PLACERVILLE, CA (8-15-15) – Winning on Mountain Democrat Kid’s Night is always special for any driver at Placerville Speedway due to the large crowd and excited youngsters that turn out to the event to race their bicycles on the speedway with the help of their favorite drivers. Placerville’s Andy Gregg has won on this special night earlier in his career, but Saturday night his win was even more special that previously, as it was his first Kid’s Night victory as a new Father himself.
“Winning on this night is always special, but tonight this is really special for me as I’m a Dad myself now and to experience all of this with my family is awesome,” said Greg. “I love kids, I love the young fans, that’s what it’s all about. I love being a Dad and to do this now that I have a kid of my own is just really special tonight.”
Gregg led every one of the 25 laps of the feature event in Saturday’s Red Hawk Casino Championship point race. The popular local driver shared in his celebration with Ryan McDaniel of Olivehurst who won his eighth feature event in the Domco Plumbing Late Models and Nick Baldwin of Oakley, who scored his first win in the Jay’s Mobile Welding and Fabrication Pure Stock division.
For Gregg, Saturday’s win marked the third time this year he had been to victory lane at his hometown track driving for local car owner Scott Russell in the #14R Sprint Car that is second in the championship point standings. Not only was the event memorable with all the youngsters on hand, it earned his team added winnings as Geico Insurance added $500 to the victory, making it worth a total of $2000 for the night. Earlier in the night, the local Geico group paid a $500 bonus to Fast Qualifier Jake Morgan as well.
When the green flag waved, Gregg powered his way off the second place starting position into the lead he would never relinquish over pole sitter Cory Eliason and the two front runners quickly found their way to lapped traffic. On the 14th lap, seventh place starter Sean Becker found his way into second place to begin pursuit of the distant Gregg while fending off the challenges of point leader Greg DeCaires of Elk Grove simultaneously with Wilton’s Matt Peterson close behind.
At the checkered flag, Gregg crossed the line within lapped traffic. Becker finished in second, followed by DeCaires, Peterson and Eliason.
Win Comes Earlier than Expected for Baldwin in Pure Stocks
Twenty two cars took the green flag in the Pure Stock division. Jason Palmer took the lead off the pole position and was challenged in the opening laps by Rick Campbell and Rick Grunert. With two laps complete the race underwent a caution delay with Tim Mack and Danielle Clauson collided in a multi car collision in turn three.
Once restarted the race saw Palmer drift high in the second turn which allowed Grunert to muscle into the lead as they traveled down the backstretch. Once in front Grunert remained in the lead into the with Palmer chasing him down for much of the event, both avoiding a series of multi car collisions along the way.
On lap 14 Nick Baldwin of Sacramento overtook Palmer for second place with Scott Grunert following suit into third into the final laps. On the 18th lap a final restart put Baldwin close Grunert for the green flag and a sprint to the finish line where Baldwin muscled ahead of Grunert for the lead. Baldwin drove to victory followed by Les Friend of Galt, Scott Grunert of Woodland , Rick Grunert and Rich Zoller of Cameron Park.
“We started racing here mid season as we came from a different track so its taken us a lot of work,” said Baldwin. “I didn’t expect to get this win this early but here we are and it feels good to be here at a track that’s this competitive. Tonight things were getting pretty crowded coming out of turn two, I saw an opportunity and took it and it paid off.”
Win doesn’t come easy for McDaniel in Late Models
Duane Cleveland of Chico powered off the second place starting position into the lead at the opening green flag. As early as the second lap a caution flag flew when Ryan Peter of Rio Linda came to a stop in turn two after a collision. Once the race restarted, Cleveland muscled ahead of second place starter Jay Norton of Shingle Springs who was feeling the challenges of seven time winner Ryan McDaniel.
As the race reached the halfway point, McDaniel overtook second place and raced an exciting battle with Cleveland for the lead until taking the top spot with a switchback move on the front stretch of lap 13. In the final laps, McDaniel and Cleveland kept the fans on the edge of their seats with a heated battle for the lead. At the finish line McDaniel took the win followed by Cleveland, Norton, Tom Tilford of Citrus Heights and Ray Trimble of Auburn.
“This car was far from easy to drive tonight,” said McDaniel, as he celebrated his eighth win of the year. “I tightened it up too much after the heat race and it was a struggle to get up there and run for the lead. I finally got to the point where I knew I wasn’t going to do it by following him down low so we found a line on the outside and got it done.”
Next Saturday night, racing continued at Placerville Speedway as the season winds down to its final weeks. This coming Saturday will feature inflated winnings for the Placerville Posse Series, Sprint Cars will win $2000, Limited Late Models $750 and Pure Stocks $500 the three track regulars will be joined by the Nor Cal Dwarf Cars.
The grandstands will open at 5 p.m on Saturday with qualifying starting at 6:30 followed by heat races for all four divisions. Adult tickets are $15, Juniors and Seniors are $13, Children are $6 and those under six are free. For additional information on this event check out www.placervillespeedway.com or join the local racing community on Facebook and Twitter and interact with over 5000 fans, drivers and track staff.
* Article: Bill Sullivan Photos by: Ron Tilford