JOANIDES SWEEPS TWIN IRWINDALE SLM FEATURES

By TIM KENNEDY

(06-06-09) - IRWINDALE, California Nick Joanides continued his outstanding Toyota Speedway at Irwindale 2009 season Saturday by taking both NASCAR AC Delco Super Late Model feature victories in front of about 2,000 spectators. His double triumphs gave him six victories in the nine races run this season. The 2008 AC Delco SLM track champion and current 2009 point leader, also leads the current point standings and has won two main events in the tracks Auto Club Late Model Series this season. His latest achievement has him ranked fourth nationally in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Weekly Racing Series with an estimated 2,000+ drivers competing at various NASCAR sanctioned tracks. He also leads the Nascar California State Standings with an estimated 160 drivers competing at four different Nascar sanctioned tracks in the state. Joanides drove the Loyd McGhee-owned Mr. Crane No. 71 Chevy Monte Carlo to the twin triumphs, giving him 25 total (in SLM and late model divisions) at Irwindale since 2006. All but one of his victories have come since he joined forces with McGhee. His first victory came in 2006 in a late model and the rest of his feature victories have come in the last two years since he took over the driving duties for J&M Racing in August of 2007.

 Among those giving credit to Joanides, a Woodland Hills resident, were the track's all-time feature winner Rip Michels, who has 57 Irwindale feature trophies in three series. Michels, a four-time track champion (three in the SLM class) finished a close second (-0.086) in the first 40 and third in the second 40. He told the crowd, “That was fun racing. My hat is off to Nick and his team. They've found something and are hard to beat this year.” Michels continued that in past SLM seasons one driver and team such as Greg Pursley, Van Knill or himself have been dominant for a season, Nick though has now been dominant for two consecutive seasons. “We will just have to work harder to catch up to Nick and his team,” Michels added. Joanides said his car was perfect all night, especially in the second 40. He started alongside pole starter Michels in that race with an inversion of two cars. He chased Michels' Ford Fusion for the first 17 laps in exciting side-by-side, nose-to-tail racing most of the time. On lap 18 Joanides made a clean inside pass through the third and fourth turns. All teams used the same tires in the second 40 that they ran as new tires in the first 40 lap race.

Bandoleros rookie Christian McGhee, 10, son of Nick Joanides’ SLM & LM owner Loyd McGhee, won his first main event by leading only the final lap (lap 20). He edged Lexi Moore, 0.199. The winner entered the final lap in third place, but the first two cars made contact and spun out. Rookie Ryan Cansdale, 10, had led all the way and was trying to win his seventh consecutive feature in race nine this year. Second place Aaron Anderson, 13, made contact in turn two, spinning both leaders.

 1ST SLM MAIN: The late afternoon qualifying session where drivers get two laps, set the field for both races. The fastest qualifier on the first of two laps received pole position in the first 40 with an inversion number of one. The second timed lap determined starting positions for the second 40 and the inversion number was two. Joanides set fast time on both laps. In the first 40, pole starter Joanides trailed outside front row starter and second quickest qualifier Alex Haase, a 19-year old Las Vegas Legends and SLM veteran, for 19 laps with Michels close behind. Michels began to apply pressure to Joanides from the third position. Joanides then passed Haase on the inside in three-wide racing exiting turn four as Michels dove to the inside. Joanides was able to lead the final 21 laps. Haase, a Kyle Busch Motorsports driver making his first start this season at Irwindale, drove his family-owned black No. 51 Ford Fusion. The teen has been racing stock cars on the East Coast this season and plans to make additional SLM twin features this year. Michels started third and completed his pass of Haase for second on lap 24 with an inside move from turn four to the starting line and applied pressure to Joanides. The two ran side by side and nose to tail with Joanides in the high groove and Michels down low. Several times Michels made slight contact with Joanides hoping to push him into a mistake, but it never happened and Joanides was able to hold on for the win by about a half a car length. Dan Moore started ninth in his No. 9 Ford Fusion and charged to third place, passing Haase on lap 39 on the outside in the fourth turn. Haase settled for fourth, with David Ross fifth. Danny Gay (from 6th), Luis Martinez, Jr. (from 5th), Travis Thirkettle (from 8th), now 17-year old Bear Rzesnowiecky (from 12th), and David Beat (from 11th) completed the top ten on the scoring pylon. Sixteen of the 20 starters finished and all ran 40 laps in a 17-minute race with one caution flag for debris. Haase ran the quickest lap of the race at 18.419, with Joanides' 18.437 and Michels' 18.490 next fastest laps of the first 40.

2ND SLM 40: In the fifth of six main events Saturday, pole sitter Michels led the first 17 laps despite intense inside groove pressure from second starter Joanides. Michels was running in the low groove when on lap 18 Joanides made an inside move to the apron of the race track through the third and fourth corner to take the lead without contacting Michels' car. He then pulled away to straightaway lead before slowing late to avoid lapped traffic. His victory margin was 2.379 seconds . Third starter Haase reversed his late-race slide in the first 40 and passed track-master Michels for second position on lap 27 with an outside move on the backstretch. “It was my best main event finish here at Irwindale and about my tenth super late model race here. We got to lead some laps in the first race, but Nick was so far gone in the second race,” Haase told the media. Michels settled for third in his green No. 12 Ford Fusion, 1.057-seconds behind Haase. Ross finished fourth and Rzesnowiecky, Jackson Race Cars teammate of Joanides was fifth. Moore, Gay, Martinez, Thirkettle and out of retirement SLM veteran Todd Southwell (from 19th in Dennis Furden's No. 43) completed the top ten. Sixteen of 20 starters finished; 15 drivers completed all 40 laps in a 15-minute race with one caution flag on lap 4 for a solo spinner. Haase ran the fastest lap of the race (18.544 or 97.066 mph) on lap 5. Joanides' 18.562 (96.972 mph) on lap 3, and Michels' 18.568 (96.941 mph) on lap 3 were the next fastest laps, showing how close the top three drivers lap times were.

 BANDOLEROS: The Briggs & Stratton-powered cars for youngsters ran a pair of main events one Saturday and one at 7:15 pm during Friday night 5:00 to 9:00 pm open practice. McGhee's first victory in the 7:45 pm main Saturday came with his father Loyd receiving live lap by lap reports on a cell phone from his SLM/late model driver Joanides, who was watching his protege from the pit grandstand. McGhee missed his double SLM triumphs by Joanides and his son's first Bandolero win because he was in Idaho on business. Christian's Bandolero carries No. 71 and is painted yellow and black, similar to the SLM car driven by Joanides. Runner-up Lexi Moore, 10, finished one length back for her best result this year. She was the runner-up in TS@I Bandolero 2008 final point standings. Blake Dunkleberger, 13, was third, with Chancellor Tiscareno, 12, fourth, and Jeff Gordon-fan Ricky Schlick, 13, fifth in a 13-car field. The 11-minute race had one yellow flag.

The first Bandolero main event of the busy weekend had 13 starters at 7:15 pm Friday. Rookie Cansdale (No. 37) won a 19-lap race by 0.285 over Aaron Anderson, in a preview of their Saturday night battle for the lead on the final lap that resulted in their collision and simultaneous spins. McGhee finished third Friday, with Dunkleberger and Tiscareno fourth and fifth in a 10:29.228 race.

Fast time honors went to: SLM – Joanides – 18.085 on lap 1 and 17.982 on lap 2;

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