Laguna Beach, California (September 9, 2010) — Racing Journalist Tim Kennedy covered the events at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, on Saturday, September 4, and featured in-depth coverage of Michael Lewis and his debut in an S2 stock car.
The article appears below.
KANKE WINS SRL 100 LAP FEATURE @ IRWINDALE – By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., Sept. 4 – M. K. Kanke won the Spears Mfg SRL Stock Car Series “NTS, Inc. 100”, 30-car feature Saturday night in a dominant performance on the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale half-mile. The track’s annual “Labor Unions Appreciation Night” attracted about 2,200 spectators with union members admitted free. Kanke, from Frazier Park, earned $4,000 for his fifth main event victory at the Irwindale oval. He won three times in the now defunct NASCAR Elite Division Southwest Tour Series in the same No. 33 Sims Trucking Chevy Monte Carlo. He also won the SRL 125-lap race at TS@I last year on October 10 in the same car. Kanke, 48, was the 1982 stock car champion at the Ascot Park half-mile clay track in Gardena aboard his No. 33 Camaro.
The winner said, “My goals were to keep my tires in good shape, pass low, and keep far enough in front so they couldn’t dive-bomb me.” He met all three of his race objectives easily. “My tires were good at the end,” he added. Kanke said the softer Hoosier 25 tires in use by SRL teams this year are better than harder 35 and 45 Hoosier tires used in the past. He was the fastest driver on the track by a full tenth near the conclusion as he opened sizable leads after late race caution flags. Kanke told the media, “The SRL Series is the best touring championship in the West.” He said proven veterans and past champions and a talented crop of young drivers in their teens and 20s make each race extremely competitive. Kanke was not in the SRL Irwindale field on July 17 at round six of ten this season because he was recovering from a medical operation. He said he watched that night and was eager to return to action. Saturday’s SRL round seven resulted in a change of SRL point leaders. Jonathon Gomez replaced Derek Thorn atop the driver’s 2010 points, but the championship will go down to the final race.
Three other TS@I series raced as preliminary events before SRL teams took center stage in the fourth of five races. On the third-mile oval, Ryan Cansdale started first as the quickest qualifier in a 14 car Bandolero field. He led all 25 laps. Then Dylan Lupton, 16, won the 20-lap Langers Juice S2 main on the half-mile. He broke his first-place tie atop series points with his HPR teammate Roman Lagudi, 15. Next, 21 Echo Equipment Legends raced on the third-mile in a sensational race with three leaders and eight lead changes. Donny St. Ours, 16, won a Legends main at Irwindale for the fifth time. He made his final pass on lap 35 of 35 and won his first TS@I race this season. His bright yellow No. 16 backed by Greg Biffle won by a mere 0.029 over lap 26-34 leader Chad Schug–the April 10 winner. St. Ours was one of the California drivers who raced in the million dollar Legends race at Charlotte Motor Speedway during July. He made the feature there, but did not finish. The final race was a 12-car/trailer race. Robert Rice won that 25-lap contest while towing a large rowboat behind his 1973 Chevy El Camino The race ran counter-clockwise on the third-mile. Many of the trailers lost their contents from hits and assorted miscues during a 20-minute all-green light event. Spectators cheered action throughout the entertaining event.
SRL 100: All 30 qualifiers started the 100-lap feature. Cole Cabrera crashed his No. 53 Chevy late Friday during practice and it was not repaired by Saturday. SRL uses an inversion of eight to 12 cars based on a card draw by the fastest qualifier. This time FQ Jonathon Gomez, the TS@I July 17 SRL winner, drew 11, so he started from inside row six. SRL moved its mobile stage to the starting line for self-introductions by drivers on the darkened front straight. The race started at 9:24 pm and had four leaders and four lead changes. SRL’s race, unlike the July 17 Irwindale race, had an abundance of crashes and battered cars. There were six yellow flags (only the first three laps of each caution counted) and two red flags. The reds consumed 11-minutes and the race concluded at 10:34, one hour and ten minutes after it started. Race leaders were: pole starter Kyle Cattanach (L 1), Brennan Newberry (L 2-4), Derek Thorn (L 5-18), J. Gomez (L 19-72) and Kanke (L 73-100). The race ran green to lap 19 when leader Thorn hit the spun car of Bobby Hodges at the fourth turn exit. Both cars went to the pits. Thorn’s Bob Stanwold Racing teammate Gomez inherited the lead. At the lap 22 green flag, second place Newberry looped in turn two and continued. Following cars took evasive action and collided, eliminating cars of Greg Voigt and Chris Holloway. The red light was on for six minutes for track cleanup work.
The lap 25 quarter-way mark had Gomez, SRL rookie Ryan Reed, 17, Ross Strmiska, Eric Holmes, Cattanach, Joe Farre, Kanke, Ryan Foster, Newberry and Jim Pettit II in the top ten positions. On lap 45 the yellow flew again. Troy Ermish, in the third Stranwold Chevy (No. 1 raced by Auggie Vidovich on July 17), blew his RF tire in the third turn and slammed into the wall. Carlos Vieira hit the back of Ermish’s sliding car, shredding his RF fender. At the halfway point Gomez led Strmiska, Kanke, Holmes, Foster, Cattranach, Reed, Farre, Pettit and Newberry. Three-wide racing was common during the eighth place battle. The red flag flew again on lap 60. Teenager Jacob Gomes, in P. 10, was bumped by another car, caught the edge of the attenuator near turn one and spun into the outer wall. Damage prevented his return. Dan Holtz and Holmes also retired at the same time. Another yellow flew from lap 68-70 when a two-car shunt and wall-contact peeled back the right side of Rex Lockwood’s car. On lap 73 second place Kanke made his inside move in turn two and passed Gomez for the lead. He ran his fastest laps and steadily increased his advantage over Gomez to a straightaway by lap 92 when a stalled car caused another caution.
Kanke again extended his lead to half a straight by lap 99 when the yellow light flashed after seventh place Kevin Callahan, from Bakersfield, got into the back of sixth place Strmiska, from Manteca. Strmiska’s No. 90 ended its run against the second turn crash-wall. Callahan’s No. 19 continued to a preliminary sixth place finish. However, SRL officials disqualified Callahan after his 98th lap. Later officials made Callahan a non-classified driver (DQ) for causing Strmiska’s crash. So 29 cars were listed in the official finishing order. The race had a green, white, and checkered flags finish. Kanke won by ten yards (0.683) over 18th starter Jason Gilbert, a 28-year old from Dublin, CA. Fourteenth starter Ryan Foster, from Redding, finished third, 1.995 seconds behind Kanke. Gomez fell to fourth on the lap 92 green and was 2.192 seconds off the lead because he had a worn RR tire from chasing Kanke. Pettit, Newberry, SRL rookie Dallas Montes, and Keith Spangler finished fifth through eighth respectively and all completed 100 laps. Farre was ninth with 99 laps. Strmiska and Reed were awarded P. 10-11 with 98 laps. Reed was penalized a lap for pitting and replacing a tire without approval by an official. Only 15 of 30 starters finished and some had missing bodywork from various incidents.
LANGERS S2: Eight S2 cars of the ten that have raced at Irwindale this season raced Saturday. Jeff Schrader (Racecar Factory) said he has built 14 S2 cars to date. Three cars were sold to buyers in Colorado, Wisconsin (Five Star Bodies) and to Roseville, CA car owner Bill McAnally. The 14th car is for sale at his Irwindale shop. Dave Busby set the fastest qualifying time by 0.012 over Michael J. Lewis, son of many-time USAC National Midget car owner champion/Thanksgiving Midget Grand Prix winning car owner Steve Lewis, of Laguna Beach. Lewis made his stock car debut in Tim Huddleston’s HPR No. 59 after practicing in it Friday night. Lewis, 19, has been racing the No. 14 Formula BMW open-wheel car this season on road circuits used by Formula One World Championship teams. He raced at the famous Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium circuit last week and will race at Monza, Italy next week. His best finish so far has been second place on the F.1 weekend at Sepang, Malaysia. Lewis has returned stateside at times to race a USAC Ford Focus Midget for Western Speed Racing of central California. He has won a pair of USAC FF Midget features this season at Orange Show in San Bernardino and at Roseville.
As second fastest S2 qualifier Lewis started the 20-lap main from pole position. Dylan Lupton led the first lap. Busby led laps 2-6. Then Lupton, from Wilton, CA, took charge and led laps 7-20 and won the third main of his rookie S2 season by 35-yards (1.557). Lewis ran third for the first 17 laps in a tight, three-way dogfight for the lead. Ultimately Lewis was part of a four-way battle for second position. Lewis took P. 2 on the inside at turn two when Busby drifted up the track and lost three positions. Lewis beat third place Andrew Porter, 16, by 0.708 for his first stock car podium finish in his first try. Roman Lagudi, from Las Vegas, started the race tied for the point lead with his HPR teammate Lupton. His fourth place finish dropped him six points in back of Lupton (592-586) with only one race remaining during the second S2 season. All eight starters completed 20 laps with Missouri resident Kendell Lopez fifth, Busby sixth, and brothers Gary and Bill Waters (-8.069 seconds) following in the 8:39.936 all-green light event.
ECHO EQUIPMENT LEGENDS: A 21-car field for the standard 35-lap main on the third-mile used a three-car inverted lineup based on qualifying times. Fastest qualifier Darren Amidon, 25, shot from third to first on the initial lap and paced the first four circuits. On lap 5 after a brief caution flag, fifth starter Donny St. Ours made an inside pass exiting turn four and took the lead. A lap later pole starter Chad Schug took P. 2 when Amidon drifted high in the fourth turn. Schug took the lead on lap 8, but St. Ours reclaimed the point on lap 11 with an inside move entering turn three. Schug led laps 12-17 before St. Ours retook the top spot. On lap 20 a four-car crash claimed cars in P. 5-7-8-9 as they exited the fourth turn. Schug again reclaimed the lead on lap 26 and was in front of a fan-pleasing, three-way fight with earlier race leaders St. Ours and Amidon. St. Ours made his winning pass on the final lap and edged Schug by 0.029, with Amidon 0.129 behind the winner. Amidon had won the last three TS@I mains and seven of the last eight features. He did not compete in three of the 13 Irwindale events. He currently ranks sixth in points, 90 digits behind point leader and three-time feature winner Brent Scheidemantle with three events remaining. Tony Green, Scheidemantle, Mark Iungerich, Cale Kanke, first-time Irwindale racer Stanislaw Osterland, from Los Gatos, Josh Geer and Gary Scheuerell completed the top ten. Sixteen of 18 finishers logged all 35 laps. The 22-minute race had four yellow flags.
TRAILER RACE: Fourteen entries appeared for the third TS@I trailer race this season and 12 started a 25-lap race. On board the trailers were rowboats, skidoos or huge tires that quickly became on-track debris as drivers moving forward picked off trailers, which shed cargo. Fans enjoyed the adrift rowboats being hit by other drivers. One car even pushed a rowboat around the third-mile. Competitors lined up three wide, ala Indianapolis 500 or off-road racing, for a standing start at the lap 1 green flag. The all-green light race had five leaders and seven lead changes, including a last lap winning pass by Robert Rice. The versatile driver drove a 1973 Chevy El Camino and towed a large Pick Your Part rowboat. Leaders were cars No. 14 (L 1-3), No. 1 (L 4, 7 and 25), No. 00 (L 5-6), No. 87 (L 8-15 and 17-24) and No. 0 (L 16). Leader Jonathan DeStefano (No. 87) was involved in a crash in the final turn on the last lap and finished fourth. Shayla Zins, Bill Thiebert, DeStefano and Cheryl Hyland completed the top five. Seven cars were still circulating at the 10:54 pm checkered flag.
JAN’S TOWING BANDOLEROS: Fourteen Bandolero drivers qualified and raced their Briggs & Stratton-powered cars on the third-mile Saturday in the first race at 7:49 pm. Thirty SRL cars qualified with two laps from 7:09-7:44. The small cars started straight-up with FQ Ryan Cansdale, 11, on the pole. He led all 25 laps in a 7:44.354 all-green light event. Rookie Blaine Perkins, 10, started third and ran second all the way. Christian McGhee came from P. 5 to third. Amanda Poertner, 13, started and finished fourth. She took that position from R. J. Stearns on lap 23 with an inside pass as they raced from turn four. Cansdale won by 40-yards (3.051 seconds) over Perkins. Stearns was fifth as all 14 drivers finished with 13 on the lead lap. Point leader Trevor Huddleston, a three-time 2010 race winner, placed sixth in race 15. Cansdale, the 2009 track champion/rookie of the year, lopped 10 points from Huddleston’s point lead and now trails Huddleston by only six points (622-616). Third place Stearns (594) and P. 4 Ricky Schlick (590) are not out of championship contention mathematically either.
Friday Bando race: During Friday night open practice, in which 30 SRL cars took to the half-mile, 12 Bandos were present. Eleven drivers raced 20 laps on the third-mile. FQ R. J. Stearns (Ron, Jr) started and finished first at 7:40 pm. The series rookie led all the way. Cansdale started second and was the runner-up all 20 laps; he finished 0.176 back. McGhee, Perkins, Poertner, Schlick and Huddleston completed the top seven. All 11 drivers finished and ten drivers ran all 20 laps of the 6:12.187 all-green light race.