Every January in Southern California, you'll find many racing teams making a long trek to Toyota Speedway in Irwindale. Teams come from across the country to compete in the Toyota All-Star Showdown. The Showdown usually features three races, the biggest of which is the 250-lap NASCAR Camping World East and West series race. The race is known for being extremely competitive and full of crashes.
This year didn't disappoint, the Showdown produced numerous crashes and an amazing finish where Joey Logano made a last lap move on then leader Peyton Sellers. Joey drove into the corner way too deep and slammed into the side of Sellers. Sellers hit the wall along with Logano. Logano was able to get the car straightened back out and cross the finish line ahead of Matt Kobyluck. Logano was penalized for his last lap encounter with Sellers, disqualified from the event, and finished 40th. Matt Kobyluck took the checkered flag home.
Needless to say, the fans were going crazy, as this type of racing is nothing new to them. The track is a wide half-mile with very little banking, allowing drivers to run comfortably three-wide for multiple laps, which produces plenty of fender-banging action.
OK. I can hear all of you readers out there saying, All right, we have heard all this already! Which is true, everyone who's ever been to Irwindale has come back saying the exact same thing. But what impressed me most about the track was what happened after the Camping World race
There were two more races scheduled, a 75-lap Late Model race and a 150-lap Super Late Model race. However, an abundance of rain during the week forced cancellation of qualifying for both events. So, the promoters were in a predicament. With 47 Late Models and 51 Super Lates, some cars were going to be sent home without the opportunity to even try qualifying for the event. Or were they?
The officials at Irwindale met with NASCAR, pitching the idea to let everyone race. The decision was made to draw for starting positions and then let every car that showed up start the race! How long has it been since we've seen 50 cars on a half-mile?
It doesn't matter that both races were crash-filled and eventually had to be cut short because of Irwindale's curfew. Not only did all 98 cars take to the track, but also each person received a check for starting their race. Unreal! They could have easily cut both fields down and sent drivers home and had every reason to do so. But I've got to commend Irwindale for allowing teams the opportunity to get on the track. I also have to highlight one driver. Andrew Myers drove from the 31st spot and finished Second. This was more impressive considering he only had 55 laps to do so.
Like I said, we could learn a lot from the tracks out in Southern California.
The half-mile at the Toyota...
The half-mile at the Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, California, always produces amazing races. However, it was the promoter's decisions during a rain delay that impressed me the most. Courtesy NASCAR
Tragedy Strikes The Racing WorldJust prior to press time, Matt Hawkins, winner in multiple series, which include the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series, and the ARCA Re/Max Series, passed away at the age of 21. Hawkins was an up-and-coming star; he not only won in his first start in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup but accomplished the same thing in the ARCA Re/Max Series. Matt lost his life after an incident involving an accidental gun discharge.
I had the privilege to race against Matt on multiple occasions, and can honestly say that I don't know of another driver who ran me cleaner than Matt did. I didn't know him very well, however, he treated me like I was his teammate.
Everyone at Circle Track and Gibson Motorsports was saddened to hear that Matt passed away. Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with the Hawkins family and friends.