PLACERVILLE CA – The championship battles resumed at Placerville Speedway Saturday night with four action packed divisions for the 11th Red Hawk Casino Championship points race of the s
eason presented by Thompson’s Auto Group, Domco Plumbing, Jay’s Mobile Welding and Hoosier Racing Tires. The evening saw one repeat winner in victory lane and three new faces celebrating the fruits of their labor at the 50 year old dirt track located on the El Dorado County Fairgrounds.
After an disappointing night on the Fourth of July, Placerville’s Andy Gregg overcame another night that began with adversity in the Sprint Car division to score his second win of the year. Dave Silva of Shingle Springs captured his first win of the year in Pure Stocks. Ray Trimble of Auburn captured his first victory of the season in the Limited Late Models. The visiting Midget Lites of the Bay Cities Racing Association saw a familiar face take the win when Sprint Car racer Jake Morgan of Fair Oaks, racing two divisions, earned his first victory.
Last week, Greg and his Scott Russell owned team had what even they describe as a horrific night at their home. Early in the feature event the 14r sprint car was struck in the rear, rupturing the fuel cell which ignited on the backstretch, engulfing the car of fellow driver CJ Humphreys and much of the backstretch. The incident not only effected Gregg and the team emotionally due to its nature, it ended their night early, costing them valuable points towards the championship this season.
“That was by far the worst race I have ever had, and we are fortunate nobody was hurt,” said Gregg. “CJ Humphreys isn’t here tonight but it’s not due to any injury its due to damage and I just want to thank the good lord for protecting all of us in that situation, it could have been much worse. Aside from that it really hurt us in the points so tonight we came out here and started our focus on wins not points. We had our troubles early but this crew went hard to work and got us here.”
At the beginning of the night, the 14r crew wasn’t happy with the performance of the #14r and went to extreme measures to make the car competitive for the evening. This was more than simple adjustment, Gregg’s crew made a motor change in the pit area. A huge feat, that paid off at the end of the night.
The start of the sprint main saw Greg starting on the outside of the front row where he powered ahead of polesitter and point leader Greg DeCaires of Elk Grove. Gregg quickly worked his way to a distant lead within three laps of the race and into lapped traffic by the seventh lap. Just before a yellow flag delayed the race and gathered the field with 8 laps on the Red Hawk Casino scoreboard.
On the restart, Greg kept a tight line into the first set of turns to make headway on working his way to a distant lead over DeCaires as a lapped car sat between the top two runners. Jake Morgan worked the third place position with Justyn Cox the fourth as the race went back to green but quickly back under yellow when Placerville’s James Sweeney went airborne off turn three and four and Calistoga’s Mike Benson stopped on the backstretch at the same time to draw another caution.
When the race went back to green Gregg muscled ahead of Gregg while Morgan, Becker and Cox dueled for the third spot three wide. Becker overtook the third spot 15 to join the podium eligible trio but on this night it was Gregg who owned his home track, leading to the checkered flag. DeCaires finished in second followed by Becker, Cox, Justin Johnson and Morgan.
“I knew Greg (DeCaires) was there and would be fast on the bottom the whole race,” added Gregg. “When it comes to racing the bottom line, he is by far the best driver in the business to you have to always keep that in mind when your racing with him. I have to thank my whole crew and sponsors.
Top Starting Spot Paved the Way for Silva’s First Dirt Victory
In the Jay’s Mobile Welding Pure Stock division, Silva earned the advantage of an early restart that put him on the front row of the 20 lap feature event. The veteran asphalt racer is still new to the dirt track community and proved he has adapted well with his first win just minutes from home.
“It’s great to be standing here in victory lane right up the road from my house,” said Silva. “I’ve been racing asphalt for over 15 years and we decided to switch it up and come up here close to home and race on the dirt. What a great crowd this place has and a great car count and a really good group of competitors. We love it here and now we have a short drive home each week too.”
At the green flag pole sitter Tim Mack and Tilford raced side by side into the first set of turns. Tilford muscled ahead of Mack to take the lead on the backstretch. Tilford muscled his way to a healthy lead for the first two laps until he fell out of contention on lap three and came to a stop and then reported to the pit area and returned to the rear of the field.
On the ensuing restart, Mack assumed the pole position with Dave Silva on the outside of the front row When the green flag waved a second time, Silva muscled into the lead over Mack. With 13 laps complete the battle for thel ead heated up with Mack closing in on the lead and traffic jam just inches behind the duo. Just as the white flag was due to wave, a yellow flag flew when Chris VanRoekel went up in smoke in turn three.
This forced a double file restart for a green-white-checkered flag scenario that didn’t phase Sila a bit as he outraced Mack to the finish line for the win. Positions three thru five remained unofficial at press time as track officials were reviewing a possible unreported driver’s change during the evening among the top five finishers which could effect the outcome of the results as well as winnings and championship points.
Morgan’s First Big Win Comes Aboard Smaller Ride in Midget Lites
Saturday night, Morgan was a busy driver, racing in both the Sprint Car and Midget Lite divisions. Morgan powered off the outside of the front row into the lead of the feature event with Cori Andrews and Brian Corso battling for the bridesmaid position for the first six laps when a caution flag to draw a restart. When the race restarted, Corso closed in on Morgan to battle for the lead while Andrews worked the third position.
Morgan led the event into the waning laps with Corso, Andrews and RC Smith just inches behind him in a heated battle for the lead. On lap 13 the race underwent a red flag when Steve Gularte rolled over without injury in turn two.
On the final restart of the night, Morgan led them to the green flag and powered ahead of Corso for the lead. Andrews retired to the pits on lap 17. At the checkered flag Morgan earned his first career victory over Corso, Smith, Craig Dillar and Steve Brown.
“I’ve been trying to get here for quite awhile,” said Morgan. “I really want to do this in the Sprint Car but I’m happy to be here and want to thank the Lopez Motorsports guys for giving me the opportunity to drive their car tonight. Early this year we raced a midget in Nevada and led all the way to the last lap when someone’s bumper took it away. This is great group of talented clean racers and I wanqt to thank them for all their great driving and respect for one another. Hopefully I’ll get one of these wins in the sprint car soon.”
Trimble Becomes Auburn’s First winner of the season in Late Models
Last year, Trimble drive to multiple victories at Placerville Speedway but was suffering from the bridesmaid blues so far this season. Saturday night, the veteran driver changed all of that as he held off the challenges of the series point leader all the way to the checkered flag in the Domco Plumbing Limited Late Model feature event.
Trimble powered ahead of Lightfoot at the green flag that was immediately followed by a yellow flag for Eddie Gardner who spun in turn three on the start. The caution period drew a complete restart and put Lightfoot back on the pole. When the green flag flew a second time Trimble muscled ahead of Lightfoot. With three laps down, Dominic Stone overtook Lightfoot for the second position and began his pursuit of Trimble. With five laps down a second yellow flag flew for Gardner who came to a stop in turn four requiring a tow.
The restart put Stone nose to tail with Trimble for the next green flag where Trimble powered ahead with Stone, Jeff Olshowka of Chico and Matt Micheli of Live Oak in his wake. With 15 laps complete the two leaders approached lapped traffic in a heated battle as Lightfoot spun on lap 18 to draw a final yellow. At the line Trimble picked up his first win of the year over Stone, Matt Micheli finished in third followed by Ken Michel and Jeff Olshowka, Matt Micheli and Ryan McDaniel in fifth.
“Nice to finally be back here,its been too long,” said Trimble. “This division is by far the one with the strongest group of talented drivers racing for the win here. On any night any of these guys can contend for a win and its pretty amazing and it’s honor to race with them. Tyler Lightfoot is a good example, last year he was a rookie and look at him now. I honestly thought he may win this thing tonight with as fast as he has become recently but they had some problems with car I know.”
Racing resumes next Saturday night at Placerville Speedway. For complete details visit www.placervillespeedway.com.