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Jacob Gomes takes the checkered flag in the All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway. (Steve Himelstein photo)

KENNEDY: The All-Star Showdown

LOS ANGELES — The fourth annual Spears All-Star Showdown tripleheader took place Jan. 21 at Irwindale Speedway and all races used the progressively banked half-mile oval. 

More than 5,000 attended and the event was streamed live by SpearsRacing.tv

The super late model event was the first point race for the Spears SRL Series. It also was race one of eight SRL National Series point races at six speedways in five states from January through September. The Spears All-Star Showdown continued the Toyota All-Star Showdown at IS from 2003 through 2011 under NASCAR sanction. 

Three Spears divisions practiced Thursday and Friday. After a rainy month in California, the sunny weekend had blue sky and 67 degrees for qualifying Saturday. It was still 52 degrees when racing concluded minutes before the 10 p.m. track curfew. 

Super late models raced for $72,350 with additional Spears bonuses adding $12,950. The feature winner received $25,000 cash. The pro late models winner received $10,000 cash and the modified winner received $5,000 cash. All three winners received their money in unique glass trophies with a piston or rear end gear atop and new $100 bills showing inside the locked glass trophy base.

Winners received a key to open their trophy after cars passed tech inspection. 

The event attracted 78 cars — 29 super late models, 34 pro late models and 15 modifieds. Drivers came from 11 states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. One driver came from Canada. 

Modifieds opened competition with a 15-car, 75-lap race without a mid-race break. Fastest qualifier Travis Thirkettle, 44, started fourth, passed early leader Travis McCullough on lap 26 and beat him by .680 seconds in a 31-minute contest. It was his 42nd feature victory. Fourteen drivers finished with 11 on the lead lap. McCullough ran the fastest lap at 93.960 mph.

Andrew Anderson, Coloradan Holly Clark, 17, and Jimmy Sloan completed the top five. 

The featured super late model 200-lap race had a mid-race break of eight minutes after all cars stopped at their infield pit at the third-mile oval. Teams could make adjustments and change four tires, one side at a time.

Fastest-qualifier Kole Raz, 19, from Oregon, led the first 100 laps in a Ford Fusion and had a 1.5 second lead at the break. Jacob Gomes, 28, from central California, started fourth and was second after 100 laps. In a double-file restart, he shot his Toyota Camry into the lead entering turn three and led the final 100-laps. Bubba Pollard, 35, from Georgia, started his No. 26 Chevy ninth and was sixth at the break. He moved into third at lap 105 with 19 cars still on the lead lap. He was third on lap 140 and sixth on lap 150.

A two-car tangle with Texan Barrett Polhemus caused him to drop out after 171 laps. 

Blaine Rocha, 24, started second and ran second to lap 155 when he also retired. Spears veteran John Moore started sixth and inherited second when Rocha pitted. He held second to the finish and trailed Gomes by 3.548 seconds. It tied his best Spears finish. Gomes ran the fastest lap of 17.683 seconds (101.793 mph). 

Past Spears SLM and modified champion Jeremy Doss placed third. Texan Chris Davidson and Coloradan Darren Robertson (rookie of the race) completed the top five. 

Fourteen of 19 finishers ran 200 laps. 

The final race at 8:40 pm was the 100-lap pro late model race with 34 starters and a break after 50 laps for adjustments and tires. Two caution flags for spins or crashes and a red flag on lap 35 were necessary. A car spun down the front straight and its right rear climbed the K-rails protecting the infield and struck photographer Tom Macht, knocking him to the ground. He rose quickly with only a sore shoulder. “I’m OK,” he told EMTs in the ambulance. 

Sean Woodside started second and led seven laps. Linny White came from row three to lead laps 8-39 in Clay Wooster’s new No. 55 Chevy SS. His Wooster teammate Jeffrey Peterson, 31, started seventh and was second from lap 11 until lap 40 when he passed his teammate and led through the lap 50 half-time break. 

The Wooster teammates battled for the lead and on lap 53 inside-running White’s front end got into the left rear of Peterson’s outside running No. 90 (White’s former ride). Peterson’s car swapped ends and hit the crash-wall on the driver’s side. He was uninjured, but angry. 

A three-car crash in turn three on lap 56 required track clean-up so at 9:57 officials called the race complete after 55 laps because of the imminent curfew. White, 44, received the $10,000 cash. Woodside, 50, finished .928 behind him. Fastest qualifier/eighth starter Dylan Zampa, 19, from Napa, was third. 

A 10-minute aerial fireworks show followed at 10 p.m.