“It’s an underfunded deal. Not like a dream ride,” said Thirkettle, who lives in Newhall. “I’m not going to own the car. It’s pretty easier on me. They’re great people. They love racing. I felt bad for them last year. I don’t expect to dominate.” Last year was Cory Fancy’s first year in the Super Late Model class, the highest division that races regularly at Irwindale Speedway. The 22-year-old Cory Fancy struggled, but his parents, his backers, were loyal to his pursuits. Now they have teamed with the Thirkettles, who have a deep championship history racing late models throughout Southern California, from Bakersfield to Saugus to Irwindale. Travis Thirkettle won his first track championship last year. His dad, Jim Thirkettle, won seven track championships at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield. Jim Thirkettle helps Travis build and maintain his cars now. “Racing’s very expensive,” Loren Fancy said. “Travis has limited funds. They’ll pit together. They’ll have a common asset: his dad. He’s a genius when it comes to race cars.” The NASCAR Super Late Model season will open March 24 at Irwindale Speedway. It could be one of the most competitive seasons in the track’s history. NASCAR Southwest Series champion Rip Michels, the winningest driver at Irwindale Speedway, is returning to the Super Late Model division. The division attracts drivers from Las Vegas, Phoenix, Minden, Nev., and Tucson, Ariz. Last year’s Super Late Model champion was Van Knill, who lists Tucson as his hometown. Loren Fancy knows the competition will be tough. “If both of them won a race,” Loren Fancy said, “that would be a good season.” Thirkettle said he can’t wait to test his skills against the top drivers and teams at Irwindale Speedway. “It’s a great challenge,” Thirkettle said, “and I strive for that.” Indy Racing League: Honda has designed a bigger, more powerful engine for the Indy Racing League teams in the IndyCar Series. Marco Andretti, driver for Andretti Green Racing, said it will take some time for him get accustomed to the new cars. He did not have any complaints about the new engines, but his recent tests gave him little indication of how they will race. “It’s hard for me to compare. I was out of the Indy car seat for about five months in the off-season, which is a ton for a driver,” Andretti said. “When I got back, it was at a road course at Daytona. It just felt like a bit more torque, bottom end. Of course, we were quicker, top end.” Honda is the sole engine provider for the IRL IndyCar Series teams. Andretti said Honda would welcome any challenge from a competing engine manufacturer. “I think Honda would put themselves up against anyone, and I would, too,” Andretti said. “I wouldn’t change Honda for the world.” A competing engine would only make Honda better, Andretti said. “I think definitely a bit better if they’re able to compete,” Andretti said. “Then it just pushes them to be better also, where now they’re just racing themselves.” [email protected] (818) 713-3715 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! When Loren Fancy wanted to move his son Cory into the NASCAR Super Late Model division at Irwindale Speedway, he figured he would need two cars. One was to race week to week and one he would keep as a backup. Then Loren Fancy started adding up the bills to maintain two cars and decided he didn’t need a second. In stepped Travis Thirkettle, the NASCAR Late Model champion at Irwindale Speedway, who was looking for a car to race at the Super Late Model level. Loren Fancy offered Thirkettle the opportunity to race one of his cars. Thirkettle agreed and the L&R Racing team was formed. The L&R stands for Loren and Roseann, Cory’s parents and the owners of his race team. They have been the owners of all his race teams, from when he was 11 years old racing go-karts against A.J. Allmendinger and Scott Speed to his stint in the NASCAR Grand American Modified division and Super Trucks at Irwindale Speedway. The Fancys will also be the owners of Thirkettle’s car, but Thirkettle is the one who will be maintaining and setting it up from race to race. The hope is that the alliance will benefit both drivers. Cory Fancy, who lives in Canyon Country and is a Palmdale High graduate, will have a championship-caliber driver and teammate to share information and ideas. Thirkettle will get a chance to test his racing abilities in the top division at Irwindale Speedway.