It’s the last chance for Thirkettle at Mesa Marin

first_imgTravis Thirkettle thought Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield always would be around. He thought he had time to race at the half-mile oval that made his dad famous. But when the track operators announced Mesa Marin was closing after the October Classic, the younger Thirkettle, a Newhall resident, decided he was going to take every opportunity to race there – and try to win a race before it closes. His first opportunity comes tonight. “I always thought it’d be there,” said Thirkettle, a regular in the NASCAR Late Model class at Irwindale Speedway. “I regret not racing there the last two years. I never won a race there.” There are only two more Late Model events on the Irwindale Speedway schedule. Tim Huddleston wrapped up the class track championship two weeks ago, and Thirkettle, who will be Late Model Rookie of the Year, can finish no higher than third in the standings. Thirkettle has scored a number of wins in the Late Model and Grand American Modified divisions at Irwindale Speedway. “I’m not new to the block, just new to the party,” Thirkettle said about his rookie status in the Late Model class. “I didn’t think I’d win this many races. The success is welcomed. I expect to win the rest of them.” The Late Models don’t race at Irwindale Speedway again until Sept. 17. In the meantime, he will race at Mesa Marin and the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He also wants to race in the Oct. 15 October Classic, the final NASCAR race scheduled at Mesa Marin. And he hasn’t ruled out giving his dad a chance to race at Mesa Marin one last time. “I’d love for him to do it,” Thirkettle said. “If it comes down to he’s faster than me, I’d hand over the keys.” NASCAR Busch Series: Ron Hornaday Jr. will seek to make his second start of the year for SKI Motorsports in the NASCAR Busch Series race today at California Speedway. Hornaday, a regular on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, has been sharing driving duties with Scott Riggs and Mike Bliss on the Busch Series in the No. 30 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Making his first start for SKI Motorsports at Atlanta Motor Speedway in May, Hornaday, from Palmdale, qualified 25th, but he was taken out in an opening-lap crash. “We showed what this car can do at Atlanta, so the task at hand will be to put it solidly in the show once again, and then have a clean run from start to finish on Saturday night,” Hornaday, a former Saugus Speedway champ, said on his Web site. “We have what it takes to make it happen.” None of the drivers have had much success in the car this year, the first year for SKI Motorsports in the Busch Series. Riggs debuted the car in March at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He qualified 30th and finished 21st. Bliss was on his way to a top-10 finish in July at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway when he was hit from behind on the the last lap and knocked out of contention. The car failed to qualify in the other two races it was entered. Tonight’s race marks the sixth of eight scheduled races for the No. 30 SKI Motorsports Chevy. It also is set to race in November at Texas Motor Speedway in Justin, Texas, and Phoenix International Raceway. Tim Haddock covers motor sports for the Daily News. He can be reached at (818) 713-3715 or [email protected] NASCAR BUSCH SERIES Ameriquest 300 Site: Fontana. Schedule: Today, qualifying (Speed, noon); race (Ch. 4, 5:30 p.m.). Track: California Speedway (D-shaped oval, 2 miles, 14 degrees banking in turns). Race distance: 300 miles, 150 laps. Last race: Ryan Newman outlasted two long rain delays, 12 cautions and overtime to stretch his winning streak to three in the NASCAR Busch series with a victory in the Food City 250 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Last year: Greg Biffle and Casey Mears dominated the Target House 300 at Fontana, swapping the lead twice down the stretch before Biffle pulled away with two laps remaining for the win. Fast facts: Mark Martin won the Stater Bros. 300 at Fontana on Feb. 26. … Newman is the first driver since Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 1999 to win three in a row. The Busch series record is four consecutive wins, set by former series champion Sam Ard in 1983. … This race will mark the NASCAR oval-track debut of Mexican IRL superstar Adrian Fernandez. … Martin Truex Jr. leads Clint Bowyer in the driver standings by 194 points (3,756-3,562). Next race: Emerson Radio 250, Sept. 9, Richmond, Va. On the Net: www.nascar.com.160Want 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 MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 Jim Thirkettle, Travis’ dad, won five straight Mesa Marin track championships, from 1979 to 1983, in addition to two track titles at Saugus Speedway. “My father has a huge history there, and I haven’t won a race there,” Travis Thirkettle said. “It would be a huge challenge there. I could care less about Irwindale.” Jim Thirkettle’s racing career is legendary on the West Coast. He made his way up the NASCAR ladder and competed on the old Grand National Division, when the top stock car racers visited Ontario and Riverside. Travis Thirkettle said there are times race fans read his name in the newspaper and assume Jim Thirkettle is back racing. At 60, the closest Jim Thirkettle gets to a race car is to prepare it for his son. Travis Thirkettle is in an impressive string himself, winning three straight Late Model races at Irwindale Speedway and four of the past five. last_img

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