Valencia’s Chris Carmody has had one of the fastest cars — if not the fastest car — in the first two NASCAR Late Model division races at Irwindale Speedway. But Doug McComb, a driver from Thousand Oaks, has won the first two Late Model Division races. Because of inverted starting orders at Irwindale Speedway, McComb has raced with the benefit of track position in the first two races. Carmody, who set a fast time in the opening night race, has started behind McComb in both races because of a randomly determined inverted start. Carmody said having to race through traffic has cost him in the first two races. But after a three-week layoff, the Late Model cars return to Irwindale Speedway tonight and Carmody said his team might have found a solution. He admits his car was struggling in passing cars in the first two races. Carmody said the main reason was because of the Hoosier tires the Late Model teams are using this season. “We were off a little in the stagger,” said Carmody, a graduate of Saugus High School. “As soon as I got in traffic and changed my line was when I got into trouble.” With three weeks off to make adjustments and improvements, Carmody said his team has corrected the problem in his car. Now all he needs is a chance to start a race ahead of McComb. “To beat him, we just have to start out front for once,” Carmody said. “We got to come through the field. If we can start up front, we can run away with it.” McComb admits he has benefited from his starting positions in the first two races. But Carmody, and his three High Point Racing teammates, haven’t exactly been buried in the field to start races. “Those guys have been qualifying fast,” McComb said. “I can start 10th and I have the ability to run up front. He hasn’t been all that far back. The trick is to lead lap 40, not all 40.” Canyon Country’s Aaron Staudinger is fourth in points and Carmody is 10th in the Late Model division. The NASCAR Super Stocks and Mini Stocks are scheduled to race tonight at Irwindale Speedway. A demolition derby is also scheduled. Rich DeLong of Newhall is 15th in the Super Stocks standings. Gates open at 4 p.m. Races start at 7. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series: Ron Hornaday Jr.’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team is preparing for today’s race at Kansas Speedway much like it prepared for the California Speedway race. The team is taking the same truck and using a similar set-up it had for the California Speedway race. That might prove beneficial. He finished second at Fontana and was battling for a win in the closing laps. It is also the same truck the team used at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “We are taking a truck that we ran well in twice this year, and we finished second at California in it,” said Hornaday, a former Saugus Speedway from Palmdale. “But it doesn’t really matter what we take, because I know with Rick Ren and my team working on it, that truck will be the best we have in the shop. We are taking our best guns to every fight we go to.” Ren is Hornaday’s crew chief at Kevin Harvick Inc. Ren said he is preparing Hornaday’s truck with a basic set-up and the chassis it had at California Speedway. “We altered the set-up when we went to Atlanta because it is a rougher track and you have to run different lines, smooth at one end and rough at the other,” Ren said. “We had a really good run at Fontana and the track is somewhat similar to the Kansas Speedway. The race track is smooth with high-speed corner entries. So, the set-up we use in Kansas is basically what we will do for Kentucky and Michigan.” Hornaday is fourth in points in the Truck Series standings after four races. He is coming off a sixth-place finish at Martinsville Speedway. “When I first started racing, everything was more physical because I was thinking so much,” Hornaday said. “Now I go out there and driving is my job, it’s my office. So now it’s more mental than physical for me.” American Le Mans Series: Valencia’s Bryan Herta, teamed with Dario Franchitti, finished second in the Lone Star Grand Prix near Houston last Saturday. It was the best finish for Herta and his Acura-powered Andretti Green Racing team since the season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida. Herta and Franchitti qualified fifth and finished the race behind only the Team Penske Porsche entry driven by Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas. “That was a lot of work out there,” said Herta, a Hart High of Newhall graduate. “I was able to get close to the Porsche for the lead. But getting close and passing are two different things.” Acura-powered Highcroft Racing won the pole for the Lone Star Grand Prix and finished fifth overall, fourth in the LMP2 division. Lowe’s Fernandez Racing, the third Acura-powered team in the American Le Mans Series, started seventh and finished seventh. The Acura engines are designed and developed at Santa Clarita-based Honda Performance Development. The next race for the American Le Mans Series is the Utah Grand Prix on May 19. — Staff Writer Tim Haddock covers auto racing for the Daily News. He can be reached by e-mail [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. 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