Irwindale, Ca. - Aug. 13, 2011 – Two Lucas Oil-sponsored racing series visited Toyota Speedway at Irwindale Saturday and ran 75-lap co-featured main events in front of more than 2,500 fans. The five division Super Saturday Night program ran all events on the half-mile. Austin Barnes, a 16-year old high school junior from Escondido, set a new one-lap track record during time trials and led all 75 laps after starting third in a strong 24-car field. It was the largest car count for modifieds at TS@I in about ten years. Barnes won the second feature of his three year modified career after winning his first this year on June 4 at Irwindale. Rod Johnson, Jr, a 21-year old second generation driver, also started third in the 14-car Lucas Oil Super Mist Super Late Model field. He led all but the first four laps. The two series ran the third and fourth features in the five division program.
The first two main events produced green-white-checkered flag finishes. Last lap passes in both events thrilled fans. The first race at 7:00 pm had Andrew Anderson, 18, leading lap 1 and the final two laps of a 30-lap, 10-car S2 main. A spin on the white flag lap and double file restart enabled Anderson to re-pass fastest qualifier and laps 2-28 leader Devon Ostheimer. The second feature pit 17 King Taco Super Truck Series drivers for 40 laps and used a straight-up lineup based on qualifying times. Fastest qualifier Connor Cantrell, 20, led the first 38 laps and held half a straightaway lead over six-time 2011 KTST winner Ryan Partridge when a two-truck crash on the backstretch occurred on the white flag lap. Cantrell took the outside for the lap 39 restart. Partridge made an inside pass in the first two corners and led lap 39. Cantrell stayed outside on the final lap and edged past the new leader entering turn 4 and beat the ten-time 2010 feature winner/KTST champion by a mere 0.042. It was Cantrell's first victory since 2008 when he won six KTST features. Series point leader Cantrell has been consistent all season with three each seconds, thirds and fourths in the first nine races. He extended his point lead from six to eight points over Partridge (464-456) as he seeks his first KTST championship.
The fifth and final main was round seven of the season for the Southwest Tour Trucks. Jeff Williams, from Newbury Park, dominated the division as usual by setting his seventh FQ time. His quick time was only 0.039 off the 2004 track record set by Dean Kuhn in 2004. He then started his Ford F-150 sixth in a 12-truck field and led all but the first circuit of a 30-lap race that concluded at 9:47 pm.
MODIFIEDS: The Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by Rockstar Energy Drink and Dart Machinery LTD North-South Shootout completed the inaugural two race series for talented modified teams from So Cal., Arizona and Nevada. Their eligible northern rivals came from Nor Cal, Idaho and Washington. The 24 drivers present came from California (12), Nevada (8) and Arizona (4). Rich Lindgren, from Rio Linda, CA., won round one July 16 at Madera Speedway near Fresno. He and three other drivers made their first visits to TS@I to chase points and some of the combined $10,000 purse--$1,500 was earmarked for the race winner. All main event drivers received at least $300 in the innovative two-race modified series. The highest point driver in the two-race series earned a set of small block heads for Chevy or Ford engines from Dart Machinery. Additionally, the point champion received a set of PRO-1 or Iron Eagle heads, steel or aluminum, valued at approximately $1,000. Unofficially, Barnes won the two race championship. Lucas Oil provided tow money of $200 to the top ten in series point standings and $150 to positions 11-20. Modified teams from the north received $150 in tow money to assist them in coming south to race in Irwindale.
An impressive field of 24 arrived at TS@I and most teams participated in the regular Friday night 5-9 pm open practice session. On Saturday afternoon drivers had two practice sessions. Jim Mardis was fastest of 20 modifieds in the 1:45 pm round. Barnes was quickest of 21 at 2:50 pm. During post-4 pm qualifying by 23 modified drivers, Barnes broke his own 19.000 (94.737 mph) one-lap track record, set on 6/4/11, with the only sub-19 second lap. His 18.926 (95.107 mph) is the new mark. He got a “3” for the inversion and shot past front row drivers (Doug Hamm from LasVegas and Lucas Oil 2011 point leader Mardis, from Moreno Valley) on the opening lap on the inside in the first two turns. The powerful modifieds, on 8” tires, reeled off 53 green flag laps with much passing throughout the field. At lap 50 Barnes led by half a lap. The only caution came after sixth place Chris Clyne, from Las Vegas, experienced an engine problem, slowed, lost water and pulled into the infield. He was the only retiree with 23 of 24 starters racing at the finish. Eleven drivers completed all 75 laps, five drivers ran 74 laps and four drivers were down two laps.
Lake Havasu, AZ driver Chris Gerchman was impressive in his first 2011 competition at TS@I. The 24-year old seven-time champion at tracks in Blythe, CA and Lake Havasu started ninth in his STR chassis. He was fourth at lap 20, third (by Hamm) on lap 25 and second (by Mardis) on lap 31, when he was 7.013 seconds behind leader Barnes. The lap 53-60 yellow flag laps enabled him to take the lap 61 green flag right behind Barnes, who opened a 40-yard lead by lap 68. Then Barnes slowed a bit and Gershman ran laps four seconds quicker than the leader. Barnes stayed behind two lapped cars racing for position two wide for several laps. His lead slipped from 40 to 10 yards by lap 74. He held that advantage to the lap 75 checkers and won by 0.689 over Gerchman. Later, Barnes said, “I was just cruising at half throttle to conserve. I slowed down with eight laps to go to save my tires in case of a late yellow.” He thanked his sponsors, crew and parents.
Mardis started second and finished third, 3.690 seconds in back of Barnes. P. 4 Hamm was 5.861 seconds back. Scott Winters, from Tracy, came from eighth on the grid to earn fifth in the No. 24 Ferrari & Kramer Racing car he drove to P. 2 last August in the Lucas Oil Modified initial TS@I event. Andrew Phipps won that race but was not present Saturday. Rod Johnson, Sr, the 1999 Irwindale SLM champion and father of the current SLM point leader, started 13th in his own modified and raced to sixth place in the closing laps. Las Vegan Bear Rzesnowiecky, 19, started sixth and finished seventh in a brand new Howe chassis with former Vision Airlines SLM crew chief Sonny Wahl the car's crew chief for its debut race. Roger Brown, of Corona, came from 12th to eighth with Las Vegas driver Aaron McMorran, 23, on his tail. Larry Gerchman, a five-time modified champion (at Havasu and Blythe) and the 56-year old father of Saturday's runner-up, charged forward from his 20th starting spot. He earned tenth, 10.603 seconds in back of the winner. Doug Carpenter, of El Cajon, started 14th and placed 11th, 14.487 seconds off the lead, as the final lead lap driver.
Las Vegan Tom Lovelady, Modesto's Mike Regalman, Lakeside's Mike Salm, Las Vegan Josh Gross, 20, and Burbank's Tim Morse finished in P. 12-16 respectively and all completed 74 laps. Brian Collins, Pat Petrie, Madera July 16 North-South Shootout winner Rich Lindgren, Irwindale 2006 and 08 super stock champion Bryan Harrell, Randy Ussery, Tom Pfundstein and Jim Rogel were the other finishers. The race took 27 minutes. Barnes' 19.184 (93.828 mph) lap on lap 2 was the fastest lap in the feature. The six fastest modifieds ran a six-lap trophy dash with a fully inverted lineup that started racing at 7:00 pm. Fifth FQ Clyne started second and led all six laps; he won the Dart Machinery $200 for his effort. Pole starter Rzesnowiecky trailed by 1.324 seconds in a 1:55.488 all-green race. Mardis, Morse, Hamm and Barnes followed.
SLM: Fastest qualifier Race Liberante, 16, led the first four laps before a spinner cause a lap 5 yellow flag. The leader took the outside for the lap 5 green and yielded the point to inside front row starter Johnson, Jr as they entered the first turn. Two subsequent cautions wiped out leads, but R. J opened half a straightaway lead by lap 60 and cruised home with two lapped cars and a straightaway (4.363 seconds) winning margin over one-time 2011 SLM winner Kevin Thompson in P. 2. Thompson spun and backed into the wall during qualifying and had to start at the back (12th). Liberante earned third place, 7.271 seconds back. Chris Winter took his first ride in the Position One Motor-sports No. 30 Extenze Chevy and placed fourth. Kyle Neveau was fifth. Fifth starter Ryan Partridge spun out low exiting turn 4 at the lap 1 green flag without contact and resumed, half a lap behind the pack. He came back to finish sixth. Legends 2010 track champion/SLM rookie Chad Schug was seventh, 18 seconds behind the winner and the last lead lap driver. The race took 35 minutes. Winner R.J ran the fastest lap of the race at 18.249 (98.636 mph) on lap 5 while taking the lead.
S2: Andrew Anderson, 18, and his 15-year old brother Aaron, both Bandolero graduates, book-ended the ten driver finishing order. It was Aaron's first S2 race. The 16-minute race caused excitement for fans at the end with the exciting Anderson-Ostheimer 1-2 final lap run in the No. 44 and 56 cars. Winner Anderson told the crowd, “That was amazing. Devon is a clean, class act. He had the fastest car here tonight.” Ostheimer, 17, added, “My car was sputtering at the green and was down on horsepower. I thought I'd go low and make him go to the outside.” Joe Anderson placed third in the 15 car in which Partridge won the last S2 main event. Austin Dyne, 19, of Malibu, Andrew Porter, Mike Colato, Jr, Bill Waters, Trevor Huddleston and Gary Waters were the other finishers. Only Aaron Anderson did not finish.
KTST: The Cantrell-Partridge sensational final two laps precluded a P. 3-4 swap on the last two laps as well. P. 3 Todd Cantrell (-0.659) re-passed fellow row two starter Jeff Peterson (-0.681) after he passed Cameron for P. 3 on lap 39. Jameson Spies finished fifth and the top five drivers in the super-competitive KTST division were within 0.889 at the checkers. Ryan Fortier, Kenny Brown, Lucas McNeil, truck rookie/2009-10 classic stock champion Ken Michaelian, and Scott Corrigan completed the top ten with P 1-9 on the lead lap. During top three interviews Partridge said, “My tires were toast. Connor was fastest tonight and ran away on the green. He's been running up front all year.” Cantrell stated, “What a way to get our first win this year. He made an aggressive move low and pushed up. It was completely acceptable and I gave it back to him a lap later.” Cantrell, from Valencia, thanked sponsors, his dad in the tower, and God. The 19-minute race had one caution for a three truck crash on the backstretch. The incident collected P. 5 Dennis Arena and P. 7 “Trick” Mintey III, ending their impressive runs.
SWT TRUCKS: Williams beat fifth starter Ronnie Davis, Jr, of Whittier, by 3.108 seconds. Arcadia's Neil Conrad came from fourth starting to finish third, 5 seconds off the lead. Brady Helm, lap 1 leader Ed Cutler, Al Rizzone and Kirk Knostman (-20 seconds) were the other lead lap finishers. Ten of 12 starters were racing at the finish. If Williams can win the remaining two scheduled SWT races he will accomplish something no other driver has done in the track's 13-year history—sweep every race of the season in a division. If he sets quick time in those two races he will add FQ time and main event sweeps in the same season.