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Irwindale Speedway and Dragstrip on Saturday afternoon presented championship plaques and awards to 17 champions and top five drivers during oval and dragstrip 2021 racing. A prepared complimentary luncheon and beverages were served at 1:30 from the track concession stand. About 200 persons gathered under the main grandstand at 20 tables and watched proceedings in shaded comfort on a hot day that reached almost 90 degrees
Co-promoter Tim Huddleston used his infield microphone on a temporary stage to emcee the awards presentations and interview winners from 2:25 to almost 4:00. A large “Victory Lane” banner from the Chalet Village area hung in back of the stage. Initial champions honored were five junior drag racing participants at the quarter-mile dragstrip. They were followed by five Summit Racing Series adult drag racing champions.
Junior Champions: Group 1 (age 6-9): Caden Casner – two wins, 266 points. Group 2 (age 10-12): Christian LaPierre – three wins, 319 points. Group 3 (age 13-14): Blake Crandell – two wins, 265 points. Group 4 (age 15-17): Melanie LaBurn- one win, 277 points. Junior Comp: Chris K – two wins , 234 points.
Summit Series: Pro Bike: Laverk Harper – three wins, 526 points. Sportsman: Jeff Walson – won a tight, three-way points battle heading into the final weekend with 433 points. Pro: Ryan Houmard – one win, 484 points. Super Pro: John Castro – two wins, 413 points. Track employees Will Kozak and Paul Blevins handed out the awards.
NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series: The top five point drivers in each series were called to the stage in positions five through one order to accept plaques and champion jackets. Huddleston interviewed the drivers. Track co-announcers Tommy Mason and Jeffrey Best assisted on the microphone during the NASCAR awards.
Mini Stocks: Champion – Greg Didoha – one win, two top 5s, 256 points. 2. Jim Snow – one win, 184 points. 3. Joe Perez – three top 5s, 134 points. 4. Kyle Cline – two runner-ups, 128 points. 5. Matthew Gilbert – two top 5s, 116 points.
INEX Legends: Champion – Chad Schug – one win, seven top 5s, 414 points. 2. Tyler Hicks – one win, six top '5s, 368 points. 3. Mike Vanderlip – five top 5s, eight top 10s, 366 points. 4. Christian Bazen – four wins, five top 10s, 322 points. 5. Chad Hadlick – five top 10s, 290 points.
Street Stocks: Champion – Craig Rayburn – seven wins in eight races, 434 points. 2. Jim Vermillion – six top fives, 390 points. 3. Robby Harryman – six top fives, 360 points. 4. lJay Verduzco l- five top fives, 350 points. 5. Jerry Toporek – two top fives, 238 points.
Tucker Tire Enduro – Stock Class: Champion – Robert Rice – two wins & an average finish of 2.18, 762 points. 2. John Beard - seven wins, 758 points. 3. Robby Salcido – two wins, 650 points. 4. Chris Voight – two wins, 622 points. 5. Jason Woolcott - two wins,604 points.
Tucker Tire Enduro – Sport Class: Champion – Ian Rotundo - six wins, 768 points. 2. Bobby Ozman - four wins, 740 points. 3. Rick Conti - one win, 684 points. 4. Rodney Argo - four wins, 602 points - 5.Mike McIntyre – seven top 5s, 578 points.
YouRaceLA Spec Late Models – Champion – Andy Partridge – five wins and only one finish outside the top two all season, 438 points. 2. Troy Andersen – one win, 386 points./ 3. Nevin Iwatsuru – four top 5s, 290 points. 4. Nash Youngren – five top 5s, 266 points. 5. Ed Cutler – three top 5s, 246 points.
Irwindale Race Trucks – Champion – Andrew Porter – eight wins in nine races for back-to-back championships, 448 points. 2. Jacob McNeil – one win (first of his career), 424 points. 3. Dennis Arena – nine top 5s, 418 points. 4. Niko Mongenel – five top 5s, 342 points. 5. L. J. Billings, seven top 5s, 338 points.
LKQ Pick Your Part Late Models – Champion – Dean Thompson - one win, 12 top 5s, 632 points for his second consecutive championship. 2. Ryan Schartau – one win, 11 top 5s, 604 points. 3. Nick Joanides – one win, five top 5s, 578 points. 4. Lucas McNeil – eight top 5s, 562 points. 5. Jake Drew – one win, 532 points.
Note: Thompson was unable to attend because he is in Daytona Beach, FL preparing for a full-season of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series racing as is 2018 Irwindale late model champion Lawless Alan. Their first truck race as rookies will be Friday, February 18 at 4:30 pm PT on FS1.
Mike McIntyre presented a wooden bench seat for three with metal armrests and two metal wheels at each end to Robert Rice. It had his nickname, “Master of Mayhem”, printed on the backrest. Emcee Huddleston also recognized Jan Quakenbush, owner of Jan's Towing, for providing tow trucks at each race, plus Howard Palmer and this writer from the press box.
Ambassador Award – Kelly Barr Anderson.
Impact Award – Eric Ryan.
Michael A (Atkinson) Humble Hero Award – Manny Gonzalez.
Sportsman of the Year – Dennis Arena, an IRT owner/driver.
In closing the ceremonies, Huddleston made reference to the nearby banner honoring popular IS racing director Mike Atkinson, who died unexpectedly at IS on February 11, 2021. His daughters Sarah and Jannie have followed in his footsteps as IS racing officials in the race control booth.