- Rick Grunert scores overdue win in Pure Stocks; Mike Grenert takes Dwarf Cars
PLACERVILLE, CA – Returning to action following the annual July Fourth Spectacular and it’s often daunting track conditions, it was back to usual for competitors at Placerville Speedway Saturday for the 11th championship point race of the season. A superior racing surface made for a great night of racing as the Jackson Rancheria Casino Championship season roars past it’s halfway mark.
On this particular Saturday night, four different drivers celebrated their wins in victory lane at the end of the night but the evening created much more in the way of winners than the familiar foursome. The race was the second of three benefit races for the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado County and the large crowd that was in attendance assisted the local organization with a portion of each ticket sale going to the club Saturday night.
Four time defending track champion Andy Forsberg of Auburn returned to his dominate ways at the track he calls home, racing his way to victory in the 25-lap Hoosier Racing Tires Sprint Car Feature event. Forsberg was joined in victory lane by defending champion Tom Tilford who won the Mountain Democrat Newspaper Late Model feature. Woodland’s Rick Grunert took home his first win of the year in the Coors Light Pure Stocks while Mike Grenert of Travis AFB captured the win in the Pepsi guest division, the Nor Cal Dwarf Cars.
In the Sprint Car Division, Forsberg started his evening off with another ADCO Driveline and Custom Exhaust $100 bonus with the fastest time in qualifying which set the stage for a successful night aboard his F&F Racing owned Pit Stop USA #X1 Sprint Car. Prelminary races and the inversion placed the driver known as Mr.Excitement in the fifth place starting position and he certainly lived up to his nickname driving his way to the front.
When the green flag waved second place starter Mason Moore of Princeton was the first driver to point as he passed pole sitter Cory Eliason into the first set of turns. Moore was trailed by third place starter and point leader Greg DeCaires of Elk Grove who shot into second place while Forsberg wasted no time in powering into the third position with Placerville’s Andy Gregg in his wake.
With only five laps complete, Moore drove his way into lapped traffic where he began to duel with DeCaires in traffic, soon resulting in a lead change when DeCaires took over the front spot and Forsberg followed suit into the bridesmaid position. DeCaires increased his lead over Forsberg over the next several laps until the slower traffic blocked his efforts and Forsberg muscled into striking distance. The master of Placerville’s risky high line used it to his advantage on the 16th lap when he passed for the lead exiting the fourth turn and never looked back.
While Forsberg drove the final nine laps in the lead, DeCaires felt the pressure of Gregg as they dueled for the bridesmaid position with Moore close behind them and Steven Tiner lurking in the fifth position awaiting the slightest error by the fab four in front. At the line Forsberg was followed by Gregg, DeCaires claimed the third position over Moore.
“I’m not one to toot my own horn a lot but when the track conditions are like this I usually am pretty good at this place and tonight that was pretty much the case,” said Forsberg. “But the last time the track was this good DeCaires beat me and I was going –what the heck.” Tonight we had a great race and I can’t thank everyone on this whole crew for their hard work, we had a tough night in Watsonville last night and they worked their butts off to get me back out. I want to thank them and everyone that came out here tonight to watch us and help support the Boys and Girls Club at Placerville. Let’s do it again next week with the King of the West Sprint Cars and maybe I can finally get that 410 win here.”
In the Limited Late Model feature event, Tilford started on the outside front row of the 20-lap feature event and powered his family wrenched #92 into lead as he dueled with pole sitter Dan Brown Jr. of Rocklin into the opening lap. The defending track champion drove to a lead of more than a car length in the early laps while the action heated up behind him with Brown battling for position with four time winner Ray Trimble of Auburn.
With 14 laps down, Trimble worked his way around Brown to set his sights on Tilford. Still dueling with Brown, this bridesmaid battle waned into the final laps in lapped traffic. Trimble closed within inches of Tilford momentarily but dreams of a fifth season win were shattered on lap 17 when a failed attempt to pass Live Oak’s Ken Micheli in lapped traffice results in a collision and the loss of several positions.
As Tilford drove to his second win to make it a clean sweep of the night, also winning the heat race, Brown finished a strong second followed by Wayne Trimble of Auburn. Point leader Matt Micheli finished in third. Micheli made a night very special for a little girl earlier in the night when he won the kids dash and selected her to join him in victory lane and gave her the trophy. Dominic Stone of Folsom finished fourth followed by Matt Davis of Auburn.
“The first win this year, that one was for uncle Donnie for sure and it was pretty emotional,” said Tilford, all smiles in victory lane with family and crew. “This one is for all these guys that work so hard to help me do this and for everyone in my family who puts up with my passion for racing and all the time and work it takes. Tonight the car was fast all night from warm ups, in the heat and the main. I can’t thank my team and all my sponsors enough for everything.”
The Pure Stock feature had it’s share of caution flags beneath the full moon Saturday night. The most serious one fell on the 12th lap when a multi car collision completely blocked the track in turns one and two. Danielle Clauson of Placerville, Kevin Wirth of Garden Valley and James Sweeney of Placerville who was aboard a Pure Stock tonight, were all involved. Clauson was spun completely around when she was struck head on in the collision and required medical attention by the track paramedics during a length red flag.
Clauson returned home late Saturday night, reporting she was ok but was sore and suffered whiplash from the crash that ended her night while racing for a potential top three finish. She’s expected to return to the driver’s seat in two weeks.
The early laps of the race were led by Chris Van Roekel of Grass Valley who ended up losing a motor while dominating the lead and going up in smoke to end his night. Veteran driver Rick Grunert of Woodland found his way from his fourth place starting position in to the lead after all of the chaos. Grunert drove to his first win of the year over Lonnie Leonard of Elk Grove, Scott Grunert of Woodland, Tim Mack of Diamond Springs and Eddie Gardner of Sacramento.
“It’s great to be back on the front stretch, it’s been awhile, “said Grunert. “I spend so much time helping and watching my two boys out here now often times I end up messing up and missing a chance for a win, I’m proud of them though and we love doing this together every Saturday. Tonight is a tough night for us as my Mother Inlaw passed away this morning so were all thinking about her tonight, she was special to all of us.”
The Nor Cal Dwarf Cars returned to Placerville Saturday night for a spectacular night of racing, which they routinely bring to the quarter mile. Kevin Bender of Rocklin took the early lead of the race from the fourth place starting position and was soon challenged by Grenert, who started sixth.
With four laps down, a restart saw the pressure heat up on Bender as Grenert, Scott Dahlgren and Ryan Winter all closed in. Bender suffered traction loss and nearly spun a couple of times during the run as Grenert muscled his way into the lead with Winter and Dahlgren in tow to the checkered flag. Buddy Olshowka and Sam Bender rounded out the top five of the finish.
“It’s been quite awhile since we’ve won here at Placerville,” said Grenert. “It’s my crew guy here I really have to thank, he’s the one doing all the work and making this thing fast. We love coming to this place, it’s one of our favorites and we’re already looking forward to coming back.”
Next Saturday night is a big night at Placerville Speedway as the King of the West Sprint Cars return to Placerville Speedway. The 410 sprints will be joined by the Midget Lites of the Bay Cities Racing Association.
Placerville Speedway is sponsored by the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort who welcome’s the local auto racing community to their 257,000 square foot facility in the heart of the Amador Wine Country. Throughout the season every race fan who attends Placerville Speedway earns a $25 gift for free play and other great prizes. Learn more at www.jacksoncasino.com.
Additional sponsors for the 2014 racing season include The Mountain Democrat and Life Newspapers Group, ADCO Driveline and Custom Exhaust, Hoosier Tires, Thompson’s Toyota, Riebes Auto Parts, Arnolds for Awards and the Paint Spot.
- Article by Bill Sullivan for Placerville Speedway
- Photos by Donna Peter/racephotosbydonna.com