PLACERVILLE, CA (5-2-15) – After a week off for Mother Nature, racing returned to Placerville Speedway Saturday Night for the Red Hawk Casino 50th Anniversary Championship Season presented by Thompson’s Auto Group, Domco Plumbing and Jay’s Mobile Welding. The evening welcomed two three time winners of the season to victory lane and one driver who remains undefeated at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds quarter mile bullring.
In the winged Sprint Car division, defending track champion Greg DeCaires of Elk Grove drove his #4SA Tribute to Stephen Allard mount locally owned by Dale Miller to it’s first win of the season. DeCaires was joined in celebration by Folsom’s Jon Tilford who drove from 20th to first in the Pure Stock feature event. Oliverhurst’s Ryan McDaniel scored his third win of the year to go undefeated in the Limited Late Models while Bobby Michnowicz of Lomita drove to victory in the BCRA Midget Lite’s 25 lap Wayne Albright Memorial feature race.
In the Sprint Car Division, DeCaires started the 25-lap feature event on the outside of the front row beside pole sitter and one time winner this season, Colby Wiesz of Colfax. At the waving of the green flag, Wiesz took ownership of the lead with DeCaires in his wake and the presence of Prunedale’s Justin Sanders and Matt Peterson not far behind.
For the first nine laps of the race, Wiesz and DeCaires duked it out for the lead in true form of two decorated champions. DeCaires tested both high and low routes in which he could pass Wiesz for the lead and both drivers swapped their driving lines on the several occasions, entering lapped traffic as early as the fifth lap.
“These kids that guys like Colby and I are racing with nowadays are getting braver. It just puts grey hair on me faster trying to stay ahead of them each week and going up there to the high side where it’s risky is what it took tonight. I stuck my nose up there a couple of times and I know Colby saw it and he moved up there too and led for those first nine laps. I did some scratching around and found my way around him just before the red flag and from there we stayed out of trouble in lapped traffic and, well, here we are.”
After taking the lead with nine laps in the event, a pair of red flags flew for accidents involving Steven Ingraham and Jake Morgan following by a second delay when DJ Freitas struck the turn three safety barriers. No drivers we injured in the incidents but we unable to continue racing for the night.
Once the race went green again, DeCaires and Wiesz continued their quest for the top spot with DeCaires holding the upper hand for the remainder of the race. Wiesz felt the pressure of Sanders in the closing laps along with ADCO Driveline fast qualifier Mike Benson and Placerville drivers Jimmy Trulli and Andy Gregg. At the line DeCaires was followed across the line by Wiesz, Sanders, Benson and Trulli.
“We seem to be on to something here with a great car and great sponsors,” said DeCaires. “With Red Hawk and Foothill 7 TV on board this year it gives me good reason to get on the treadmill and keep the years off me so I can give them more wins. I just have to thank Dale and Tara Miller and this whole team for how hard they work to get us out here and do so well and put our sponsors in victory lane like this. I couldn’t ask for a better team.”
In the Pure Stock feature event, Tilford accomplished only what one driver has done before in recent history and that driver was his brother, driving the same car several years ago. Strapping into the driver’s seat for the first time in more than a year, Tilford suffered a collision in heat racing that severely damaged the front suspension of the popular family owned #92. Despite the extensive damage that would have forced most drivers to call it a night, Tilford’s crew and fellow drivers collaborated and feverishly rebuilt the car for the feature event.
Starting 20th in a talent packed line up, Tilford used a perfect combination of patience and the skills learned from his late uncle Donnie Tilford to work his way to the front of the field. With 15 of the 20 laps complete, Tilford was into the third position. One lap later he moved into second place just before a caution flag realigned the field, putting him on the inside of leader Russell Murphy to complete the front row. It was during that final caution period that the veteran driver recalled words from his late uncle that motivated him to not settle for second place.
“I was feeling pretty good about second place after not racing for so long and the heat race damage,” said Tilford. “During that last yellow flag I got a little motivation from the man upstairs when I remember how my Uncle Donnie always told me that nobody remember what the guy in second place did the next day. At that point I decided we’re going for it tonight.”
On the final green flag, Tilford muscled the #92 into the first turn harder than any previous lap and took the lead from Murphy, bringing a rise from the crowd as the final lap approached. At the checkered flag he was followed by Murphy, Lonnie Leonard of Elk Grove, Chris VanRoekel of Grass Valley and Scott Grunert of Woodland.
“Yesterday would have been Donnie’s Birthday so there’s no doubt this win is for him tonight,” said Tilford. “I’m just thankful this is the family I have around me. I’m a Tilford and when times get tough we all come together and that’s how this win happened tonight. I made a bad move in a heat race and we had a lot of damage. It was everyone in this family that rallied with fellow drivers and crews tonight and got me back out here. I wanted to drive again and show my brothers I still was competitive, I didn’t expect to go from 20th to first in doing it but I’m confident I have some help from above tonight.”
In the Late Model feature event, Duane Cleveland of Chico jumped into the initial lead with Bill Harbaugh of Citrus Heights in his wake. Harbaugh drew an early caution flag when he climbed the front stretch wall which put McDaniel on the rear bumper of Cleveland for the restart.
On the third lap, Cleveland drove hard into the first and second turns and slid sideways, allowing McDaniel to capitalize and power around the outside to take a lead he would never relinquish. Dominic Stone of Folsom trailed McDaniel in the move and the two driver’s lead the field for the remainder of the race without a close challenge. At the finish line McDaniel went in to undefeated status at Placerville this season. Stone finished in second place. Cleveland finished third followed by Ray Trimble of Auburn and Ryan Peter of Rio Linda.
“It’s good to see everyone that came out tonight to see some good racing, it was good in every division,” said McDaniel. “I have to thank Dominic from Domco Plumbing for all the support he gives us and keeps it so we can keep coming back here and my Dad for working on this stuff all week when I am gone and Matt Farnham and this entire pit crew. It’s tough when we run back to back races. The car was good, it wasn’t great but we’ll get it there.”
The BCRA Midget Lites remembered their late car owner and supporter Saturday night with the 2nd annual Tribute to Wayne Albright. In this event, bonus funds were awarded ton the top finishers and Michnowicz lead every lap to capture the checkered flag. Logan Seavey of Sutter finished in second place with Craig Dillard of Oakdale third followed by Dakota Albright of Turlock and Terry Bergstrom of Sacramento.
Racing returns this Saturday night with four divisions including the Nor Cal Dwarf Cars. This upcoming night of racing offers a special evening for Mom at the speedway with great treats for the ladies including Younique products presented by Lash Boss Lady and Scentsy Candle products presented Andrea Pratt as race fans arrive at the speedway. Watch www.placervillespeedway.com for additional information on this special night for Mom in the days ahead.