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FIVE SERIES @ IRWINDALE, ROD JOHNSON, JR WINS FIRST SLM POINT RACE

FIVE SERIES @ IRWINDALE, ROD JOHNSON, JR WINS FIRST SLM POINT RACE
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Irwindale, Ca. - Apr. 9. 2011 – Week two of Toyota Speedway at Irwindale racing action this season featured five series and first-time main event winners in two series. Rod Johnson, Jr., drove the Position One Motor-sports No. 03 to his first point race victory in the “Super Saturday” Lucas Oil Slick Mist Super Late Model 75-lap feature. The race actually ran 76 laps because of a green, white checkered flag finish. The triumph gave him 19 victories at the track in four series—super trucks, late models, S2 cars and SLM. It was Johnson's third weekend in a SLM car, including non-point events in late November 2010 and in the late January three division 2011 Toyota All-Star Showdown. Bandolero series graduate Andrew Porter, 17, won his first Langers Juice S2 main that opened competition on the half-mile shortly after 7 pm. It is the second season of S2 racing for the Bandolero graduate.

Other main event winners on the chilly night in front of a slim crowd were: Christian McGhee, 12, in a 20-car field of Jan's Towing Bandolero Yamaha-powered cars, reigning champion Chad Schug, in the Echo Equipment Legend Cars, and four-time Pick Your Part Outlaw Figure 8s champion Steve Stewart. The Outlaw Figure 8s were the final race and concluded racing at 9:49. It was Stewart's 28th victory—all in Pick Your Part Figure 8 racing--at Irwindale. It moved him to sole possession of tenth place on the list of drivers with the most [email protected] feature victories. Past track champion Nick Joanides served as crew chief/adviser for McGhee, the son of his late model and SLM championship cars.

Racing on the half and third mile tracks shared the spotlight with the “1st Los Angeles Spring Fair” in the track's front parking lot. The eight-day run began Friday night and runs through Sunday, April 17. The event brought typical fair rides for youngsters, a Ferris-wheel, games of chance, shopping, live animal petting zoo, and food concession stands. Other events scheduled during the week included concerts on a stage set-up behind the starters' stand to make use of main grandstand seating, and monster truck demonstrations. Fair admission prices were of $5. to $15. for adults, with children 11 and under admitted free. Hours are 5-11 pm weekdays, 10 am to midnight Saturdays and 10 am to 11 pm Sundays. LA Spring Fair tickets included admission to Saturday night racing (April 9 and 16).

LUCAS SLM: The first of ten scheduled Lucas Oil Slick Mist 75-lap races had 13 cars present. A Lucas Oil television production crew and pit reporter Tony Bockhoven were present and taped the opening 2011 SLM race as one of three planned SLM telecasts. The date of the one-hour telecast will be determined later. Fastest qualifier Rod Johnson, Jr, 21-year old son of the first Irwindale track SLM champion in 1999, started fourth and ran second in a close three-way dog-fight with second starter Jason Patison the lap 1-11 leader. Third starter Ryan Partridge, 22, rode third in the outside groove behind leader Patison, with challenger “RJ” challenging on the inside. A brief caution flew on lap 12 for a stalled car. With a double-file restart, “RJ” grabbed the lead over Patison and built a 15-yard lead by lap 25. Partridge took second from Patison on a lap 28 green flag following another yellow flag. Cole Cabrera, 16-year old SLM rookie and an ASA Speed Truck and Legends veteran, broke a left front shock absorber assemble and stalled for another caution.

Jack Madrid, 16, and also a Legends and ASA Speed Truck veteran, battled Patison for third. On lap 71, entering the first turn, Madrid and Patison cars made contact. Patison spun into the crash-wall, ending his run. Track officials consulted and racing director Lester Boyer sent Madrid to the back of the field for making avoidable contact. A green, white checkered finish had nine of 13 starters still circulating. Seven drivers completed all 76 laps. Partridge trailed “RJ” by 0.861. Kevin Thompson, Joe DeGuevara, 29, in the ex-Vision Airlines No. 94 Ford driven by Dusty Davis last year, and Madrid completed the top five. Race Liberante, the third 16-year old Legends and ASA Speed Truck veteran (aboard the ex-No. 60 Mike Lee car), newcomer Jason Bradshaw (in the ex-No. 11 Dan O'Donnell car) and rookie Andre Prescott rounded out the top eight. Patison collected ninth place points and money. Dennis Schlarbaum was tenth after missing 19 laps repairing damage to his ex-No. 98 Ford Fusion that 2010 track SLM champion Justin Johnson drove to ten [email protected] feature triumphs last year.

LANGERS S2: All ten Racecar Factory-built S2 cars in So Cal competed in a 35-lap feature. Porter, the grandson of long-time driver/owner Kenny Smith, started sixth and led all 35 laps. Initially, there was a question about the legality of a shock absorber on the winning car. However, a post-race tech inspection ruled the shock legal so Porter's victory was official. The field had six rookies and an inversion of seven. That draw put Sebastiaan Labrie, a 40-year old from Holland, on the pole for his first rac--ever. The famous Dutch actor contracted with Position One Motor-sports to drive the No. 03 S2 car with Luis Martinez, Jr, a K & N Pro Series driver, serving as his crew chief and spotter. Labrie taped the race for the popular Dutch reality show “Try Before You Die” on the public television BNN Network. Hosts get to live out a “bucket list” dream adventure. Past shows have featured flying in an F-16 fighter jet, working a rodeo drive, and appearing on a famous American TV soap opera. Seventh fastest qualifier Labrie dropped from first to eighth on lap one. He ran seventh from laps 5-15. Then 14-year old Bandolero grad Trevor Huddleston, running sixth, spun tail first into the turn one wall, ending his initial S2 race.

On lap 27 rookies Austin Dyne (in P. 4) and P. 7 Jessica Clark, a USAC Ford Focus Midget veteran, spun out in the fourth turn. The eighth place Dutchman showed and steered between the two stopped HPR cars and avoided contact. On the restart, quick-study Labrie used inside passes and moved to fifth on lap 28 and fourth on lap 34 to finish just outside a podium position. He finished 7.870 seconds off the lead. FQ Andrew Anderson set a new track record, started seventh, took second on lap 4 and chased Porter to the finish. He was five-yards back (-0.068) at the checkers. Jace Meier, of Las Vegas, started and finished third in his return to racing at Irwindale. He drove one of four High Point Racing “blue cars” in his return run. Meier raced for HPR four years ago and won 2007 rookie of the year honors in the Auto Club Late Model series. Mike Colato, a classic stock car veteran, drove the No. 97 Chevy to fifth place, with Gary Waters and Austin Dyne the only other finishers. All finishers logged 35 laps.

ECHO LEGEND CARS: A 16-car field took the green flag on the third-mile with quickest qualifier Chad Schug starting fourth in a No. 88 coupe borrowed from Tony Green's team because his own No. 29 car was not ready to race. The race had three leaders—pole starter Mark Borchetta (laps 1-3) and USAC FF Midget veteran Eric Gunderson, from San Diego, on laps 4-19. Schug ran second from laps 9-19 before he used an inside pass on lap 20 entering the first turn to take command for good. Gunderson, 16, trailed by 0.273. Brent Scheidemantle, 18, came from fifth to claim third. Teen Blake Dunkleberger and 60+ driver Mark Iungerich followed. Josh Geer, Borchetta, Aaron Wells, 16, first-time Legends driver Mitchell DeJong, 13, and veteran Gary Scheuerell rounded out the top ten. Fourteen of 16 starters finished and all ran 35 laps. Only one car did not finish.

JAN'S TOWING BANDOLEROS: A field of 20 Bandoleros, driven by youngsters from ages 8 to 14, included seven rookies making their first starts at Irwindale. Fastest qualifier Christian McGhee led all 20 laps on the third-mile oval. He edged Ricky Schlick, 13, by 0.250 and third place Brandon Weaver, 10, by 0.605. Weaver ran the fastest lap of the race on lap 19 and Schlick clocked the second quickest lap on the same circuit. Daniel Nikolai, 13, and Mikael Lovas, 13, followed. Blaine Perkins, Brett Scoggins, Alexis Mann, Ivan Gudmestad and R. J. Stearns completed the top ten with 16 drivers racing at the conclusion and all on the lead lap.

PICK YOUR PART FIGURE 8: Fastest qualifier Jay Hensen started from the pole in an eight-car field. He became involved in a lap 2 crash with two-time track champion Billy Ziemann leaving the second turn of the infield course. Hensen was sidelined. Ziemann spun out twice later and did not finish. Outside front row starter Stewart led all 20 laps and won by a lap over Jerry Toporek, who enjoyed his career-best finish at Irwindale. Jeff Marquet also ran 19 laps and was the only other finisher in his 1976 Chevy Nova, a past Irwindale street stock race car. It also was his best result at Irwindale.The six-minute race had a brief red flag to remove Hensen's stalled car adjacent to the second turn.

TWO NTR SET: Drivers in two series established new one-lap track records during mid-afternoon time trials that followed two practice sessions for each division. McGhee's 18.258 (65.657 mph) broke the old mark of 18.270 (65.616 mph) set by R. J. Stearns last September 3. Anderson's 19.932 (90.307 mph) eclipsed the former S2 track record of 20.154 (89.312 mph) set by Bakersfield driver Ryan Reed on September 12, 2009.