The Speed51.com 2016 Spears Srl Southwest Tour Series “Most Popular Driver” has entered the “Sunrise Ford All-Star Showdown 200 presented by the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame” at Irwindale Speedway. The February 1st event will pay $25,000 to the winner, and Bobby Hodges hopes to repeat his 2017 season opening victory over Derek Thorn and Willie Allen to get the 2020 “Spears Srl Southwest Tour Series present by Lucas Oil” season off to a rich start.
Irwindale is the site of Bobby Hodges Racing last series victory, but the speedway itself has been an enigma for the driver, from Carson City, NV. He has the one victory, and four top-10’s, but five other starts finishing 18th or worse. He has had some good runs go bad, but he has had a difficult time with consistency at the ½-mile oval.
“Irwindale is like a box of chocolates, as they say”, Hodges quipped. “For whatever reason it’s very hard to run consistently well there, as we’ve had our best race and worst races there over the years. But it’s a fun track! Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the fast lane at that place changes each time we go.”
Despite his yo-yo experiences at Irwindale, Hodges has a victory to look back on, and knows how to win at the popular Irwindale speed plant. Hodges will be looking to get the feel he had in his 2017 victory, where he was able to roll through the center better than his competition. Hodges recalls the experience.
“Rolling effort in the center when we won, we weren’t the fastest cats in town, but we rolled the center so easy and we were there at the end. If you can’t roll the center, you better qualify upfront, otherwise it’s impossible to pass.”
The “Red Rocket” will be making series start number 55 at the Showdown. His 14 top-five’s rank 20th all-time and his 27 top-10’s are good for 18th. He started his first race back in 2010, and has watched the series grow over the last decade. In 2019, the series set a record for average car count, at 27.1 cars per event. The growth of the series is something that the, soon to be 30-year-old racer has noticed, as far as the competition, increased payouts, premiere events and the management is concerned.
“The SRL continues to be the series to run in, on the West Coast short tracks”, Hodges commented. “You want to race with the best run series, and with the best drivers and teams, look no further. And these big payouts, and big shows reflect that. Larry (Collins) Ricky (Brooks), Brian Olsen and the entire SRL team, continue to provide the best possible option for racing for veterans, up and comers, and hot shoes alike.”
Hodges and the Naake – Klauer Motorsports team will be returning to Irwindale, to face that competition, with their new VanDoorn Racing Development Chassis hotrod, which they debuted in 2019. The team has improved throughout the season, as crew chief Chuck Carruthers and Hodges, became more familiar with the car, and one another. Their efforts showed in qualifying, with Hodges placing himself within the top-eight redraw, in four of their last five 2019 events. Hodges put the car on the pole in the last event, at the LVMS Bullring and Dirt Track, when he claimed the Performance Friction Brakes Zero Drag Fast Time Award for the first time. He qualified seventh, the last time the team was at Irwindale in July.
With a win in his pocket at Irwindale, his Fast Time at the last event in Las Vegas, and a full year of familiarity with his new Crew Chief Chuck Carruthers, Hodges will be looking to carry his momentum into the new season. He will be looking for the big paycheck in Southern California and win number three in his SRL career. If he gets it, 2020 could be a banner year for the now veteran racer. And for that possibility, the personable driver is thankful for his opportunities.
“I’ve gotta thank the entire Naake – Klauer Motorsports Team as always”, Hodges began. I would like to thank Chuck Carruthers for an awesome year last year, Ron Strmiska Jr for coming back with the team this year, Break A Heart Hay and Cattle, NATC, my mom and dad, as well as my awesome wife Cami.”
The resumption of the All-Star Showdown, after a nine-year hiatus, will take place on February 1st. It will pay $25,000 to the winner of the 200-lap Feature Event, thanks to Sunrise Ford’s, Bob Bruncati and Ken Clapp from the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. Over $75,000 will be paid out to the 36 starters, plus additional cash bonuses for the drivers eligible for the Spears Manufacturing Frequent Flyer Program. If needed, the Last Chance Qualifying race will pay $1,000 to those on the SPEARS Frequent Flyer Program, who do not make the Feature Event.
The SPEARS Southwest Tour Series Super Late Models will be joined by the Spears Modified Series, as well as the Pro Late Models for a huge weekend at the speedway. The Pro Late Models will race for a $10,000 payday, while the Modifieds will be going after a $5,000 winner’s share, thanks to series sponsor FLUIDYNE High Performance and Irwindale Speedway.
Celebrating its twentieth season in 2020, the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series is a regional stock car series competing on paved ovals in the southwestern portion of the U.S. “The SPEARS Sou