Event: The “R.J. Allen 100 presented by Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse” is the sixth event of the season for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series. Both headlining sponsors will be involved in the event with separate race teams. R.J Allen Inc. is the family business of Andy Allen, who will be driving his No. 22a Super Late Model in the weekend’s event. Glenn Davis is the owner of Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse in San Dimas and Colton, CA. He will be serving as the tire specialist for the No. 99 of Linny White, the most recent SRL winner at Kern County Raceway.
Milestone Start: 2015 SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series Champion Jacob Gomes, will make his 96th start in the series. The start will push Gomes past Troy Ermish for the lead in all-time series starts. Even more impressive is Gomes' streak of consecutive starts. Gomes began in the SRL Series with three races remaining in the 2009 season. He has not missed a start since. With three races to go after Irwindale, that makes 10 years without missing a race.
When asked about his milestone, and what it means to him, Gomes had this to say:
“It means I'm old. No, it just means we have always been completely committed to the SRL, since day one, and they put together a great series. We love running with them. It is a very competitive series that Larry and Brian have put together, and it means a lot me and my team have been around this long. We look forward to more starts, some more wins, and another championship.”
The SRL’s Brian Olsen recalls Gomes’ beginnings in the SRL as well as his growth throughout the years.
“I can’t believe he’s starting his 96th race this weekend. It seems like yesterday he was waiting to turn 16 so he could be old enough to race with us, and now he’s the all-time starts leader. He’s had an outstanding career so far, highlighted by his 2015 championship. It’s been great seeing him grow, not only as a driver, but as young man as well.”
If Gomes continues his current streak, he will reach the magical 100 mark at the season opener in 2020.
Try Not to Suck: Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon and his wife, Jaye, in conjunction with their Respect 90 Foundation, have partnered with Irwindale Speedway (CA) to host “Try Not to Suck Race Night.” The event will include both live and silent auctions, filled with unique experiences and items from the sports world. There will also be giveaways of premium items, such as original Respect 90 “Try Not to Suck” t-shirts and Chicago Cubs promotional items.
Proceeds from the event will benefit “Play It Forward for Kids,” a Southern California based non-profit dedicated to providing sporting equipment to underserved elementary schools.
2019 Debut: Four drivers will be making their 2019 SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series season debuts. Chris Eggleston, Gracin Raz, Keith Spangler and Toni McCray will make their first starts of the season. This will be Eggleston's fifth career start, Raz will make his second start, Spangler racks up start number 93 and Toni McCray makes career appearance number eight.
Points Battle: 2018 SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series Rookie of the Year Cole Moore leads a tight point battle at the front of the field. Moore has scored 753 points with 2019 Rookie-of-the-Year hopeful Tyler Fabozzi second, just eight markers behind. Jacob Gomes sits third 17 points behind Fabozzi. With his win at Kern County Raceway, Linny White vaulted into fourth, 19 points behind Gomes. 2015 Pacific Challenge Series Champion John Moore rounds out the top-five with 677 points. Jace Hansen, Derek Thorn, Craig Raudman, Kyle Neveau and Blaine Rocha complete the current top 10.
Large Field: 28 drivers are on the current entry list for this weekend’s event. The series is averaging 26.2 cars per event in 2019. 27 drivers attempted to start this event in 2018.
Rookies: Six rookie drivers are entered for this weekend’s action at Irwindale Speedway. Tyler Fabozzi, Jace Hansen, Eric Nascimento Jr., Jesse Love and Don Zoll Jr. are the current top-five in the Rookie of the Year chase. All are entered for this event, along with Irwindale Speedway’s most successful female racer, Toni McCray. McCray has a best finish of third in SPEARS Southwest Tour Series action. It came at Irwindale in 2014, her series debut.
NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series: Two drivers with recent success in that series are represented on this weekend’s roster. Dylan Lupton is coming off a fifth-place finish in his last outing in the Truck Series at Kentucky Speedway. His recent effort follows up a top-10 result in his previous Truck Series start, racing for the DGR-Crosley Racing Team. Coincidentally, Lupton finished fifth in his last SRL race at Irwindale.
Colorado’s Chris Eggleston had four Truck Series starts in 2018. Eggleston finished inside the top-15 in every start, twice qualifying inside the top-five and earning one top-10 finish. Eggleston was the 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Champion, while also finishing as the series runner-up in 2017.
Winner’s Bonus: The winner of Saturday night’s race will take home $5,000, thanks to the “Winner’s Bonus” sponsored by Performance Friction Brakes. PFC Brakes is also the sponsor of the PFC Brakes Zero Drag Fast Time Award.
Winners: Derek Thorn and M.K. Kanke have the most wins in the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series at Irwindale Speedway. Ryan Cansdale has two victories while Jim Pettit II, Troy Ermish, Jonathon Gomez, Greg Voigt, Bobby Hodges, Eric Schmidt and Preston Peltier have single triumphs.
Spangler is Back: Keith Spangler will make his first series start since September of 2018. Spangler will be back in a new Port City Super Late Model and was pleased with his new car after testing two weeks ago. Spangler counts 92 series starts which is fourth on the all-time list. Spangler has 30 Southwest Tour starts at Irwindale, with a best finish of second.
Weekend Schedule: The weekend action will get underway with practice for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour, SPEARS Manufacturing Modified Series presented by Lucas Oil and the Southwest Tour Truck Series on Friday evening. Saturday sees practice for all three divisions beginning at 1:00 p.m. with one hour for the SPEARS Southwest Tour and SPEARS Modified Series, followed by a half-hour session for the Southwest Tour Truck Series. Admission Gates open at 4:00 p.m., while Qualifying begins at 4:15 p.m. for the SWT Trucks, followed by the SRL and then Modified Series.
The ever-popular autograph session, on the front straightaway, is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., followed by opening ceremonies at 6:45 p.m. The SPEARS Modified Series will kick the action off with Segment #1 of their split 80-lap main event. The Southwest Tour Series Trucks will then run their main event, followed by the 40-lap Segment #2 for the Modifieds. The SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series will then close out the evening with the “RJ Allen 100 presented by Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse.”
-Story by: Kevin Peters, SRL
-Photo credit: SRL