By: Brad Kennedy*
Placerville, CA (July 9)… A total of 49 race cars entered Placerville Speedway for round 12 of the Red Hawk Casino Championship Season.
17 Thompson’s Auto Group winged 360 Sprints Cars were ready for action for the 25 lap feature. Mike Benson was on the pole, coming off his victory just 5 days earlier in the Fourth of July event. Four-time and defending track champion Greg DeCaires started outside the first row. However, before the race even started, the current points leader Mason Moore had to pit with technical woes. He joined the rear of the field before racing got underway, starting 16th on the grid. Benson got the initial jump on DeCaires at the start, looking for his second consecutive victory.
Coming to complete the third lap, two Placerville natives Jimmy Trulli and Andy Gregg made contact, sending Gregg’s number 16 into a spin on the front stretch with a left front flat.
As racing resumed, Benson continued to lead over Decaires and Trulli, when fifth place runner Jake Morgan spun in turn four collecting Sean Becker who then flipped violently. Fortunately, Becker was uninjured.
On the ensuing restart, DeCaires drove by Benson in turns one and two to take the lead. Shortly thereafter, 14-year old Michael Kofoid moved by Benson for second.
After Bobby Butler brought out the caution on lap 13, Michael Kofoid took advantage of a restart, passing DeCaires for the lead. However, DeCaires crossed over and retook the spot exiting turn 4. Kofoid returned the favor with a crossover of his own exiting turn 2 and began to stretch his lead.
Kofoid had a sizable lead when Matt Barber stopped off the edge in turn two with 22 laps completed in the main.
Kofoid drove away from DeCaires on the final restart to score the victory and become the youngest winner in the 51 year history of Placerville Speedway.
“I’m speechless. Not sure what to say other than I made the slider stick, and I beat DeCaires here in Placerville,” an elated Kofoid said before dedicating the win to his Grandfather.
Kofoid’s victory came over Decaires, Moore, Benson, and Morgan who rallied back to fifth. Heat race wins went to Jimmy Trulli and Morgan, while the ADCO Driveline and Exhaust Quick Time Award went to Kofoid earlier in the night. In addition, Kofoid’s victory from the 11th starting spot earned the youngster the AL Driveline Hard Charger bonus.
12 Jay’s Mobile Welding and Fabricating Pure Stocks took the green flag in the evening’s 20 lap feature with Travis Emery and Dan Jinkerson leading the field into turn 1. Jinkerson took command over Emery, who would hold second until pulling off the racing surface on lap 3.
Russ Murphy inherited second, while Jinkerson maintained a healthy 6 car advantage until Dan Smith spun to slow the action on lap 3.
When the race resumed, Jinkerson checked out over the field, while a great battle for second broke out, between Russ Murphy and two-time track champion Scott Grunert. Orville Owens overtook both to move to second midway through the race, and Murphy remained solidly in the top five until contact with Nick Baldwin sent him into the flag stand with major damage late in the race.
Dan Jinkerson fended off all comers to win the 20 lap affair over Orville Owens and Nick Baldwin, who retook the point lead despite still looking for his first win of 2016. Scott Grunert and Rick Grunert rounded out the top five.
Jinkerson became the first three time winner of the year in the Jay’s Mobile Welding Pure Stock Division, and explained just how special having multiple wins under his belt is when he quipped, “It has been a rough last three races for the team, and I can’t thank my supporters enough for getting me back on the front stretch here. We have been in the hunt all year, but we just had some gremlins the past few weeks. But, we are back again and I’m proud to be able to say that I am the only one with three wins at Placerville this year.”
Earlier in the night, the two heat race wins went to Orville Owens and Rick Grunert, while Nick Baldwin won the RMI Hard Charger Award by improving fom his 8th starting position to second.
15 BCRA Midget Lites were in attendance for the fifth time in 2016, with Danika Jo Parker and Scotty Males on the front row for the night’s feature. Males led the field to turn 1 and went on to win in dominating fashion, marking his second straight victory of the season at Placerville. Charlie Cariccilo finished second after an incident early in the event, while Danika Jo Parker came home third over fourth place Chris Hansen and fifth finishing Craig Dillard.
“I knew we were good tonight,” Males said confidently in the winner’s circle. “The track was hooked up and we brought the spare car down and won tonight. That just shows how good the guys are with this team to come out and win like this.”
Caracciolo and Males were the earlier heat race winners.
7 Domco Plumbing Limited Late Models started the night’s 20 lap feature with Tyler Lightfoot and Eddie Gardner up front for the green flag. Gardner jumped to the early lead looking to extend his already impressive points lead in the Red Hawk Casino Championship series.
Gardner set the pace until the caution flag flew for Jay Bryant, who stopped in turn two early in the event. On the next restart, Gardner and Matt Davis came together bringing out the second caution of the event. Davis was sent to the rear for rough driving while Gardner retired with too much damage to continue.
Tyler Lightfoot inherited the lead on the ensuing restart as his father Mike Lightfoot ran second. With only five cars on the speedway, the yellow lights came out when Davis, Jay Bryant and Ryan Peter came together, knocking all three out of the event on lap 14.
So for the restart it was a two car, six lap dash as Tyler Lightfoot and his father Mike battled it out for family bragging rights. The younger Lightfoot led until his Dad circled him upstairs on lap 17 on his way to his second win of the year.
“I knew no one was behind me on the last restart so I just drove it as hard as I could.” Lightfoot explained. “Tyler is probably unhappy, but his time will come soon enough. He has gotten real fast the last couple of races, and hopefully he can win some time this year.” Lightfoot said proudly.
After the two Lightfoots, Matt Davis was scored third while Jay Bryant and Ryan Peter rounded out the top five. Mike Lightfoot was the lone heat winner as well, and earned the RMI Hard Charger Bonus for advancing 2 positions, from 3rd to first in the feature.
8 IMCA Sport Mods took to the 1/4 mile clay oval for their second visit of 2016. Todd Cooper and Jimmy Ford led the field to the green and Cooper stretched a huge early advantage. As the race went on, Brian Cooper weaved his way from fourth to second and began chasing his brother Todd for the lead. Todd fought off every charge from his brother Brian and won at the line by just 0.058 seconds.
“I knew my brother was right there,” Todd Cooper explained in victory lane. “I was driving the car harder than I liked because I was making too many mistakes on the top in three and four where Brian would show his nose off the exit. It was nice to redeem myself after leading 17 of 20 laps the last time we were here”, he chuckled. The Coopers were followed across the line by Kyle Chaney, with fourth going to Jerry Bartlett, and fifth to Damian Merritt.
The lone Sport Mod heat winner was Jimmy Ford.
Placerville Speedway returns to action next Saturday night, July 16th, with the 13th point race of the Red Hawk Casino Championship Series. A four division program features the Thompson Auto Group 360 Sprint Cars, the Domco Plumbing Limited Late Models, the Jay’s Mobile Welding Pure Stocks, and the NorCal Dwarf Car Series. Pit gates open at 2PM with the front gates opening at 3PM. Racing begins at 7PM.
For complete details of the 2016 Red Hawk Casino Championship Racing Season, visit Placerville Speedway’s official website at www.placervillespeedway.com.
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*Additional writing contributions by Dean Mills