Race Date: September 1, 2007
by Tim Kennedy

Double-barrel action was expected at Irwindale Speedway Saturday when the two top-tier Whelen All-American Series-AC Delco Super Late Models and Auto Club Late Models-were co-featured. More than 3,500 spectators on "Labor Unions Appreciation Night" attended the five division short-track racing program despite blazing 100-degree temperature earlier in the day. When racing began at 7:00 the temperature was 96 degrees, and when the final checkered flag flew at 10:12 p.m it was still 85. Irwindale competed from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m against live national television coverage of the NASCAR Busch Series 300-mile race at California Speedway in Fontana, about 40-miles east of Irwindale.

ALCM: Third starter Nick Joanides, a 36-year old versatile driver who has helmet and will race anything at any time, won his second consecutive ACLM 40-lap main event as substitute driver in the No. 77 J & M Construction/Mr. Crane Monte Carlo. Double winner Aaron Staudinger had the ride until his recent 30-day suspension by the IS racing director for actions on the track August 4. Point leader Tim Huddleston started second with a six-car inversion and led the first 31 laps in a 27-car field. He held a 40-yard advantage over Joanides on lap 30 when the only yellow flag flew after Tommy Rizzo hit the wall in turn three and rode it to a stop in mid-track at the starting line. He was not hurt and a wrecker towed his car to the pits. Joanides, who passed Chris Carmody for second on lap 19, pressured Huddleston for two laps. On lap 32 exiting turn two the Joanides and Huddleston cars made contact, lifting the back of Huddleston's Chevy. Joanides backed off and allowed the leader to regain control. He then took the lead from Huddleston in the fourth turn and stayed in front for the final nine laps.

Kevin Callahan, a 19-year old Gary Collins-built Chevy driver from Bakersfield, charged from ninth grid position to second, which he took from Huddleston on lap 34. Callahan tied his ACLM career-best finish on June 23 and trailed Joanides by 15-yards (-0.822). Carmody finished third, 2.215-seconds back. Jimmy Sloabn, s super stock veteran and second-year ACLM driver, started seventh and finished his ACLM career-best fourth after he passed Huddleston on lap 38. Huddleston faded to fifth place, 2.659-seconds behind the winner. He said, " When the back of my car lifted off the ground (after contact by Joanides) the engine revved and was down on power bit to the finish." He also said his No. 57 Chevy was in the pits in a trailer for seven-time AMA moto-cross champion Jeremy McGrath to drive in the final two ACLM races on September 15 and 29. Fastest qualifier/sixth starter Scott Jenkins, a rookie from Portland, OR, finished sixth in a fourth High-Point Distributing Chevy. Michael Wright, pole-starter Lindsey King, a 19-year old ACLM rookie and Legends graduate, Mike Johnson and Brian Jones completed the top ten as 23 of the 27 starters finished, with 21 drivers on the lead lap.

The race started with three-time ACLM winner Huddleston and his 18-year old late model protg Jace Meier tied at 444 points. Huddleston's 42 points in the main gave him 486. Seventh place Wright's 38 points moved him into second place in series points with 472. After setting the quickest lap in the first ACLM practice session at 12:30, Meier slipped to tenth fastest in session two at 1:20 p.m. During 4:00 time trials, leading rookie Meier slipped to 15th best time among 27 qualifiers. The Las Vegas native who just started classes at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, flew into Los Angeles Friday to practice and race at IS. He got as high as 11th in the main event on lap 20 before he slipped to 13th in the final run-down. He flew back to college in N.C Sunday. Meier dropped to third in points, (470 to 472 for Wright) after 13 of 15 scheduled races. Callahan solidified his fourth place in points and trails leader Huddleston by 40-points and third place Meier by 24 points.


Woodland Hills driver Joanides wants to triple his pleasure


Nick Joanides won his second NASCAR Late Model race in a row Saturday at Irwindale Speedway.

He said if he can win a Super Late Model race, he might have to break out his Super Truck and try to win one of those races, too, before the end of the season.

For a driver to win races in two divisions in the same year would be quite an accomplishment at Irwindale. To win three would be extremely unlikely because most drivers and teams don't have the resources to maintain cars in more than one division.

The season Joanides is having is a little different. He was given the opportunity to race in the Super Late Model, Late Model and Super Trucks divisions at the track. He has two Late Model wins, three second-place finishes in Super Late Model races and a third-place finish in a Super Trucks race.

Joanides will be entered in the Super Late Model race at Irwindale this Saturday night in a car for Speed Wong. It will be his ninth start of the year in the Super Late Model division.

"It's been a fun year bouncing around and making the most of it," said Joanides, a driver from Woodland Hills.

Rip Michels of San Fernando has pretty much dominated the Super Late Model division at the track. The three times Joanides finished second, it was to Michels.

But Michels, who leads the Super Late Model standings at the track, is beatable. Travis Thirkettle of Newhall won the most recent Super Late Model race. Michels was third.

But Joanides wasn't in that race. He was in the No. 77 car in the Late Model race that night.

Joanides was a late-season replacement driver for the No. 77 team. In his only two starts in the car, he has won both races.

Now he wants a shot at Michels in the Super Late Model division. If he can win one of those races, Joanides said he will test the Super Trucks and see if he can win races in three divisions at the track in the same season.

Michels has a 42-point lead over Thirkettle in the Super Late Model standings.

The NASCAR Super Trucks, Super Stocks and Mini Stocks are scheduled to race Saturday at Irwindale.

Pat Mintey Jr. of Quartz Hill leads the Super Trucks standings. He has a 22-point advantage over Matt Hicks of Santee.

Darren Cheek of San Bernardino tops the Super Stocks standings and has a 14-point lead over Bryan Harrell of Riverside.

Tyler Rogers of Riverside has a 40-point edge over Kevin Bernhardt of Fontana in the Mini Stocks standings.

Gates open at 4 p.m. Saturday, with races starting at 7 p.m.