The SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series will head to Irwindale Speedway (CA) this Saturday night for the “Patriots Honor 100 presented by Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse San Dimas.” We get you ready for the race with a look at some news and notes.
Race Five: The “Patriots Honor 100 presented by Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse San Dimas” is the fifth race of nine scheduled events for the SPEARS (SRL) Southwest Tour Series in 2017. It is the second appearance at the Irwindale Event Center this season. Bobby Hodges won the season opener in a thrilling duel with three-time SRL Champion Derek Thorn and East Coast standout Willie Allen.
Five Star Payout: The race winner will receive $5,000 at this weekend’s event, thanks to additional sponsorship from Five Star Race Car Bodies through the winner’s bonus program.
Big Field: 30 Super Late Models are currently pre-entered for this weekend’s racing action. It is the largest field of the season. The largest SRL field at Irwindale Speedway was 31 cars on September 4, 2010.
Champions Galore: There are six current and former Southwest Tour Series champions entered in this weekend’s race: Derek Thorn, Jacob Gomes, M.K. Kanke, Eric Schmidt, Craig Raudman and Ron Esau have all submitted entries.
Firsts – Girl Power: For the first time in SRL Series history, two female drivers have entered a SPEARS Southwest Tour Series Event. Toni McCray and Kayla Eshleman have both submitted entries for this weekend’s event.
Firsts x 2 – Family Affair: Two father and son pairs are entered in this weekend’s event. M.K. Kanke and his son Cale, as well as Dennis Furden and his son Kevin, will all participate in this weekend’s action.
Final Event: With the announcement of the closing of the Irwindale Event Center on January 31, 2018, this could be the final event for the series at Irwindale Speedway. It will be the series 12th race at the speedway, which was opened in 1999.
Hard Charger Supreme: Scott Sanchez holds the all-time record for positions improved in a race by advancing 25 spots, from 29th to fourth, at Irwindale Speedway on November 28, 2010.
Winner Winner Chicken Dinner: M.K. Kanke has the most SRL wins at Irwindale Speedway with three. He also has three NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour wins at LA’s Little Super Speedway.
Home Cooking: Many drivers in this weekend’s field currently call Irwindale Speedway their home track. Kayla Eshleman, Kevin Furden, Christian McGhee, Nick Joanides, Ricky Schlick, Trevor Huddleston and Toni McCray have all turned laps in Irwindale’s weekly divisions within the last year.
Ripping It Up: Nick Joanides has 54 career victories at Irwindale Speedway, and will be looking for one more this weekend. He is second only to former NASCAR Southwest Tour Series Champion Rip Michaels.
First Timers: Seven drivers are scheduled to make their first SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series starts of the season. M.K. Kanke, Nick Joanides and Joe Farre’ are included in that group, while Kayla Eshleman, Kevin Furden, Ron Esau and Kyle Ray will make their first career starts.
Old Guys Rule: They may not all claim to be old, but seven drivers in the field have made starts in the former NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour Series. Craig Raudman, Eric Schmidt, M.K. Kanke, Keith Spangler, Bob Lyon, Nick Joanides and Ron Esau have all competed in the series that ended after the 2006 season.
Youth Uprising: Six teenagers are entered in this weekend event, including championship leader Blaine Rocha. He is joined by Kayla Eshleman, Jack Wood, Christian McGhee, Ricky Schlick and Trevor Huddleston. Each will be looking to spoil the veteran’s pursuit of the top prize.
Pinnacle Peak Puts Steak in the SRL: This will be the fifth event that Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse San Dimas has been the presenting sponsor of a SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series event. Glenn Davis and crew will also be a presenting sponsor at the season finale at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on November 18.
Patriots Honor: Working with PatriotsHonor.org, all active and retired military members will be granted free admission with ID. Come out and meet some of the Patriots Honor recipients at the track. It is Patriots Honor’s first race title sponsorship.
Potpourri of Winners: Only two drivers have more than one SPEARS Southwest Tour Series win at Irwindale Speedway. M.K. Kanke has three wins, while Ryan Cansdale has two. Single race winners include Jim Pettit II, Troy Ermish, Jonathon Gomez, Greg Voigt, Derek Thorn and Bobby Hodges.
Mr. Quick: Derek Thorn holds the track record at Irwindale Speedway with a time of 17.272 seconds, set on March 25, 2017. He has set fast time on a total of six occasions at the facility with the SRL.
Top Ten: All drivers within the top 10 of the current SRL championship standings are entered for this event. Blaine Rocha leads Bobby Hodges by a mere two points. They are followed by Derek Thorn, Craig Raudman, Ricky Schlick, Eric Schmidt, Carlos Vieira, Jacob Gomes, Donny St. Ours and Scott Sanchez.
Outside Looking In: Keith Spangler, Christian McGhee and Cale Kanke are all with striking distance of the top 10 in points at this stage of the season.
Big Weekend: The SRL will be joined by the Lucas Oil Modifieds for their 75-lap feature event. The “Geico 75 presented by Spray Nine” will be the seventh championship event, of ten for the highly-competitive series. Taylor Miinch is the current championship leader, but Dylan Cappello is riding a three-race win streak to climb into the runner-up position.
MAVTV: The “Patriots Honor 100 presented by Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse San Dimas” will be aired on MAVTV on a tape-delayed basis. The time and date will be announced at a future date.
Race Times: Front gates for this weekend’s event open at 4:00 p.m. Qualifying for all classes begin at 4:15 with an autograph session scheduled from 5-6:30. Opening ceremonies are slated for 6:45 with feature events for the Western Racing Association Vintage Race Car Exhibition, Jan’s Towing Super Stocks, SPEARS Southwest Tour and Lucas Oil Modifieds to follow.
-By Kevin Peters, Speed51.com West Coast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com