Irwindale Speedway Next for SPEARS Southwest Tour

The SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series heads back to Irwindale Speedway for Round #4 of the 10-race 2022 season.


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Bakersfield, CA - On May 21st, the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series will head back to Irwindale Speedway for Round #4 of the 10-race 2022 season. Teams will race for a $6,000 payday in the “Spears Manufacturing 100 presented by Pinnacle Steakhouse”. The Spears Pro Late Models presented by Sigma Performance Services, and the Spears Modified Series will also be in action on the inner one-third mile, competing in the “Spears Manufacturing 60 presented by Optima Batteries” and the “Comp Cams 60 presented by Optima Batteries” respectively.

The Super Late Model event has 23 entries and will honor long-time Irwindale Speedway racer and former track Race Director Michael Atkinson (AKA Mike A), who passed away on February 11, 2021. “Mike A” has been at the speedway since it opened in 1999 and has been a fixture at the facility since. In honor of the long-time track supporter, Loyd McGhee and J&M Racing has added $1,000 to the winner’s share of the purse, with an additional $500 to the fast qualifier and another $500 for leading lap 17, his former racecar number.

Derek Thorn has won the last three Super Late Model events at the half-mile facility, including the season opening $25,000-to-win “All-Star Showdown 200”. With Thorn pursuing a national touring schedule in 2022, that streak will end on Saturday. Thorn is the winningest SRL winner at Irwindale with eight victories in 18 series starts. M.K. Kanke is second on the list with six victories, three in the NASCAR Southwest Tour Series and three in the SRL. Ryan Cansdale and Preston Peltier are the only other multi-time winners in the 22 previous series visits with two each.

Jacob Gomes enters the event as the championship leader, having scored wins at All America Speedway (CA) and Kern County Raceway Park (CA). Gomes has found Victory Lane very hard to reach at Irwindale, however. He has five top-five finishes in 20 career starts with a best result of second in this event in 2021. His 12 top-10 efforts see the Manteca, CA driver slightly below his career average, but as Gomes makes his 121st career start, he hopes he can grab just a little more luck to earn his 10th series triumph.

“We just need a little better luck”, Gomes replied about getting to Victory Lane. “We’ve had a ton of really good runs there, leading, and then things go wrong. Hopefully we can have a little better luck this go-around. It would be great to get me a win there. It has been a hard track for me to conquer.”

Jace Hansen has had a strong 2022 season and currently sits second in the championship standings. The Greeley, CO driver has earned two top-five’s and with a season worst seventh at the “All-Star Showdown” in the season opener. He is coming off a career tying series best effort of second at Kern County Raceway Park and a victory in the local Super Late Model Division at Colorado National Speedway. He hopes his strong 2022 season continues and that his momentum will carry over to this weekend’s big event.

“A win at home really helps keep the guys motivated at the shop preparing for Irwindale”, Hansen stated! “It makes the team even more hungry for our first tour series win, but we know those aren't easy to come by. The whole group is putting a ton of effort into making sure we bring a competitive race car. The time and effort are there! Irwindale is one of my favorite tracks, so hopefully with this little boost of morale, and a little luck, we will be battling for another win next weekend!”

Jeremy Doss has been consistent in his return to the Spears Southwest Tour Super Late Models, earning top-five finishes in all three starts to sit third in the standings. That includes a second at All American Speedway in Round #2. But after a nine-win season in the Spears Pro Late Models in 2021, Doss is overdo for a win by his own standards. For Irwindale, he will be back behind the wheel of a Bob Lyon Super Late Model. It is the team for which he opened the season at the “All-Star Showdown 200” in February. Doss made his debut in this car at the “Snowball Derby” at Five Flags Speedway last December. The car has been refurbished with a new body and a new motor from Peters Racing Engines, giving Doss high hopes for a victory this weekend.

“I'm excited to be back behind the wheel of the #44 this weekend at Irwindale Speedway”, Doss stated. “It's the car we ran at the Snowball Derby with a brand-new Peters Racing Engine! I feel like Irwindale is a place you can use the power, which will definitely help. We've been consistent but haven't been in Victory Lane yet, but I feel like we can change that this weekend.”

Sitting tied for fourth in the championship standings is another driver with a family pedigree for winning. M.K. Kanke has a total of six NASCAR Southwest Tour and Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series victories at Irwindale. His son Cale hopes to get in the win column this weekend. The younger Kanke finished fourth in the series championship in 2021 and has started 2022 with one top-five and three top-10’s. His best run was a fourth at the season opening “All-Star Showdown 200” at Irwindale. He was the top finishing championship contender at that event, and he hopes everything will come together this weekend to get SRL win number one, in his 34th career start.

“Such an interesting notion…the recipe for a win is always a combination of so many things”, Kanke reflected. “The consistency I have gained at Irwindale is due to our team’s experience, my dad’s advice, and having run a lot of laps. I do think Irwindale suits my driving style, as it is a multi-groove track that allows me to move around to maximize my car’s speed.”

Kanke continued, “I think the recipe for a win is when preparation creates and meets opportunity. Obviously, every competitor is trying to put together the winning recipe on any given race night. I think Irwindale would be a fine place for it all to come together!”

The driver tied with Kanke for fourth in the championship standings is Irwindale Speedway’s winningest driver Trevor Huddleston. Huddleston will be looking for his first series victory in his 23rd start, and his 11th at Irwindale. Huddleston has scored four top-fives in those starts, with a best of second in 2017. He is a former Irwindale winner in the ARCA Menards Pro Series West and has won in almost every division that races at the half-mile oval. His win total is in the mid 70’s eclipsing Rip Michaels mark early in 2021. It is his experience at Irwindale that he hopes will get him to Victory Lane.

“High Point Racing has been racing at Irwindale for 20 plus years, so I'm pretty sure we can say that our notebook is pretty big”, Huddleston admitted. “We have lots of notes, laps, and time which equal wins. I'm just fortunate enough to be the one behind the wheel. To win in the SRL will both be a sigh of relief, as well insane happiness. The amount of blood sweat and tears we have put into these cars will be more than worth it, to end up in Victory Lane this weekend. This is one of the most premiere series out there, so winning no matter what the case, is something to be proud of.”

The top-five in the championship will be challenged by other teams who will be seeking the $6,000 winner’s prize. Two-time and defending Five Flags Speedway Allen Turner Pro Late Model track champion Chris Davidson will make the trip from Taylor Lake Village, TX to Irwindale. It will be his fourth series start, where his best finish was at Irwindale with a 10th.

Former Irwindale winner Eric Schmidt will be seeking his sixth series victory. The Roseville, CA driver was the 2006 series champion and the championship runner-up in 2018. He is an All-American Speedway (CA) and Stockton 99 Speedway (CA) track champion, as well as a Pacific Challenge Series Champion, earning eight wins in only 20 starts.

Kulwicki Driver Development Program finalist Dylan Zampa will make his series debut in a Sigma Performance Services Super Late Model. Zampa earned the ride by winning the Sigma Performance Services “Young Gun” Award in the Spears Pro Late Model Series in 2021. Zampa will be in a Super Late Model for the first time. It is a chance that he is thrilled to take advantage of.

“I’m definitely excited for the opportunity to drive a “Super” for the first time”, Zampa stated. “I had the opportunity to visit Joe (Farre’) and the guys at SPS (Sigma Performance Services), and their operation is top notch. I’m excited to race against some of the best Super Late Model drivers on the West Coast for sure. I’ve had the opportunity to compete against a few of them like (Jacob) Gomes, (Jeremy) Doss, (Buddy) Shepherd, and (Blaine) Rocha, but I’m sure this will be a totally different experience.”

Jake Bollman will also make his series debut in a car owned by Scott Sanchez. The Huntington Beach, CA racer has been participating in Pro Late Model events on both coasts of the country. He earned a top-five and two top 10’s in three starts for Rackley – W.A.R. Racing at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway (TN). He opened his season with a second place run in the Spears Pro Late Model Series at the All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway.

The Spears Modified Series will compete in Round #5 of their nine-race season. 17 Modifieds are entered for the “Spears Manufacturing 60 presented by Optima Batteries”. Jaron Giannini leads the championship standings after winning the season opener at Havasu 95 Speedway. Sam Jacks sits second in the season standings followed by Jimmy Sloan, Kyle Jacks and William Guevara. Two-time winner Travis Thirkettle sits sixth in the standings with Ray Mros, Kevin Vossen, Chris Dalton, and Stephen Brucker the top-10. All 10 are entered this weekend. Donna Gunther and R.J. Smotherman are scheduled to make their first series starts in the “Comp Cams 60 presented by Optima Batteries”.

In the Spears Pro Late Models, Tyler Reif is the championship leader after four rounds. He will be looking for his first series victory in the “Spears Manufacturing 60 presented by Optima Batteries”. Reif has a best finish of second but has finished no worse than sixth. Seth Wise sits second after winning at Kern County Raceway in the Winter Showdown. Tanner Reif sits third after finishing second at the most recent Kern County Raceway event. All American Speedway winner and 2022 Kulwicki Driver Development Program finalist Dylan Zampa sits fourth in the standings. Dylan’s older brother Logan Zampa is fifth, after a best finish of fourth. The series is averaging 21.5 cars per event in 2022.

Spectator Gates open at 4:00pm with qualifying rolling off at 4:30pm for the Spears Pro Late Model Series, Spears Manufacturing Modified Series, and the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series. An Autograph Session will take place from 5:45pm to 6:30pm with the National Anthem at 6:45pm. Main Events are scheduled to begin at 7:00pm for the Pro Late Models, Spears Modified and the Spears SRL Southwest Tour. A RV Figure-8 will follow the 100-lap feature with Fireworks closing out the evening’s festivities.

Super Late Model Entry:

05 Eric Schmidt, Roseville, CA

08 Jace Hansen, Greely, CO

11A Dustin Ash, Las Vegas, NV

14D Chris Davidson, Taylor Lake Village, TX

16 Jacob Gomes, Manteca, CA

17 RJ Johnson, Claremont, CA

22A Andy Allen, Garden Grove, CA

22S Buddy Shepherd, Bakersfield, CA

23 Dan Holtz, Pacific Palisades, CA

24B Jake Bollman, Huntington Beach, CA

24D Cody Dempster, Parker, CO*

24S Scott Sanchez, Bakersfield, CA

27M John Moore, Granite Bay, CA

33K Cale Kanke, Frazier Park, CA

37 Keith Spangler, Porter Ranch, CA

44 Jeremy Doss, Upper Lake, CA

50 Trevor Huddleston, Agoura Hills, CA

54 Dylan Zampa, Napa, CA*

57 Zach Telford, Middleton, ID*

66B Jeff Bischofberger, Tracy, CA

80 Andre Prescott, Mesa, AZ

98 Blaine Rocha, Oakdale, CA

99 TBA

-SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series Release