series portion of the race.
Photo: Kyle Busch celebrated the Long John Silver's 200 win in Victory Lane Sunday at Iowa Speedway. (Photo Credit: David Purdy/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tony Schumacher won the NHRA top fuel portion of the drag races at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee on Sunday. The reigning top fuel champion won for the third time in his career at Bristol and recorded his third win of the season.
Del Worsham won for the second time in a row in the funny car division. He beat Tony Pedregon in the final at Bristol.
Jack Beckman, a funny car driver from North Hills, beat John Force in the first round at Bristol, but lost in the second round to Tim Wilkerson.
“We just didn’t get the job done," said Beckman, who drives for Don Schumacher Racing. “Wilkerson outran us that round. I think we had a great recovery from smoking the tires first round to put that competitive lap up there, but it wasn’t enough.”
Ashley Force Hood made it to the semifinals at Bristol and lost to Pedregon by 0.012 seconds.
“That shows how far our category has come,” said Force Hood. “Our class is almost like Pro Stock with how close the racing is. They are showing these races at the finish line where my team is driving down track along side of us and they can’t tell who won. I can’t tell who has won when I am in the car. That is a good thing. I am glad that I am in those races, the close races. That means our team is up to par with everyone else is doing. If we can keep that up we’ll have a really good chance at the end of the year.”
Stanton Barrett, a stuntman in movies and television, NASCAR driver and IndyCar Series driver, failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.
He was one of a handful of drivers trying make the 33-car field on Bump Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He was one of three drivers who did not qualify for Sunday’s Indy 500.
"I don’t know. We just gave it our all,” said Barrett. “Team 3G worked really hard, and all these guys just put a huge effort forth. It’s just a real bummer it didn’t work out. I don't know. They called it off because we didn't have the speed the first lap, and I just think taking time to learn without a teammate and taking time to learn what a difference this year and last year. We definitely made a change with the car speed-wise, aero-wise. I think it’s right in there. Too much scrub in the corners really killed our lap times, and unfortunately tough to go back and study what I can do better and what we can do as a team better. It’s a real disappointment.”
Former Indy 500 winner Buddy Lazier and Alex Tagliani were the other two drivers who did not qualify for the Indy 500.
With Barrett not qualifying for the Indy 500, it could hurt his team financially.
“We need to make this race for sponsors that we had in line,” Barrett said. “It’s just one of those things. A lot of other guys didn’t make it too. There were (two) others. It’s not an easy deal.”
Saturday, May 16, 2009
It was a bad night to have the fastest car at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale.
Rip Michels, who started on the pole for the NASCAR Super Late Model race, led 46 laps, but dropped to the back of the field on the last restart. R.J. Johnson set the fastest time in qualifying for the NASCAR Super Trucks race, but fell from first to last about midway through the race because of a mechanical failure.
Scott Dodd of Mira Loma won Saturday night’s Super Late Model race, leading the last four laps of the 50-lap race. Nick Joanides of Woodland Hills was second, followed by Danny Gay of Lakeside.
It was the second win of the season for Dodd. Joanides, the leader in the Super Late Model standings, recorded his third runner-up finish of the season. He has four wins and three second-place finishes in seven Super Late Model races. Michels ended up in 13th place.
Bear Rzesnowiecky of Las Vegas and Travis Thirkettle of Newhall wrecked on lap 34. Rzesnowiecky was in a four-car battle for second place when he spun out in Turn 3. He came down and hit Thirkettle’s car head-on. Thirkettle’s car spun into the grass in turns 3 and 4. Rzesnowiecky’s car ended up on the track between turns 3 and 4. Neither driver was injured in the wreck. But neither car was able to return to the race.
Jeff Peterson of Riverside won his first race of the season in the NASCAR Super Trucks. He was the fourth different winner in five Super Trucks races at the track this year. Grant Hebner of Fallbrook was second, followed by Ron Peterson, Jeff Peterson’s father, in third.
Pat Mintey Jr. of Quartz Hill, the leader in the Super Trucks standings, was fifth. Johnson, a driver from Canyon Country, was the race leader for the first part of the race, but fell out of contention on a restart after a caution on lap 26. He finished in 13th place in the 14-truck field.
Mintey has two wins in the Super Trucks division. Mason Britton, Jeff Peterson and Johnson each have one win.
Darren Amidon of Santee won his second race in a row in the Legends division. He missed the first two races of the Legends Car season at the track. Ryan Reed of Bakersfield was second, followed by Brent Scheidemantle of Alta Loma was third.
Brandon Toy of Bakersfield, the leader in the Legends Car standings at the track, was fifth.
Mark Iungerich of Grande Hills flipped his car on the second lap of the Legends race. He crashed into the Turn 3 wall on the third-mile oval. He walked away from the crash after emergency crews cut him out of his wrecked race car.
Ryan Cansdale of Menifee won his third race in a row in the Bandoleros. Christian McGee from LaVerne was second and Mikael Lovas of Murrieta was third.
R.J. Johnson changed the number on his truck, from 88 to 15, and won his first race of the season at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale two weeks ago. The No. 15 has been in the family since Johnson's grandfather, Don Johnson, was racing at Saugus Speedway in the 1960s.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Ron Hornaday Jr. won his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series of the season and took over the lead in the Truck Series standings Friday night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in North Carolina.
It was the 40th Truck Series win for Hornaday. The three-time Truck Series champion is the leader in career Truck Series wins.
He has an 84-point lead over Mike Skinner after six races in the Truck Series season. Skinner, driving the No. 5 Toyota Tundra, was involved in a scary wreck at Lowe’s. After the race, Hornaday said he was more worried about Skinner than his lead in the Truck Series standings.
“I don’t like doing the points that way,” said Hornaday, driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado for Kevin Harvick Inc. “I was more concerned about Skinner’s safety. I heard he got upside down. Rick Carelli my spotter told me he got out and my wife ran down to the infield care center to make sure he was alright. I hate Mike Skinner on the race track but I love him as a brother outside of it. You don’t want to see anybody get hurt.”
Hornaday rallied from being a lap down and passed Matt Crafton for the lead in the waning laps of the race. Hornaday had to fend off a charging Kyle Busch to win the race. But his thoughts were with Skinner afterward.
“Going this fast at Lowe’s and having him, I didn’t actually see the wreck but I heard he got upside down and I seen him getting loose underneath the No. 13 (Johnny Sauter) and I got by it pretty clean,” said Hornaday, a former Saugus Speedway cbamp from Palmdale. “You hate to see that like that. Mike is going to be a tough competitor. He’s going to come back from this one.”
David Gilliland, a driver from Riverside, was sixth in the Truck Series race. He will be in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Open All-Star race Saturday night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Running in the Truck Series race gave him a little insight for the all-star race.
“I learned that the top groove comes in and is a good passing area,” Gilliland said. “I think we will see a lot of that tomorrow night. You have to go somewhere to pass. Lowe’s is very aero sensitive so you can run high to make up places. We should be able to run the middle to the top tomorrow where we ran the truck tonight.”
Photo: Mike Skinner slides on the side of his truck after an accident with T.J. Bell. Skinner, who led the first 27 laps of the race, walked away from the accident uninjured. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
“We need to hurt some feelings,” said Force, a 126-time tour winner, “and I don’t mean our own. It’s a long season, but we need to start showing that we can still compete.
“What did Waylon say in that song?,” Force asked, an obvious reference to the late country-and-western singer, Waylon Jennings.
“We may be used, but we ain’t used up. Yeah, that’s it. We ain't used up. We've still got something for ’em.”
Ashley Force Hood, the highest-ranking driver for John Force Racing in the NHRA funny car standings, tied fo fourth place, has raced at Bristol twice in her pro career. She lost to Melanie Troxel in the second round at Bristol last year. Troxel went on to win the Bristol event.
She is coming off a first-round loss at Gateway International Raceway in Illinois two weeks ago.
“It always seems like when you have a bad race, you’re off the next weekend,” she said. “It’s better to go right back to work and not dwell on it.”
Force Hood lost to Tony Pedregon at Gateway and is looking for her second win of the season. She won the funny car portion of the NHRA races at Houston Raceway Park.
“It was just one of those weekends,” Ashley said of her loss to Pedregon in the
O'Reilly Midwest Nationals. “Every run I felt like I was making mistakes (even though) the car went down the track every time.
“Whatever happened, we’ve just got to forget about it. I think we can get right back where we need to be. I’ve learned that you’re going to have some rough weekends.
Hopefully, we got ours out of the way.”
Jack Beckman says even though he’s 135 points behind teammate Ron Capps for the lead in the NHRA funny car standings, he’s well ahead of where he was a year ago.
Beckman, a driver from North Hills and a driver for Don Shcumacher Racing, was in 11th at this time a year ago, sitting outside the top 10 and a spot in the Countdown to One playoffs.
“We’re actually just past the quarter-way point of this season and we’re sitting in fourth place,” said Beckman who won at Atlanta Dragway in April. “We're ahead of where we were at this time last year.”
Not that it’s an explanation to Beckman’s impressive start to the season, but he said the change from a quarter-mile to 1000 feet in racing distance might be affecting the cars. Perhaps his team has been able to adapt to the new distance better than most of the other teams in the funny car division.
“Something else that I think is interesting,” added Beckman, “is that until we get to Denver I believe this is the first time we're racing at all these tracks this year to 1000 feet. It doesn’t make a whole lot of difference other than the fact that the crew chiefs have found a way to shorten the fuse up a little bit on the cars. Instead of eating themselves up at 1250 feet, some of them are eating themselves up at 950 feet.
“We have not stepped on our car in that way and we’re not going to do that until we’ve used up a couple of our four allotted test sessions and figure out what can make the car faster in the earlier part of the run. And, in fact, we’re kind of taking a step backwards. We have been testing some things during qualifying runs. We’re going to go back more to the combo that we ran in the 1000-foot era last year, with which we arguably have been the most successful funny car to 1000 feet, and make sure that this 2009 chassis responds to that. Once we’re satisfied, we’re going to build on it with a lot of test sessions.”
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Tim Huddleston, a driver from Agoura Hills, won the NASCAR Late Model race at Toyota Speedway on Saturday night. It was his first win of the season. The reigning Late Model champion at the track has gone winless in four straight races.
Nick Joanides of Woodland Hills, the leader in the Late Model standings at Irwindale, was third. He has two wins in the Late Models. Joanides is also the leader in the Super Late Model standings at the track. He has four wins in six races.
Mike Johnson, a driver from Long Beach, was second in the Late Model race.
There were 21 cars in the Late Model race, down from 28 cars two weeks ago and down from 32 cars on opening night.
Among the drivers not entered in the race was Andrew Myers from Carlsbad. He won a NASCAR Late Model race on April 11 at Irwindale. But track officials parked him two weeks ago for rough driving.
Tommy Agosta of Chino snapped the four-race winning streak of Ken Michaelian in the NASCAR Classic Stocks. Michaelian won the first four Classic Stocks races at the track this year, plus a Classic Stocks figure eights race.
Daryl Scoggins of Sunland won his second straight race in the NASCAR Mini Stocks division. He finished ahead of Tyler Rogers, a driver from Riverside, and Kevin Bernhardt of Fontana.
Dennis Tarlton won the DriveTech Late Models race.
Logan Henson, a driver from Valencia, has been involved in some costly wrecks in the past couple of NASCAR Late Model races at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. He lost the hood to his car in his last Late Model race at the track two weeks ago. His most recent race, Saturday night, didn't end any better. He completed only 15 laps and did not finish the race. He was 21st and last.
Tim Huddleston, a driver from Agoura Hills and the reigning NASCAR Late Model champion at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, won his first race of the season on Saturday night. He led all 50 laps after setting the fastest time in qualifying. Huddleston's win comes on the heels of one of his worst races in his career at the track. He crashed with Andrew Myers during the second race of a twin race night at the track two weeks ago. All five of his High Point Racing cars were involved in wrecks that night. It was a different story Saturday night as all five of his cars finished without incident. Four were in the top 10.
Rich DeLong has been building race cars since Toyota Speedway at Irwindale opened 10 years ago. He was racing cars and building cars when Saugus Speedway was open more than 25 years ago.
The Santa Clarita race car builder has been a big part of developing and nurturing drivers at Irwindale since the beginning.
But one of the divisions he worked so hard to build up is running on empty. The NASCAR Super Stocks might be taking their final spins around the race track. DeLong is left to wonder why the track operators are pushing his cars and drivers out.
He maintains three cars in the Super Stocks division. He had four last year. Only eight have shown up for races in recent weeks. DeLong’s son, Rich, drives one. He lost a driver a couple weeks ago and is considering putting his teenage daughter Nicole in one of his three cars. His third car is driven by a Mark Anderson, a 16-year-old from Lancaster in his first year racing in the Super Stocks division.
The Super Stocks used to be a great testing ground for potential drivers looking to move up to the Late Model and Super Late Model divisions at the track. Some had dreams of becoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers. Few, if any, ever make it that far. But some do, not necessarily at Irwindale, but in similar divisions at tiny race tracks all across the country.
It is an affordable, introductory class of race cars for drivers, teams and car builders to test their skills and commitment to a sport that demands focus and precision. A driver could potentially buy a car to race in the Super Stocks division for around $15,000. The popular car of choice was the Chevrolet Camaro, but other makes and models fit the specifications for the division.
Before the season started at Irwindale, track operators made a change in the rules for the Super Stocks division. They recommended that drivers and team owners change the body on their cars. According to DeLong, it amounted to a nearly $5,000 upgrade. For his team with three cars, it meant a $15,000 investment.
“We had heard rumors that they were going to switch to this new body on the Super Stocks this year, which we thought was kind of crazy,” DeLong said. “We knew that the cars were going to have to switch to the bodies if they wanted to be competitive.”
DeLong said he changed the body on only one of his cars, the one driven by his son Rich.
“By the time we were done, it cost us 4,800 bucks to put the body on the car,” DeLong said. “They don’t understand that $2,000 is a lot of money to a Super Stock driver. Not to mention whatever they do to the division, to us it’s times three.”
For a division that is supposed to be an affordable alternative, it was a tremendous cost to put on some of the teams. Two drivers who showed up on opening night race in the Super Stocks division decided not to return. The car count went from 10 to eight in that span.
If DeLong decided to stop racing in the Super Stocks, the car count for a race would be five, hardly enough for a decent race.
It wasn’t that long ago when 40 cars and drivers would show up for Super Stock races. It was a draw and developed a strong following.
That number dropped to 11 for the final Super Stocks race at Irwindale last year. It is down to eight, although DeLong said he anticipates two more drivers to bring their cars to the next Super Stocks race at the track on May 23.
There are a couple factors that contributed to the decline in Super Stocks car count. A dwindling economy is one of them. Finding sponsorship dollars is as challenging as it’s ever been. Additionally, drivers and teams do not have the money to maintain cars like they have in the past.
But what might be contributing to the demise of the Super Stocks division more than anything else is the introduction of the new S2 Sportsman stock car at Irwindale.
The track unveiled the new race car a couple weeks after the season opened in March. The new division will begin racing in July.
The new car is comparable to the Super Stocks in cost and performance. The difference, at least according to DeLong, is that the new S2 looks like the NASCAR Car of Tomorrow, the new stock car used at the Sprint Cup Series level.
From DeLong’s perspective, the track operators wanted to add a modern-looking race car to the line-up. The timing of the introduction of the new S2 car could not have been worse. Even though the cost of the new S2 cars is more affordable than some of the cars in other divisions at Irwindale, it is still more than the cost of a Super Stock car.
“The part that they haven’t figured out yet is not only are they going to kill the Super Stock,” DeLong said, “but who’s going to go spend $50,000, $60,000 for a Late Model when they can go buy this Sportsman S2 car for $25,000?”
DeLong is at a crossroads. He has a collection of race cars he can’t race anywhere else and probably won’t be able to race at Irwindale anymore. He doesn’t know if he will invest in the new S2 car. If he does, it will most likely be on a smaller scale than his Super Stock team.
“I don’t know. We are kind of in a place where we don’t know where we can go,” DeLong said. “If they kill the division or it goes away when they start with this new car in July, I don’t know what we do. We’ve invested the money in the bodies. We could probably put together one for $15,000. Most of the parts we could take off of the car and put on the new car. I don’t know. I’m so upset at the deal, the whole way it came about.”
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Danny Gay, a driver from Lakeside, won his first NASCAR Super Late Model race at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. A stock car racing veteran, Gay has won a number of races at tracks throughout the Southwest, including the old Cajon Speedway and the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He was wrecked by Luis Martinez in the second Super Late Model race of the night and ended up 18th.
RJ Johnson, a driver from Canyon Country, won his first race of the year in the NASCAR Super Trucks division. He was also the fastest driver in qualifying. Before the race, he talked about his qualifying run and looking for his win in the Super Trucks.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Rip Michels of San Fernado was second, followed by Dan Moore of Burbank in third.
In the first NASCAR Super Late Model race, Danny Gay of Lakeside won his first race at the track. He finished ahead of Joanides and Luis Martinez of Long Beach. Gay was 18th in the second Super Late Model race. Starting from the pole, he was caught up in a first-lap crash when Martinez hit him from behind. The crash knocked Gay out of the race. He said the damage to his car was mostly cosmetic. His front end, hood and fenders took the brunt of the damage. Gay said his radiator needs to be replaced, but other than that, his engine did not look like it was badly damaged.
Patrick Long, who was born in Thousand Oaks and is a sports car driver who has won two 24 Hours of Le Mans races in the GT2 class and a 24 Hours of Daytona race, was in the Super Late Model races. He was 11th in the first race and fourth in the second race.
R.J. Johnson of Canyon Country won his first NASCAR Super Trucks race of the season at the track. He finished ahead of Pat Mintey Jr. of Quartz Hill, the leader in the Super Trucks standings, and Grant Hebner of Fallbrook.
Darren Amidon of Santee won the Legends Car, his first of the season. Ryan Reed of Bakersfield was second, followed by Gary Scheuerell. Chad Schug of Oak Hills, the leader in the Legend Cars standings, was 17th.
Ryan Cansdale won the Bandoleros race. Aaron Anderson was second and Blake Dunkleberger was third.
Steve Stewart of Long Beach won the Outlaw Figure 8s race. Billy Ziemann of Bloomington was second, followed by Tony Curtis of Hawthorne.