SUPER-SUB JOANIDES, WINS IRWINDALE LATE MODEL FEATURE
Race Date: August 18, 2007
by Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., Aug. 18 - Versatile Nick Joanides learned two days before the NASCAR Auto Club Late Model event at Irwindale Speedway that he had his first ride this season in the fan-popular series. The 36-year old veteran of the now defunct NASCAR Elite Division made the most of his opportunity. Joanides set third fastest qualifying time in a 28-car field, started on the pole and led all 40-laps to win the second ACLM feature of his career. Last year he drove the No. 10 Loren Bornstein Racing Chevy to a victory on the IS half-mile. That car was sold following the 2006 season. An estimated 5,500 spectators watched the Whelen All-American Series action on Auto Club and King Taco Family Night.
ACLM: Joanides, from Woodland Hills, received a telephone call Thursday from a Jackson Racing principal asking him to sub-drive the No. 77 Mr. Crane/J & M Construction Chevy. The car had won two Irwindale features this year with Aaron Staudinger, from Canyon Country, driving. At the last ACLM race (August 4) Staudinger, 33, drew the ire of track officials for two on-track incidents with other drivers during the main event. They black-flagged him for rough driving. As he exited the track, angry Staudinger drove over orange cones and took a short cut to his pit stall. Race director Lester Boyer posted a ruling that suspended Staudinger for one month to September 2 (two ACLM races) and fined him $250. His car owner, Loyd McGhee wanted to race and put Joanides in his No. 77 for the rest of the season.
Joanides has assisted the Speed Wong Racing team all year with set-ups and advice to its young drivers in the fleet of 16 racing cars and trucks in the super late model, late model, super trucks and legend car series. In fact, Joanides has raced a super late model, super truck and legend car this year for Speed Wong Racing. Driving for Speed Wong, he finished second in three consecutive main events this season to AC Delco SLM point leader Rip Michels. Joanides ranked 15th in SLM points, despite skipping six of the 13 races. His feature victory in the No. 77 ride Saturday made Joanides the seventh different ACLM main event winner this season in the 12th of 15 scheduled races. He set the third fastest qualifying time after getting settled into his new ride during two early afternoon practice sessions.
Dan DiGiacomo started his Monte Carlo fourth and took second place from Scott Jenkins in traffic on the front straight during lap 35. DiGiacomo trailed Joanides by 0.972. Rookie/fastest qualifier/third starter Jenkins, from Portland, OR, finished third, 2.059-seconds behind the winner. Jenkins' Justice Bros. High-Point Distributing teammates Chris Carmody, from second on the grid, and leading rookie Jace Meier, from fifth, followed. Meier, an 18-year old from Las Vegas, had flown in from North Carolina after enrolling in Belmont Abbey College where he will begin classes Tuesday. Meier's 42-points for fifth place moved him into a first-place tie in ACLM 2007 point standings. His car owner, Tim Huddleston-the 2005 ACLM series champion-entered the race with a 24-point cushion (426-402) over his protege Meier. Huddleston started 27th in the 28-car field and could only race up to 17th position, giving him 18-points. Meier and Huddleston are now deadlocked at 444 points in a series in which 51 drivers have scored points.
A unique reason caused Huddleston's rare last row starting position. His first lap qualifying time during single car qualifying from 4:00-4:20 was a slow 23.078 (77.996 mph) because of mishandling. His time was well-below his 19.575 (92.237 mph) and 19.453 (92.531 mph) best laps during the two early afternoon practice sessions in which he ranked in the top five drivers in each session. In his pit stall, Huddleston's crew discovered the pin had come out of his left front shock absorber, causing the mishandling during his only qualifying lap. He had the slowest qualifying lap and had to start 27th. Huddleston's stated goal was to earn the hard charger award for himself and have his three other blue cars finish 1-2-3, putting all four of his cars at the finish line for post-race interviews. He did earn the $100 gift certificate award from Jeff Schrader's Racecar Factory for hard charger honors. His three other team cars finished 3-4-5.
HARD CHARGERS: Recipients of $100 gift certificates were: (Bandoleros)-Eric Sloan - P 9 to P6; (WCPT)- Dustin Vandermooren - P 10 to P6; (Legends)- Austin Grabowski - P 21 to P 11; (ACLM)- Huddleston - P 27 to P 17. The six-lap ACLM trophy dash for the third through tenth quickest qualifiers went to second starter Altman, who led all the way. Joanides, Meier, DiGiacomo, Wright and 18-year old rookie Brian Wong, the son of Speed Wong Racing owner Darryl Wong, followed. Fastest qualifiers were (Bandoleros)-Andrew Anderson - 18.924 (63.348 mph); (Legends)- Landreth - 16.955 (70.705 mph); (Figure 8)- S. Stewart - 18.868 (71.931 mph); (WCPT)- Williams - 20.674 (87.066 mph), and (ACLM)- Jenkins - 19.011 (94.682 mph).
Photos by Marv Keller
Joanides salvages No. 77's season in Late Models
Article Last Updated: 08/22/2007 10:31:57 PM PDT
It looks as if Nick Joanides will end the saga of the No. 77 NASCAR Late Model car at Irwindale Speedway.
At least for this season.
The car, its driver, owner, crew, engine provider and sponsors have been through a lot this year.
They've been disqualified, suspended, fined and managed to win a couple races amidst the chaos.
The latest chapter saw Aaron Staudinger, the driver of the No. 77 car, get fined and suspended for his actions on the track Aug.4.
In steps Joanides, a last-minute replacement for Staudinger in Saturday night's race. Joanides, who didn't know he was driving the No. 77 car until three days before the race, won. In the words of Joanides, it was "quite surprising."
With Staudinger serving his suspension, Joanides was tapped to finish the season. There are three races left for the Late Models at Irwindale Speedway. The next race is Sept.1.
Joanides has been racing off and on in the Super Late Model division at the track, but in just eight races, he has posted seven top fives, including four second-place finishes this year.
The win in the Late Model race was his first of the year. It's not the way he wanted to get his first win, having to drive for a suspended driver, but he said he's happy for theopportunity to finish the year in the car owned by Lloyd McGhee and prepared by Jackson Racing.
"It was one of those perfect days," said Joanides, a driver from Woodland Hills. "They're so rare."
Things happened so quickly for Joanides that he wasn't familiar with the team's sponsors. It is customary to thank the sponsors after a win, but Joanides said he didn't know who they were.
After winning the race, Joanides had to walk around his new race car and read the sponsors on the fenders and the hood, to make sure no one was forgotten.
This was the third time the car won a race at Irwindale Speedway. The scary part is that Joanides said the car can be better.
"There's still a lot left in it," Joanides said. "Actually the car could dominate if we could get it the way I want."
Joanides was the seventh different winner in 12 races in the Late Model division.
Tim Huddleston of Agoura Hills, who is tied with Jace Meier for the lead in the track's Late Model standings, has won a division-leading three races this year.
Chris Carmody of Valencia has two wins. Huddleston, Meier and Carmody race for High Point Racing, a four-car team owned and operated by Huddleston.
The High Point Racing team will expand to five cars for the final three races of the year. Jeremy McGrath, a seven-time AMA Supercross champion, will join High Point Racing in the team's No. 57 entry.