Joanides Picks Up 10th Win, While McGhee Gets His 2nd.

By Tim Kennedy

(08-01-2009) IRWINDALE, California NASCAR Super Late Model championship rivals Rip Michels and Nick Joanides split a pair of Toyota Speedway at Irwindale 40-lap AC Delco Super Late Model co-features Saturday on Stock Building Supply Home Improvement Show Night. About 4,000 spectators watched the duo duplicate their twin-40 triumphs of three weeks ago. It was Michels' second SLM victory this season and the tenth for Joanides with 15 of the 21 scheduled events in the books. The victories were the 59th for Michels and the 29th for Joanides at the track, making Michels the all-time track victory leader by 16 over three-time Auto Club Late Model champion Tim Huddleston. Joanides' triumph solidified his hold on ninth place for most victories at the track. Two drivers have 30 and two drivers have 31 victories, so Joanides is only three victories shy of fifth place on the TS@I list of all-time winners. All of his triumphs have come since 2006. Joanides races Chevy Monte Carlos for Loyd McGhee in both SLM and late model series, so his victory opportunities are enhanced during the next three months. He also is shooting for his first NASCAR Whelen All-American Weekly Racing Series national championship based on the best 18 feature finishes in his track's top series.

SLM 1st 40: Fastest qualifier Michels No. 12 Chevy grabbed the lead from pole position in the first 40, which was the first of the seven features. Joanides started third in the 22-car field and battled outside-running Michels closely all the way. He did back off a bit during the final ten laps to save his car and tires for the second 40. Joanides trailed Michels at the checkers by 25-yards (1.197 seconds). Outside front row starter Bear Rzesnowiecky,17, ran third all 40 laps and trailed the winner by 3.392 seconds. David Beat, Danny Gay, Mark Perry, rookie Mackena Bell, Luis Martinez, Jr., Dennis Furden and rookie Duane Hunt, Jr., from Tucson, completed the top ten. Fifteen of 22 starters finished, with 11 drivers on the lead lap. The 16-minute race had one caution flag on lap 4 when Scott Dodd's Chevy oiled the first turn and retired for the evening.

SLM 2nd 40: The final feature of the busy night was the second SLM main. Only 20 cars were able to complete. The inversion was four this time based on the second of two qualifying laps during late afternoon time trials. Michels set the fastest time on both laps, so he started from the outside row two position in this race. Joanides started second as the third quickest qualifier on his second timed lap. David Ross, 20, was on the pole. He dropped out of the first 40 before the lap 1 green flag after he lost all gears. His No. 57 Lucas Oil Chevy had fresher tires than other drivers for race two and he shot into the lead immediately. Ross led the first 21 laps in pursuit of his initial TS@I main event victory. Michels ran third until lap 9 when he got loose and slipped to fifth position. With Ross in the high groove and Joanides on the inside lap after lap, the leading duo entered the first turn on lap 22 and Joanides made a determined inside move for the lead. His Chevy wiggled and his right side got into the left side of the Ross car. He completed the pass and gradually opened his 65 yard winning margin, 4.365 seconds officially, over Ross. Joanides apologized to an upset Ross via the pit microphone for making contact. Joanides now leads Michels by 66-points (738-672) after 15 of 21 scheduled races.

BANDOLEROS: (Saturday)--The 14-car Jan's Towing Bandolero field ran the second race of the night and used a straight-up start based on time trials. FQ Blake Dunkleberger, 13, led the first nine laps. Third starter Christian McGhee,11, made an inside turn four pass on lap 10 and led the final 11 laps. His mentor, Nick Joanides, helped him from his car and congratulated the son of his SLM/LM car owner for the second victory of his rookie season. Dunkleberger enjoyed a career-best second place, 0.740 back. Aaron Anderson, point leader Ryan Cansdale,10, was fourth with Ricky Schlick fifth. The race had three new Bando drivers, including Las Vegas resident Chris Trickle, 8-year old nephew of NASCAR Southwest Tour driving star Chris Trickle, who was killed in 1998 in a Las Vegas drive-by shooting. Amanda Poertner and Nicholas Wiggins were the other newbies. The eight-minute race had one caution for a spin. (Friday)--In Bandolero action during the weekly four-hour Friday night open practice session for all divisions, 14 Bando drivers qualified and raced in a 20-lap main. Mikael Lovas, 11, set FQ time at 64.220 mph and started on the pole. Rookie Cansdale, 10, won the 20-lap race (his sixth feature win this year) in an 18-minute race. Aaron Anderson, 13, and McGhee, whose steering wheel came off while leading and caused his early spin, followed. Ivan Gudmestad, 8, Lexi Moore, 10, rookie Trevor Huddleston, 12, Trickle, 8, Schlick, 12, and Brett Scoggins, 8, completed the top nine and all ran 20 laps.