first_imgTim Huddleston has high expectations for Chris Carmody. Carmody is part of Huddleston’s High Point Racing Driver Development Program, a four-car team that will race in the NASCAR Late Model division at Irwindale Speedway. Their season starts tonight. Jace Meier, Scott Jenkins, Carmody and Huddleston will make up the High Point Racing team. But Huddleston expects Carmody to do more than just be a driver. He expects Carmody to be a teacher and a coach to the other two drivers. Carmody has the most experience at Irwindale Speedway of the three drivers on Huddleston’s team. Meier, who lives in Las Vegas, and Jenkins, who lives in Portland, Ore., will be making their track debuts. Carmody has raced regularly at Irwindale Speedway for the past two years. And even though he’s only 22 years old, Carmody may be the most seasoned driver at High Point Racing. “He’s the most decorated champion we have on the team,” Huddleston said. Carmody, a Saugus High graduate who lives in Valencia, has won championships in go-karts and USAC. He has raced stock cars and trucks at Irwindale Speedway, Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield and at the Bullring in Las Vegas. But he hasn’t been in a stock car at Irwindale Speedway in more than a year. He competed in one truck race at Irwindale last year. Being away from Speedway stock car competition hasn’t hurt Carmody’s confidence. He has been testing his new stock car at the Irwindale track, preparing for opening night. “We tested a month ago,” Carmody said. “It was right there.” The NASCAR Super Late Models, Super Trucks and figure 8s are also scheduled to race tonight at Irwindale Speedway. Gates open at 4 p.m. Races start at 7. American Le Mans Series: Valencia’s Bryan Herta, along with drivers Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan, won last weekend’s LMP2 portion of the 12 Hours of Sebring, the season-opening race of the American Le Mans Series. The team finished second overall and gave Acura a win in its debut in the American Le Mans Series. “I have to take my hat off to the group. I have never seen a group that has worked so hard and put in so much effort,” said Herta, a graduate of Hart High in Newhall. “You wouldn’t believe how many problems we had in testing, and it’s a testament to bring it here and to bring us this result. This is my most special victory for many reasons: one because I got to share it with my friends Tony and Dario.” Santa Clarita-based Honda Performance Development is providing the three Acura teams in the American Le Mans Series with engines and technology. Robert Clarke, president of Honda Performance Development, said he hopes the win at Sebring will lead to bigger races in the future. “We hoped to earn the invitation to Le Mans,” Clarke said. Race organizers invite select teams to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of the premier sports car events in France. “It is more important to us to convince ourselves that we are deserving of that. We’ll know if we deserve the opportunity come the end of the season.” The three Acura teams in the American Le Mans Series went through a race simulation for the 12 Hours of Sebring a month ago. In that simulation, the Andretti Green car experienced a number of mechanical setbacks and did not complete the race. It was a different story in the real 12 Hours of Sebring. Even though the car experienced some of the same mechanical problems it did in the simulation, the crew made necessary repairs and Herta was able to finish the race. Michael Andretti, one of the team’s co-owners, said it was a great way for Acura to make its sports car race debut. “It was a tough race and we knew it coming in,” Andretti said. “But the 12-hour simulation race last month here helped us, and all of the Acura teams were prepared for (Saturday’s) race. Obviously it paid off for all three teams.” Herta, Franchitti and Kanaan, driving an Acura-powered entry for Andretti Green Racing, were teammates in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series since 2003. Franchitti and Kanaan will be at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend for the IRL IndyCar Series season opener. For the first time since 2004, Herta will not be in an Indy car to open the IRL season. He plans to watch the race from home. But Herta will be at St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 31 for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. That will be the first street course event for the IRL and the second race of the year for the American Le Mans Series. Herta will be teamed with Marino Franchitti, Dario’s younger brother and a veteran of 21 American Le Mans Series starts. Marino Franchitti has two runner-up class finishes in American Le Mans Series competition. “I’m very proud of the job that Andretti Green Racing and Acura have done producing a car that was capable of winning the Sebring 12 Hours,” Marino Franchitti said. “I thought Bryan and my other teammates drove a fantastic race.” [email protected] (818) 713-3715last_img

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