first_img“We’ve been on fire,” Thirkettle said. Thanks to the track inspectors, that fire might continue for another week. “That was a close call,” Thirkettle said. “You need those breaks once in a while. That was kind of a blessing.” Chris Houwen of Acton is seventh in the Late Model standings. The NASCAR Super Trucks, Super Stocks, Mini Stocks and Figure 8s are also scheduled to race tonight at Irwindale Speedway. Dave Blakenship of Stevenson Ranch is second in the Super Trucks standings. Rookie Brian Reed of Castaic is seventh and rookie Brent Cusick of Canyon Country is 10th. Gates open at 4 p.m. Races start at 7. Indy Racing League: Qualifying for the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 begins today, weather permitting, after last weekend’s sessions were rained out. Marlboro Team Penske driver Sam Hornish Jr. and Chip Ganassi’s Team Target driver Dan Wheldon have been the fastest drivers at Indianapolis Motor Speedway the past two weeks. Teams have been able to practice at the track, but rain and bad weather have postponed some of the scheduled events. Teams and drivers were able to turn some laps this week. Most were working on race set-up rather than qualifying on Wednesday and Thursday. As a result, the times have been a little slower than they were on Sunday, when teams were preparing to qualify for the race. Hornish had the top speed in Thursday’s session at 224.951 mph. His Penske teammate Helio Castroneves was second at 224.437 mph. Valencia’s Bryan Herta was 18th-fastest of the 31 drivers who practiced Thursday. His best lap was at 218.593 mph. “I went out (Thursday) and got a read on our starting car but felt like it wasn’t quite as good as it was (Wednesday),” said Herta, a Hart High of Newhall graduate and driver for Andretti Green Racing. “So we ran back to the garage to put (Wednesday’s) setup back on.” Drivers only had an hour and 20 minutes of practice time on Thursday. Rain and two accidents by rookies Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Thiago Medeiros prevented drivers from being on the track any longer. “The guys did a great job because they were under the gun on time and we got back out with what would have been 45 minutes of green (flag) time left,” Herta said. “Then Thiago had his accident and the rain came so we never got to go out and evaluate it.” Herta’s Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan was seventh-fastest in Thursday’s session. His fastest lap was at 221.707 mph, tops among the Andretti Green drivers. (818) 713-3715160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinalsAfter taking out the transmission, Thirkettle’s team noticed that it wasn’t in great condition. It probably wouldn’t have lasted another race. And without the inspection, the team probably wouldn’t have made any adjustments to fix it. “It was ready to break. It would’ve ruined our season,” said Thirkettle, a driver from Newhall. “Our goal was to contend for the championship, and it would have ruined us.” Instead of that possibly disastrous result, Thirkettle has a chance to win his third straight Late Model race tonight at Irwindale Speedway. After three races, Thirkettle leads the Late Model standings by three points over Tim Huddleston of Agoura Hills. Going back to last year, Thirkettle has won five of the past seven races at Irwindale Speedway. If Travis Thirkettle ends up winning the NASCAR Late Model championship at Irwindale Speedway, he may never complain about post-race inspections again. After winning the race on April 29, track officials wanted to inspect Thirkettle’s transmission. There is nothing unusual about inspecting the winning cars after a race, but targeting a transmission is a bit rare. It happens about once a season, and the track officials couldn’t have had better timing. last_img

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