Kirby completes late model sweep at Speedway
BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian
Mike Kirby needed just a little bit of help to pull off a Late Model trifecta Saturday night at Bakersfield Speedway.
After hounding leader Devin Crockett for 27 laps of the division’s 30-lap feature, Kirby got an unintended assist from a lapped car, allowing him to claim his first main event win of the year.
Earlier in the evening, Kirby won his heat race and the Late Model Trophy Dash.
“I’ve won a lot of races with lapped cars and I’ve lost a lot,” Kirby said. “Unfortunately it (the lapped car) was my sister, but I don’t think that was the plan or nothing.”
Kirby spent the entire race glued to the bottom of the track, waiting for Crockett to make a bobble, that as it turned out, never happened.
“I couldn’t get by Devin, he was faster than me,” Kirby said. “I just kind of followed him. I was a little quicker in some spots, but he just beat me up in (turns) one and two.”
Crockett was the runner-up. Tommy Malcolm took third. Rob Sanders finished fourth and Nick Bartels was fifth.
Crockett lost the lead attempting to take the high line around the lapped car of Carla Laney, while Kirby wisely went low.
“The lapped car, I thought I could move up around it, but it just didn’t happen like that,” Crockett said. “What are you going to do?”
Roger Welch rallied after starting seventh to win the 20-lap American Stock main event.
Welch passed Kevin Johnston for the lead on lap 16 en route to his career-first feature win at Bakersfield Speedway.
Welch, who came into the night fourth in the points, had to get around Johnston twice in order to get the win.
He powered past Johnston, the race leader for 11 laps, on Lap 13, but then soon afterward got picked off by a lap car and briefly fell back to second place.
Mike Hill Jr. ended up second in the 14-car field. Johnston was third followed by Dakota Brown and Mark Irwin.
Kevin Irwin held off a hard-charging Steven Johnson to win the 25-lap Hobby Stock feature.
Irwin led the final 15 laps, passing Mike Bulley for the lead on Lap 11.
Steven Johnson, the points leader at the start of the night, finished a close second to Irwin after starting last in the 13-car field.
Carl Nolan, making his first appearance of the year at the track, was third. Bulley took fourth and Lloyd Wren Jr. finished fifth.
“I learned from my dad,” Irwin said after his second feature win of the year. “The way Bruce Johnson builds his cars, you can’t be a sissy when you drive them in the corner. I guess I finally learned that.”
John Bedingfield led the first four laps despite the fact that his car was spewing smoke from its rear-end.
Mike Bulley stalked Bedingfield for a couple of laps before surging to the lead on Lap 5.
Bulley held onto the top spot for six laps before eventually succumbing to Irwin.
Bruce Hiroshima of Camarillo out-dueled defending series champion West Evans to win the 25-lap NMRA TQ Midget feature.
Evans led the first 19 laps but had to slow for a lap-car late in the race allowing Hiroshima to slide underneath him a pull away for his second straight feature win at the track.
“I’d like to thank West (Evans) and those guys for racing us real clean,” Hiroshima. “He got held up a little by the lappers, but that’s part of racing.”
Evans held on to finish second. Kenny Wiley was third. Anthony Lopiccolo, the points-leader entering the race, took fourth and 2009 series champion Scott Dobson came home in fifth.