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KANKE'S IRWINDALE SUCCESS TO BE TESTED.

Byline: TIM HADDOCK Motor Sports

M.K. Kanke moved into second place in career victories on the NASCAR Elite Division, Southwest Series with his win last Saturday night at Irwindale Speedway.

It was his 20th career win. One more and Kanke will tie Rick Carelli, who won 21 races in 88 career starts, for the most wins in Southwest Series history.

It was also Kanke's third win in five races at Irwindale Speedway. He won two races in 2001 and missed several races at Irwindale Speedway over the last few years because of injuries and running a limited schedule.

Irwindale Speedway will host one more race, the Toyota All-Star Showdown in November. The Showdown is not a Southwest Series points race. Instead, it pits the top drivers from the four Elite Divisions across the country.

This will be the third time Irwindale Speedway has hosted the All-Star Showdown. If Kanke can maintain his spot in the top 10 in the Southwest Series standings, it will be the first time he is eligible for the Showdown.

But Kanke said winning at Irwindale Speedway so often is going to make repeating all the more difficult.

``It's going to be three or four times as tough next time,'' said Kanke, driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet Monte Carlo from Frazier Park.

That's because instead of racing against 22 cars from the Southwest Series, he will be competing against the top 39 drivers racing at the Elite Division level.

The way the schedule plays out puts Southwest Series drivers at a disadvantage as well.

The last race on the Southwest Series is at Phoenix International Raceway, the same weekend as the All-Star Showdown. The drivers in the other three Elite Divisions will have a few extra days of practice at Irwindale Speedway while the Southwest Series drivers are racing at Phoenix.

Kanke is already planning ahead for that scenario.

``I want to take my old car to Phoenix, the one I hate,'' Kanke said jokingly. ``The one that don't make the races, so I can save this car for here.''

--NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series: Ron Hornaday Jr. was one turn away from winning the 28th race of his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career when he was caught up in Jimmy Spencer's spin out, hit the wall and knocked himself out of contention at Memphis Motorsports Park.

Hornaday got lost in the smoke created by Spencer's spin, hit the turn 4 wall and opened the door for Brandon Whitt to pass and win the July 23 race.

Hornaday ended up 21st, but apparently has no ill feelings toward Spencer and how the Memphis race ended.

``Jimmy and I are buddies and we have talked it out since last week,'' said Hornaday, a former Saugus Speedway champ from Palmdale. ``That is how both of us race and sometimes those things happen. I felt so bad afterward and I know that Jimmy knew that I was really sorry for causing him any trouble.''

Hornaday rebounded with a third-place finish at Indianapolis Raceway Park last Friday night and heads into tonight's race at Nashville Speedway fourth in Truck Series points, 273 behind leader Dennis Setzer.

``That team can do no wrong right now and I am always for a fellow Chevrolet team to be doing well,'' said Hornaday, driver of the No. 6 Chevrolet Silverado for Kevin Harvick Inc. ``The championship is theirs to lose. If they keep running like they have been, it is going to be near impossible for anyone to catch up to them.''

Hornaday will be making his first Truck Series start at Nashville, but he has seven NASCAR Busch Series starts at the 1.3-mile tri-oval. His best finish came in 2004, a fifth-place driving for Richard Childress Racing.

--Indy Racing League: Bryan Herta will be making his third career Indy Racing League start at Kentucky Speedway this weekend. But neither of his previous two starts were preceded by a win.

Herta is coming off his first win of the year, last Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. He became the fourth Andretti Green Racing driver to win a race this year. Dan Wheldon has four, including the Indianapolis 500. Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Herta each have one.

As for Kentucky Speedway, Herta's best finish was a third-place in 2003.

``Kentucky is bumpy and challenging, but I've had some good races there in the past,'' said Herta, a Valencia resident and Hart High of Newhall graduate. ``This is the challenging part of the season because races come one after the other.''

With the win in Michigan, Herta moved up four places in the IRL standings. He is fifth in points, 126 behind Wheldon, the series leader.

Kanaan and Franchitti, the other two Andretti Green drivers, are in the top-five in points as well.

--United States Rally Championship: The United States Rally Championship schedule has been expanded to eight events in 2006, series officials announced Thursday.

The Subaru Rim of the World Rally, which starts in Lancaster and runs through the fire roads in the Angeles National Forest, will be the third race on the United States Rally Championship schedule.

Three races have been added to the rally schedule. They are the Olympus International Rally in Shelton, Wash., the International Rally Tennessee in Linden, Tenn. and the International Rally New York in Monticello, N.Y.

``We're excited about the championship schedule,'' said Ray Hocker, one of the Championship organizers. ``Prescott (Arizona) has a long history as a national level event, and the legend of the Olympus Rally is known to everybody in the rally community. We especially welcome the return of this former WRC event after a 14-year hiatus.''

The United States Rally Championship starts March 17 with the Cherokee Trails International Rally in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Rim of the World Rally is scheduled for April 28.

--Irwindale Speedway: The NASCAR Super Late Models return after nearly a month layoff with a pair of 50-lap races tonight at Irwindale Speedway.

Canyon High and College of the Canyons graduate Todd Southwell leads Andrew Phipps of Simi Valley by 56 points in the Super Late Model standings.

Southwell is also seventh in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series Division IV standings.

Donny Reuvers, a driver from Elko Speedway and Raceway Park in Minnesota, leads the national weekly racing standings with 1,022 points. Southwell has 874.

The NASCAR Super Stocks, Mini Stocks, Pure Stocks and West Coast Pro Trucks are scheduled to race tonight at Irwindale Speedway.

Gates open at 4 p.m. Races start at 6.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 13, 2005
Words:1102
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