(9-2-06) All season long, the Nascar Auto Club Series at Irwindale has been dominated by drivers Travis Thirkettle and Tim Huddleston. They won ten of the first eleven races of the season, with the only blemish coming when one crashed and the other broke, opening the door for one lucky recipient. The majority of their wins came by wide margins, making the races somewhat boring for the fans to watch. All that changed on Saturday night.

While the Borenstein Racing team with driver Nick Joanides has been solidly qualifying and finishing in the top five for most of season, they finally discovered that their deficit to the top two teams came in the engine department. The top teams have been in the series for several years and have found something with the engines that nobody else in the series has. Team owner, Loren Borenstein was willing to do what ever it would take to get the best motor possible. Unfortunately, this division limits the choice of engine builders to just three. One was too busy to complete a motor for the team. The other had built a motor for the team, however it ran very poorly. With only one choice left, the team had another new motor built, only to experience problems with that one as well.

Although being down on power all season, with the help of chassis builder Jackson Race Cars, the team was doing itís job with the car as they were usually the fastest car on the track through the corners. With the engine situation being beyond their control due to the limited choice of engine builders, the team finally conceded that the best they could do, was aim for third each week and hope that maybe they could get lucky if the top two had problems. While waiting for the engine builder to repair the primary engine, they were forced to run the second engine for several races. With each passing race, the power continued to decline due to the excessive laps. The teams finishes declined as well as they struggled to run in the top five.

After waiting for more than two months, the team was finally able to get the primary motor back. With just two races left in the season, they were poised to at least get back to contending for a top three finish.

On Saturday, Nick Joanides was able to post the third quickest qualifying time, behind Thirkettle and Huddleston. With an invert of the top seven cars, he would start fifth on the grid. Based on qualifying, it appeared that the fans were in for another boring race. To the surprise of many, Saturday nightís race became the most exciting race of the season for the series.

At the start of the race, Joanides settled into the fifth position. He quickly assessed that the Jacksonís had done a great job with the set up and the car was getting through the corners exceptionally well. While the engine was better, they still were lacking power when compared to the two dominant cars. On lap 3, Thirkettle made a move to the inside, but Joanides battled hard on the outside and was able to stay side by side with him. On lap 8, the two caught the fourth place car and both dove to the inside to make it a three wide battle for position. Joanides was sandwiched between the two as the outside car came down and the inside car came up, but he was able to maintain control and make the pass for the fourth position and temporarily cleared Thirkettle.

A caution flag flew on lap 10. During the caution, Joanides radioed to the crew that the transmission had broke and he could hear the parts grinding. The transmission was stuck in fourth gear. His restart was very slow due to being stuck in high gear and two cars made a move by. Praying that there would be no more cautions and that the broken parts in the transmission wouldnít also take out fourth gear, he finally got back up to speed and moved back into the fourth position.

Huddleston was battling for the third position as Joanides closed in. As Huddleston went low, Joanides drove to the outside and Thirkettle went to the inside. They battled three wide for two laps as Joanides took over the third position. He now had both of the season long dominant cars behind him.

Joanides caught the second place car and made a move to the inside. At the same time however, Thirkettle went to the inside of  Joanides. The three cars battled three wide for several laps before both Thirkettle and Joanides were able to get by and battle for the second position with Huddleston close behind.

Joanides and Thirkettle continued to battle side by side, lap after lap. At one point, Thirkettle slid high and sandwiched Joanides into the wall. He however did not back off and continued with the side by side battle. Driving the car harder than ever, the two caught the leader with five laps to go.

Joanides made the move down low for the lead. The leader however pinched him down causing him to get loose off the corner. Thirkettle went high and pulled along side in the preferred groove. Joanides didnít give up and dug down a little deeper and managed to pull back up beside the leader, with third and fourth directly behind. With the outside groove being the preferred line at Irwindale due to itís progressive banking, he was not able to get the run off the corner to get by. With just two laps remaining, Huddleston made a move past Thirkettle and moved to the inside of Joanides to make it a three wide battle for the lead.

Joanides managed to get a great run off of turn two and broke free from the pack entering turn three and coming to the white flag, crossing the line clearly in the lead and leaving the three cars behind to battle for second on the final lap. Joanides was able to pull away in what was easily the most exciting race of the season and scored the first win for Borenstein Racing in itís first year of existence. Joanides became the only driver in the series to actually make on track passes of the two season long dominant cars and go on to victory.

ďWow, what a race! Iíve never had to drive so hard in my life to hold those guys back. I pulled out every trick Iíve learned over the past 15 years. We didnít quite have the fastest car tonight, but we won! We easily had a top three car, but I was able to take advantage of my experience and find their weakness to pull this off. Those two guys have dominated the series all year long, but tonight, they finally got to see my back bumper at the finishĒ said Joanides. The two dominate cars of the season, Thirkettle and Huddleston, finished second and third respectively.

ďIím speechless! We had conceded that third was about the best we could hope for with the motors we are stuck with right now, but Nick did a great job driving the wheels off the car to get us our first team win. Iím happy to finally get a plaque. Iíve got an empty wall at home that I had hoped to fill up with them, but didnít realize how hard it was going to be to get them when I started this team. I was hoping for at least a third place plaque, instead our first one is the biggest one you can get! We've got a great team here and next season we'll be moving up to the next level, where we won't have to deal with this limited engine rule anymore and can finally be in control our own destinyĒ said team owner Loren Borenstein.