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SOUTHLAND RACING

White Overcomes Shaky Start

June 29, 2003|Martin Henderson,Tony Solorzano

Russell White earned his second victory of the season by holding off Greg Pursley to win the 75-lap Jani-King Super Late Model series feature Saturday night in front of 4,980 fans at Irwindale Speedway.

With NASCAR driver Robby Gordon in attendance, White recovered from a shaky start on the pole.

White took over the lead from Brandon Loverock on Lap 9 and never lost it.

In the 50-lap West Coast Pro Truck series feature, Michael Thomas won his first race of the season at the track, but the second-place finish of Dean Kuhn was under review for possibly violating a rule prohibiting race crews from doing any work on the truck before a postrace technical inspection.

Kuhn's crew measured the tire's pressure during postrace interviews.

In the 50-lap Ultra Wheel Super Truck series feature, Dave Blankenship held off Frank Steiner and Carson Woods for his second win of the season, closing the gap on series leader Ryan Arciero.

In the 20-lap USAC Ford Focus Midget series feature, Josh Lakatos held off Chris Rahe and Bobby McGowan for his fourth win of the season and first at Irwindale.

In the 30-lap King Taco Legends Car series feature, a spin by Tom Landreth allowed series leader Brent Jones to run away with the race, holding off 14-year-old David Ross and J.D. Hendley.

-- Tony Solorzano

*

Going three times farther than in any other race during the season, Riverside's Scott Brant became the ironman of Costa Mesa Speedway with a 25-lap victory at the Orange County Fairgrounds.

Starting 60 yards behind the start-finish line -- basically, last in the field alongside Shawn McConnell in the handicap-style start -- Brant avoided mistakes and mechanical gremlins and finished ahead of Shaun Harmatiuk by mere feet.

Brant passed the 18-year-old from Garden Grove coming off Turn 4 of the final lap when the youngster practically stalled as the result of fatigue and a tender tire.

"I was just getting tired and the tire was starting to fold on me," said Harmatiuk, who took the lead on Lap 2, then hugged the inside for dear life. "After Lap 22, I didn't have anything left."

Harmatiuk, who won a run-off against Justin Boyle and Dukie Ermolenko to qualify for the last starting position -- began on the 10-yard-line and took the lead from Danny Perkins on the second lap. But for the last five laps, Brant was right under his wheel going into the corners.

"I've been able to finish 25 laps, but I've never been strong enough physically to be able to lead for 25 laps," said Brant, who led only the last lap. "I don't ever remember ever passing anybody that late in a race on a big night."

The pass came fewer than 30 yards from the checkered flag.

McConnell, of Tustin, finished third and Randy DiFrancesco -- who crashed hard in his first heat and needed a victory in the his final heat to qualify for the grid -- finished fourth.

DiFrancesco finished second and third the last two years, and neither of the last two winners, Josh Larson or Charlie Venegas, were in this year's race.

Rudy Laurer of Gardena won the 12-lap support main event.

Martin Henderson

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