PLACERVILLE, CA (7-4-13) - Winning on the Fourth of July is always something special for a driver at any time of their career. Elk Grove’s Greg DeCaires is no stranger to thrill of victory lane before the large patriotic crowd at Placerville Speedway. Thursday night, however, DeCaires celebrated one of his most emotional wins at Placerville Speedway in the Hoosier Racing Tires Civil War Sprint Car Series.
DeCaires claimed victory in the $4000 to win Tiner Classic Thursday night aboard the team he joined just weeks ago in the Tribute to Stephen Allard #4SA Sprint Car. The car was built and is owned by Placerville resident Dale Miller to pay tribute to the late driver who won the hearts of many fans and drivers up until his passing in December.
For DeCaires, it wasn’t about the added money Thursday night; it was a combination of things that made this win one of the biggest in his career. As a child, DeCaires was a big fan of the legendary Johnny Tiner, idolizing him so much he picked the number ninety four for his own cars when he started his racing career. Later in life, DeCaires was truly close to Allard and was with him and his family during his final moments on Christmas Eve. Factor in this victory is the first one for him since the passing of his own Mother and biggest fan this past year and it was inevitable that the tears would flow after the wing dance in victory lane at Placerville Thursday night.
“This is truly special for me and this whole team here tonight,” said DeCaires during his victory lane interview with infield announcer Bradley Kennedy, a member of the Tiner family who worked hard to put this race together. “When I was a little kid I use to watch your grandfather race and more than anything I wanted to be like him. So when I started racing I picked the number 94 for my cars. This is very special to win this race tonight.”
Thursday’s track conditions were extremely challenging for all competitors as temperatures soared to triple digits and the event started an hour earlier than usual causing extreme dry slick conditions that forced the speedway to water prior to the feature event. While the adjusted track conditions through many drivers for a loop, DeCaires adapted well and was quick to work his way to the front and come out on top of a battle with Fremont’s Shane Golobic throughout the 30-lap affair.
“There is no doubt Stephen was out here in that car with me tonight,” added DeCaires. “Because I made that car do things I never did before. No matter what have always done racing, Stephen could do it ten times better and I know he helped me tonight. This is first win without my Mom too, she was my biggest fan and she would have loved to see this, I’m pretty sure she would have peed her pants with this one.’
DeCaires wasn’t the only one in tears and nearly speechless in victory lane Thursday night. Miller, the team owner, was always emotional as he joined his new driver in victory lane and remembered a dear friend that the whole racing community continues to mourn the loss of.
“This whole team deserves this, they have done an incredible job putting this new deal together this year and I’m fortunate to be part of it now,” said DeCaires. “I can’t thank Dale Miller enough for giving me this opportunity and a great car. I’m proud to be here tonight. I’m proud to win this Tiner race. This one’s for Stephen.”
DeCaires started Thursday’s 30-lap feature event in the third starting position and avoided a multi car pile up that ensued as drivers weren’t prepared for the watered down surface at the green flag. Pole sitter Sean Becker of Roseville also avoided the melee but second place starter Stephen Tiner was so lucky. Tiner’s car was damaged; sidelining him from the race he worked so hard to promote to honor his family.
DeCaires felt the pressure of Golobic and Becker in the waning laps of Thursday’s feature event. The duo closed in on the leader each time he came up on lapped traffic. Luckily for DeCaires, a yellow flag flew every time that happened, giving him a clear track to race on.
Known as “The Cat Fish” to his counterparts for his driving style that frequents the low line of the track, DeCaires changed his ways Thursday night. He positioned the car that carries the initials and logo of his fallen colleague to the high side of the track for the majority of the race. For DeCaires, that risk paid off in a high paying win and a night of priceless emotion and memories.
Golobic finished second in Thursday’s race followed by Becker, Bradley Terrell of Sebastopol. Colby Wiesz of Colfax rounded out the top five. The B Main was won by Carson Macedeo over Jimmy Trulli, Billy Aton, Mike Benson and Clayton Snow.
The C main was won by Jake Morgan over James Sweeney, Josh Ruhs and Stephen Roads Jr. Heat race wins went to Kyle Hirst, Herman Klein, Becker and Shawn Wright. A total of 37 cars entered Thursday’s race. Hirst was the fastest qualifier of the evening which concluded with a giant fireworks display.
Placerville Speedway will resume action on Saturday, July 13 as the Red Hawk Casino Championship series returned with Sprint Cars, Late Models, Pure Stocks and Dwarf Cars. For further information visit www.placervillespeedway.com.