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Irwindale Speedway 'Night of Champions'

Irwindale Speedway 'Night of Champions'
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Monrovia, CA., Mar. 7 – The “Night of Champions”celebration/awards dinner Friday honored 2013 season competitors at Irwindale Speedway and Irwindale Dragstrip. More than 200 persons attended the dinner and awards ceremony at the main ballroom of the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Monrovia. It was the first gala under the auspices of 211 Entertainment, which operated the 1999-built speedway for the first time in 2013. It completed 15 Saturday night events at the oval under the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series banner and numerous NHRA Summit Series on the eighth-mile dragstrip.

Emcees Bruce Flanders and Jason Galvin, the track announcers, introduced special guest J. C. Agajanian, Jr., of Agajanian Enterprises. Low Budget TV producers Tommy Mason and Jeffrey Best screened videos of all seven oval series that raced for Irwindale Speedway 2013 points. Jim Cohan, 211 Entertainment CEO and executive VP Audra Moore welcomed guests. Cohan became the IS oval track promoter in February 2013 in addition to operating the racing school at the track and the eighth-mile dragstrip. He thanked competitors for the successful 2013 season and presented an appreciation plaque to popular IS competition director Mike Atkinson.

 

DRAGSTRIP CHAMPIONS: The four NHRA Summit Series honorees at Irwindale Dragstrip were:

   > Dave Boydstun – won Sportsman Class by 25 points (102 competitors).

   > Jeff Follin – won Pro Class by 54 points (93 drivers).

   > John Castro – won Super Pro class by 25 points (28 competitors).

   > Tony Pellettera – won Pro Bike class by 75 points (14 riders).

Special appreciation certificates were presented to all members of the track fire and safety team, credentials staff, announcing and track audio staff, Mason and Best of LBTV video, and Paul Willis, of Valley Trophy & Awards in Covina, for his unique trophies all season. Verbal appreciation acknowledgments went to media members present and track photographers Marv Keller and Sal Sigala. Operations manager Bob Klein, who bridged the gap between the former track lessee from 1999-2011 and the current lessee, received special thanks for his tireless efforts.

OVAL TRACK CHAMPIONS: The seven oval series champions and participants by series were:

 

   > Lucas Oil Late Models - 2010 super truck champion Ryan Partridge, 25, won five of nine features for his first IS late model championship... 36 drivers scored points.

   > Super Late Models – Rip Michels, 48, a five-time IS champion (four in SLM) won six of eight mains... 31 drivers earned points.

   > Irwindale Race Trucks – Darren Cheek, 38, won his third IS series championship (two in super stocks) despite going winless. ... 32 drivers scored points.

   > Super Stocks – Zack Green, 23, won four of seven features en-route to his first IS championship. ...32 drivers earned points.

   > Mini Stocks – Robby Hornsby, 21, won three of seven events and his initial IS title. ... 27 drivers scored points.

   > Legend Cars – Darren Amidon, 28, won his second IS Legends crown after winning two of seven mains. ... 32 drivers scored series points.

   > Bandoleros – Ricky Lewis, 15, won five of ten mains and his first Bando championship in his third season. 15 youngsters scored points.

Some 196 drivers scored IS oval track points in addition to the 237 IS drag-strip point earners for a total of 433 competitors.

Four series rookies were honored for their top ten finishes in points. Andrew Porter, 19, finished third in late model standings. It was Irwindale's premier series for NASCAR Whelen All-American National points competition. Andre Prescott, 18, also ranked third in the super late model class. Christian McGhee, 15, won the Irwindale Truck Series rookie honor by winning a main and placing fourth in final points. He advanced from bandoleros and legend cars. Garret Green became the super stock top rookie after placing fourth in points.

Rookies of the year were interviewed on the stage by Mason and Best. Porter said, “I love to go fast. I want to make racing my career. In 2014 I'll race in late models and trucks and some ARCA.” Prescott thanked his team and family. McGhee thanked his mentor Rod Johnson, Jr, who is engaged to McGhee's sister Michelle, for setting up his truck. Green stated, “I learned a lot and got one top five finish.”

SPECIAL AWARDS: Track management presented three special awards.

  > Master of Disaster” Award went to Robert Rice, the king of Irwindale “crash em up” events. He is the godfather of fan-popular skid plate racing on the the third-mile oval.

   > Driver of the Year Award went to Toni McCray, who finished second in both late model and super late model final points. She won her first two IS late model features during 2013.

   > Crew Chief of the Year Award was presented to IS 2010 LM and 2011 SLM driving champion Rod Johnson, Jr, 24. He held the crew chief role in three divisions (LM, SLM and IRT); his drivers won three main events and had top five finishes 21 times. He stated he has retired from driving but is trying to talk his dad, a past IS SLM champion, into driving again.

CHAMPIONS INTERVIEWS: The final lap of each series championship-clinching final race was captured by LBTV cameras and shown. Champions spoke about their 2013 season and thanked sponsors. Bando champ Lewis thanked his parents and said he will race on dirt in 2014 and at Blythe and Las Vegas. The Legends champion was absent because he was racing in Blythe. Super stock champ Green stated, “Thanks to Jim Cohan, all the Irwindale Speedway staff, and to my crew.”

Truck champion Cheek said, “It's nice to go out on top. I'm retiring to coach baseball. I'll come out to watch races. I had luck and stayed out of trouble. I didn't have a win but was consistent. Thanks to my wife and my brother Steve for being my spotter.” SLM champ Michels, who has the most career feature victories at IS (67), said, “It's was really cool to be back racing at Irwindale in 2013. I thought I'd only run the opening night, but Pick Your Part came on board as my sponsor so I ran all year.” He is vacating role of driver in favor of being 2014 crew chief for Toni McCray.

LM champion Partridge had five feature wins and nine top fives. He described his final night spin out of turn four to win his championship. “I've been racing something since age four. Some of the best racing is at Irwindale. It's the most competitive track around and really tough to win here. Toni McCray is the best female driver I've ever raced against. She'll get even better in years to come.” Asked about his 2014 plans, Partridge stated, “I'll race late models and trucks and the K & N West race at Irwindale on March 22. I'll race anything. I'm just a broke kid. We're just a bunch of kids on my team. I'm the oldest at 25.” He thanked his sponsors, including Loan Mart, and 211 Entertainment for operating the speedway. Following the 8:30-10:00 pmawards presentations, dancing to recorded music followed for those so inclined.

The track honored top ten drivers in late models, SLM, IRT, SS and MS, top five in Legends and top three in Bandolelros. By divisions they were: LM—P.2-10—T. McCray, A. Porter, Mike Johnson, Jeff Williams, William Helgeson, Luis Martinez, Jr., Curtis Burns, Rodney Peacher, Ryan Cansdale. SLM—P. 2-10—T. McCray, A. Prescott, John Manke, David Ross, Dennis Furden, Billy Mitchell, Rob Kiemele, Jeff Eshleman, Joseph Altig. IRT—P.2-10—Todd Cameron, Dennis Arena, C. McGhee, Ken Michaelian, Ken Brown, R. Partridge, Lucas McNeil, Connor Cantrell, Phillip Lauck. SS—P.2-10—Gary Read, Greg Crutcher, Robert Dezarov, Gary Frankovich, Curtis White, Craig Rayburn, Paul Howard, Mark Whitson, Eric Sunness. MS—P. 2-10—Ryan Bragdon, Tom Dye, Bud Smith, G. Green, Nevada Chovan, Dennis Croasmun, Robbie Harryman, Aubree Porter, Dusty Morgan. Legends—P.2-5—Brent Scheidemantle, Aaron Wells, Mark Iungerich, Ricky Schlick. Bandos—P.2-3—Ricky Vargas, Austin Farr.