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IRWINDALE SPEEDWAY: HUDDLESTON BENDS, BUT DOESN'T BREAK.

Byline: TIM HADDOCK Staff Writer

IRWINDALE -- It's been a while since Tim Huddleston won a race in the NASCAR Late Model division at Irwindale Speedway.

If not for finding a bent piece on his front suspension, he might still be seeking his second win of the season.

Huddleston, who hails from Agoura Hills, won his second race of the year Saturday night, battling division points leader Travis Thirkettle of Newhall for most of the 40-lap feature race.

It was Huddleston's first win since opening night. He won eight races and the track Late Model division championship in 2005.

``We're happy to be back and put on a show with Travis,'' Huddleston said.

Huddleston said about 10 minutes before qualifying, his crew found bent part on his car's sway bar. After running about 100 laps in practice Friday night, Huddleston said he was getting frustrated with its performance. But after repairing the sway bar, his car turned out to be the fastest in the division.

Thirkettle, on the other hand, was battling an inverted start, tires, brakes and a new steering wheel.

``It wasn't like a perfect day,'' Thirkettle said.

Thikettle set a fast time, but started eighth on the invert. He was using old tires, a common practice for his team. It normally uses the same set of tires for two races. They were good enough Saturday night to run in second, but not enough to pass Huddleston.

Thirkettle, winner of seven races at Irwindale Speedway this year, made a late charge to pass Huddleston on the last lap, but had to back off when he got loose coming out of turn four.

Huddleston passed Wright for the lead on lap six. Thirkettle was close behind in second when Huddleston took the lead.

Thirkettle ran side by side with Huddleston three times during the race and challenged for the lead, but couldn't muster enough momentum to pass him.

``I don't know if he got around me,'' Thirkettle said after the race. ``He started ahead of me.''

Joe Herold won the NASCAR Super Trucks race. Rookie Matthew Hicks of Santee was second and fellow rookie Brian Reed of Castaic was third.

Simi Valley's Rick Crow won his seventh race of the year in the NASCAR Pure Stock race.

Rick Wall of Newport Beach won the West Coast Pro Trucks Series race.

tim.haddock@dailynews.com

(818) 713-3715
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 6, 2006
Words:396
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