The SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series is heading to Irwindale Speedway (CA) for the fourth event of the 2020 season. Here are some News and Notes on the “SPEARS Manufacturing 100 presented by Earnest Performance Inc.” to get you up to speed at the ½-mile facility.
Second Appearance: This will be the second 2020 event from Irwindale Speedway for the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series. Derek Thorn took home $25,000 for winning the season opening “Sunrise Ford All-Star Showdown 200 presented by the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame”. The top-five also included Preston Peltier, Jack Wood, Dylan Lupton and Linny White.
Thorn Domination: Derek Thorn has been on a roll this season. He has won all three championship events, as well as the 2019 season closer at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NV) last November. He has won four of the last five SRL events at Irwindale Speedway and has a total of five SRL wins at the facility, to lead all drivers. M.K. Kanke and Ryan Cansdale are the only other multi-time winners.
Championship Hunt: The top-10 in the championship standings are all entered for this weekend’s event. Derek Thorn leads Eric Schmidt, Linny White, Carlos Vieira, Cole Moore, Tyler Fabozzi, Jacob Gomes, John Moore, Kyle Neveau and Scott Sanchez.
Rookie Battle: Joey Iest leads the Rookie-of-the-Year Standings to this point in the season. Iest leads Dean Thompson, Buddy Shepherd, Matthew Wendt and Tim Spurgeon. Brandon Farrington will look to jump back into the top-five as he makes his return to the series this weekend. Five rookies are entered this weekend. Three drivers have scored Rookie-of-the-Race honors in 2020. Those drivers are Brandon Farrington, Buddy Shepherd and Matt Wendt.
Red Hot Rookie: Although Buddy Shepherd is only running a partial schedule with the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series, it doesn’t mean he hasn’t been busy behind the wheel. Shepherd has won the first two Nut-Up Pro Late Model Series events at Madera Speedway, and opened the season with a win in their regular Late Model Division. Shepherd finished runner-up to Thorn in the SRL Kern County Raceway event, and will now head to Irwindale Speedway for the first time. An opportunity he is excited about.
“I am pumped to finally get to race down there for my first time on the half mile”, Shepherd stated. “I’m always up for a new challenge.”
If not Red Hot, Very Warm: 14-year-old Tanner Reif will also be making his first SPEARS Southwest Tour Series start at Irwindale Speedway. Just last weekend, Reif made his first Late Model start on the ½-mile oval. He came home victorious in the second of two Main Events. The six-time Madera Speedway Junior Late Model winner hopes the experience will pay off this weekend.
“I’m looking forward to racing with the SRL guys at Irwindale this weekend’, Reif explained. “Running the SRL Tour is hopefully my next step. I won the last Late Model race there, so I’m feeling pretty good about the weekend, and looking forward to racing with some great competition.”
Home Track Roller Coaster: Kyle Neveau calls Irwindale Speedway his home track. It is the site of his best two finishes on the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series, coming home fourth on two occasions. But he has also had some tough runs, finishing 16th and 22nd , once with a destroyed race car. One thing that has been consistent, however, has been his speed.
“I always look forward to racing at Irwindale”, Neveau stated. “We haven’t always had luck there, but we usually have good speed. It’s one of those tracks where you can move around and try different lines to get the car to turn, if you have to, and I really enjoy racetracks like that. I’m just going in with the mindset of doing the best we can, and continuing to work toward improvement until the end of the race Saturday. I think if we do that, and things go our way, we’ll have a good day.”
Veteran Experience: 55-time Irwindale Speedway winner Nick Joanides has entered this weekend’s event. Joanides last start in the series was in 2017. In that event he qualified 21st, but drove his car into the top-five, before a late race incident ended his evening. He is happy to be racing this weekend and likes his chances for a strong finish.
“In these times, doing anything outside of the house is a blessing”, Joanides disclosed. “I have always loved the Southwest Tour. They are my favorite kind of cars to drive. We tried to run a few races, as you know, in the fairly recent past. But we had an outdated engine, that I think was hurting our chances. We managed to take that old car and get it up to the top-five at Irwindale, before getting taken out. But the Jackson’s built a new car last year, and have a new engine coming for it this week, so hopefully the package of the two allows us to be more competitive, in this ultra-competitive series.”
Track Record: Dylan Lupton holds the current Track Record for the SRL at Irwindale Speedway. He set the record on March 23, 2019 at 17.055. Lupton is entered in this weekend’s event and will look to maintain his mark.
Solid Field: 26 Super Late Models are entered for this weekend’s event. Five drivers have Super Late Model touring series titles. Those drivers include Eric Schmidt, Jacob Gomes, Cole Moore, Derek Thorn and John Moore.
Payout: Like all SRL events, the winner will receive a minimum of $5,000. This weekend, Earnest Performance is paying out the “Winner’s Bonus”, to achieve that payout.
No Fans: Irwindale Speedway has not been approved to host fans in the Main Grandstand, due to Covid-19 restrictions. Thus far in 2020, only the first SRL event at Irwindale Speedway has found fans in the grandstand.
Live Stream and MAVTV: This weekend’s event will be live streamed at www.SpearsRacing.TV. It will also be shown on a tape delayed basis on MAVTV, at a time and date to be named later.
Schedule: The ”SPEARS Manufacturing 100 presented by Earnest Performance” is Round #4, of the ten-event season for the series. The series will be joined by the SPEARS Modifieds, Southwest Tour Trucks and the Pro Late Models. The early schedule on Saturday finds practice for all divisions beginning at 10:20 AM (PST), with Qualifying slated for 2:10 PM (PST). The National Anthem is set for 4:00 PM (PST) with the Feature Events to follow.
-Story by: Kevin Peters, SRL
-Photo Credit: SRL Southwest Tour