Irwindale Speedway drops the green flag on its 20th anniversary season Saturday night.

Six divisions of racing will start the celebration, on both the third-mile and half-mile paved ovals.

Two names familiar to Valley fans return to defend their division titles.

Rich De Long III of Santa Clarita won three of the six Super Stock races last season. The division uses American Muscle Cars from the 70s and 80s with OEM chassis and 300 HP V-8 engines.

Lucas McNeil of Saugus finally broke through in 2018 to win the Lucas Oil Irwindale Race Trucks title. He’ll seek two in a row in one of the most competitive divisions on the high-banked half-mile oval.

Another familiar name, Darren Amidon, returns to defend his Legends Car title.

The defending champ in the Spec Late Models is  Kenny Smith, who’s 72 years young.

The evening’s showcase event, the Pick Your Part Late Models, features Lawless Allen as defending champion. He ended the three-year reign of Trevor Huddleston, who has moved on to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.

Gates open at 4 p.m., with autographs at 5 O’Clock and the first race at 7.

Motorsports Mayhem At AV Fair

Entries are being accepted for MotorSports Mayhem, an all-day racing program  at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds Grandstand organized completely by Valley racing enthusiasts.

The March 23 event will include AutoXCross, Stock Figure 8, Pro Figure 8, Four Wheel Modifieds and a Mod Demolition Derby.

It  will be the first time the Fairgrounds Grandstand has hosted motorsports outside the Fair since Thunder on the Lot used stock car racing as its demonstration sport.

Spokesman Shawn Kirkland said entries will be accepted right up to  race day.

More information is available by contacting either Payton Zamrzla (916-7370) or Johnny Troesch (618-0106), both in the 661 area code.

Dirt Princess Reigns at Las Vegas

Hailie Deegan  of Temecula passed Jagger Jones on the final lap to win the Start Nursery 100  opening the 2019 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West last week at the dirt track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Deegan, 17, earned her second West Series victory the way she won the first — with a last-lap pass.

“For some reason, I knew in the back of my mind it would come down to the last lap again,” said the daughter of Off-Road superstar and Metal Mulish founder Brian Deegan. “I was not going to come out here and get second again (like we did last year).

“That was the last thing I was going to do.”

Deegan and Bill McAnally Racing teammate Derek Kraus are both part of the NASCAR Next program identifiying and supporting potential future NASCAR stars.

A third BMR driver made her West Series debut at Las Vegas.

Brittney Zamora, 19, of Kennewick, Wash., started 16th and finished 11th.

Round Two of the 2019 West Series will be March 30 at Irwindale.

IndyCar  Series Opens at St. Petersburg

For its 63rd season as North America’s premier open-wheel series, IndyCar racing has a new series presenting sponsor and a promising new national television package with NBC Sports.

Scott Dixon is determined it will have a familiar old face as champion when the dust settles at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in September.

The 2019 NTT IndyCar Series roars to life with the  Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this weekend.

It will be cablecast on NBC Sports Network, beginning a new broadcast partnership that will see the Indianapolis 500 move from ABC for the first time since 1964. 

NBC Sports Gold’s IndyCar Pass, a new streaming service, will carry all practice and qualifying sessions as well as the race on a 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course.

Among the newcomers in the series this year are former Formula One drivers Marcus Ericsson and Santino Ferrucci. They will be joined by former two-time F-1 champion Fernando Alonso in the Indianapolis 500.

Dixon, 38,  posted 15 top-six finishes in 17 races to claim his fifth IndyCar title in 2018, breaking a tie with Mario Andretti, Dario Franchitti and Sebastian Bourdais.

Only A.J. Foyt, with seven, owns more IndyCar titles than Dixon.

Dixon has a new teammate in 2019,  Swedish rookie Felix Rosenqvist, who moves up from Formula E. Chip Ganassi Racing again will try to hold off the four-car teams of Penske Racing and Andretti Autosport.

The newest team in the series, Harding-Steinbrenner Racing, features former two-time Streets of Lancaster Brand Prix winner Colton Herta.

The Valencia resident, 18, will campaign the entire 2019 NTT IndyCar Series.

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